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iZotope Nectar 4 Advanced

Vocal Production Plug-in Suite By John Walden
Published April 2024

The Vocal Assistant view offers an easy point of entry to Nectar 4’s powerful processing possibilities.The Vocal Assistant view offers an easy point of entry to Nectar 4’s powerful processing possibilities.

If your vocals require sweetening, a little Nectar might be just the thing…

iZotope are perhaps best known for their powerful Ozone mastering and RX audio restoration suites, but their product catalogue is actually very extensive. One of the other standouts is Nectar. Like Ozone and RX, this comprises a ‘mothership’ that’s populated with a number of powerful processing modules, but in this case everything is targeted specifically at vocal production. And just as they have with Ozone and RX, iZotope have been incrementally adding AI‑based assistance to make all the power within this suite much more accessible to the less experienced (or more time‑pressured) user.

Nectar 4 is the first update since iZotope joined the Native Instruments family, and it’s available either as an individual purchase or within Native Instruments bundles such as their Music Production Suite 6. All the previous core Nectar functionality remains intact, but plenty of features have been improved or reorganised, and there are a number of new options and AI enhancements. I’ll focus here on the newer elements, and on the flagship Nectar 4 Advanced version of the software, but it’s worth noting that there are more affordable cut‑down Elements and Standard editions too. I will try to indicate which features are available in which versions.

Meet My Assistant

For those happy to take a little AI input to get them started, Nectar 4’s Vocal Assistant has had a very useful revamp and is now similar in style to that found in Ozone. As such, Nectar’s main mothership plug‑in window now allows you to tab between Assistant View and Detailed View. When you first initiate Nectar 4 on a track, it requests some audio input so that it can ‘learn’ the sound of your vocal. Then, after a brief pause while it analyses the vocal characteristics, the Vocal Assistant tab, which has a helpfully compact control set, is displayed. In the background, Nectar has actually built a complete signal chain based around its component modules, and you can see all of that if you switch to Detailed View. But this new Vocal Assistant view makes it super easy to make adjustments to the key parameters in that chain.

Detailed View provides a full range of configurable vocal processing modules.Detailed View provides a full range of configurable vocal processing modules.

In the centre of the display, the frequency spectrum of your vocal is shown in white, underlain by a target reference envelope in yellow. Some standard vocal references are available but, as described in more detail below, you can also capture a reference from another track if you have a specific tonal target in mind. The Shape control adjusts the extent to which Nectar’s EQ module attempts to match the tone of your vocal with that of the selected target. Intensity, meanwhile, is linked to the threshold in the compressor module. At bottom left, you can apply reverb, delay and ‘dimension’ (modulation‑based effects). The lower right quarter is where you can experiment with various presets for the Voices module, which creates artificial harmonies based upon your vocal and pitch correction, or the Backer module, which generates alternate virtual voices to double your vocal.

I’ll say more about these latter two below but, if you don’t want to delve deeper, or just need to tweak Nectar’s suggestions slightly while you continue developing the overall track, Vocal Assistant provides a very easy and effective point of entry.