Best Vocal Effects Pedal / Processor Guide

The Best Vocal Effects Pedal

Originally published on February. 25, 2016 and updated on July 10, 2017

Vocal effects pedals and processors continue to grow in popularity, with smart harmony and pitch correction being the most sought after features. As such we have updated this list for 2017, highlighting current market favorites that include pedals and tabletop vocal processors.

In addition to Auto-tune and harmonization, these top rated processors are useful for adding subtle reverb and compression, or for totally transforming your voice - be it robotic/alien like sounds, different age or gender, and many more. They serve you much like a team of virtual sound engineers, vocal coaches and backup singers, all packed in one unit.

Contents

List Of The Best Vocal Effects Pedals and Processors

The Best Vocal Processor Pedals and Processors

Below are the processors that garnered top ratings and recommendations from users and experts alike, covering everything from multi-featured processors to compact single pedal size units.

TC-Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G XT

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
TC-Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G XT

The VoiceTone Harmony-G XT is designed specifically for the purpose of producing accurate and natural sounding harmonies, primarily targeting vocals with guitar backing. It takes advantage of the popularity of smart harmony effects, which gives you virtual back-up singers. The harmony algorithm of this unit is designed to adjust the pitch of the backing vocals depending on the chords being played. This results in accurate harmonies that don't have to be programmed in advance, and the harmonies can follow you even when you modulate or change keys. The obvious caveat is that you have guitar accompaniment although some report that it also can work with other chord playing instruments such as keyboards. Alternately there's also an option to set the pedal to use the key or scale that you'll be singing in.

Key Features:

  • Harmony: Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony Algorithm
  • Harmony Voices: Up to 2
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic
  • Effects: 6 Reverb/Delay Combinations, Doubling, Adaptive Tone (Smart EQ, De-essing and Compression)
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Guitar Effects: Reverb/Delay (Shared with Vocals)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR, 1 x 1/4" (Thru)
  • USB Port: For Firmware Updates and Preset Backups
  • Power: DC Power Supply

Another cool feature of this pedal is the "Auto Chromatic Pitch Correction" which subtly adjusts your singing pitch to match the chords your playing, I doubt it can save you from big pitch lapses but it can clean up microtonal differences - which in the end makes you sound good. Reviewers comment that the included effects are a bit limited, but it does carry essentials like reverb and it automatically adjusts EQ and dynamics. For the price, you're getting more than your money's worth, especially when considering all the extra features. With its impressively high ratings, this backup-singer-in-a-box gets our thumbs up.

Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer

More than just a vocal effects pedal, the Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer is an all-in-one preamp and effects solution for vocals and acoustic guitars. It starts off with dedicated preamps for mic and guitar, both of which come with independent effects, of which the microphone side is of particular interest because of its myriad of features. This includes essential effects like reverb and smart harmony, while also incorporating experimental ones that include distortion, robot and other electronic effect types.

Key Features:

  • Harmony: Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony
  • Harmony Voices: Up to 2
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic, Hard Tune
  • Looper: 80-Second, Single Track
  • Effects: Doubling, Reverb, Octave, Mod Delay, Chorus, Distortion, Radio, Electronic and more
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Guitar Effects: Acoustic Resonance, Reverb, Chorus, Notch Filter
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Headphones), 1 x 1/4" (External Footswitch)
  • USB Port: Firmware Update and Direct Recording
  • Power: DC Power Supply or 6 x AA Batteries

The guitar side of the pedal is just as packed, with built in modulation effects, delay and a nifty "acoustic resonance" effect that improves the sound of piezo equipped acoustic-electric guitars. Reviewers describe it as an amazing all-in-one pedal, and commends it for catering to both traditional and adventurous singer-guitarists. While it gets most of its thumbs up from its quality mic reverb and harmonies, it also impressed a lot of guitarists. There were a few who were not satisfied with some of the extra guitar effects, but still loved the Boss VE-8 overall. Check this out if you're looking for a gig-worthy vocal and acoustic guitar effects pedal.

NB: If you are specifically looking for a looper to use with guitar then we recommend GuitarSite.com's guide: The Best Loop Pedal Roundup.

TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$700
TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Vocal Effects Procesor Pedal

TC-Helicon continues to be the go-to effect pedal brand for vocalists, with artists like Depeche Mode, Mr. Big, the late George Michael and many more endorsing their products. As proof of this, VoiceLive 3 is still the among the most sought after vocal effects pedal, even with the arrival of newer units from other manufacturers. What makes this one stand out is its intelligent control of the overall sound to give you good quality without much tweaking. This is done via automated adjustments to EQ, compression, gating and de-essing, behaving like virtual sound engineers that are tasked to make you sound good as you perform. Like most of the pedals in this list, the unit uses smart guitar controlled harmonies but with it's 4 independent harmonies it can use them in ways the others can't. You can also control the harmonies via MIDI input. On the guitar side they've packed this with a pretty comprehensive guitar multi-effect processor there's also a 45 minute onboard looper, courtesy of the technology from their sister company TC-Electronic.

Key Features:

  • Harmony: Smart Guitar and MIDI Controlled Harmony Algorithm
  • Harmony Voices: Up to 4
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic, Hard Tune
  • Looper: 3-Phrase Looper with 45 Minutes Total Loop Time
  • Effects: µMod, Echo & Delay, Reverb, Doubling, Transducer, Rhythmic, HardTune & Correction, Choir, Stutter, Vocoder, Adaptive Tone (Smart EQ, De-essing and Compression)
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Guitar Effects: Amp Modeling, Drive, Delay, Reverb, Compression, Resonant Filter, Wah, µMod (Flange, Chorus, De-tune), Shifter, Rhythmic/Tremolo, Talkbox (part of Vocoder)
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS, 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4" (Thru), 1 x 1/4" (Footswitch), 1 x 1/4" (Expression), 1 x XLR, 1 x XLR (Thru), 1/8" (Aux), MIDI
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8", MIDI
  • USB Port: 1 x Type A, 1 x Mini-B (Direct Recording, Control and Update)
  • Power: DC Power Supply

Since it'll take too much space to list all its vocal effects, just know that it includes essentials like reverb and delay, as well as advanced ones like synth, harmony, choir, stutter and many more. As such, VoiceLive 3 is still widely considered by many as the "ultimate" multi-effect pedal for vocalists. The most common complaint about this pedal in customer reviews is its bulk and price, but the features and quality easily outweigh these concerns, as reflected by its high ratings and consistent recommendations. If you're looking for a vocal effect pedal that provides the most features and controls, without sacrificing quality, then get the TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3.

Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer Vocal Effects Processor

While other processors on this list cater to other instruments like guitars, the Roland VT-3 does not worry about any of that, as it focuses all of its resources to vocal sound quality and effects. Another important distinction is its tabletop profile, which is designed to complement the rigs of DJs and sound engineers. Still In case you want hands-free control of bypassing/engaging the effect, you can plug in a standard footswitch pedal. The VT-3 features 9 effects which include vocoder, auto-pitch, synth, megaphone, radio and more. There's also a "Robot" button that lets you instantly add robot like quality to your voice.

Key Features:

  • Profile: Tabletop
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Pitch (2 Modes)
  • Effects: Robot, Synth, Lead, Bass, Megaphone, Radio, Scatter, Direct, Auto Pitch 1, Auto Pitch 2, Vocoder
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR/TRS Combo, 1 x 1/8", 1 x 1/4" (Footswitch)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • USB Port: Direct Recording, Control and Update
  • Power:

For an advanced vocal processor, the interface of the Rolant VT-3 looks very traditional, with a big knob for dialing the effect type, four sliders for parameter adjustments, along with buttons and small knobs. Many users commend this combination of mixer style controls and modern vocal effects, stating that it is very versatile and deep, yet fun to use. As expected, most of the recommendations and high ratings are from satisfied DJs, but there were a few singers and sound engineers who found it to be worth the money. There were a few who wanted more control over the blending of the dry and wet signals, while others found some of the effects a little too out of this world for regular use. But this is to be expected, since the VT-3 is designed specifically for techno/dance/electronic music styles. If you're a DJ looking for a versatile mic effect processor to add to your tabletop rig, then this is your best bet.

Boss VE-20

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$280
Boss VE-20 Vocal Processor

The VE-20 showcases what Boss is all about, packing as much sound quality and features inside a compact and robust metal enclosure. This unit follows Boss' dual-pedal multi-effect profile, which they implement on many of their guitar effects, only this one is meant for vocalists to enjoy. As expected, basic delay and reverb effects are included for adding subtle ambience to your voice. But you can also use it to go all out with pitch-correction and modern auto-tune effects as used by artists like Black-Eyed Peas and even Cher. Other effects include a programmable harmony, that follows after a specific keys and scales and a 38 second looper that can let you craft your own vocal blending. Finally, Boss incorporated cool extra effects that include chorus, distortion robot, strobe and more.

