On today’s list, we’ll review the 11 best vocoder and vocal processing plugins for 2021 in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
We know you’re here because of Daft Punk. Now that they’re broken up, the world needs a new advocate for the unique sounds of Vocoders, right? Well, who knows. One thing is sure, though. Today’s post has enough vocal processors, synthesizers, and vocoders to make 2021 the year you go vocal about your productions. Let’s dig right in!
- 1 The 11 Best Vocoder & Vocal Processing Plugins 2021 (VST,AU,AAX)
- 1.1 1. Image-Line Vocodex Review
- 1.2 2. Sonnox Vocal Doubler Review
- 1.3 3. Softube Vocoder Review
- 1.4 4. iZotope Nectar Elements Review
- 1.5 5. iZotope VocalSynth 2 Review
- 1.6 6. W.A. Production Vocal Cleaner Review
- 1.7 7. Krotos Dehumaniser Simple Monsters Review
- 1.8 8. Polyverse Manipulator Review
- 1.9 9. Antares Mic Mod EFX Review
- 1.10 10. Soundtoys Little AlterBoy Review
- 1.11 11. MeldaProduction MUnison Review
- 2 Best Free Vocoder & Vocal Processing Plugins 2021
- 3 Conclusion
The 11 Best Vocoder & Vocal Processing Plugins 2021 (VST,AU,AAX)
1. Image-Line Vocodex Review
Image-Line’s Vocodex is an extremely capable plugin with up to 100 vocoder bands.
This plugin offers extensive articulation envelopes, a Carrier Synthesizer, and a Maximizer. Additionally, the Envelope Section gives you command over Hold, Attack, Release, Envelope Follower, and Attack and Release Curves. All this makes Vocodex one of the best vocoder plugins currently in the market.
- Mixer Section: At the top, you get faders and filters for the modulation and carrier inputs, and noise. This lets you blend the effect and the source as you please. The SG controls are a Maximizer called “Soundgoodizer.” It is applied to the output and can control the vocoder’s sometimes unpredictable output levels.
- Pitch-Shifter: The knob lets you alter the pitch of the modulation input. Roll it to the left to lower the pitch and to the right to increase it. This will cause the vocoder effect to sound more masculine or feminine.
- Unison: This section includes three parameters: Unison Shift, Panning, and Order. The first controls the pitch shift between multiple Unison voices. Panning lets you narrow or extends the stereo width of the Unison effect. Finally, the Order detunes and pans up to five copies of the original signal. It is similar to a chorus effect.
Character & Sound:
Image-Line’s Vocodex can produce a wide range of sounds due to its Band controls. By decreasing the Band count to around ten or below, you start getting extremely robotic, lo-fi sounds. As you increase the Band count, fidelity also improves, and the sound becomes lush and pristine. Moreover, by adjusting the Width knob, you can create very narrow bands, making for a thin sound, or large bands, making the effect sound fuller and fatter. Besides, you can use the EQ curve to shape the effect even further.
This is a Windows-only plugin available for Windows XP and up as a VST.
With its multiple bands and five voices, this plugin sounds full, and the effect is natural and impressive. You can choose how you want it to sound, which makes Vocodex a multifaceted tool. If you’re on Windows, it’s hard to say you shouldn’t download it.
2. Sonnox Vocal Doubler Review
Sonnox Vocal Doubler focuses on the two most frequent vocal workflows with two separate plugins.
The plugin lets you choose between Widen or Thicken to apply processing to your vocals. You can use it to emphasize an already stunning vocal performance by doubling or even triplicating it. The plugin tries to remain as human as possible in an attempt to recreate a double-tracking scenario.
- Widen: This plugin generates a couple of new mono versions of the original voice. One is panned hard left and the other hard right. With a little bit of delay between the two and the source, the plugin creates a wide image for the vocals, which can help emphasize some parts of the song.
- Thicken: Here, the process is different. This plugin will make it sound like you sang your mono vocal twice. That happens because the plugin creates a stereo copy of the input signal and overlaps it with the source. The result is the classic double-tracked vocal sound.
- Aux Mode: This little slider is present in both plugins and allows you to use it on a bus track. It automatically sets up the output to use the effect in parallel and generate more detailed results. You can, for example, use Widen in Aux Mode and apply a slap delay to the stereo doubles so that the delay will have different impacts on each side of the image.
