Kill Crap Vocals

Publish date:
Updated on
Image placeholder title


TC Helicon’s VoiceLive Play GTX is optimized for singing guitarists, and also includes convincing guitar processing.

CALLING ALL SINGING GUITAR players! You definitely want your vocals to sound as good as your guitar, and plenty of vocal processors are here to help.

Popular “vocal helpers” include the Boss VE-20 and VE-5, TC Helicon VoiceLive series, DigiTech Vocalist series, Electro-Harmonix Voice Box, and TASCAM TA1-VP (co-designed with Antares). These typically provide pitch correction and other effects (delay, doubling, dynamics control, reverb, EQ, de-essing), and the specific effects roster depends on model and price point. Although they’re stage-friendly—especially TC Helicon’s VoiceLive Touch, which can mount on a mic stand and does looping— you’ll often find these kinds of vocal processors in studio racks.


DigiTech’s Vocalist Live 3 provides pitch correction and generates vocal harmonies that follow your guitar playing.

DigiTech debuted vocal harmony control from your guitar (plug in your guitar, play, done—no need to set scale or key), and their Vocalist Live 5 and Vocalist Live 3 incorporate that technology. Both offer guitar tuners, and Live 5 includes reverb, chorus, and fl anger for guitar. TC’s VoiceLive Play GTX, designed specifically for singing guitarists, provides dedicated guitar effects processing and vocal processing. Again, vocal harmonies key to your guitar playing.

TC Helicon’s VoiceTone line breaks vocal processing down into seven floor pedals dedicated to specifi c functions: pitch correction, doubling and detune, reverb, intelligent harmony, etc. They also exploit the real-time effects control switch offered by TC’s MP-75 mic. Don’t underestimate this mic. It flatters my voice, and might flatter yours, too.

iPad-based processing is another hard- ware option, and IK Multimedia leads that pack with their iRig Mic—a complete pack- age including mic and processing software that you can augment with additional down- loads. It’s inexpensive, but highly effective and flexible.


iZotope’s Nectar is a comprehensive vocal processing plug-in.

For studio DAWs, there’s a plethora of plug- ins for vocals. Pitch correction is included with Apple Logic Studio, Cakewalk Sonar, Cockos Reaper, Magix Samplitude, MOTU Digital Performer, PreSonus Studio One Pro, Propellerhead Reason, and Steinberg Cubase. However, you can also buy individual plug-ins such as Antares Auto-Tune, Celemony Melodyne, Waves Tune, and iZotope Nectar (a vocal strip that includes pitch correction and tons of presets.

Waves also makes the excellent Vocal Rider—not a processor per se, but a time- saving plug-in for mixing that smooths out vocal level inconsistencies. Their Artist Series plug-ins also include quite a few vocal processing options. And don’t over- look Toontrack’s EZmix 2, which provides “plug-and-play” presets for multiple instruments, including vocals (however, it doesn’t include pitch correction).

Most DAWs include dynamics, EQ, delay, and reverb plug-ins, which are as applicable to voice as other instruments. Sonar even includes a vocal effects strip optimized for voice. And while Universal Audio’s series of powered-plug-ins aren’t specifically for voice, they offer several plug- ins that emulate the vintage gear used on classic vocals, such as the LA-2A compressor and Pultec equalizer.

Get the picture? If you want to take your vocals to the next level, check out some of these hardware and software options. You might be surprised at how easily they can take your voice from so-so to “wow.”