Gone were the days when there were no amplifiers and effects to enhance the vocals of a singer. But now, there are myriads of vocal effects that you could use to expand and improve your vocals. One such equipment for enhancing your vocals is the vocal effects processor. Using this vocal gadget, you can readily raise the quality of your vocal sound a notch higher. You can also gain a professional edge over others in your performance. But what is a vocal effects processor?
The vocal effects processor is basically a digital device that is designed to create significant effects like voice doubling, echo, reverb, and many other effects to enhance the quality of the vocals. Via a single touch of a button, you can readily alter the characteristics of your vocals. You can also manipulate your vocals to make it sound like a male or a female or even a child.
The vocal effects processor can also rectify your voice pitch automatically. It also features a harmonizer that could overdub pre-recorded harmonies and loops to provide your voice bulk and depth. The good thing about the use of vocal effects processors is that all the alterations and enhancements of your vocals occur simultaneously in real-time.
With the use of this digital device, you practically can do a lot to enhance your vocals while you perform onstage. It is basically positioned between your microphone and the PA system or mixing board. Hence, before your input vocals reach the PA system, your input vocals are already enhanced. This means that your voice signal is already refined and improved before its entering the PA system.
More often, this refinement of vocal quality is only done in a recording studio. Yet, with the vocal effects processor, you can practically mimic what is being done in the recording studio. Your audience, therefore, will feel that your vocals are almost perfect.
This digital device appears to perfect your vocals in real time. Moreover, as a solo performer, for example, you will derive much help from the use of vocal effects processor because your audience would hear your vocals as if you have backup vocals. In a way, the vocal effects processor functions too like a sound engineer and a backup singer.
Types of Vocal Effects Processor
The vocal effects processor basically comes in three types, namely:
So, you got three options when it comes to choosing a vocal effects processor. Your choice, however, of a processor, basically boils down to how you perform and your setup onstage. It also depends on whether you are singing alone or whether you are playing an instrument while you sing.
If you are a DJ, for example, or an EDM performer, you can readily opt for a tabletop type of vocals effects processor. You can simply put them on your disc jockey’s table so that you can operate them easily.
If you are a vocal performer, however, you can readily go for a mountable device. You can mount it on your mic stand to operate it while you sing on a standing position. On the other hand, if you are someone who plays instruments, you should opt for the pedal type of vocal effects processor. The pedal type of processor is also called “stompboxes,” because you basically stomp on it to operate it. However, your foot should be agile enough to operate this type of vocal effects processor because it usually comes with multiple footswitches.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Vocal Effects Processor
If you want to buy a vocal effects processor, you would sometimes get confused. Why? Because there are myriads of brands and models of this device on the market today. Adding to this confusion are the different types of this device. Hence, before purchasing this device, you need to consider the following factors:
1) Pitch Correction Feature
Singing is challenging, especially if you are going to sing continuously to a live audience. Yet, with the use of pitch correction (AutoTune), you can readily correct pitch or pull your pitch towards the correct or desired note. In some genres of music, the pitch correction feature of vocal effects processor has already made a significant impact. In most cases, of course, it is used to correct the pitch, but in some cases, this feature is highly desired for the distinctive quality it can give a sound. In some way, it renders the vocals a tinge of a more pronounced effect that is highly unique and desirable.
The processor usually comes with a ‘Hard Tune’ effect. This effect allows you to lock your pitch to a certain note. It efficiency locks your pitch to this keynote while producing a quick warbling sound as if you are simply drifting between the notes. Vocal effects processors, in a way, allow you to pin your sound to a particular scale or key. But more often, you would get satisfied with the chromatic mode to get near the desired note.
The most obvious and outstanding feature of vocal effects processors is its ability to create harmonies. It can use instrument inputs to make the harmonies and to fine-tune instrument inputs to the chord. It can also fine-tune your voice to the desired note. This feature is called “Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony.
Hence, before buying a particular vocal effects processor, you need to see to it that the prospective model that you are going to buy has this feature. The reason for this is that, without this feature, you will be required to set the key manually if you want to create harmonies. Moreover, you also need to do the manual setting for every change patch and song whose interval of harmonies you would like to adjust.
If you would opt, for example, for a pedal type of vocal effects processor, you will find the number of harmonies that you can produce simultaneously varies from pedal to pedal type. The range that pedal-type can produce is from 1 to 4 extra voices. You can, however, work on the characteristic of these harmonized voices. You can tweak their timing variations and pitch. Moreover, you can alter the gender of the vocals.
3) Looping and Vocal Effects
The primary reason why many musicians utilize pedals for vocal effects is that they want to have control over their vocal effects. They want to put a rein on the delay/reverb and EQ of their vocal effects rather than rely heavily on the mixers. Hence, you would often find a lot of pedal-type vocal effects processors that only offer these basic effects.
