Let’s look at the best pitch shifter plugins available in 2023. In addition, we included great free plugins for you at the end of the post!
A pitch shifter is an effect plugin that changes the pitch of any inputted audio. Furthermore, most can change the audio’s timbre and formant, which helps keep the result authentic. You can use it to create harmonies, fit an acapella to your music, customize vocal recordings, design character voices, etc.
Often, sound designers use these in film and TV productions. Many fictional characters like Smaug from The Hobbit and Steppenwolf from Zack Snyder’s Justice League have pitch-shifted voices.
Hence, pitch shifters are a staple in cinematic productions. Of course, you can also use it creatively in various music styles, especially contemporary electronic music.
Now, let’s dive in:
The 6 Best Pitch Shifter Plugins 2023
1. Waves Vocal Bender (Designed For Vocals)
Minimalistic pitch-shifting plugin dedicated to customizing vocal recordings.
Pitch-shifting is a common technique that musicians employ in electronic or pop music production. The most common use is to create additional vocal harmonies with the chorus/bridge vocals, adding richness and life. Furthermore, mixing a copy of the vocals with mild pitch changes results in the renowned “doubling” effect. Waves Vocal Bender allows you to do all of that and more while maintaining a user-friendly interface.
Since the plugin works in real-time, you can employ it for live performances too. Similarly, its mix knob allows you to create parallel doubling effects faster than ever.
Vocal Bender features merely two knobs to give you complete control over your vocal’s pitch: pitch and formant. The pitch knob allows you to change the pitch or fundamental frequency by up to one octave up or down. This changes the “note” that the voice is singing.
Conversely, the formant is the characteristics of a voice that define the sonic individuality of a person and the vowels the person is speaking. Hence, decreasing it makes the voice sound deeper and looser, whereas a higher amount makes the voice sound squeaky and tight.
Furthermore, the button labeled Fine between those two knobs lets you disable the per-semitone snapping, which is the default mode. So, if you want to adjust the pitch or the formant by cents, enable Fine. And click on the chain-link icon to gang the pitch and formant knobs.
The Flatten button changes the input vocal pitches into a single note. It’s useful to generate robotic sounds or “center” the notes to play them by automating the pitch knob. Furthermore, you can select the pitch you want Flatten to force the vocals in.
Modulation is an important part of Waves Vocal Bender. You can modulate any parameter available, including the knobs of the modulators themselves. Furthermore, there are four modulation sources: two LFO/Sequencers, an amplitude modulator, and a pitch modulator.
First, the LFO and the 16-step sequencer let you create rapid pitch changes and vibratos easily. Similarly, the amplitude modulator modulates other parameters using the volume of the input voice. Lastly, the pitch modulator uses the input voice’s pitch to manipulate parameters.
Waves Vocal Bender is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.14.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
Vocal Bender is a highly effective pitch-shifting plugin dedicated to vocals. It’s ideal for producing creative vocal melodies for EDM, hip-hop, pop, etc. Furthermore, you can use the formant parameter to change the way people sound. You can even change the gender of the voice.
However, since it’s designed to work well with monophonic vocals, it doesn’t play nice with polyphonic sounds.
2. Devious Machines Pitch Monster (All-Round Pitch Shifter)
Create stacks of harmonies or pitch-shift beyond recognition with this versatile plugin.
Despite a simplistic interface, Pitch Monster lives up to its name with features beyond what you’d expect from similar plugins. Furthermore, Pitch Monster often sounds better than other pitch-shifting plugins even when comparing the same functions thanks to its granular pitch-shifting engine.
- Highly Capable
The plugin can change pitch up to six octaves from the original key. It makes Pitch Monster an unbeatable tool for sound designing. Similarly, it can create eight-voice harmony, with each voice capable of eight unison voices. That makes sixty-four voices in total.
The plugin features three pitch-shifting engines: Granular, Formant, and Vocode. The Granular Engine is suitable for any kind of audio, and you can even adjust the granule size. Conversely, the latter two engines are better suited for solo vocals. Formant changes the pitch of the vowel and the consonant separately, whereas Vocode flattens vibrato.
I suggest using the Formant mode for general voice editing and creating harmonies. It sounds the most natural for monophonic vocals. However, if you want to get creative and produce melodies for vocal chops, try the vocode mode.