Key Features:

  • Harmony: Key/Scale Based Harmonies (Not Smart Guitar Based)
  • Harmony Voices: Up to 2
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic, Hard Tune
  • Looper: 38-Second, Single Track
  • Effects: Dynamics, Doubling, Reverb, Delay, Distortion, Radio, Strobe, Chorus, Flanger, Robot
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Inputs: 1 x TRS/XLR Combo
  • Outputs: 1 x TRS/XLR Combo (Line), 1 x Mono
  • USB Port: None
  • Power: DC Power Supply or 6 x AA Batteries

There's just no denying the success of the VE-20 as a compact multi-effect solution for vocalists. To this day, it continues to get consistent positive reviews and ratings, with reviewers agreeing on two important things - that it sounds great and that it is built like a tank. One minor concern about this pedal is the short optional power cord that you need to buy separately, a quick solution to this is to get it on purchase of the effect and have an extension cord ready. Having been made by Boss, this effect can handle the rigors of the road and will probably last you a lifetime. Get the Boss VE-20 if you're looking for a compact reliable vocal effect pedal.

TC-Helicon Voicetone Mic Mechanic 2

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
TC Helicon Voicetone Mic Mechanic 2 Vocal Effects Pedal

The TC-Helicon VoiceTone Mic Mechanic 2 is a compact pedal that's meant to fine tune and improve your vocals. It does away with fancy bells and whistles, and sticks to essentials like reverb, echo, pitch correction, and TC-Helicon's Adaptive Tone technology, which intelligently tweaks compression, EQ, de-essing and gating as you perform to improve the resulting sound. For more control over the ambience of your voice, the pedal offers a total of 8 reverb and echo presets, including variations of Room, Studio, Hall and Delay. All of these features are packed in a standard size all-metal stompbox that can run on a 9-volt battery, a pedalboard power supply or a DC adapter.

Key Features:

  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic
  • Effects: Reverb (Room, Studio, and Hall), Echo/Delay (Tap and Slap), Adaptive Tone (Smart EQ, De-essing and Compression)
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR (mic)
  • Outputs: 1 x XLR
  • USB Port: Firmware Update and Preset Control
  • Power: 9V DC Power Supply or 4 x AA Batteries

The Chromatic Pitch Correction feature allows for variable pitch adjustments to correct intonation problems. It can be used subtly for note accuracy improvement, or for mimicking exaggerated auto-tune vocals as used by many artists today. The overall market response is favorable, with many commending the Mic Mechanic 2's good balance of features and portability. There were a few who found some of the reverb options to be exaggerated, but can still be useable with careful tweaking. If you're looking for a compact yet versatile vocal effects pedal, then do check out the TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic 2.

TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor

The name itself is a big giveaway that the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic is meant for singers who play acoustic-electric guitar. It combines TC-Helicon's popular vocal effects with TC-Electronic's popular acoustic guitar effects in one convenient package - with separate dedicated controls and input/output jacks. The vocal section features a mic preamp and familiar effects that include smart harmony, dynamic processing, reverb, echo and pitch correction. The guitar section features TC-Electronic effects like the Hall of Fame Reverb and Corona Chorus, as well as EQ tone shaping and feedback suppression. There's also a nifty "BodyRez" feature which automatically optimizes your acoustic-electric guitar sound, to give it more body and presence, making it sound more like a miked acoustic. If all of the above features are not enough, the latest firmware update of the VoiceLive Play acoustic adds TC Electronic's popular Flashback Delay effect into the unit.

Key Features:

  • Harmony: Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony
  • Harmony Voices: Up to 2
  • Pitch Correction: Auto Chromatic, Hard Tune
  • Looper: Up to 30 seconds
  • Effects: µMod (Modulation), Transducer (Synth), Doubler, Reverb, Delay, Adaptive Tone (Smart EQ, De-essing and Compression)
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Guitar Effects: Hall of Fame Reverb, Corona Chorus, BodyRez (Acoustic Guitar Tone Enhancer), Feedback Suppressor, EQ,
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR, 1 x 1/8" (Headphones), 1 x 1/4" (Footswitch),
  • USB Port: Direct Recording, Update and Control
  • Power: DC Power Supply

In addition to effects, this processor also incorporates looping features. Users describe the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play pedal as a great live performance tool, some even describe it as life changing because of how it improves both their voice and their overall performance. Some users found the interface to be a bit confusing, but were able to make full use of the pedal's features after giving it some time and practice. If you're looking for a pedal that gives you the best of both worlds (vocal and acoustic guitar effects), then the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic is highly recommended.

