Here is the vocal effects processor that I personally recommend.
- No dedicated effects for instruments
- Not stage friendly
- Intuitive Interface perfect for streaming / podcasting
- Great quality vocal effects
- Efficient input and output options
- Good balance of features and compact size
Vocal effects are finding increased utility among streamers and content creators. As such, it is only proper to feature ideal vocal processors for their craft.
The author's pick for this edition is the relatively new Rodecaster Duo, an all-in-one solution for mics in audio production and content creation.
The Rodecaster Duo mixer has built-in audio interface functionality and vocal effects. And it excels at providing all these functionalities with its intuitive interface.
Its audio quality floored me. Vocals sound full and clear, and you can get a good representation of the audio output when monitoring via headphones.
The built-in vocal effects are also equally impressive. APHEX processing lets you shape your vocal sound with EQ-type effects like Depth, Sparkle, and Punch. And the results are outstanding, especially for broadcast and streaming use. Other useful vocal processing includes a compressor, equalizer, de-esser, aural exciter, and noise gate.
The unit features six customizable smart pads that can be programmed to trigger sound samples, mixer functions, built-in voice-changing effects, and more. The voice-changing effects are fun. My favorite is the disguise effect, which can mask your true voice. Other noteworthy effects include robotic, megaphone, and pitch shifting.
The Rodecaster Duo also comes with various input and output options, which should be enough for most content creators, voice actors, or vocalists recording in their home studio setups. It even has Bluetooth connectivity that allows for less cabling.
Finally, it has two USB-C interfaces, which can work with dual-PC setups. It sits perfectly on a table but can also be placed on mic stand mounts.
For more control and functionality, Rode offers something bigger called the Rodecaster Pro II.
With its intuitive control and quality effects, the Rodecaster Duo is excellent for multi-talented vocalists and content creators.
- Profile: Table Top
- Harmony: None
- Pitch Correction: Pitch and Formant Shifting
- Looper: Record and Playback Phrases via Smart Pads
- Effects: Reverb, Echo, Megaphone, Robot, Disguise, Pitch Shifting, Compressor, Equalizer, De-esser, Aural Exciter, Noise Gate, Big Bottom, High Pass Filter, Panning, Depth, Sparkle, and Punch
- Phantom Power: 48V
- Inputs: 2 x Combo XLR-1/4", 1 x 1/8" (Aux in), 1 x Toslink (Optical)
- Outputs: 2 x 1/4" TRS (line), 2 x 1/4", 1 x TRRS (Headphones)
- USB Port: 2 x USB C
- Power: 9V DC, 3A power supply (included)
The Best Vocal Processor Pedals
Below are the vocal processors that garnered the highest ratings. This section includes both multi-feature vocal effects processors and compact single-pedal units.
TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper
- Limited to looping
- Easiest to use vocal looper on the market
- 48V phantom power means you can use it with Condenser Mics in addition to Dynamic Mics
With the success of the TC Electronic Ditto looper pedal for guitar, it's only natural for their sister company, TC Helicon, to cash in on the hype with their take.
The TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper follows after the original Ditto Looper pedal. With simple controls and a compact profile, it is designed for use with mics.
It has a single loop level knob and two footswitches. So it doesn't take long to master its controls, which include record, play, stop, erase, undo, and overdub.
Even though it only has 5 minutes of loop time, this is not an issue for live use, which is what it's intended for. For more looping features, look at our guide to The Best Loopers.
Aside from good looping, this pedal doesn't offer anything else, so it may not be ideal for singers who want more effects.
For those who want a compact vocal looper with high-quality sound, it doesn't get any simpler than this.
- Profile: Pedal
- Effects: Looper
- Total Loop Time: 300 Seconds
- Phantom Power: 48V
- Inputs: 1 x XLR
- Outputs: 1 x XLR
- USB Port: Updates
- Power: Power Adapter
|Sound On Sound||Paul White||96/100|
TC Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic
- I wouldn't use the vocal harmonizer on recordings
- Great for acoustic guitarists who sing
- Both the guitar and vocal effects are strong
The TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic features vocal and acoustic guitar effects in one stompbox. It is ideal for singers who play acoustic-electric guitar.
The vocal processor section has a dedicated mic preamp and lets you utilize some of TC Helicon's popular vocal effects. Included here are essentials like reverb and echo. As well as dynamic processing, pitch correction, and smart harmony.
Popular TC Electronic effects make up the guitar section. The most notable of which is BodyRez (acoustic guitar sound enhancer). It also comes with Corona Chorus, Flashback Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb, feedback suppression, and EQ controls.