Pitch Monster features three modes of performance: Normal, Midi, and Chord. The normal mode is merely a pitch shifter, whereas the Midi mode allows you to control the pitch using midi input with an optional glide feature. Similarly, Chord mode lets you play multiple notes simultaneously.
Furthermore, a Chord Memory feature lets you save up to eight chords. You can perform the chords using automation. This feature is excellent for creating artificial harmonies during a live performance.
Devious Machines Pitch Monster is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.9 to higher 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you tend to need a pitch shifter often, you can’t go wrong with this plugin. It even handles vocal pitch correction to an extent via its Midi mode. Furthermore, its harmony engine and chord memory features make the plugin unparalleled in that regard.
3. Eventide MicroPitch (Pitch Shifter, Chorus, Delay)
The latest incarnation of the legendary effect that has been influential since the 1970s.
Known for its unique delays, vocal-doubling, and tone-fattening capabilities, the MicroPitch allows smooth adjustments of each parameter. The Flex button lets you double both pitch-shift amounts, so you can use this plugin to enrich your vocal recordings and create chaotic dive-bombing, dissonant chorus, or ethereal delays.
You get absolute control over the delay times with three sync options alongside a Tap button that lets you set a custom tempo. The latter is useful when using the plugin with a device that doesn’t have a MIDI clock. Furthermore, you can use MicroPitch as either a mono or a stereo plugin with parameters per channel.
- Ribbon control
You can use this big slider control to simultaneously adjust two or more parameters as if they were linked. It is supposed to give you the feeling of adjusting different knobs simultaneously as if you were in front of a hardware unit. The advantage of this feature is it keeps the parameters you’re adjusting in ratio.
The ribbons allow you to set a range for each parameter you’re adjusting. On the screenshot above, you can see a black button at each end of the ribbon strip—they allow you to set the range. So, click on, say, the left one first. Now, you need to turn the parameter you want to control towards the left to set the range’s minimum value. Next, click on the right button on the strip, and move the parameter towards the right to set the maximum value.
MicroPitch features two controls to adjust the modulation or LFO amount on each generated voice’s pitch. The modulation depth controls the level of modulation, whereas the rate changes the speed of modulation. A moderate amount of rate creates a familiar ensemble effect, whereas an extremely high amount may sound chaotic.
- Mixlock & Tone
You can fix the mix level while auditioning other presets using Mixlock. It’s helpful to avoid changing the amount of wet sound you want.
The tone parameter applies a filter on both voices. It brightens or darkens the overall processed sound, which allows you to find the exact frequency range that will make the sound more or less apparent in your mix.
Compatible with macOS and Windows, this plugin is available in VST, AAX, and AU formats.
This plugin is designed to achieve the classic stereo-spreading effects. Also, it has numerous different controls, which makes it great for experimenting. You can create thick modulations, rich repeating delays, tempo-synced effects, etc. Furthermore, the ribbon control ensures its status as a reliable live performance tool.
4. Audio Damage Discord 4 (Multi-Purpose)
Audio Damage’s Discord 4 is a pitch-shifter, delay, and reverb plugin based on early 1980s pitch-shifting hardware.
First, the input signal crosses the pitch shifters. Then, it passes through the delays and the adjustable width filters. After that, the signal goes into the reverb algorithm. From the reverb, the signal is fed back into the pitch shifters for glorious effects.
With options like Reverb Freeze and Low-Frequency Oscillators, this plugin goes from soft to chaotic pitch-shifting. I recommend it for experimental music and general pop music.
- Algorithmic variety
There are three pitch-shifting algorithms available: Vintage, Clean, and Granular. Audio Damage modeled the Vintage style after the legendary Eventide H910 and H949 hardware pitch shifters. The Clean mode allows you to create very modern-sounding shifting soundscapes. Finally, the Granular style provides you with a vast amount of experimental options to explore, with very smooth pitch-shifting. It subdivides audio into numerous tiny samples and stretches them for pitch shifting.
The plugin employs two delays and a reverb effect in that order. Of the two delays, one is tempo-synced, and the other is free-running. However, both delays support feedback, cross-feedback, and a sophisticated bandpass filter. Similarly, the reverb provides standard size, color, and mix parameters alongside a freeze button. This button forces an infinite length of the reverb, which sounds super cool as the endings of a song.