On the other hand, some musicians would like to experiment on their styles. These musicians would surely like to have additional vocal effects like synth, alien, vocoder, voicings, and robot. Many of these more intricate processors have additional features such as format shifting effects that could change the voice quality by lightening or deepening the sound character. Moreover, this effect can even alter the sound’s gender. This effect is primarily used for improving the tonal character for harmonizing backups.
4) Outputs and Inputs
Another thing that you need to consider when buying a vocal effects processor is its output and input features. Of course, some vocalists are contented with having XLR connection that goes straight to the mixing console. Yet, if you are a vocalist who also plays an instrument, you may be wanting to have a separate output for your instrument. Thus, if you are one of those who play an instrument and sing at the same time, you better look for one that has a dedicated output for vocals and guitar.
5) USB Recording
You should also look for something that offers direct USB recording. This is important if you are fond of live streaming your video online.
6) Guitar Effects
There are many vocal effects processors nowadays that have guitar effects, making the vocal effects processors very likable equipment for vocalists who play guitars as well. Most of these guitar effects are designed for acoustic players. Moreover, these guitar effects’ features include basic delay, reverb, EQ and filters, modulation, etc. These features, of course, are very appealing to vocalists who play guitar at the same time.
Most Recommended Vocal Effects Processors on the Market Today
If you are keen on buying one, this list of the most recommended vocal effects processors would surely facilitate your search for the ideal one:
1) TC-Helicon Vocal Effects Processor
The TC-Helicon Vocal Effects Processor offers pitch correction and smart harmonies for vocalists who also play guitar. It can readily analyze chords and formulate unique harmonies as you transpose from one chord to another. Moreover, you can either mount it on your mic stand or your guitar stand for easy use.
It also features other special effects like reverb, auto-chromatic correction of pitch, echo, adaptive EQ, compression, gating, and dressing. Moreover, it features an anti-feedback processor if you want to increase the volume when you are on stage. It also comes with a BodyRez guitar effect that enables you to enhance your acoustic guitars’ sound.
As a singer, you would surely appreciate the different effects this processor offers. Moreover, as a vocalist and guitarist at the same time, you will find its guitar effects very helpful. The downside, however, of this equipment is that some users complain of the difficulty in shifting settings while they play their guitars. It lacks a footswitch controller that could have facilitated the setting shift. However, since this processor is stand-mounted, its lack of footswitch controller is amply compensated by its many salient features.
2) TC-Helicon EQ Effects Pedal
The TC-Helicon EQ Effects Pedal is mainly designed for producing natural and accurate harmonies. It is designed for vocalists who play guitars at the same time. It features smart harmony effects that produce your back-up singers virtually. Moreover, it fine-tunes your backup vocals’ pitch to the chords being played. As such, it produces accurate harmonies and the harmonies it produces finetune with your pitch even if you change keys or modulate your voice.
The TC-Helicon EQ Effects Pedal, also known as “The VoiceTone Harmony-G XT” comes with the “Auto Chromatic Pitch Correction” feature. This allows you to adjust the singing pitch to match the chords that are being played readily. This feature can surely reconcile microtonal differences. Eventually, this feature can enable you to really sound good.
The good thing about this processor is that you can readily switch it from one preset to another preset using your foot. You can also choose between A or B effect within each designated preset. In a way, this processor is easy to configure. Moreover, it features a mic preamp that comes with phantom power that is of high quality. It also comes with XLR input along with Guitar in and out, and you can get updates for this processor via USB. This processor is undoubtedly worth buying.
3) Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer
Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer is an all-in-one compact effects and preamp solution for vocalists and acoustic guitar players. It features dedicated preamps for guitar and mic, each of which comes with its own effects. The mic preamp, of course, carries more features. These features include reverb, distortions, electronic, robot, and smart harmony effects. On the other hand, the guitar preamp is also loaded with modulation, delay, and acoustic resonance effects.
This vocal processor has been garnering great reviews for the studio-quality voice it produces and its guitar processing capability. Many describe this processor as a commendable all-in-one pedal that allows you to enhance and explore great sound potential as a singer-guitarist. You would surely love to have this processor at hand while you perform onstage.
Performing onstage is a matter of projecting yourself. People will meticulously evaluate your performance based on your vocal consistency and the quality of your guitar’s sounds. Hence, having the best vocal effects processor when performing on stage is becoming a must nowadays for musicians to ensure that their performance will be impressive and remarkable to their audience.
In this review, we have endeavored to provide you with a good guideline on how to find the right vocal effects pedal. We’ve also listed the top brands and models that you should choose. We hope, therefore, that with this article, you can readily zero in on the right vocal effects processor for your personal use.