Best Vocal Effects Pedal / Processor Guide

The Highest Rated Vocal Effects Pedals

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Vocal effects processors expand the tools that singers can use in different situations, most of them offer essentials like reverb and compression, while others offer more effects like modulation, looping, smart harmonies, vocal transformation (robot, alien, megaphone etc), pitch correction and more.

While some vocalists do not bother with effects, many have been successfully adopting vocal effects processors into their workflow, including solo live-loop performers, DJs, singer guitarists and more. Interestingly, this type of gear is now being used by non-musicians, like podcasters, voice actors, streamers and other media content creators.

Here we feature the top rated vocal effects processors, updated for this March 2022 Edition, covering pedals, table top and mic-stand mounted units.

These market favorite vocal effects serve as your virtual team of sound engineers, backup singers and vocal coaches - all of them working to improve your sound, give you more control, and expand your sonic palette.

Best Vocal Effects Pedals and Processors

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

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.

Author's Pick

Here is the vocal effects processor that I personally recommend.

Zoom V3

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Zoom V3 Multi-effects Vocal Processor

Cons

  • Power supply not included

Pros

  • Mic-stand-mountable
  • The harmonies sound good
  • Easily portable - can be run on batteries

The Zoom V3 is a vocal processor that caters to more than just singers, with features that can greatly help podcasters, streamers. voice dubbers and the like.

The Zoom V3 gets my Author's Pick spot because of the many uses you can get from it.

It comes with a compressor, delay and reverb effects that can be used in conjunction with its "Enhancer" feature for improving vocals and speech.

It also comes with pitch correction which can be used for subtle polishing, or exaggerated for EDM style effect. And it has built-in harmonies that can be used to accentuate certain vocal parts.

Voice changing effects are also available, including vocoder, formant character shift, talkbox, telephone, robot, and more.

Although you can run it on batteries, I prefer using a plug-in power adapter because I have a lot of gear and it's a hassle having to have batteries charged up for everything or having the batteries die while playing because I forgot to change them.

However, being mounted on a mic stand is a big plus particularly if you're also using pedals like a looper (check out my Boss RC-300 review) where your feet are already busy, you operate the Zoom with your hands.

It also has a desktop friendly profile that easily fits into most home recording, podcasting and streaming setups.

The Zoom V3 is a great tool to have if you are into stage performance, home recording and multi-media content creation like podcasting, streaming and more.

Tech Specs

  • Profile: Table Top with Mic Stand Clip
  • Harmony: Lower, Low, Fixed, High, Higher
  • Pitch Correction: Pitch Correction
  • Looper: None
  • Effects: Compression, Delay, Reverb, Enhance, Vocoder and More
  • Phantom Power: 48V
  • Inputs: 1 x XLR (Mic), 1 x 1/8" (Aux in)
  • Outputs: 2 x 1/4" TS, 1 x 1/8" (Headphones)
  • USB Port: Type Micro-B
  • Power: 4 x AA Batteries, 9V DC 1A Power Supply (Sold Separately)

The Best Vocal Processor Pedals and Processors

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

TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper - Vocal Effects Pedal

Cons

  • Takes some practice to get used to operating a 2 switch looper

Pros

  • 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 own take.

The TC Helicon Ditto Mic Looper follows after the original Ditto looper pedal, with its straightforward looper controls and compact profile, albeit designed for use with mics.

Sporting just a single loop level knob and two footswitches, it doesn't take long to master its controls, which include record, play, stop, erase, undo and overdub. With a bit of practice it's not too hard to get your 'loop dance' working as you tap the switches while playing, but it does take some practice to get used to.

A really big plus is that they included 48V phantom power. This means it works with all good hand-held condenser mics such as the Shure Beta 87A in addition to standard dynamic mics like the Shure SM58. Although phantom power is to be expected with a vocal effects unit, there are many basic loop pedals that don't have this feature (they tend to be focused on guitar looping).

