Vocal processing is a vital part of music production – and vocal production goes way beyond talent and proper recording techniques. Multiple forms and combinations of processing can add, subtract, and balance vocal qualities to create the perfect mix. Harmonics and distortion. Pitch-shifting. EQ and compression. Amplification. Reverb. Echo and delay. Modulation. Automation. The list goes on.
Simply put: pro-quality vocal processing isn’t exactly easy. Getting that vocal to sit well in your mix, have a unique character, or achieve a specific sound or quality can all be challenging. And since the human voice is the ultimate instrument, we know this is a hot topic.
With that in mind, we curated some content focused on vocal processing with some of the best tools around – Soundtoys (yes, we’re extremely biased). Keep scrolling for artist inspiration, free presets and video guides using Soundtoys to get your vocal to feel natural in a mix, twist it into something completely new, or achieve a sweeter, fuller, richer, or fatter vocal sound.
Pop Vocals | Breathy Vocals | Natural Vocal Harmonies | Funky Vocoder FX | 5 Creative Tips | Artist Inspiration & Presets
Pop Vocal Production with Soundtoys 5
Soundtoys 5 has been used on countless Billboard hits and has influenced the way radio pop vocals evolved. Watch Tony Ni explain how to use some of our favorite plug-ins to get your vocal sound radio-pop polished. In this video, Tony uses Decapitator, Sie-Q, MicroShift, Little Plate, and EchoBoy within Effect Rack / Soundtoys 5.
Watch Mitch share some tips on how to accentuate or enhance a breathy vocal using Little AlterBoy, LittlePlate, Effect Rack, Devil-Loc Deluxe, Sie-Q, and PhaseMistress.
Natural Vocal Harmonies
Mitch shows you how to create a more natural sound vocal harmony with Little AlterBoy in Transpose mode.
Funky Vocal FX
Watch Mitch create a fat vocoder-like vocal effect with two Little AlterBoys and MicroShift in Effect Rack.
5 Creative Ways to Process Vocals (ft. Soundtoys)
Want to give pop vocals some extra spice, life and polish? Charles Hoffman of Sonic Scoop has you covered with 5 techniques every producer and mixer should know.
Artist Inspiration & (FREE) Presets
I can safely say that Soundtoys Little Alterboy was hugely important to getting some of the tweaked vocal sounds across the last Glass Animals album, including the pitch-shifted opening words. – Dave Bayley (Glass Animals)
Download Glass Animals’ Intro Vocals preset from “Heatwaves” (Little AlterBoy)
MicroShift and Decapitator are constantly used to add a bit of character and width to anything from vocals to guitars to cymbals. Certainly go-to plug-ins for me as they are all massively musical and creative. You can hear this combination of vocal distortion and chorus that I used across the main vocal bus in our song “Heatwaves.” – Dave Bayley (Glass Animals)
Download Glass Animals’ Vocal Bus preset (Effect Rack, Decapitator, MicroShift)
Ryan “Skinny” Shanahan (Alesso, The Naked and Famous)
For the Alesso song “Midnight” feat. Liam Payne, I used one of my go to vocal delays: EchoBoy Jr. This is a pretty straight forward 1/4 delay with both a high cut and low cut with a little saturation. It’s being used at 100% on a send with multiple vocals feeding it. – Ryan “Skinny” Shanahan
Download Skinny’s Alesso Vocal Delay preset (EchoBoy Jr./EchoBoy)
I use EchoBoy a lot when it comes to vocal FX delays. Using the different Styles allows you to come up with a variety of cool effects. I especially like using it for filtered slap delays and more creative weird things. In this mix, I used this widener preset on the “I look around” adlib to give it an ultra stereo effect. The FX Slap preset I used on a low oct layer of the “I Said” vocal stack, making the stack thicker and more interesting. – Ryan “Skinny” Shanahan
Download Vocal Widener and FX Slap presets from The Naked And Famous’s “Blinding Lights Remix” (EchoBoy)
Little Microshift. LETS GO! Love this plug-in, although I’ve been using the full version of MicroShift more recently because I can dial it in a little more precisely. This is really a secret weapon for those who know about it. I mainly use it because it sounds super close to the old Eventide H3000 setting used by so many engineers on hit records. Great for both lead and background vocals, I usually use it on a send at 100% to add to the stereo image and make a vocal thicker. In this Alesso song, it’s used on the lead vocal. – Ryan “Skinny” Shanahan
Download the Vocal Widening preset used on Alesso’s “Midnight” (Little MicroShift/MicroShift)
Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Nick Hakim)
On Big Thief’s “Two Hands”, we quickly threw the EchoBoy on the lead vocal to mimic my Space Echo and it stuck! The slap back on the lead vocal is the EchoBoy in all its glory. – Andrew Sarlo
Download Andrew Sarlo’s Damn That’s the Big Thief Slap Back preset (EchoBoy)
For Nick Hakim’s “Qadir” the ending vocal cacophony pans from left to right thanks to the Effect Rack and PanMan being placed in that for extra psychedelic ooze! – Andrew Sarlo
Download Andrew Sarlo’s Damn That’s the Weird Panning in Qadir preset (Effect Rack / Soundtoys 5)
Inspired? As always, share your own vocal processing tips with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.