Furthermore, the plugin features a soft saturation and limiter at the end of the signal path. These let you add some vintage-style warmth and loud feedback without worrying about real-world output.
The two low-frequency oscillators present in this plugin modulate pitch-shifting intensity, delay times, and the filters’ frequencies. The Rate knob controls the variation of the LFO over time. Similarly, the Shape knob lets you choose if the wave will be a sine, triangle, or square. The Skew knob controls the horizontal symmetry. And finally, the Warp knob adds a controllable curvature to the wave, changing the vertical balance.
Discord 4 is available for Windows 8.1 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
This plugin’s main strength is the highly adjustable parameters, which ensure advanced precise control over the end output. The tempo-synced and free-running variants of the individual effects offer a plethora of different sonic options.
Likewise, the feedback system creates unexpected, creative effects that would require otherwise require complicated track routing. Furthermore, the resizable user interface makes for a very sleek and enjoyable experience when using the plugin.
5. Boz Digital Labs ProVocative (Easiest To Use)
ProVocative by Boz Digital Labs is a lightweight micro pitch shifter designed to give you total control.
Its user-friendly interface consists of three principal and three supporting parameters. The pitch modulation is measured in cents and goes from one to twenty. Once you set this parameter, ProVocative splits the signal into two modulations measured by the chosen amount.
By default, the highest pitch goes to the right and the lowest to the left. However, you can change their positions with the Width knob. Similarly, the wet and dry knobs allow you to create parallel mixes easily, resulting in wider and richer sounds.
Built-in delay with adjustable time to add latency to the wet signal. It allows you to mix in a second, pitched voice to your sound, resulting in a richer tone. Furthermore, you might recognize it as the famous doubling effect, originally done by Ken Townsend, an engineer at Abbey Road Studios.
You can find a high-pass and low-pass filter in the middle of the user interface. These filters allow you to modify the range of the wet frequencies. Furthermore, they’re crucial for avoiding phase cancellation when using the pitch-shifter on bassy instruments. Similarly, you might want to avoid shifting the high frequencies on vocals to avoid strange clashing.
Boz Digital designed this plugin to provide you with the software form of the famous 80s vocal treatment technique of adding thickness and width to your voice recordings. This plugin does justice to the famous effect, with the adjustable delay time, which gives you the widening effect if set at a low time discrepancy. If you set it at a higher time margin, you can also achieve the slapback delay sound.
ProVocative is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.5 or higher, both 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
You are guaranteed to have no clipping at the output – courtesy of the 64-bit floating-point signal path with this plugin. Since latency showing up is an issue with similar plugins, Boz Digital Labs made sure that this plugin doesn’t tax your CPU too much.
Therefore, you get zero-latency performance, ideal for both studio and live use. Using pitch shifters and delays used to come with many sub-effects in the times of the big hardware machines. This plugin ensures the same desired effects without the annoying artifacts of times passed.
6. Soundtoys Little AlterBoy (Designed For Vocals 2)
Soundtoys’ Little AlterBoy was designed to produce dramatic vocal alterations from clean, monophonic sources.
This plugin allows you to alter pitch, give bottom to a nasal voice, create a monotonic robotic effect, and work as a real-time auto-tune. Soundtoys even added a drive knob that encompasses technology developed for another one of their plugins – Decapitator. The result is a versatile and fun plugin with serious capabilities.
Furthermore, Little AlterBoy can transform your voice’s gender with formant shifting, control the pitch using MIDI, etc. However, despite the powerful features, the plugin stays as user-friendly as it could be. There are very few controls on the user interface but the sound is awesome. Let’s check out its key features:
The first section of the plugin features two knobs: pitch and formant. The pitch knob transposes your vocals by up to one octave up or down. Similarly, the formant control changes your voice characteristics. The Link button between these two parameters lets you gang the pitch and formant knobs. I suggest linking when you want the most natural results.
- Multiple Modes
The plugin features three functioning modes. The first is Transpose, which is the default mode for pitch-shifting. Then, you have Quantize, which forces the voice to the closest pitch. It creates the famous auto-tuned pop voice effect. And finally, the robot option locks the vocal to a single pitch.
You can set the pitch to any interval above or below the main melody and use the mix knob to create a nice double-tracking effect. You can use it as a harmonizer for vocals, octaver for guitars and other instruments, etc. However, you cannot assign a scale or key to the plugin.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and RTAS formats.