To top it all off, it comes with built-in looper functionality.
The acoustic guitar effects are all quite good, especially BodyRez. It helps thicken the usually thin sound of piezo pickups.
On the vocal side, reverb and compressor do the job nicely. The harmonies sound good live, but I wouldn't use them on studio recordings.
Other popular pedals from this company include the TC Helicon VoiceLive 3, and Harmony G XT.
In addition to its singing and guitar-friendly features, it is also compatible with condenser mics. All these features make this the best vocal pedal for solo live performers who play acoustic guitars.
- 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
|Acoustic Guitar Forum||Guitaurman||92/100|
- Extremely limited looper
- The harmony features are easy to use
- Heaps of effects ups its value for money
The Boss VE-20 Vocal Performer showcases what the company is all about. It packs as much sound quality and features inside a compact, robust metal enclosure. This unit follows Boss' dual-pedal multi-effect profile, as seen on their guitar effects; only this one is meant for vocalists.
Basic delay and reverb effects are included to add subtle ambiance to your voice. But it can also go all out with pitch-correction and auto-tune effects used by artists like Black-Eyed Peas and Will.i.am. I don't use those effects styles, but the Boss Auto-Tune (pitch-correction) feature does the job nicely. It works as it should to my ears.
Harmony Factory is a harmonizer that matches keys and scales. Selecting the intervals you want without playing a keyboard for reference makes the harmony features reasonably easy to use. This makes the VE-20 a good vocal harmonizer pedal.
However, I do find the looper's 38 seconds very limiting. You'll need a separate looper for complex routines. I do a lot of looping, which is an issue for me.
Boss added other effects, including chorus, distortion, robot, strobe, and more. Being a Boss vocal pedal, it is built like a tank.
If you're mainly looking for vocal effects and don't do much looping like I do, then you'll be pleased with the VE-20.
- 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
|Guitar Interactive Magazine||Editor||80/100|
- No Power Switch
- No Headphones Out
- Not as Intuitive
- Wide range of useful effects
- Three-part harmonies
- Pitch correction
- Allows for deep editing of parameters
The Boss VE-500 is a versatile multi-effect pedal for vocalists, packed with different effect types tweaked to work well with vocals.
It can run up to 9 effects simultaneously from its wide selection of effects, and it does so while keeping a relatively compact profile. It has the same level of versatility as multi-effects pedals that guitar players use, only this one is specifically for vocals.
You can use the VE-500 to subtly polish your vocals with essential effects like EQ and reverb. Or you can go all out using more dramatic effects like modulation, distortion, formant filters, etc.
But this pedal stands out because of its intelligent harmonizer that can generate 2- to 3-part harmonies. And it does so in conjunction with an instrument that is also plugged into the unit.
It's a given that the tech behind smart harmonies has yet to evolve to a point where they can be mistaken for actual people. But the harmonies on the VE-500 are quite good, and I'm impressed at how accurate the harmonies are in terms of pitch. Adding effects like a subtle chorus makes the harmonies sound even better.
This pedal also features real-time pitch correction and pitch shifting. You can use it subtly to help you sing in tune, or you can use it as a dramatic shifting effect, as can be heard in many EDM, pop, and hip-hop tracks.
Given its extensive feature set, the learning curve is quite steep, especially for those without experience with pedals and effects. However, the extra effort in learning the ropes will allow you to make the most out of the VE-500's capabilities.
The built-in looper rounds up the features of the Boss VE-500. It lets you record, playback, and overdub loops for up to 30 secs. And having been made by Boss, this is a solid and reliable unit that'll outlast your other gear.
The Boss VE-500 is the perfect choice for vocalists who want a reliable multi-effects processor for improving their singing.
- Harmony: Key/Scale Based Harmonies / Can also be based on an instrument
- Harmony Voices: Up to 3
- Pitch Correction: Soft to Hard Tune
- Looper: 30 Second, Single Track
- Effects: 9 different effects (Reverb, Delay, EQ, Filter, Distortion, Vocoder, Modulation, and more) Looper, Harmonizer
- Phantom Power: 48V
- Inputs: 1 x XLR (mic), 1 x 1/4" (instrument)
- Outputs: 2 x XLR (L/R), 1 x 1/4" (instrument thru)
- USB Port: Updates / Librarian
- Power: 9V DC Power Adapter (Included)
|Sound on Sound||Paul White||90/100|
Things to Consider when Buying Vocal Effect Pedals / Processors
The most common reason people use vocal effects is to improve the sound of their voice. Basic effects like EQ, compression, and reverb usually accomplish this.