Character & Sound:
You can create believable results due to this plugin’s effort to keep it simple. There aren’t any modulations or different effects here, just some good old vocal processing. And the plugins do it really well. You can use the Humanizing controls, Timing and Pitch, to make the doubles sound more natural. Alternatively, you can use the Depth knob to push the effect more profoundly into the mix or bring it upfront. The Tone control is an excellent addition, especially when you’re using this plugin as an insert on a track. In short, it balances the lows and highs of the double, helping you prevent too much sibilance or too much mud from coming from the effect.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.7 or later and Windows 7 and up in AAX, AU, VST2, and VST3 formats.
The Sonnox Vocal Doubler can be used in various instruments and not only on vocals. This makes it a fantastic tool for widening the stereo image of anything from guitars to synths and whatever else you can imagine. The results are always natural and reliable, which makes this a worthy plugin for your collection.
3. Softube Vocoder Review
Softube’s Vocoder keeps simplicity at the forefront by giving you just the right amount of resources.
To use it, simply feed the side-chain with any track you want to modulate. The plugin offers you 4, 8, 12, 16, or 20 resynthesis bands, generating various kinds of textures. As with most other Vocoder plugins, this one also gives you a carrier synthesizer. This feature is convenient here because it allows you to modify the waveform and the envelope.
- Pitch Modulator: This fader on the left-hand side of the GUI can add a nice vibrato effect through frequency modulation. As you raise the fader, the effect gets more profound, and an uncontrollable wobble sound is what you hear.
- Wave selector: The plugin lets you change the carrier’s waveform, which gives you four different-sounding options. Each of the waveforms can be further modulated using the PWM knob below the wave selector. The available waves are Sawtooth, Square, Noise, and Pulse.
- Freeze: You can control this feature in real-time via MIDI. In short, it lets you chop off some part of the input signal and spread it rhythmically across the song. It is tempo-synced so that you can time it to the song’s bars. The subdivisions available are 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1/1.
Character & Sound:
Overall the plugin sounds a bit rough, even with the 20 bands engaged. You can, of course, modulate it, so it sounds a bit smoother, but there’s a fidelity loss happening inherently. This must be due to the plugin’s vintage characteristics. The developers focused hard on creating a warm-sounding analog engine but forgot to offer that extra notch of versatility. Nevertheless, if what you’re looking g for is a faithful recreation of an analog synth vocoder, this plugin’s got you covered. Even though the effect sounds harsh, there are no artifacts or glitches, and the overall sound quality is pristine.
This plugin is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats for 64-bit Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.12 or newer.
Overall, the Softube Vocoder is an elegant plugin that delivers on its offers. Even though it could offer more options, especially regarding the number of bands, that’s not what you will get it for. This is an awesome addition to your collection if you’re looking for the next best thing in analog vocoder emulations.
4. iZotope Nectar Elements Review
iZotope’s Nectar is a vocal assistant that automatically does the hard work for you in an all-in-one plugin.
Nectar helps you achieve professional-sounding vocals by giving you control over the essential elements of a vocal mix. You can remove sibilances, adjust the EQ and compression, add reverb, and more. The plugin does it all by selecting slider controls for a straightforward, no-wasted-time approach to vocal mixing.
- Vibe & Intensity: As you open the plugin, the GUI will display three options for each of the Vibes and Intensity settings. For Vibes, you can choose either Vintage, Modern, or Dialogue modes. For Intensity, you have Light, Moderate, and Aggressive options. After selecting your settings, the plugin carefully listens to your material and creates a custom preset for your vocal, which you can fine-tune afterward.
- Pitch Correction: This plugin’s one-knob auto-tune is easily the most straightforward vocal tuner out there. The slider ranges from 0.0x to 2.0x, and the intelligent algorithm makes sure the tuning is on point with your vocal’s needs. While it doesn’t allow you control over extensive modulation like the real Auto-Tune, this uncomplicated solution can be a lifesaver when mixing ill-tuned vocals.
- Tone: This adaptable control gives you different EQ and saturation curves depending on the vibe you chose. On Vintage mode, it will add colorful harmonic saturation and increase the vocal’s warmth. In Modern mode, the vocal will sound a lot clearer and sharper, with a boost on the upper mids. Finally, you’ll get a balanced tone on Dialogue mode, with enhanced definition, perfect for podcasts or radio programs.