AlterBoy ensures a wide range of voice transformations. It consists of easy-to-use controls, making for a user-friendly plugin. It provides high-quality pitch-shifting, creative auto-tune voice effects and monophonic tuning.
Furthermore, it allows you to control your voice using a MIDI keyboard, which is a very powerful tool. Overall, it’s a wonderful addition to any music producer’s arsenal.
4 Best FREE Pitch Shifter Plugins 2023
1. Baby Audio Pitch Drift (Creative Pitch Shifting)
Pitch Drift adds detuning and pitch-drifting effects to your sounds.
The idea behind the technology is that no acoustic instrument is 100% in tune, and has some variation in pitch due to its timbre, how its material interacts with the environment, the room, the playing style, and many other factors.
However, these factors give the instruments their natural and authentic feel. The plugin tries to emulate that feel in your recordings, samples, synths, and other digital sounds.
- Easy to use
The plugin has only one slider that lets you adjust the amount of pitch drift you want to add to your sounds. In addition, it has a nice purple aesthetic, making it easy to apply, and set.
- Underlying technology
The plugin uses the same Drift Algorithm used in the SuperVHS plugin, which has a proven track record of adding organic pitch fluctuations that increase the width of your sounds and add interesting ear candies.
Pitch Drift is compatible with Windows and Mac and can work with DAWs that host or support VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats.
Audio pitch drift refers to a gradual change in the pitch of a sound or recording over time. This can occur due to various factors, such as variations in the recording equipment or the physical properties of the medium on which the recording is made. The Pitch Drift plugin emulates that quite well and can be used as a magical wand to make your sounds less digital. On top of that, it’s a free plugin.
2. Auburn Sounds Graillon 2
Graillon, by Auburn Sounds, is a free vocal pitch shifter designed to let you accomplish various vocal modulations.
Auburn Sounds have done their research to make Graillon a versatile plugin with the sound quality set as its primary goal. They’ve got the best features from several vocal pitch shifters and combined them in a single unit.
So, it can help you correct wrong notes in your vocal recordings or generate inhuman creative effects. Furthermore, you can dial it in heavily to achieve the notorious effect of extreme auto-tuning to get “T-pain” style vocals.
First, the plugin allows you to set the detection pan at the top left of the user interface. It allows you to select the correct channel with your vocals, especially in live performance when you might be using a stereo track with a mono mic panned to a side.
- Pitch Shift
You’ll find the pitch shift controls at the bottom left of this plugin. In this section, you can change the overall pitch of your vocals by up to one octave up or down. Similarly, you can turn up the Preserve Formants knob to ensure your vocal characteristics remain the same despite pitch changes. If you turn this parameter down, increasing the pitch will result in a “Mickey Mouse” voice.
- Pitch Correction
Graillon 2’s main feature is pitch correction. You can set the notes of your song’s key/scale using a virtual keyboard. Then, turn up the Enable parameter, and adjust Smooth to change its pitch detection speed. Furthermore, Snap Range lets you control the range of semitones where Graillon starts working. Note that it prefers the notes closest to the incorrect pitch. So, the Snap Range only becomes obvious when you don’t set many notes as the correct/scale notes.
You can control the level of the processed voice using the Lead Voice parameter. Below it, you’ll find a low cut that goes up to 900 Hz. Similarly, you can control the dry mix and global gain. In the correction section, you can also set the reference pitch from 415 Hz to 466 Hz, where the standard 440 Hz is the default value. Likewise, the Intertia knob makes the pitch “stick” to the target pitch better, avoiding strange artifacts.
Graillon 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.10 or higher, and Ubuntu 16.04 or higher, all three 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, AAX, and LV2 formats.
Graillon 2 is undoubtedly one of the best pitch-correction plugins available for free. Similarly, its pitch-shifting feature is just as laudable. However, you may have noticed that I didn’t enlist all of the features you saw on the screenshot.
That’s because the bit-crusher and the modulation features are only available with the full version, which costs around $30. Still, it’s an excellent plugin for pitch-shifting and correction.
3. GVST GSnap
With a simple GUI, the GSnap by GVST is a free auto-tune effect that offers subtle or extreme modulations.
