Working with Presets in iZotope Nectar & Nectar Elements
I’ve been using iZotope products for many years, so it’s a real privilege to be part of this and to share with you some of the things I’ve picked up.
Now, Nectar is a unique product in as much as it is a complete vocal processing unit. So in the box, we have everything from compression, saturation, tuning, doubling, reverbs, and everything else you’d need to get a great vocal sound, so I’m really thrilled to be able to show you how this works.
Now, there are two versions of this, there’s Nectar Elements which is great if you just want some presets and to do a little tweaking of them, and then there’s the full version where you can really get under the hood and do some serious tweaking.
In this first episode, we’re going to talk about Nectar Elements a little bit, and then the rest of the episodes we’re going to be looking at the full version to show you how to get under the skin of the unit and get those great sounds by tweaking to your heart’s content.
Now, the best place to start of course is by using a preset. iZotope has worked really hard to provide some good ones. What’s even better is you can download some free new presets from their website as well, which means there’s even more if you want to try them out.
Now let me show you the track first, sung by a lady called Lizzy Dean. It sounds fantastic, and we’ll listen to the track and then we’ll solo the lead vocal and do some tweaking.
So straight away, we can hear it’s a Motown type Soul track, and a good place to start in there is to look at the different types of presets we have in different genres as well.
So we’ve got everything from Indie through Country, special effects, even voice over. So I’m going to start first with Motown Power, and I’m going to solo the voice.
Here’s the original.
Try another one.
Let’s try Vintage Soul.
I like JB Soul.
As we close the style picker menu, we notice that we’re left with various boxes. These are called controls. The three along the top in JB Soul are levels, space, and presence, but they’re not always like that. You’ll notice as you pick a different style that you’ll get different controls.
Now, the sliders in the controls are macros, and they sometimes connect with different settings within the back end of Nectar Elements. So for example, if you’re using space, that could be linking both your reverb and delay, so it’s worth listening as you tweak them to ascertain what’s happening, and there’s always the EQ section.
Let’s listen to what this is like at the moment.
Going to drive the preamp a bit harder, this may give us some saturation as well.
[vocals, adjusting preamp]
And we can adjust levels here.
I like that straight away. You can hear the echo on there. In the Motown era, there was tons of reverb on stuff. You can adjust the size of the room by doing that.
Put more in, make it darker.
Now, what we could do is do some pitch correction as well. This is a fantastic singer.
It defaults to chromatic, which is great, so if you don’t know what the key is, chromatic will cover you, but if you know the key and set it to major, and this song is in C.
Now this isn’t the song for it, but if you wanted to, you could do the T-Pain effect.
[vocals, hard auto-tune]
Or you could go much smoother.
[vocals, smoother auto-tune]
Or we could turn it off altogether.
[vocals, no tuning]
The other thing to remember is the EQ down here has got lots of different bands. It’s got the top end here, it’s got the mid-range there, we’ve rolled off the bass here, we’ve rolled off quite a lot of bass at about 80Hz. That’s a good move.
Now, there’s a magic frequency at about the 3-5kHz mark when you’re mixing vocals that really helps to push them up in the mix.
So we’ll just listen now before we did anything with the EQ.
So we’re narrowing the EQ now, which means it’s a much more discrete EQ now. You could have a wide EQ like this.
All very sharp.
Let’s hear the original now.
You can hear now it’s really sitting nicely in the mix. We can pull it down slightly.
Now, Nectar Elements is an incredibly powerful plug-in, for those of you who just want to tweak to this level, but if you want to go deeper in, you can get the full version of Nectar as well.
So once you’ve got a preset that you like, you can go into the presets and save it. I’m going to save that, I’m going to call it John Perry Motown, and add that.
So there it is now. We can go back to the original one, we haven’t lost it. There’s the JB Soul.
It’s well worth exploring the different genres. You don’t have to stay in the genre that you’re in. We could try, for instance, Pop, and try something like Nectar Pop.
That’s nice and smooth.
What I could do now is compare Vintage Crooner to the original I just created.
So there we go. A great way to start. Getting a great vocal sound using the presets in Nectar Elements and Nectar.