Need some extra vocals in your tunes, or to boost your own vocals with some much needed effects? You’ve come to the right place as we round up six of the best vocal instruments and processors that we’ve recently reviewed in MusicTech. We’ve got three vocal effects and three instruments for creating very different vocals…
Best for Multi-Effects: iZotope Vocal Synth
Contact Time+Space | 01837 55200
Vocal Synth offers not one but four incredible vocal effects. You get the Polyvox which can change the formant of the voice or create organic, layered harmonies a la Imogen Heap; the Vocoder creates classic talking-synth sounds like Daft Punk; the Compuvox is a Speak & Spell-style computer voice, and Talkbox creates melodies in the style of Chromeo or Tupac. That should be pretty much everything you need for your vocal recordings. Reviewer Alex Holmes certainly thinks so…
We said: “If you could use retro vocoder and talkbox sounds, or overly pitched R’n’B-style harmonies, this is perfect to get you started. Or, if you’re willing to get experimental and creative but aren’t worried about intelligibility, then it’s a great sound-design tool. It’s well laid out, easy to use and unique in that it offers all four effects.”
Best for Choirs: EastWest Hollywood Choirs
Price $599 Diamond or $499 Gold
Contact EastWest Sounds
EastWest has a number of vocal titles including its Symphonic Choirs and Voices of Passion libraries plus the recently reviewed EastWest Voices of Empire. EastWest Hollywood Choirs concentrates on, you guessed it, choirs, with both male and female collections, all the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ you will ever need plus just about everything else vocal-based that you can imagine. There’s even a WorldBuilder mode where you can arrange phrases in different languages.
We said: “This gets exceptionally close to the real thing. It offers ethereal, high female voices, chant-like male voices, and just about everything in between, with the added bonus that it will go way beyond the usual ‘Oo’ and ‘Ah’ timbre. If the cheaper option is where you’re heading, you’ll be getting a fine collection, with a singular main mix which stands up well, however the Diamond version will offer much greater flexibility for the professional. If epic choirs is what you need, this is a highly impressive package which should almost certainly be up for consideration.”
Best for Layering : Sonnox VoxDoubler
If you are in need of some fattening and widening of your vocals then you could do far worse than this plug-in which is designed for double-tracked vocals. VoxDoubler is actually two separate plug-ins, Widen and Thicken, which pretty much do what you’d expect from the names and can be used to quickly create bigger sounding vocals (or any other instrument), without the need for multiple layers. Widen works best for more noticeable effects like adding stereo interest to a chorus section, or doubling up backing vocals, whereas Thicken is better at more subtle bulking out of a lead vocal.
We said: “VoxDoubler is a pretty decent sounding effect that provides a quick and easy alternative to time-consuming double tracking techniques, allowing you to spend more time focusing on your music. It’s an easy-to-use and natural sounding effect for adding depth and width to vocals and instruments, and an alternative to fiddly traditional techniques.”
Best for classical: Vienna Solo Voices
Price Standard Library: £295; Extended Library £490
Contact Vienna Solo Voices
We’ve done choirs so now it’s the turn of the single classical voice. Here you get several articulations of both male and female vocals. There are four female voices – coloratura soprano, soprano, mezzo soprano and alto. – and three male voices too: tenor, baritone and bass. It’s a comprehensive classical collection, specific perhaps, but detailed enough to employ in a range of recording tasks.
We said: “Huge cinematic choirs are very much in vogue at present. Their use is restricted mainly to background pad work or chanting and therefore avoid the scrutiny of upfront listening. It is a brave developer, then, that dares to compile a sample library of solo classical voices where every syllable will be clearly heard. VSL, though, has pulled it off here for sure. The results are really very impressive. Highly suited to detailed classical work.”
Best for Fantasy: Best Service Shevannai
Contact Best Service
One of the first Eduardo Tarilonte instruments that we reviewed and still one of this brilliant sound designer’s finest hours. Shevannai contains loads of hushed whispers, beautiful singing and ambient wonder. If you want to take your music on a fantastical journey, you won’t be disappointed.
We said: “The soundscapes are excellent and I will be using them and the whispers in projects that need that kind of distant atmosphere. I’m sadly not involved in composition for Elvish projects (but I am open to offers!). As a quality collection for a very specific job, however, Shevannai is excellent. An excellent collection that caters for what could be a small market, but there isn’t much competition out there. ‘Enni e bain’ indeed… Look it up, people!”
Best for ‘That’ Effect: Antares Autotune Pro
It’s the effect that started a music revolution so what round up of vocal software would be complete without it? Autotune is probably the most widely used vocal software in the world and what started out as a simple tuner for slightly dodgy vocals has become a much used – some would say over-used – effect in itself. And now it’s been updated to ‘Pro’, it’s as fresh as ever…
We said: “Love it or loathe it you can’t deny the impact that Autotune has had on music production over the last couple of decades. This Pro version adds key and scale detection with the new Auto-Key plug-in as part of the bundle plus a completely redesigned interface. ‘Do you believe’ that it’s still the one to beat? Of course it is and of course you do as ‘I really don’t think you’re strong enough’ to believe otherwise. (Sorry.)”