GSnap’s algorithm is more suitable for simpler, more extended notes with steady transitions. Thus, a fast rap vocal can take hours of MIDI tweaking before it sounds pleasing.
You can find surprising results by applying the Gsnap to non-vocal sounds.
This section allows you to determine the parameters of when and how the automatic pitch correction kicks in. You can set the threshold in cents, and change the amount of pitch correction. A higher amount of correction will result in the reduction of vibrato. Similarly, you can adjust the attack and release to control the smoothness of the processing.
The detection section lets you change the minimum and maximum frequencies detected. Typically, you want to stay somewhere that provides the best results, which depends on your audio material. However, as a general guide, try 60 Hz (minimum) and 800 Hz (maximum). It should detect the fundamental frequencies well while keeping the formant separated. Likewise, you can adjust an input gate, which avoids random detection caused by recording noise. And the speed parameter changes how fast the plugins detects pitch changes.
The vertical keyboard on the left of the parameter lets you select the notes of your key/scale. Furthermore, you can also see a live graph displaying the input notes (red) and output notes (green). And you can make pitch bends, add vibrato, change vibrato speed, and customize the reference pitch in the MIDI section.
GSnap is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 10 or higher 64-bit, and Linux 32-bit or 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 format.
GSnap is excellent for both modest pitch correction and creating auto-tune-like sounds. You can also add vibrato to your audio using the modulation wheel (CC 1).
Furthermore, since it’s free, it’s an excellent practicing tool for anyone who wants to start learning pitch correction before taking on a paid plugin like Antares Auto-Tune.
4. Aegean Music Pitchproof
Aegean Music’s Pitchproof is a pitch shifter based on harmonizer guitar pedals.
This plugin was designed with guitars in mind, even supporting the polyphony of power chords. It can change the pitch or add harmonies to vocals or solo instruments.
Pitchproof works best in mono, but it also supports stereo inputs. So, you can use it to add harmonies on pad sounds, leads, etc.
First, you can select the amount of pitch-shifting you want using the Pitch menu. You can select values like +5 or -7 seven semitones. Similarly, you can select harmonies that select harmonizing notes based on the scale you have selected in the Key menu. The harmonies include every degree of the scale, like 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. until you reach the 7th. Similarly, you can also add some variations or richness in your sound using the Detune knob. Once you’re done, adjust the dry/wet mix using the Blend knob.
The display in the middle of the screen is for checking the input notes. However, you can also use it as a guitar tuner. And if it appears annoying, you can position in the bottom right by going through the Tuner Display option.
The plugin is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10 or higher 64-bit. It comes in VST 2, AU, and AAX formats.
Aeagan Music’s Pitchproof is very versatile and straightforward to use. It’s particularly awesome for guitar as it includes a built-in tuner. Of course, you can use it on any other instrument to get interesting effects. However, the stereo mode can cause some CPU spikes.
So, set it to mono if stereo isn’t necessary.
Other Great Pitch Shifters:
1. Pitch Innovations Fluid Chords
More Info & Price (Trial Available)
Refreshing plugins such as this can be the next favorite sonic tool you’d least expect to get to know.
The fundamental purpose of Fluid Chords is simple: it allows you to fluidly bend chords from one to another. This is a really refreshing audio tool for quickly generating new, insane musical ideas, setting a benchmark that has not been covered in any similar effect.
In addition, the lightweight software architecture makes this experience even more fluid, enticing anybody looking to explore new musical areas.
- Learn button
To begin, you must enter some chords into Fluid Chords. To get it started, click the “Learn” button in the upper right corner of the plugin’s interface. Play any chord now, and it will be saved in the eight little and bright squares. By tapping the C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, A1, B1, and C2 keys, you may quickly activate any learned chord by touching a single key.
- Chord slots
Each chord you wish to trigger inside Fluid Chords’ engine is housed in one of the eight colored slots. If you perform a C major chord and save it in the “C1” slot, pushing that key will make that chord active. Adding an F major into the following slot, “D1,” however, will set the desired bend from the preceding square. In this circumstance, for example, playing the “C1” key will resonate with a C major chord, and sliding up the bend wheel in the controller will cause the chord to bend from C major to F major since these were the two chords entered in the squares.
