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The vocal harmoniser pedal is one of the essential equipments you must have while singing live. The vocal harmony that your band produces undoubtedly has an impact on your singing performance. In fact, it can determine to some degree how your audience would react to your live performance. Gone were the days, of course, when vocalists and bands rely heavily on the PA system and equalizer for producing great vocal harmonies during live performance. At present, however, many bands and singers make use of vocal harmonizer pedal to ensure that the voices and sounds that their audience hear are substantially harmonized before these sounds even reach the PA system. But what is a vocal harmonizer pedal?
Vocal Harmonizer Explained
Vocal harmonizer pedal is similar to the guitar effects pedal. Yet, it differs from it because it is primarily designed to harmonize voices to produce great vocal harmonies. In a way, it makes voices sound great by bringing those voices together and synchronizing them to create great tones that would be highly appealing to your audience. Moreover, you can also use it to synchronize the tunes and sounds of guitars with the vocals.
The use of vocal harmonizer pedals, of course, can enhance your musical performance and make it appear very professional and appealing to the listeners.
Understanding the Harmonizer Effect
In sound recording, one technique that has been frequently practiced by sound engineers is that of pitch shifting. Pitch shift effect has a subtype called “harmonizer effect.” This harmonizer effect enables you to lower or raise the pitch of a sound.
There are gadgets like pedals that are equipped with software plugins that could produce this harmonizer effect, and one such gadget is the pitch shifter pedal. Pitch shifter pedal can readily transpose notes according to specific musical intervals. This pitch shifter pedal is a tad different from the old octave pedals that could transpose pitch one octave lower or higher. Moreover, the harmonizer pedal is capable of transposing to several intervals.
One type of pitch shifter pedals is the vocal harmonizer pedal which is specifically designed to bring voices together so that the harmony it produces would sound more beautiful and professional. The good thing about this vocal harmonizer is that it maintains the sound in its original form while combining it with the corrected pitch version or pitch-shifted version.
Another thing about contemporary harmonizers is that they are smart. They can be set according to a specified key that you would like to play to ensure that you produce harmonious sounds. The results, of course, is a pleasing ensemble of melodies that plays cohesively and perfectly together.
Different Knobs & Features of Vocal Harmonizer Pedals
To truly understand what a vocal harmonizer pedal is, you need to understand its main knobs and features as well as their functions. Here are the main features of most vocal harmonizer pedals:
Depth refers to the adjustment knob that is primarily utilized along with speed for adjusting the strength of oscillation of the sound.
Level refers to the output and input level. You can gradually increase it, especially when adjusting to prevent the overloading of the amplifier. You should also pay attention to it in order to balance the change of volume if you are using the effector and electric guitar alternately. In case you want to highlight the effect, for example, you can gradually raise the level.
Distortion knob allows you to readily adjust the level of distortion from light to heavy distortion.
Speed is the one that controls the oscillations of the sound. You can use it during the chorus and as a phase shifter. You can also use it for changing the oscillation speed of the Flange and other effects. It is useful in expressing slow, lyrical, gentle, or strong emotional alterations.
Feedback is a button that is primarily used to adjust the sensitivity as well as to enhance the starting speed of effects like wah, edging, and delay.
Attack is a control that is used to enhance the note’s initial response speed. It functions as a tactile response.
7) Delay Time
Delay Time is the button that is primarily used to adjust the reverb or delay time to produce significant echo effects.
Things You Should Know About The Smart Harmonizer Pedal
The abovementioned knobs and features are the most basic features that you would see in a smart harmonizer. Yet, all smart harmonizers can easily lock into a key. You would also see smart pedals equipped with small LCD screens. Some, however, have LED lights that enable you to move through different options.
Smart pedals, however, differ from each other. Some pedals come with knobs that you can easily manipulate. Additionally, the most valuable knobs of the smart harmonizers are referred to as those of “Type” or “Harmony.” Both these knobs enable you to readily choose the type of voicing. These knobs often have labels of low, lower, high, higher, unison, octaves, and so forth. Some smart harmonizers come with reverb knob.
Most have the level, and most of them also have Mix, Blend, or Balance labels. Some smart harmonizers also come with presets buttons and reverb knob. Lastly, most smart harmonizers have the “Key” option to let you select your preferred key when playing.
Recommended Vocal Harmonizer & Effect Pedals
As mentioned above, there are myriads of vocal harmonizers pedals or vocal effect pedals on the market today. This makes it difficult for the uninitiated to pick the ideal harmonizer pedal for their needs. Hence, to facilitate the process of choosing, we have listed here the top-rated vocal effect pedals on the market today:
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1) TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme
TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme is definitely a great vocal processor that comes with extra effects and features that include vocoder/synth. It is best for singers who want to refine their vocal outputs to enable them to produce excellent studio sound, especially when doing a live performance.