Most PA systems have these effects built-in for sound engineers to use. But having your own vocal reverb pedal with EQ gives you more control.
Vocal processing effects also let you alter your sound in unique ways. Those who are into experimental styles of music will appreciate vocoder, synth, alien, robot, and other out-of-this-world voicings. These vocal effect types are also great for creatives, streamers, voice actors, podcasters, and other media content creators.
Vocal effects processors nowadays utilize Digital Sound Processing (DSP) technology to create distinctive sound effects. Some can change the character of the voice using "formant shifting" effects. This can deepen or lighten the character of the sound to artificially alter the singer's apparent gender and/or age.
Pitch correction used to require high-end equipment. But now, you can easily get a mobile processor or autotune pedal. This accessibility has made pitch correction a staple in popular music.
Some use multiple effects to achieve a unique tonal character. In contrast, others use it subtly to polish their singing. It can also be used in conjunction with harmony for male/female voice-style backups.
Having extra outputs allows for more routing control. The guitar can be routed separately to the guitar effects/amp, while the vocals can go straight to the PA. Most vocal processors come with headphone outs, allowing them to double as Headphone Amps.
Direct USB recording was considered a secondary feature. But you need this feature if you're into home recording, live streaming, podcasting, voice acting, etc.
Loopers are popular among one-man-band performers. But even regular vocalists appreciate their advantages. Using a looper lets you layer and texturize your voice in ways that would not be possible otherwise.
Most vocal effects processors come with built-in looper functionality. While some even offer looper-only vocal pedal effects. Aside from spicing up your performances, loopers can also be great for practicing and training your ears and voice.
One of the most prominent features of vocal processing is the ability to add one or more harmonies to a part being sung. They serve as virtual backup singers that you have total control over.
Some can even automatically change the harmonies to match the chords being played on an instrument. This feature is what we call 'Smart Guitar-Controlled Harmony'.
Without this feature, you need to set the key for each song manually. You'll have to change patches if you want to adjust the interval of the harmonies within that key.
The number of simultaneous harmonies varies, ranging from 1 to 4 additional voices. Some have enough processing power to let you tweak the character of the harmonized voices in various ways. You can change pitch and timing variations and even gender.
Pitch correction has taken some genres of music by storm, and it's not just being used to fix tuning problems but also for its distinctive sound.
It can be handy to help with a few challenging songs. And it's an excellent tool for replicating the vocal sound of T-Pain, Kanye West, etc. You can usually control how pronounced the effect is, which means pulling the pitch of your voice toward the desired note. If you're looking for a natural sound, then a lower speed and amount of correction are usually better.
The 'Hard Tune' effect quickly locks the pitch to a target note, producing an artificial sound that many have used in modern EDM / Hiphop songs. It can also result in a rapid warbling if you drift between notes.
Most vocal processors allow you to set a scale to tune to. But chromatic mode should be sufficient if you get 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.
Many vocal processors already have a guitar input for their smart chord-based harmonies. It makes sense to add guitar pedal effects to make it into an 'all in one' performance unit.
Generally, these effects are tailored towards acoustic players. They offer reverb, delay and modulation, EQ/Filters, and more. You'll want these features if you're a singer who plays guitar and wants to keep your rig simple.
Types of Vocal Effects
Input/Output and USB Recording
Pitch Correction (AutoTune)
Best Vocal Effects Pedal Selection Methodology
The first edition was published in 2016. This update was published in Sept 28, 2023.
We ended up with a short list of 37 vocal effects processors for this edition. We then collated over 19,600 review and rating sources, which included reviews from retail stores, expert reviews, forum discussions, video reviews, and more.
All these data were then processed using the Gearank Algorithm. This gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to develop our recommendations that reflect market sentiment. We also used this to report each recommended item's notable pros and cons.
The author's pick for this edition was the Rodecaster Duo, highly recommended for its audio quality and intuitive workflow, perfect for streaming. For more information about our methods, see How Gearank Works.
About the Author and Contributors
Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.
Lead Author & Researcher
I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.
I personally use a Boss RC-300 Loop Station which has effects I sometimes apply to vocals, reverb and looping mostly but sometimes chorus too. I use it with acoustic-electric guitars such as my Martin OMCPA4, Martin DCX1E, Ibanez AEL20E and Takamine GY11ME.
The videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.
The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.