Character & Sound:
This plugin’s high flexibility makes it a one-of-a-kind tool that will rarely sound the same. Due to its intelligent algorithm, you can apply it with the same settings on two distinct vocals, and they will sound different. Also worth mentioning, the De-esser algorithm is crazy smooth, and the Clarity function sounds like magic. That makes this plugin an advanced tool that will save you a lot of time searching for the right amount of compression or the perfect frequencies to cut.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.8 and up and 64-bit Windows 7 and higher in AU, AAX, RTAS, DPM-AS, VST2, and VST3 formats.
iZotope’s Nectar is ahead of the competition when it comes to vocal enhancing. Besides being incredibly intuitive and user-friendly, it actually sounds great and delivers fascinating results. The price tag can be a little off-putting, but if you’re in a deadline-heavy workflow, it’s worth it for the time-saving alone.
5. iZotope VocalSynth 2 Review
VocalSynth 2, by iZotope, gives you five synth modulation styles designed for vocals and a wide array of built-in effects.
This plugin can make even the dullest vocals sound interesting. The plugin allows you to create rich, layered textures that enhance your vocal productions through the use of several techniques. The extensive set of parameters ensure you get the utmost flexibility to shape the result to your liking.
- Synth Modulations: The five modulations can be used independently or combined to taste. Biovox uses scientific modeling of human voice traits to change the vocal’s characteristics naturally. Next in line, Vocoder is the classic analog sound with few tonal options. Compuvox adds digital glitches and artifacts to the vocal. Talkbox delivers this classic effect with simple-to-use controls. Finally, Polyvox adds beautiful harmonies to the source vocal. All these modulations act as synthesizers, recreating the vocal sound as they go.
- Stompbox Effects: VocalSynth 2 gives you seven modulation effects that further enhance its capabilities. You can easily drag and reposition the effects within the chain to have one influence the other. Apart from the tried-and-true Distortion, Filter, Chorus, and Delay, the plugin also gives you a sequencer called Shred, a Ring Modulator, and a Transform function.
- Three Modes: You can “play” this plugin in three ways: via a Side-Chain, using MIDI, or in Auto function. The plugin offers tailored instructions on how to set up each according to your DAW. In Auto Mode, you get access to real-time pitch correction, additional voices and harmonies, and the intuitive Mix Panel. You can control the pitch and harmonies using MIDI notes in MIDI mode, like in a vocoder or talkbox. Lastly, in Side Chain mode, you bypass the built-in synthesizer and use your audio as the Carrier signal so that you can imbue any instrument with the characteristics of a vocal.
Character & Sound:
This plugin allows you to play your vocal track like a real synthesizer. Instead of getting LFO, wave, and modulation controls, you get parameters for predesigned, on-point sounds. That saves you a considerable deal of time and lets you focus on shaping the source as you wish. You can also use VocalSynth 2 on other instruments, like the piano or the guitar. You can turn any input signal upside down and any simple melody into a psychedelic orchestra.
Vocal Synth 2 is available as an AAX, AU, RTAS, VST, and VST3 plugin for Windows XP and higher and macOS 10.8 through 10.15.
As far as vocal processors go, this is no simple silly suite. This plugin offers a vocal processing solution like no other, making it a must-have in your collection. iZotope’s managed to blend some of the most sought-after effects for vocals into a playable plugin with mesmerizing results.
6. W.A. Production Vocal Cleaner Review
WA Productions’ Vocal Cleaner does three separate plugins in a straightforward unit with a user-friendly GUI.
Vocal Cleaner is a simple plugin with a whole lot of efficiency to offer. It gives you control over noise suppression, sibilance, gating, and presence. Furthermore, it lets you roll out the bottom and blend the processing with the original signal. All these controls make it an all-in-one solution to make your vocals free from unwanted leakage or excessive noise.
- De-Noise: you can extract the background hiss, hum, and even percussive sounds recorded during the vocal performance. The plugin uses an intelligent algorithm to split the signal between voice and noise to clean up the sound as best as possible. It’s worth noting that if the recording is too compromised by noise, this algorithm can end up removing some of the voice’s sounds as well, so be careful.
- De-Esser & Gate: Both these effects usually take several parameters to tailor. With Vocal Cleaner, you get a threshold slider; the intelligent algorithm does the rest. That will save you a lot of time editing, and you’re not happy with the results, dial the threshold back a little. You can’t get more convenient than that.