Things to Consider when Buying Vocal Effects Pedals / Processors

  • Harmonies

    One of the most prominent features of many vocal processors is the ability to add one or more harmonies to part being sung. Many of these can use guitar or instrument inputs to automatically change the harmonies to fit the chords being played and the note you're singing - a feature we are calling 'Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony'. Without this feature you need to manually set the key for each song and change patches if you want to adjust the interval of the harmonies within that key. The number of simultaneous harmonies varies between pedals, offering between 1 and 4 additional voices. You can often tweak the character of the harmonised voices in various ways including pitch and timing variations and even gender.

  • Pitch Correction (AutoTune)

    Pitch correction has taken some genre's of music by storm and it's not just being used to fix tuning problems but also for its own distinctive sound. It can be handy if you're looking for some discreet help with a few tough songs or want to sound like T-Pain, Kayne West or any number of popular artists. You can usually control how pronounced the effect is of pulling the pitch of your voice toward to the desired note. If you're looking for a natural sound then a lower speed and amount of correction is usually better. The 'Hard Tune' effect locks the pitch to a target note very quickly which produces that artificial sound and can result in a rapid warbling if you drift between notes. Most vocal processors allow you to set a scale to tune to but generally chromatic mode should be sufficient if you are getting anywhere near the note. However the scale setting can be useful for that pronounced hard tune warbling effect to control which notes it warbles between.

  • Vocal Effects and Looping

    A big part of the reason many people use vocal effects pedals is to be able to have consistent control of the basic vocal effects such as compression, EQ and delay/reverb rather than be at the mercy of the mixing desk. To that end some pedals only offer these core effects. Others who are in more experimental styles of music will appreciate vocoder, synth, alien, robot and other out-of-this world voicings. Many of these processors also allow changing the character of the voice using "formant shifting" effects to deepen or lighten the character of the sound and go as far as to artificially change the apparent gender and/or age of the singer. These effects have become common in popular music and are often being used for their tonal character rather than just keeping the singer in tune. They can also be used in conjunction with harmony for male/female voice style backups.

  • Guitar Effects

    Since many vocal processors use guitar input for their smart chord-based harmonies, manufacturers have been adding guitar effects so singer/guitarists can use this as an 'all in one' performance unit. Generally these effects are tailored towards acoustic players offering the basic reverb, delay and possibly modulation, EQ/Filters and more. You'll want these features if you're a singer who also plays guitar, and want to keep your rig simple.

  • Input/Output and USB Recording

    While most vocalists will use just basic XLR connection, those that sing and play guitar at the same time may need dedicated outputs for guitar and vocals. That way the guitar can be routed separately to the guitar effects/amp while the vocals can go straight to the PA. Direct USB recording capability is another nifty feature in this age where live streaming and online video/audio platforms are widely used.

Methodology

And so we put Gearank.com's ratings algorithm to good use yet again, to help us come up with an updated list of the best vocal processors for 2017, covering both floorpedals and tabletop friendly units. This process involved collating store ratings, reading customer feedback, forum posts, and expert reviews - all of which were compiled and fed it into the Gearank algorithm to produce the scores you see below. In addition to the scores, we also provided detailed descriptions, along with key features and notable pros and cons. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Hey! Thanks a lot for these

Hey! Thanks a lot for these great lists. I was wondering about the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play GTX. Do you have an opinion about it?

thanks again

Recommend me a best iOS smile

Recommend me a best iOS Smule sing interface setup . I'm using a Tascam iXZ right now. A vocal mixer will be good to go.

I haven't seen the term

I haven't seen the term 'vocal vibrato' used in relation to any of these effects units, but the Boss VE-8 does have Tremolo if that helps.

Thanks for the to the point

Thanks for the to the point and easy to take in reviews. This did help me make a purchase decision. Roland Vocal GTX.
Thanks again.

Glad we could help!

Glad we could help!

BTW - The G XT is made by TC-Helicon rather than Roland.

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