Creative mangling

The generation of beautifully treated vocals is not difficult with Nectar 2, and even relative beginners will find it intuitive to generate nice vocal sounds by doing little more than moving a few faders on the Overview panel. But Nectar 2 offers the more left-field vocal mangler a nice range of tools too. The dedicated Pitch retuner is a simple but very powerful vocal-specific pitch shifter which does a thoroughly professional job of shifting vocals up to five or six semitones without too many audible artefacts. The Harmony tool takes the incoming audio and generates up to four different ‘voices’, either at static intervals from the original or by MIDI trigger.

It’s debatable how many producers would choose to use the latter rather than simply recording a harmony, but where you forgot to track a harmony or you’re working with a sampled vocal or acapella, the pitch shifting algorithms are good enough to produce a passable harmony if pulled far enough back in the mix. For more extreme processing I would always turn instead to Melodyne (but, of course, the more advanced versions of Melodyne cost significantly more than the entire Nectar package).

That said, gritty lo-fi effects are here to be made in abundance, and ghostly spectral choirs and warped shadows are easy to summon. The FX panel also offers a range modulation effects: phase, flange and chorus as well as distortion and ‘shred’ repeat. Used alongside a hefty dose of saturation, harmony and limiting, there are creative opportunities aplenty to turn even the least inspired vocal performance into something engaging and potentially hooky. A good starting point for getting to grips with the engine’s potential are the generally excellent presets. With names like Darth’s Daughter and Baneful ADR you can get a pretty good idea of what’s on offer.

Conclusion

In all, Nectar 2 offers a complete tool kit for treating a range of vocals. It’s a versatile beast. For gentle processing – a splash of plate reverb, an EQ tweak, some light compression – it’s solid. For extreme mangling it’s both capable and fun. It’s easy to use and sonically high quality. The software’s nods to the ‘vintage’ past are convincing and relevant given modern interest in the tools of the past. And while it’s unlikely that the seasoned vocal producer would jettison their well-worn copies of Meldoyne or their favourite EQs and compressors for this all-in-one, those who only spend a fraction of their time on vocals or who are starting out on their vocal production journey will find Nectar 2 a powerful tool that generates good results across a wide range of material.

The Verdict

Price: $229

Purchase: Nectar 2 Standard Edition

Sound
Versatility
Value
Ease of Use
Overall

The Final Word

Does a bit of everything, and comfortably so.

Author David Felton
27th March, 2014

Comments

  • “And while it’s unlikely that the seasoned vocal producer would jettison their well-worn copies of Meldoyne or their favourite EQs and compressors for this all-in-one,…”

    yea, exactly why it should be marketed to the Garageband market.:

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  • @homeinametronome: nice bit of snobbery there. I use the producer version of Nectar, along with “well worn” copies of my favourite software: sometimes you want to know if something will work “as is” and Nectar will give you the answer faster than anything else I know of. As to Garageband, Rhianna’s Umbrella uses a Garage band loop, so perhaps the Garageband market is bigger and richer than you think.

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  • Melodyne + Nectar2 = Amazing

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  • I don’t think it was intended to be snobbish. But there’s always going to be people who take things the wrong way.

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  • When he said “it’s unlikely that a seasoned vocal producer would jettison….”, he meant it’s unlikely they would stop using their old stuff. He didn’t mean it wouldn’t be used some of the time, as part of a range of tools.

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