- B/N/D: Each algorithm is optimized for different quality audio sources. By clicking the B/N/D buttons, you’ll be shaping the algorithm to whatever fits your production best. B stands for Bright, N for Natural, and D for Dark. If you have too much noise going on in the high frequencies, like tape hiss, Bright will focus the processing there. Similarly, if a low humming electrical noise is the problem, choose Dark to tackle it. The Natural mode will give you a balanced response, which is good when there is no excessive noise in any specific frequency range. You can control these filters using the Amount knob under each processing.
Character & Sound:
This plugin allows you to get cleaner results from your vocal tracks, but it can destroy the source’s naturality when overdone. Although worth mentioning, that isn’t a big deal, though. All you have to do is be careful with the amounts you add or get a grip of using the Mix knob. The Presence slider sounds precise and effective. It really brings up the most critical high-mid frequencies that need to be elevated in detail.
Vocal Cleaner is available as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin for Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.7 or higher.
WA Productions’ Vocal Cleaner is a bang-for-your-buck deal that will save you a lot of time with noisy vocals. Alternatively, you can use it simply as a Gate or De-Esser, making this a go-to for most vocal pre-mixing situations.
7. Krotos Dehumaniser Simple Monsters Review
Dehumaniser Simple Monsters, by Krotos, is a real-time vocal processor for voice-overs and sound effects.
This plugin is the easiest way to incorporate a monstrous character or sing that Extreme Metal song. The plugin’s sound is achieved through several synthesizing techniques, and the 36 presets give you a hint of where to start so you don’t waste any time. These presets are arranged within libraries named Dialogue, Sci-fi, Growls, and Roars.
- Scrubbing Convolution: The plugin gives you 48 animal sounds to use as models, and they can all be found in the samples menu. The sounds encompass all kinds of growls and roars, from dogs to tigers, and you can fine-tune them with the five EQ points. Additionally, you can control how much of the sample should be blended with the input signal using the Sample Playback Level slider at the bottom.
- Slider Controls: The plugin gives you five slider controls, each to control a different sonic characteristic. Size refers to the actual size of the monster you’re trying to personify. Fury lets you dial in just the right amount of anger for the situation. With Age, you can determine how old the creature is. Wildness allows you to increase the beast’s ferocity, and finally, the Character determines how strong the plugin will put out the overall sound.
- XY Pads: After setting up the slider controls, you can use the intuitive XY Pads to fine-tune the sound. Each pad lets you assign two parameters, one for the horizontal and another for the vertical axis. To achieve that extra blend between the parameters, drag the circle across the pad. You’ll hear the sound changing slightly as you give more emphasis to any of the parameters.
Character & Sound:
Dehumaniser makes you sound like a vicious monster or a friendly creature. The controls allow you to shape your voice in real-time to sound however you need it to be. The key is using your imagination to find the perfect sound and pair it with a convincing performance. In addition to monsters, you can use the plugin to generate angry animals’ sounds without running the risk of facing them. Alternatively, you can use the convolution engine to modify instruments like guitars and drums. The results are already convincing on their own, but they become the real thing when matched with a video.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 and up and macOS 10.8 or newer as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin.
Dehumaniser Simple Monsters is a mandatory tool for sound designers and voice-over studios. It delivers the most uncomplicated solution for any movie, game, cartoon, TV show, or song that needs to give life to an abnormal character. Most importantly, this plugin saves you from loading a stack of other plugins when you attempt to get those sounds, saving you time and CPU power.
8. Polyverse Manipulator Review
Manipulator, by Polyverse, is a vocal-transforming processor that will ultimately convert your vocal tracks into something else.
The plugin offers close to infinite transformation possibilities due to the ten built-in effects. Through the use of granular modulation, it can even alter the pitch and timbre of mono audio. Whatever the combination you choose, the goal is coming up with entirely new sounds and textures to make the vocals on your tracks stand out. Taking up the most significant chunk of the GUI are the plugin’s main controls. They are separated into three main effects: Pitch Shifter, Harmonic Shifter, and Grain Alternator. At the bottom, you’ll find the Modulation Slots, which is where the magic happens.
- Main Controls: On the left, the Pitch Shifter lets you control the Pitch and Formant independently, but it also gives you a micro-slider called Smooth Grains, which compensates for the loss of definition when you pitch a vocal down. Located at the GUI’s center, the Harmonic Shifter lets you tackle the harmonics, frequency modulation, and ratio, changing the timbre without messing with the pitch. Lastly, The Grain Alternator cuts individual cycles into overlapping grains, randomly shifting the pitch of each cycle up and down, which adds coloration and still maintains the sense of tonality.