Even though it only has 5 minutes of loop time, I don't see this as an issue for live use, which is primarily what it's intended for. If you want more looping features then look at our guide to guide to The Best Loopers.

For those who want an easy to use vocal looper, it doesn't get any simpler than this.

Tech Specs

  • 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

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Paul White 96/100
YouTube dilliot2k 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

TC Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$279
TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Vocal Effects Pedal along with:

Cons

  • I wouldn't use the vocal harmonies on recordings

Pros

  • Great for acoustic guitarists that sing
  • Both the guitar and vocal effects are strong

The TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic features both vocal and acoustic guitar effects in one stompbox, ideal for singers who play acoustic-electric guitar.

The vocal processor section has its own mic preamp and lets you utilize some of TC Helicon's popular vocal effects, including essentials like reverb and echo, along with dynamic processing, pitch correction, and smart harmony.

Popular TC Electronic effects make up the guitar section, including BodyRez (acoustic guitar sound enhancer), Corona Chorus, Flashback Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb, feedback suppression and EQ controls.

To top it all off, VoiceLive Play Acoustic also comes with built-in looper functionality.

The acoustic guitar effects are all quite good, you'll particularly notice the tone improvements you can get playing around with the BodyRez effect, particularly if you have piezo pickups.

On the vocal side, the reverb and compressor do the job nicely and the harmonies sound good in a live context, but I wouldn't use them on studio recordings.

Given its vocal and guitar friendly features, and ability to be used with a condenser mic, the TC Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic is a vocal processor that is easy to recommend particularly for solo live performers.

Tech Specs

  • 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

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Acoustic Guitar Forum Guitaurman 92/100
YouTube Worship Tutorials 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Boss VE-20

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$360
Boss VE-20 Vocal Effects Processor Pedal
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Vocal Effects Pedal along with:

Cons

  • Extremely limited looper

Pros

  • The harmony features are easy to use
  • Heaps of other effects make it good value

The VE-20 showcases what Boss is all about, packing as much sound quality and as many features inside a compact and robust metal enclosure as they can. 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.

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 auto-tune effects as used by artists like Black-Eyed Peas and will.i.am. I don't use those style of effects myself, but the pitch-correction does sound like it should to my ears.

Other effects include Harmony Factory that follows after specific keys and scales. Being able to select the intervals you want without having to play a keyboard into it for reference, makes the harmony features fairly easy to use.

However, I do find the looper's 38 seconds very limiting. And given the size of this unit, it takes up a lot of pedalboard space making it a bit impractical if you have to have a looper as well, however if looping's not your thing then this won't be an issue for you (I do a lot of looping).

Finally, Boss incorporated cool extra effects that include chorus, distortion robot, strobe and more.

So if you're mainly looking for effects, and don't do much looping like I do, then you'll be pleased with the VE-20.

Tech Specs

  • 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

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Guitar Interactive Magazine Editor 80/100
Equipboard tom_christopher 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$370
Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Vocal Effects Pedal along with:

Cons

  • The distortion is pretty average
  • Limited looper

Pros

  • Built-in tuner is a nice bonus
  • Intuitive workflow - easy to use live

The Boss VE-8 is designed to cater to the needs of singers who play acoustic-electric guitar, with dedicated preamps and effects for both mic and acoustic inputs.

Being primarily a vocal effects processor, most of the features are meant for improving your vocals and expanding what you can do with it.

This includes having a mic preamp with phantom power support, for using condenser mics. It also comes packed with vocal effects, from basics like reverb and enhance, to esoteric ones like pitch correction, distortion, robot, and more.

The guitar side of the pedal comes with its own sound enhancer via its acoustic resonance feature, designed to add realism to the sound of piezo equipped acoustic-electric guitars. It also has dedicated effects like reverb and chorus, tremolo, phaser and more. Most of the guitar effects are quite good, however it includes distortion which is a bit of an usual effect for acoustic players and not something I can see myself using - but that's possibly my personal preference.

With only 80 seconds available on the looper, you can't build complex loops like I do on the Boss RC-300, however it is enough for a bit of layering in parts like the chorus.

