9 Best Vocal Processors | December 2016

9 Best Vocal Processors
Best Mid-Range
★★★★★
Best High-End
★★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are performing live on stage or getting ready to record in the studio, one of these vocal processors will give you all the effects you need to sound as good as any professional singer. They allow both experienced and burgeoning vocalists to expand their repertoire and creativity. Skip to the best vocal processor on Amazon.
9
The TC Helicon Play Electric is great because it is so easy to use and offers most of the standard features that people want. The pedal comes with excellent presets that you can easily modify, each of which will follow your chords to create great melodies.
  • 3 variations per harmony
  • presets emulate popular musicians
  • looping is very difficult
Brand TC-Helicon
Model Play Electric
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
8
The Boss VE-20 is a decent option for adding specialized vocal effects. It also allows for hands-free use during on-stage performances. However, its functionality is somewhat limited because it doesn't automatically detect key changes.
  • phantom power for condenser mics
  • rugged and durable construction
  • no ac power supply included
Brand BOSS Audio
Model VE-20
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
7
The Behringer Minifex FEX800 is a compact multi-effects processor for podcast and studio applications. Its tap-to-select functions allow you to control a range of FX parameters, but the build-quality is not the best, so be careful not to drop it.
  • led meter for input level indication
  • mono and stereo operation modes
  • does not have xlr inputs
Brand Behringer
Model FEX800
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
6
Thanks to its advanced pitch detection technology, the Digitech VLHM creates the effect of multiple singers by adding 2 additional voices with natural harmonies. Its LCD screen is very small and somewhat difficult to read, though.
  • built-in guitar tuner
  • feedback suppression with 12 filters
  • can't add delay or reverb on the fly
Brand DigiTech
Model VLHM
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
5
The TC-Helicon Harmony-G XT has 6 built-in reverb and delay combinations for vocal and guitar riffs. Its NaturalPlay guitar-controlled harmony algorithm also has voice stacking capabilities, so that it will optimize effects based on the sound of your vocals and guitar.
  • solid construction
  • updatable via usb
  • complex to set up and use
Brand TC-Helicon
Model 996000905
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
4
The Behringer Virtualizer 3D FX2000 is a low-price rack unit that does not disappoint. It is packed with useful features that are fun to spend hours tweaking, including studio-grade stereo and 3D effects with excellent reverb, pitch change, and echo quality.
  • authentic amp simulation
  • wave-adaptive virtual room reverb
  • the instruction manual is confusing
Brand Behringer
Model FX2000
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
3
Co-developed with Antares Audio Technologies, the rack based Tascam TA-1VP has real-time pitch correction, making it a great choice for live performances. Its processing is laid out with simple blocks and dedicated buttons on its front panel.
  • downward-expanding gate processor
  • variable-knee compression
  • offers dynamic midi control
Brand Tascam
Model TA-1VP
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
Featuring one-touch operation, a compact build, and 6 different vocal effects, the Boss VE-5 Vocal Performer is ideal for an experienced singer, and for those wishing to expand their musical creativity. Overall, it is a fantastic option for those seeking simplicity.
  • customizable presets
  • easily attaches to mic stands
  • has a great battery life
Brand Boss
Model VE5RD
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
With its newly-expanded design, the TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme delivers a professional, eclectic range of vocal, guitar, and phase looping effects. Its fully programmable features offer you superior versatility as you create new songs.
  • auto fx sequencing
  • changes to effects can be automated
  • micro modulation capable
Brand TC-Helicon
Model 996354105
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Your Voice, But Better

I'm not the best singer. I've taken some lessons, and I've been singing in bands since I was 12, but I know my limitations. Fortunately for me, my weaknesses are more in vocal strength and consistency than in pitch, but if I suffered from pitchiness live and wanted a processor that could correct me on the fly without making me sound like a demented robot, I'd grab one of these babies.

That's not their only use, either. These vocal processors take in the signal you sing and from there they can add simple effects like a slight gain to make you sound like Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, or wild effects to make you sound like a member of Daft Punk.

They can also create loops and phases and multiple-part harmonies to accompany you on stage if you're performing solo.

Now, some people are going to argue that this is cheating, that putting the voice through any medium is a violation of its purity. You don't need those people in your life, but if you want to keep them and you want to state your case, simply argue that all technological creation is an extension of the human mind, which is the only place where sound is actually formed because it's the only place where sound is recognized as a form. The unified field argument usually squashes audiophile purists.

The Rack, The Floor, Or The Table?

Okay, I know that sounds like an offer from someone about to torture you in the most medieval way imaginable, but it's actually one of the main determining factors in your choice of vocal processor.

As you scroll through our list, you'll notice that there are three basic builds for your vocal processor. The long, thin builds are rack-mounted processors, designed to fit in a portable rack along with other effects processors for transportation on tour. If you're a serious touring artist with a need for something set permanently in a durable housing, these are the processors you'll want to look at first. They will require you to purchase said housing, and the empty slots therein will probably tempt you into buying additional rack-mounted effects, so this is likely the priciest option in the long run.

There are also processors on our list that look like pretty straightforward floor pedals. That's because they are. The foot pedal has long been the go-to interface for musicians in all walks of performance, whether in the studio, on stage, or at home. They provide the convenience of instant toggling and interaction that a rack mount does not, and they're often built to withstand tremendous amounts of abuse, so you don't have to buy any additional hardware to ensure their lifespan.

The other style of processor, the table-top make, is much more suited to the needs of the in-home recording artist and coffee house performer. They have just as much versatility and processing power as the competition, but they suffer from the weakest construction and a less efficient interface. If you're a lighter performer or you just happen to take immaculate care of your gear, these could be the processors for you.

Cher-ing Is Caring: A History Of Vocal Processing

When I was a teenager, Cher released her international hit single "Believe." In it, the legendary performer took a specific processor called Auto-tune, originally designed to correct out-of-tune singers, and used it to create an audio experience with her voice that the masses had never before heard. It's the effect you hear whenever a singer's voice seems to digitally jump from one note to the next.

Cher's case is a pretty clear example of vocal processing in the digital age, but the art has existed for a long time in various analogue forms.

Open a playbill, and you're liable to see the characters listed under the heading 'Dramatis Personae,' the Latin for 'masks of the drama.' In ancient Greek theatre, actors wore masks in part to symbolize their character in a given play, but also because the masks were built to project sound outward. In fact, the root of the word mask, 'persona' can be broken down into 'per,' which means through, and 'son' a root word for sound.

Things stayed pretty stagnant from there until the advent of recorded sound. Any and all devices for the recording and playing back of voices could be considered kinds of vocal processing, but the actual processing of audio signals based on the quality state of their electrical transmissions was vastly expanded in the radio age.

Those radio developments all made their way into the musical recording studios which found an interest in slightly more experimental tampering like compression and gain in the 50s and 60s. Phil Spector and George Martin, in particular, were two pioneers in using processors designed to clean up vocals and turn them against the original signals to create new and exciting soundscapes.

From there, all bets were off, and effects were only limited by the imaginations of the audio engineers and the available hardware. Today, in the digital age, one can affect a voice to do almost anything.



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Last updated on December 15, 2016 by multiple members of the ezvid wiki editorial staff

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