Several of the modules remain fairly unchanged from the original Nectar, such as the compressors, gate, de-esser, and saturation, although many now feature much clearer dynamic feedback, with an extremely useful gain trace graph at the top of nearly every window. Although the delay also looks similar, there are now separate wet dry sliders, and the quality has been greatly improved, allowing you to do smooth real-time time changes without affecting the pitch, or massive analogue-style pitch sweeps. The enhanced EQ has been lifted from Alloy 2 and features a spectrogram and multiple curve options. Reverb was never a strong point on the original Nectar, so for Nectar 2, iZotope concentrated on modeling an EMT140 plate reverb, which gives a rich and dense sound. This fared well when compared to the UAD equivalent, but we found the decay times a little limiting as they only go down to 1.0s, and up to 5.0s, although this is due to the accurate modeling of the original unit.
The headline addition in version 2 for music production is an automatic harmony generation module. Of course we’re not doing music production; I cannot recall a time when I used harmony generation on a VO track, although I did use and Eventide box back in the day for thickening Big Voiceover tracks. But it’s nice to know that up to four harmony voices can be created, and the gain, pan, delay and other parameters of the individual harmony parts can be adjusted using an X/Y control pad. Parts can also be set to unison and detuned or delayed slightly to give a layered vocal effect, which is by far the best use of Harmony for Production Work.
New to Nectar 2 is the FX module, which includes an overdrive distortion with decimate option, Modulate section with phase, flange and chorus, and an intriguing Repeat section with echo and shred modes for stuttering effects. All can be sync’d to tempo, allowing you to add subtle movement or craft more wild sounds. Another key selling point is the Harmony module, which is actually an upgraded version of Nectar 1’s Doubler. You can specify a key, or play the track and engage the useful key detection function, then add up to four harmony parts that can have their own volume, pan, pitch, and delay settings. Again, I doubt you’ll get full use of this part of Nectar except perhaps for the odd car spot.
This is, of course, my personal favorite plug-in from the entire Suite. The Breath control module has also been turned into a separate plug-in, apparently because it requires look-ahead to work and so incurs additional latency, which made the original Nectar plug-in difficult when used during tracking VOs. But it works much as it did in the earlier version of Nectar and is useful for taming excessive breaths without losing them altogether, something that is tedious to do manually. Once the threshold is set, the process is reasonably forgiving of normal changes in vocal level. The gain-reduction line superimposed on the waveform display shows where the process is being applied. You can also audition only the detected breath sounds to make sure you’re not eating into anything you shouldn’t.
Understand that it can still be a bit fiddley to set up properly at first, as was the previous version, but overall the Breath Control standalone plug-in is substantially better than in version 1. A further bonus is that since it is a standalone plug-in, you can instantiate it on the very first insert, before all other processing, which allows you to feed it clean and unprocessed audio. This will definitely give you better results than feeding compressed VO, for example.
WRAP IT UP, I’LL EAT IT HERE
I enjoyed using the original Nectar on voice tracks, although there were not a lot of functions in it that I couldn’t duplicate using the plug-ins that I already have. But I liked it quite well for someone starting out who didn’t have many plugs to start with.
Nectar 2 is another animal altogether, despite its obvious lineage. The standalone Breath Control plug-in is brilliant, and has already taken what I think is a permanent place on the first insert of the Aux track feeding my VOXRec track. I’m also fond of the other processors in Nectar, although there will always be several that one will pay for and seldom use. But I feel strongly enough about the Breath Control, plus the revamped Compressor and EQs that I can recommend that you give it a go, despite being a bit spendy. You can find a ten-day, fully-functional demo version on iZotope’s website. Steve sez check it out.
iZotope’s Nectar 2 Production Suite carries a suggested list price of $299 USD, while the Standard Edition comes in at $229 USD. Upgrades from Nectar version 1 are available, and their pricing depends upon which version the user currently owns.