- Modulation Slots: The plugin offers you five modulation sources: Meta Knob, ADSR, MIDI, Follower, and Sequencer. The plugin lets you choose four to use simultaneously, each in one slot. You can, of course, add multiple instances of the same modulation source. The Meta Knob can control various parameters and be saved with user-generated names in presets. ADSR is triggered by incoming MIDI notes and controls the Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release of the input signal. MIDI converts the information into a modulation signal, while Follower converts the amplitude of the source into a modulation signal and lets you control its attack and release. Finally, the Sequencer creates a triggered, or free-running, LFO.
- Cross-Modulation: The plugin allows you to use a single Modulation Source as an amplitude modulator for another. That helps you create complex sounds that would be unattainable any other way. To use this function, drag the colored controls on the outer edge of any given modulation slot. You can use an LFO to modulate the Pitch parameters or an ADSR to control the Harmonics. You can also use the MIDI Velocity to make the Alternator respond to how hard you press the keyboard’s keys.
Character & Sound:
Manipulator is a synthesizer for your vocals, but it works amazingly on virtually any other instrument, too. Additionally, you can use it as a MIDI instrument and play it like a true synth. The presets are separated into sections: Subtle, Morphs, Rhythmic, FX, and MIDI. Inside each menu, you’ll find an extensive collection of presets that can give you a finished track or a starting point for something new. The fixed parameters are easy to use and understand, and the slot effects make this plugin genuinely unique. Even the more straightforward effects, Detune, Smear, and Stereo, sound fantastic. Also, the stereo enhancer adds no phase issues, which is excellent for your mono compatibility.
Manipulator is available for macOS 10.6 or later and Windows 7 and up as a VST, AU, and AAX plugin.
Polyverse’s Manipulator is a one-of-a-kind plugin that can make your vocals sound like nothing ever heard before. It gives you the exact controls you need to make a synthesizer out of a vocal track, with accessible controls and an intuitive interface. The ability to use it in real-time makes it a fantastic tool for live performances and a great addition to your toolbox.
9. Antares Mic Mod EFX Review
Antares Mic Mod EFX changes your microphones by recreating the sonic qualities of several famous mics.
The plugin has a simple functionality that brings a lot of effective results. All you have to do is select the microphone used for the recording and select which mic you want it to become. After that, choose how many inches away from the source you wish for the scratch mic to be positioned and how many inches away you want the new one. If your microphone has settings, such as a low cut or multiple patterns, they will be available for you in the GUI.
- Microphone Collection: The team at Antares has taken their time to model the almost 120 microphones available. You can use them either as the source or the modeled microphones, and the collection spans classics and modern-day workhorses. From Neumann’s U47 to Audio-Technica’s AT2020
- Tube Saturation: On top of fantastic microphone modeling, this plugin also lets you add an excellent tube saturation to emulate an old-school preamp. Sometimes this little feature can mean the difference between a dull and a powerful sound.
Character & Sound:
If you’re coming from a really good-sounding microphone, the result of the modulation may not be that noticeable. The best alternative is changing the kind of mic from dynamic to condenser to better hear the differences, for example. Another change that makes a lot of difference is changing diaphragm sizes. In this case, if you’ve recorded with a Shure SM57, changing it to a Coles 4038 will make a big difference.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.13 and up and Windows 10 in VST3, AAX, and AU formats.
Recording engineers are all a bit precious about their microphones and the ones lacking in their collection. Although this plugin doesn’t put the actual units in your hands, it indeed does a good job of emulating them. The Antares Mic Mod EFX helps you get different sounds right at the source and, for that alone, is an excellent addition to your collection.
10. Soundtoys Little AlterBoy Review
Soundtoys’ Little AlterBoy is intended to deliver dramatic vocal alterations from a monophonic input.
This user-friendly plugin lets you handle pitch and Formant both individually or in liked mode. The three methods give you a nice variety of possible sounds, and the output section with its drive and blend knobs gives the final editing touch to the sound. Soundtoys imported the Drive functions from another one of their plugins, Decapitator, which ensures the reliable quality of the brand.
- Pitch Section: Here, you get controls for the Pitch and Formant of the source signal. In real-time, with the MIDI control, you can transpose a song or section. By changing the Formant, you’ll alter the vocal’s fundamental notes and shift the vocalist’s gender.
- Quantize: By clicking on this button, you’ll lock the vocal to the closest pitch, generating an Auto-Tune effect. Additionally, you can add some drive to it and make it sound warmer and more natural.