- Chord modes
On the right side of your screen, you may experiment with different chord modes. The first, “Fixed,” functions as previously described, with a fixed point, bent up or down (the C major and F major example). The next mode, “Fluid,” allows you to pick the next target chord on the fly without having to enter any other chord in a slot, simply pressing the targeted note (from C1 to C2) while playing the chord. Finally, the “Real Time” mode lets you do real-time chord bending by playing any chord while holding down the sustain pedal. This establishes the main chord, and from there, you can choose any other chord combination you choose.
- General settings
There are a few more options to consider throughout your advancement. The “Show Transpose” switch may be toggled on and off to indicate the number of steps transposed in any chord. The “Global Transpose” option transposes all chords at once, while the “Show Help Tray” option displays some advice at the bottom of the interface to assist you.
- Learn button
This plugin is available for macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 10 or higher (64-bit only). It runs in VST3 and AU plugin formats.
This is a unique effect, yet it will be utilized more frequently than expected. Pitch Innovations is a business committed to creating fantastic and simple pitch-changing plugins, but Fluid Chords take that concept to a whole new level.
The flowing, smooth effect produced by chord bending is extremely distinctive and may make your recording seem incredibly authentic, while the basic settings can assist make the experience more enjoyable. However, this is a simple effect that shouldn’t be too difficult to mess with while producing new and interesting results.
2. Waves Torque
Its intuitive, user-friendly controls help producers bring life to drums in a way no other pitch shifter can.
Torque by Waves is specifically made for treating drums, and salvaging mistuned or poorly recorded pieces without replacing the sounds with pre-recorded samples.
By letting you focus on the root of each drum, Torque brings excitement to dull-sounding kits.
The technology behind this plugin makes it an innovative tool based on the concept of pitch-shifting rather than another modulation plugin.
The Torque Live component lets you process your audio with no latency. It is a convenient feat to have in the studio situation, but it’s most needed if you are in a live scenario. You can use it to retune your drum set without spending time during the show or switching the kit. However, I suggest using the normal component with latency for studio use as that will generally result in higher quality sound.
- Torque focus
Zero in on your desired resonant peak, and address it specifically without processing the rest of the sound. The focus control and its precise alteration operating allow you to achieve the desired result while keeping the drums sounding as natural as possible. Furthermore, it lets you target a single component of your drums (like snare or a tom) even if you’re using an overhead mic.
- Output level
You can choose to lower your output signal if it’s peaking or turning it up. In this way, you can adjust the levels in yet another gain stage, thus increasing your chances of avoiding getting into digital distortion.
- Organic ReSynthesis
This patented technology patented by Waves is responsible for this plugin’s amazing sound. The plugin separates and analyzes each drum’s soundwaves’ characteristics to reassemble them with the new pitch information later. And since the new sound is based on your drum recording, the result is never as drastic as a drum replacing plugin.
The plugin is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.14.6 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Torque can be equally effective with both well-recorded and poorly recorded drums. The sum of all the main features makes this plugin equally adept for live and studio scenarios.
Furthermore, the zero-latency feat can be of great use for mid-song front-of-house mixing interventions.
However, the most significant advantage is the artifact-free pitch-shifted sound which minimizes the need for any triggering. The advanced Waves ReSynthesis Technology ensures precise deconstruction and manipulation, which makes the reassembled track sound organic.
3. zplane ElastiquePitch 2
ElastiquePitch 2 by zplane supports up to eight channels of synchronized pitch-shifting.
You might recognize the name Elastique from your DAWs. Almost every major DAW has employed this pitch-shifting algorithm to provide smooth and artifact-free pitch changes that were once thought impossible. So, it’s no surprise that zplane decided to create this plugin with their proprietary élastiquePro engine.
The developer designed this plugin for use in film and video production, sound design, and music production. Its versatile and real-time nature lets you automate its action with the Pitch/Timbre graph, unleashing your creativity.
- Pitch and Timbre
The timbre control is on the X-axis, while the pitch control is on the Y-axis. Timbre refers to the formant of the voice. So, it controls the frequencies other than the fundamental frequency, which is useful for deepening or tightening the voice into a “chipmunk” effect. Furthermore, you can choose to modulate these parameters at the same time or separately using the Link switch. Modulating them together gives the most authentic-sounding pitch shift.
