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Nectar 3 101
The Unofficial Video Manual
by: joshuacarney
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  • Send it to Ian
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Oct 17th, 2020
    Help with understanding ALM in Nectar 3
    Hi, I'm confused about how to configure the ALM target level to get the best results when using it to level out a voiceover recording. Nectar 3's Global Controls state "When enabled, ALM will adjust input gain in order to hit the ALM target level. ALM looks at the RMS level of the input signal, when that level is within 3 dB (above or below) of the target level, it will dynamically adjust the input gain up or down in order to match the it to the target level." iZotope's 'Learn' page states "Auto Level Mode is positioned at a default target RMS of -8 dB" Generally, the total RMS level of most voiceover recordings I work with will be (approximately) in the -20 dB range, and I'm not clear on how the -20 dB total RMS level of my voiceover recording relates to a chosen target level of ALM. Setting the ALM slider handle to an equivalent RMS of -20 dB just results in a really quiet piece of audio. My question is, how would I figure out what target value is suitable for any piece of audio that I'd work on? I'd like to understand if the default -8 dB RMS level is already the correct value, or if I'd need to adjust the ALM slider handle higher or lower. Thanks, Ian
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  • Joe A
    Posts: 833
    Joined: Oct 1st, 2013
    Re: Help with understanding ALM in Nectar 3
    Hi Ian - Apparently ALM is a subtle [±3dB] leveler that maintains a more consistent Input level before feeding the incoming signal through the effect chain. The idea seems to be that you'd set the Input level to an appropriate level -- allowing a little headroom for processing -- and then set the ALM level to that level, where it will keep the signal from fluctuating too widely above or below that desired level. Their recommendation is -8 [which I think they mean to be a recommended maximum], but of course you could set it to a lower level if that's what you prefer. As to what level should be used as the Target level, well I guess that's up to you -- it seems to me like their -8 recommendation/default would be the maximum level to use while still allowing enough extra headroom for effects that might need it later on in the chain. I don't think the actual level is that critical -- that is, I don't think there's a "correct" level per se, as long as the ALM Target level falls within the ±3dB range that the ALM leveling maxes out at. iZotope seems to expect you to set an optimal input level first [or let the Assistant do it for you], and then adjust the ALM Target level to more or less match that, if necessary. It sounds like you shouldn't expect ALM to take the place of a compressor -- the goal seems to be very subtle leveling, just to make it easier to find optimal settings for some of the other processors [at least that's the impression I get]. Though I own/use a lot of iZotope software I don't own Nectar, so I can't try it out directly -- however I found this explanation and video demonstration of ALM on the iZotope website: https://www.izotope.com/en/learn/automatically-set-vocal-levels-with-nectar-3-auto-leveler.html I've also attached a basic MPV course on Nectar 3 -- ALM is mentioned in the intro video, maybe there'll be additional useful information as well..
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  • Send it to Ian
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Oct 17th, 2020
    Re: Help with understanding ALM in Nectar 3
    Hi Joe, This is really helpful, thank you. As you say, it sounds like I simply need to adjust the input level as desired, then activate ALM and drag the ALM slider handle to more or less match that level (whilst making sure it sits within a + or - 3 dB range to ensure it’s working efficiently.) I could then activate Limiter and raise the output level if I choose to. Also apologies, I should have included that I simply want to use ALM without any additional processing effects and without the use of Assistant either. Just a quick way to subtly level out a voiceover. I feel I have a better understanding of the feature now! I’ll give it a go and use the Match and Bypass features to monitor the results. Thanks again, Ian
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