- Robot Mode: This button locks the source signal to a single note, which is adjustable by the Pitch knob. It doesn’t go as far as creating a Vocoder sound, though the result does sound pretty robotic.
Character & Sound:
Little AlterBoy is a plugin primarily designed for generating modern-sounding effects. The pitch-quantized auto-tuning is the best example. Overall, the plugin sounds cohesive and natural. If you’re trying to make it less natural, it’s easy to set extreme parameters. Additionally, you can use it in parallel or with the Mix knob to create interesting harmonies and give your tracks that double-tracking effect.
This plugin is available for macOS 10.10 or later and 64-bit-only Windows 7 or later in AAX, VST, and AU formats.
The Little AlterBoy consists of easy-to-use controls and a simple approach to pitch-shifting that makes a big difference in your vocals. The plugin is worth it for the Auto-Tune effect alone, but all its attributes make it an excellent addition to a producer’s collection.
11. MeldaProduction MUnison Review
Melda Production’s MUnison is an intelligent harmonizer that allows you to generate an entire choir from a single vocal source.
As expected from Melda, the plugin offers hidden configurations, skins, and randomization options. By and large, this is a versatile plugin, but it does something no other plugin on this list does. MUnison listens to the source material and identifies its pitch, automatically generating extra harmonic voices. The input signal can be a vocal, pad, pluck, or any sound with melody.
- Fifty-Voice Choir: As you load the plugin into an insert slot in your DAW and play the track’s content, it automatically identifies the signal’s key. At this point, you can choose how many voices you want and what they will do. You can have up to fifty voices singing the same notes or harmonies in the scale you choose.
- Harmonizer: This menu shows you the controls for the scale and key. You can choose from Chromatic, Major, Minor, or Custom scales and adjust the voicing with up to eight notes. Additionally, you can mix each of the eight harmonic voices in volume. You can also pick these voices using a MIDI keyboard.
- Modulators: If creating instant harmonies isn’t enough, the plugin also gives you four modulators for your sound: a Pitch Detector, an LFO, a Level Follower, an Envelope Generator, or a Randomizer. You can use them to modulate any parameter in the plugin for extended creative effects.
Character & Sound:
The plugin sounds incredibly natural at modest voice counts and really feels like a group performance. The unison multitracking effects are flabbergasting, and the modulations let you explore further into the sonic possibilities. Like all good Melda products, this plugin supports Mid/Side and up to eight channels of surround processing. Moreover, you can use MUnison during live performances for instant choir effects due to its ultra-fast processing.
This plugin is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats for Windows Vista and newer and macOS 10.9 and later.
MUnison, by Melda Productions, is a go-to plugin for anyone looking for live harmonizers and effective double-tracking plugins. It sounds perfect on vocals, but don’t limit your creativity to them since you can use it on virtually any harmonic instrument—a great addition to your collection at any time in your career as a producer.
Best Free Vocoder & Vocal Processing Plugins 2021
1. Tal-Software TAL-Vocoder Review
The TAL-Vocoder is a free 11-band vocoder plugin with an envelope follower for each band.
Its algorithm is optimized for vocal processing and includes intelligent consonant identifiers designed to make speech clearer. The plugin has some analog-modeled components and a few all-digital algorithms, making it a modern plugin with a vintage soul.
- Carrier Controls: The basic timbre is created by any of the four generators in the Carrier section. You can use any one of the four or a combination of them. There, you’ll find Pulse and Saw waves, a Sub oscillator, and a noise generator. These will use a VCO as the carrier for the Vocoder sound. Alternatively, you can use the left channel as the carrier by clicking the Input Mode button on the other side of the GUI.
- 11 Bands: The Vocoder section gives you faders for all eleven bands, which you can individually mix in volume. This lets you shape the sound and achieve classic or futuristic sounding robotic voices. You’ll find ESS Volume responsible for giving back definition to unintelligible vocals, among the other parameters.
- Chorus: On your way out of the plugin, you’ll find the Chorus button, which gives the 11 bands the final blend and make the overall sound even more vintage. This is reminiscent of eighties synthesizers and is very useful in several situations, including choosing to play the plugin like a synth.
Character & Sound:
The TAL-Vocoder sounds exceptionally great, which probably makes it the best free vocoder plugin out there. In addition to the 11-bands and carrier modulators, the plugin also offers a Harmonic knob, which adds subtle harmonics to the sound, making it fuller. The Chorus effect also comes in handy, and the Polyphony capabilities are simply stunning.