However, unlike some versatile units the VE-8 does have an intuitive workflow and it doesn't take too long to find your way around the unit.

This is a great rig "simplifier" for self-accompanying singers, a compact unit that can substitute for a complex yet intuitive rig.

Tech Specs

  • 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

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube ThomasSchuber 92/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider when Buying Vocal Effects Pedals / Processors

Vocal Effects

The most common reason why people use vocal effects is to improve the sound of their voice, and this is accomplished via basic effects like EQ, compression and reverb. And since sounding good is the main concern of singers, voice actors, streamers, podcasters and other media content creators - it is important to get a good handle of these basic effects, so you can properly choose and utilize your vocal processor. 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. Pitch correction 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.

Input/Output and USB Recording

While most vocalists will use just a basic XLR connection into a PA or mixing console, 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. While Direct USB recording was considered a secondary feature before, the popularity of home studios have made direct recording capability a critical feature for many musicians, especially if you're into home recording, live streaming, podcasting, voice acting and the like.

Looper

Loopers are not just popular among instrumentalists, even vocalists appreciate the advantages of using a looper. Using a looper lets you layer and texturize your voice in ways that would not be possible otherwise. As such many vocal effects processors come with built-in looper functionality, while some even offer looper only vocal pedals. Aside from spicing up your performances, loopers can also be great for practice and training your ears and voice.

Harmonies

One of the most prominent features of vocal processors is the ability to add one or more harmonies to a 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 effects units, offering between 1 and 4 additional voices. Some units have enough processing power to let you tweak the character of the harmonized 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 if you want to transform your sound in the same way as T-Pain, Kayne 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 is usually better. The 'Hard Tune' effect locks the pitch to a target note very quickly which produces 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 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.

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 them 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.

Best Vocal Effects Pedal Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on March 25, 2022.

For this March 2022 Edition, we ended up with a short list of 31 vocal effects processors. We then collated 11,500 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, which gave us the rating scores out of 100 that we used to come up with our recommendations that reflect market sentiment, as well as being used to report on the notable pros and cons of each one recommended above. For this 2022 edition, we've also included an author's pick, the Zoom V3, which we recommend for its practicality and usability. 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

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

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.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Produced by Gearank.com using photographs of the Boss VE-20 and TC Helicon VoiceLive Play Acoustic.

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.

Comments

I see you mention in the

I see you mention in the "Harmonies" section that "Some units have enough processing power to let you tweak the character of the harmonized voices in various ways including pitch and timing variations and even gender." Can you say which ones do this? This is something I am looking for. Thanks a lot for the informative article!

The TC Helicon PlayLive

The TC Helicon PlayLive Acoustic offers multiple harmony styles including pitch, and allows for advanced controls like setting the slide time of each note, and a “Humanize” setting that adds a bit of timing and pitch variance to make the harmony sound more “human-like”.

The Boss VE-20 also has smart harmony options along with a gender setting. VE-8’s harmony is similar to VE-20.

Finally, the Zoom V3 has 5 harmony pitch options (Lower, Low, Fixed, High, Higher).

Hope these details can help you pick your vocal processor.

Awesome, the gender thing is

Awesome, the gender thing is what I was looking for, so I will take a closer look at the Boss VE-20 and VE-8. Thanks for your generous help sir!

My band works in 432, not 440

My band works in 432, not 440. So which of the best in sound quality could you recommend? Thanks.

If you are talking about

If you are talking about 432Hz tuning, then basic effects and looping should work fine. In theory, smart harmony should also be able to work with that tuning, but it may be best to contact the manufacturer if you want to be sure.

Yes, tuning in 432. The

Yes, tuning in 432. The question is to find out if any of the brands can lower the tuning to 432 to make harmonies. It will then be asking the brands. Thanks.

I've done some research, but

I've done some research, but I'm not seeing any mention of 432Hz tuning specifically. Theoretically, "Smart Harmonies" should work fine with 432Hz if the harmonies are based on audio input (vocal or guitar). But "Fixed Harmonies" probably will be a problem if they are set to a specific tuning. You are doing the right thing by contacting the manufacturers to get further information.