The plugin features a delay effect that works like a typical delay, except its feedback signal path includes the pitch-shift algorithm. So, you can change the pitch of the feedback loop with each tap/echo as if it’s a delay having its rate changed. However, in our case, the rate remains the same but the pitch changes.
You can activate the Freeze button above the delay controls. It prolongs the plugin’s input signal infinitely. However, when you enable Freeze, the delay effect’s feedback path disconnects to avoid feedback noise. So, the Delay and Feedback parameters will not take effect.
The Voicing slider is crucial if you want to tailor your plugin’s processing to the sound source. It changes the dominant frequency region of your input signal, ensuring the best timbre-shifting quality. Hence, this feature helps you avoid any added distortion, unwanted notes, and other artifacts.
Elastique Pitch is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.6.8 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Elastique Pitch is a straightforward pitch-shifting plugin with a built-in delay. You can pitch-shift the delay’s feedback for creative usages.
Furthermore, the sound is pristine, and various options allow you to create artifact-free results. Hence, it’s ideal for all instruments.
It might be pricy for some, but the expense is completely proportionate to the quality you are getting. If you are looking for a real-time pitch shifter with automatable parameters, this one is a good choice for you.
4. Freakshow Industries DUMPSTER FIRE (For Sound Design)
With the distinctive design and cryptic control names aside, this plugin offers arbitrary pitch rotation options.
Also called “The Nightmare Shifter,” this plugin is not a pitch-shifter per se. Instead, it aims at creating horror landscapes for sound design applications.
So, as you can probably imagine, it’s very useful for film sound designers and composers to create unsettling atmospheres and sonic madness.
You can use just about any sound, such as a voice, a scream, a crying sound, a synth, etc., as the input, and the result will be equally disturbing.
- Pitch Rotation
Since the plugin works “arbitrarily,” you can’t really describe what it does. The only way I can try to express it is that pitch rotation creates strange waves of pitch modulations. This feature is what makes Dumpster Fire sound strange and disturbing; there’s no telling what it’ll do next.
- Band selection
The plugin selects bands of frequencies to process in various ways. However, it selects them at random. So, the band selection parameter essentially generates a new random seed that you can select if you like what you’re hearing. Again, it’s arbitrary, and that’s the beauty of it.
The aether parameter lets you create horror soundscapes with time and pitch spread. It adds strange textures that sound very disturbing and random (because it is).
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.10.5 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Dumpster Fire’s central purpose is sound design. So, it is not really in the same category as the other plugins on this list. However, the plugin can be a lot of fun if random sounds are your thing.
As a composer for films and media, I can see plenty of uses for such an effect. Furthermore, you could use it to create dark intros or outros for pop, hip-hop, and experimental music.
How Does A Pitch Shifter Work?
A pitch shifter repositions the frequency spectrum of the entire waveform to change its pitch. Similarly, it might also move the audio’s fundamental frequency and the additional harmonics separately to have control over the formant, which modifies the vowel type or an instrument’s timbre.
However, both traditional hardware and software versions of this effect used to function by slicing the audio into many snippets and adjusting the playback rate. Extending the sliced audio lowers the pitch, whereas shortening it increases the pitch.
So, you can hear this phenomenon when using a tape machine and changing its playback speed.
Moving on to the modern plugins, you’ll find those that can identify individual notes and let you adjust the pitch of each. There are two types of such plugins: monophonic and polyphonic.
The monophonic design can only detect, identify, and adjust a single note at once. Conversely, the polyphonic type can identify multiple notes playing together and let you adjust each individually. This feature allows you to alter chords or harmonies from one type to another.
Where does a pitch shifter go in a chain?
Pitch shifters typically go at the beginning of the signal chain. The reason for that is you want all the other added effects to process your pitch-altered signal. However, you should not take this as an unbreakable rule. There are many creative ways of using your pitch shifter by changing its position in the signal chain.
Conclusion & Verdict
Pitch-shifting is a powerful music production tool that’s been around for decades and still hasn’t been dethroned. We put this list together to help you pick the best for your needs, as well as helping you identify the best bang for your buck.
Plugins like the ElastiquePitch 2 and Micropitch are great for most pitch-shifting situations, while focused efforts like Torque and Little Alterboy aim at solving specific creative necessities. Whatever you need to pitch-shift, there are several tools out there capable of getting you closer to the sound you want to achieve.