This plugin is available in VST and AU formats for Mac and PC.
The TAL-Vocoder is a surprisingly versatile vocoder plugin that delivers professional results for free. Its intelligent algorithms and expressive set of controls make it one of this list’s must-haves.
2. iZotope Vocal Doubler Review
Vocal Doubler, by iZotope, is a highly intuitive free plugin that packs all of iZotope’s expertise with vocal widening.
This simple plugin gives you two controls: Separation and Variation. Apart from having access to them through a super clever circular control, you can also bypass the input signal or tuck the effect back into the mix. On top of that, the plugin is fully automatable, so you can give your vocals as much width and movement as you want during the song.
- Separation: This feature controls the stereo widening. Make your vocals sound wide and apparent just by dragging the central circle up. You will get visual feedback from the sun-shaped dancing wave at the GUI’s center as you see it increasing in size. This function is excellent when you want to emphasize a chorus or any part of the song.
- Variation: After you raise the central circle, you’ll start seeing another circular line appearing around the control. This is a slider that you can turn all the way down to increase the variation in the track. That means the plugin will add humanized detunes to make the vocals sound like different performances stacked together.
Character & Sound:
You can make this plugin’s sound as apparent or subtle as you want. The Effect Only button ensures you can place it in a bus track and have it work by itself. Overall, the sound is gentle and natural. Each source will have its sweet spot, but every vocal in every genre can benefit from this plugin’s magic.
iZotope’s Vocal Doubler is available for macOS 10.8 through 10.15 and 64-bit Windows 7 and up as an AAX, AU, VST2, and VST3 plugin.
This is the third iZotope vocal processor on this list, which is saying something. They know their trade when it comes to vocal plugins, and this free unit is no different. It is definitely a reliable plugin to have around and a worthy addition to your collection.
3. J-Hud-Studio Vocal King Review
Vocal King, by J-Hud-Studio, is a free all-in-one plugin that makes your vocals sit in the mix.
This vocal processor focuses on adding clarity, presence, and compression to your tracks, but it also works as a miniaturized signal path. It can act as a preamp and two-band EQ. Additionally, the four available modes change the sound slightly.
- Pres Comp: The plugin’s principal knob is the Pres Comp. It adds the initial volume boost and some smooth compression the more you turn it up. It is supposed to work like a vintage preamp input knob.
- Tighten: This knob works with the mid frequencies. Lower it to hollow out the sound just enough so the highs can pop through. Alternatively, raise it to add a mid-boost that stiffens the sound and makes it sound more together.
- Four Modes: Each of the four modes sound increasingly more compressed and saturated. This is supposed to give you a taste of analog saturation and add some character to the sound. It’s incredible that this plugin has four modes because it adds to its versatility.
Character & Sound:
Mostly, Vocal King is a pumped-up compressor that evens out the track’s dynamics and adds just enough clarity to make it cut through the rest of the mix. You’ll have to constantly level-match as you work with it because it doesn’t take much for Vocal King to raise the output volume.
The plugin is available for macOS 10.7 and up and Windows 7 and higher in VST2, VST3, and AU formats.
This free tool is an excellent vocal processor that has found its place in many producer’s lists of regulars. It has an amazing double compression engine, and the added EQ controls give it that extra usability. You can use it on anything besides vocals, which makes it a must-have plugin.
On this list, we aimed at giving you the best vocal processing and vocoder options available in 2021. There are, of course, a lot more out there, but these are the ones we know you can’t go without. So whether you’re planning a purchase or looking for a free alternative, we got you covered.
If we could choose for you, we’d say the best vocoder plugin in 2021 is Image Line’s Vocodex, and the best vocal processor is iZotope’s Vocal Synth 2. These are the best plugins on the more creative side of things.
If you’re looking for something to enhance your vocal processing, iZotope’s Nectar Elements and Mic Mod EFX by Antares should be your go-to investments. These will give your vocal tracks entirely new dimensions of color and processing. But then again, our list also encompasses several plugins for other purposes, so feel free to read again if you need an extra refresher.
Pedro Nascente is an artist, record producer, and mix engineer, currently operating his own studio and working with his band, Yellow Boulevard. Believing that music should convey experiences and feelings, Pedro is known for applying design thinking to his workflow to achieve different sounds and deliver the right messages.