Thanx for all the info.

Thanx for all the info.
One question .. Can I trigger the abilities of the TC voice live 3 with a bamboo flute ?

Hi! Great guide. About TC

Hi! Great guide. About TC Helicon Perform VG, it has Phantom power (can't be phantom powered, but you can power a condenser mic with it). Also the USB port is just for firmware update, not able to direct recording or control.

Thanks for that, you are

Thanks for that, you are entirely correct!

There were some confusing phantom power specifications on the TC-Helicon website so I checked the manual and have updated the Phantom Power and USB specifications above.

With a lot of the best

With a lot of the best processors being taken off of the recommended list, what processor is currently the the best and is a available?

Hey.. Thnx for all this great

Hey.. Thnx for all this great info! Still playing every day with the Roland 501. ( sultry and melodic type of improv flute ) The pre on this Roland is special. Which one comes close in quality to the Re 501? Just need the basic effects / delay /reverb.

Trying to look for a compact

Trying to look for a compact alternative to the Roland RE-501 is a tall order. So if you're looking for a vocal effects pedal with RE-501 like quality delay/reverb, you may have to lower your expectations.

And If you do, you'll find that many of the pedals listed here can provide workable, if not good reverb and delay.

Thank you for the article! I

Thank you for the article! I am less after effects and more after intuitive and easy to use sampler for vocals and speech. Do you know which direction I should look?

If what you mean by sampler

If what you mean by sampler is looping vocals, then you can go for any of the compact ones with built-in looper, like the Boss VE-20. But if you want an easy-to-use pedal to improve your overall sound, then get the Mic Mechanic from TC-Electronic.

Is there any pedal that you

Is there any pedal that you can choose a specific mode and not just major/minor? I perform lots of folk songs and would love a pedal I could set to the pentatonic scale.

Many harmony pedals allow for

Many harmony pedals allow for either automatic and manual key/scale mode, but I have yet to see one that specifically limits harmonies to the note of the pentatonic scale.

In any case, the pentatonic scale is just a few notes less than the major and minor scale setting, so you can achieve a similar effect with them - albeit with some of the harmonies going outside the pentatonic scale.

I’m trying to get a late 70’s

I’m trying to get a late 70’s early 80’s stereo effect. Does anyone know if one of these can achieve that?

Most likely they were using a

Most likely they were using a rackmount studio chorus effect. This can be achieved via the average chorus effect, which is included in many vocal and looper pedals.

Now if you want to really capture the flavor of the classic chorus, you'll have to research on the actual gear that was used on the recording that you're trying to replicate - and utilize something that's similar sounding, be it actual hardware or digital effects.

Hi,

Hi,
I have seen many reviews on the above effects, but the one thing that no one has mentioned so far, is, if you can patch one of these effects into a mixer to be used by more than one vocalist , e.g on several channels of a mixer or does each vocalist has to have their own effects unit?

These types of foot pedal

These types of foot pedal effects are primarily designed to be used by a single performer on stage rather than be used as outboard effects with a mixing console.

You could conceivably use some of them with the effects loop on a mixing console, however only the ones with 1/4" ins and outs would be usable, and the person mixing might find it awkward using the switches that are meant to be foot operated.

Typically, with mixing consoles, you would use rack mount effects units instead.

Are there any that can get

Are there any that can get chords for harmonies direct from tracks instead of guitar or keys?

The pedals don't specify this

The pedals don't specify this feature, but it can probably be done if you route pre-recorded tracks to the guitar input. There are other many apps that can do this though, but you'll have to figure out how to get them to trigger the harmonies off of your pedal.

I am looking for a small unit

I am looking for a small unit similar to BOSS VE20 that can be connected to a keyboard via midi to get the exact key changes for harmony and pitch correction. HELP!

Roland VT-3

Roland VT-3

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.

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.

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.

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