Best Vocal FX Plugins

Now that we’ve gone over the ideal vocal processing tools that all happen in earlier stages of the mixing process, it’s time to dive into the best vocal effects plugins.

Though many multi-effects plugins can generally get the job done, there are some tools that are far more suited for the task of making vocals an instrument all their own, and making your voice standout, whether or not it’s in a choir.

When it comes to vocal fx plugins there are 4 different types of effects that plugins make their focal points. Most times these effect types can be found in other plugins that dive into the more intricate aspects of the overall effect but aren’t tailored toward the subtle nuances of dealing with vocals.

The main vocal effect plugin types are:

  1. Vocoders / Synth – Vocoders use carriers to create harmonic or melodic parts from the initial signal side-chained into the plugins key-input.
  2. Talkbox – Made popular by before the age of vocoders, talkboxes do the same things, except with organic inputs.
  3. BitCrushers – Much like filter and EQ tools that are used earlier in the mixing stage, bitcrushers are used to create drastic changes to a vocal in the form of harmonic distortion to get more robotic or grittier sounding options.
  4. Pitch Manipulation – The most straightforward of all of the vocal effect plugins, is also the hardest for most software developers to get right. Pitch manipulation plugins do just, but the key to finding the correct pitch shifting plugin is the quality in which it shifts the vocals.
  5. Modulators – Are somewhat like pitch shifters, but focus on shifting specified frequencies, formants or tones. Modulators are like the allow users to create complex vocal outputs that move beyond the conventions of pitch shifters.


Best Free Vocoder Plugin

TAL-Vocoder

If there is one thing that can be said about TAL Software is that they know there aesthetic. Whether it’s a recreation or reinvigoration, TAL has the sound of the 80s on lock, and with artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Solange and Bruno Mars working with the model of something old, something new, TAL has the perfect addition to your plate reverb filled productions. The TAL-Vocoder, though free, is an excellent addition to your vocal effect plugin arsenal. It features a multiband vocoder with a deesser and a multi-wave carrier engine. Though this may not be the newest or most advanced tool on the block, it does have some of get the job done and done well for free.

Features:

Formant Shifting: No

Vocoder: Yes

MIDI Control: Yes

Harmony Engine: Rudimentary, but yes.

Talkbox: Yes, depending on carrier.

Pitch Correction: No

Other FX: Chorus, DeEsser, Tune, and Glide.


Best Vocal Effect Processing Plugin

iZotope VocalSynth

Since releasing the original Nectar plugin, iZotope has become one of the leading plugin developers in the world of vocal processing tools. Since Nectar’s initial launch the company has released a second incarnation of the Nectar engine, the Nectar Pitch Editor, and a breath controlling plugin that also comes in the Nectar 2 vocal suite. iZotope’s Vocal Synth is equal parts vocal synth and digital talkbox. Featuring a host of controls that can turn your voice into anything from a monster to a machine, vocal synth is the ultimate vocal effect plugin.

Features:

Formant Shifting: Yes

Vocoder: Yes

MIDI Control: Yes

Harmony Engine: Yes

Talkbox: Yes

Pitch Correction: General

Other FX: Distort, Filter, Transform (speaker and amp convolutions engine), Shred (glitch engine) and Delay effects.


Best Voice Modulation Effect Plugin

Antares Mutator

Antares may be best known for its flagship pitch correction plugins, but that doesn’t mean that’s where the buck stops. Antares’ Mutator Evo is one of the easiest yet comprehensive voice modulation plugins on the market. The mutator allows users to make alternate mutations to a voice and continue to mutate it further with a simple turn of a knob, if you really want to get crazy you can turn on the Alienize feature to create a whole new you. Like AutoTune, users can also change the vocal range, throat length or width and shift the pitch.

Features:

Formant Shifting: Yes

Vocoder: No

MIDI Control: No

Harmony Engine: Within mutations only

Talkbox: No

Pitch Correction: No

Other FX or Features: Alienize and Tempo Sync.


Best Pitch Manipulation Effect Plugin

Polyverse Manipulator

Helmed by Dim Mak legacies Infected Mushroom, Manipulator is one of my favorite tools to use on vocals to bring out the closest thing the audio world has to the uncanny valley. Through tools that are normally only found in granular synthesizers, Manipulator allows users to drastically change characteristics of a vocals timbre and pitch. Unlike many of the other plugins on this list, Manipulator can be used fully live and includes a comprehensive real-time time stretch.

Features:

Formant Shifting: Yes

Vocoder: No

MIDI Control: Yes

Harmony Engine: 4 part harmony engine.

Talkbox: Yes in the form of a Synthesizer Voice Transformation

Pitch Correction: Pitch Processing

Other FX: Smear (distort), Glide, Sequence, Detune, Stereo Imaging, FM Synthesis in Harmony Engine and Alienize.


Best Vocoder Plugin for Windows

Image-Line Vocodex

If we’re being honest, Image-Line is known for one thing, and one thing only; FL Studio. Though the companies singular focus has made it the gargantuan it is today, PC users shouldn’t miss out on the awesome plugins they’ve developed, one which became ReFX’s Nexus, but to really look no farther than its heroes would be a shame, especially when the internal plugins that it brought beyond the veil of FL Studio created a host of amazing tools, which also have singular focuses. Vocodex is one of those singularly focused plugins. Not only is the GUI on Vocodex one of the best that you will find on most digital vocoders, it’s also extremely helpful in the way that you use the tool. With its individually controllable 100 band format, Vocodex is actually one of the most intuitive and expansive vocoders on the market.

Features:

Formant Shifting: No

Vocoder: Yes

MIDI Control: No

Harmony Engine: 100 part band control.

Talkbox: Yes with sidechain input

Pitch Correction: No

Other FX: Soundgoodizer {limiter}, Doubler, Reverb, Band Unison, Sytrus Synthesizer Carrier for unique vocoding ability, Vocal Contour and Noise Reduction engine.