It comes with 500 full presets or more along with other sterling features that showcase the reliability and high quality of this vocal processor. It also comes with a 45-minute looping time which you can readily spread 8 minutes over each track. Moreover, its other features include harmony, doubling, reverb, Umod, rhythmic, and delay.
The upgraded version of the TC Helicon VL3 showcases high-quality guitar’s sound. The previous glitches experienced in the older models have now been fixed. Moreover, VL3 is now capable of live streaming performance using its USB feature. Furthermore, VL3 is capable of looping for up to five hours. You can also use its looper along with DAW software. Lastly, it also features an ability to play backing tracks.
2) TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor
The TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor is a professionally designed vocal effects pedal that you can use to create great vocal harmonies. It definitely works perfectly with any acoustic guitar. It features highly recognizable and easy-to-operate features. Moreover, you can create a stereo combination using its varied guitar effect styles along with its other features like flashback delay and reputation reverb.
If you are one of those songwriters or singers who want to enhance your guitar rendition, you can readily use its processor’s pitch correction features. It also has great voice effects that include harmony, doubling, reverb, hard tune, and delay. You can combine these features to produce an unsurpassable level of voice enhancements.
With its tap tempo feature likewise, you can loop vocals to create great vocal harmonies. Moreover, using this processor, you can fully integrate both your instrument and vocals harmoniously.
The TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor also features Bodyrez filtering along with an onboard EQ for a perfect acoustic guitar tone. It also features guitar feedback proofing along with phase controls and notch filter. Lastly, it features separate guitar and vocal outputs that you can stereo mix.
3) Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor Effects Pedal
The Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor Effects Pedal is a nicely designed vocals harmonizer pedal that showcases the quality and credibility of this brand. It has designed this processor to produce harmonies that are based on key/scale. Thus, if you want a harmonizer that goes well with guitar-based harmonies, you will be frustrated with this one for it is basically designed for vocal enhancements.
The built of VE-20 is quite sturdy and very compact. It has almost the same design as those of dual pedals for guitars. It is specially designed for vocals.
Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor Effects Pedal comes with reverb effects as well as primary delay. It also enables you to correct pitch with its pitch-correction feature. Moreover, it comes with an auto-tune effect.
It also features programmable harmony and other effects like a 38-second looper for creating vocal blending. Furthermore, it comes with distortion robot, strobe, and chorus effects that are admittedly great additional effects for such a compact processor.
4) Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer
The Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer is a powerful vocals harmonizer pedal that comes with great features. It basically comes with loop, reverb, distortion, harmony, EQ, Octaver, doubling, and many other salient features. This processor is specifically designed for singers who usually play their acoustic guitar while singing. It also features amazing effects for VOX guitars and acoustic guitars.
It supports pitch correction allowing you to enhance your vocals during your live performance. It is a very compact all-in-one gadget that functions as a preamp for providing great effect solutions to its users. Additionally, it produces sophisticated sound processing that is typical of a BOSS product. It is intuitive yet very simple to operate.
This Boss VE-8 also comes with four different types of ambient effects along with chromatic pitch correction (for real-time tuning), Enhance, and moreCreate features for creating vocal harmonies. You can set its key manually or based the key on your guitar input. Moreover, it includes more dramatic processing and doubling effect. Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer is surely an excellent choice for singers.
5) TC-Helicon EQ Effects Pedal
The TC-Helicon EQ Effects Pedal, also known as VoiceTone Harmony G-XT, is a straightforward vocal harmonizer that features a variety of great sound effects. It comes with six factory-installed presets that you can readily set to produce great rhythm. Each preset comes with individual effects, as well as harmony and doubling settings. Each preset also comes with A and B option. Moreover, you can do some editing using its effects pedal.
The TC Helicon also comes with other built-in effects that you would surely love to use. Its tone button is also of great quality, although it seems to be a bit small. As a vocalist, it would surely do the job of enhancing your vocals as well the sound of your guitar. Lastly, you would surely love this gadget for what it does to your voice.
The act of buying your own vocal harmonizer usually depends on your taste and preference. But the choosing process is a bit difficult if you are uninitiated into the intricacies of the features of vocal harmonizers, given the fact that there are myriads of vocal harmonizer processors on the market today to choose from. Hence, with this simple article, we hope to make it easy for you to find the best vocal harmonizer pedal for your personal use.
Brand, of course, can’t guarantee that you will get a perfect harmonizer pedal, for even top brands can also produce defective products despite their strict and high standards of manufacturing. Yet, knowing the best brands can surely help you easily zero in on the ideal vocal harmonizer pedal for some brands have really high standards and quality products.