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Plugin Boutique Top 5 Friday: Vocal processing plugins

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Plugin Boutique returns with another Top 5 Friday, in which Tim Cant takes a look at some of the best vocal processing plugins.

Tim’s top five includes the following plugins.

5. SpeakUp (Audified)

This one might be a bit left-field, being created as a plugin for film and video post-production, but the musical applications available with a copy of SpeakUp are pretty interesting.

Audified SpeakUp Performer

SpeakUp is actually two plugins – SpeakUp Sensor and SpeakUp Performer. With one sitting on a Vocal track and another placed on the rest of your music, you can use the vocal signal to duck or dip the rest of your material. Naturally, this makes it great for film voiceovers, but with creative routing, and some tweaking of the Fade-In and Fade-Out controls, you can use SpeakUp as a sidechain demon plugin.

Of course, you can do the same things using standard compression or automation, but SpeakUp makes it just that bit easier.

4. Auto-Tune Pro (Antares)

The classic vocal tuning plugin, Auto-Tune might just be the most famous plugin in the world full stop, and with the recent release of Auto-Tune Pro, you get the full range of bombastic – some would say annoying – vocal tuning effects.

Antares Auto Tune Pro

For the Pro version, Antares’ pitchshifting talents have led to better pitch manipulation, but that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the classics, with pitchshifting tech behind Auto-Tune 5 also onboard. You also get the Auto-Key plugin, which help to identify the scale your music’s currently in, and simplifies the process of then using Auto-Tune.

Elsewhere, other recent additions to Auto-Tune include flexible time, formant control, and tweaking of vibrato. Thanks to Antares’ “unique throat modelling technology”, you can get your musical world blown time and time again in the style of both Cher and T-Pain. Who could possibly say no?

3. XILS Vocoder 5000 (XILS Lab)

With a vocoder awesomeness level of over 9000, XILS Vocoder 5000 is arguably the most luxurious vocoder on the market in terms of both sound and functionality.

Antares Auto Tune Pro

Based on the classic hardware vocoder the EMS 5000, this is a sound designer’s dream, with features including a powerful built-in carrier synth based on XILS lab’s EMS VCS3 emulation, a filter matrix, built-in polyphonics sequencer, a host of effects and anything else you could possibly need to make the raunchiest robotic vocals around.

2. Little AlterBoy (Soundtoys)

Little AlterBoy might be small, but behind the surface, it gives you all you need to totally transform any track. The Pitch and Formant knobs make up the main part of the experience, providing excellent-sounding pitch or vocal-style shifting in three modes: Transpose, Quantize and Robot. Next, there’s a Drive control, pushing that lovely Soundtoys overdrive onto your signal.

Soundtoys Little AlterBoy

And naturally, you can violate Little AlterBoy to your heart’s content, squeezing vocals, synths, melodics and even drums up its pipes. Trust us, this one’s been on more recent classics than Pharrel Williams.

1. Nectar 3 (iZotope)

Probably immediately familiar to anyone who’s used iZotope’s latest software, Nectar 3 takes on a similar concept: a comprehensive channel strip plugin, but this time with vocals firmly in mind. You get EQ, gating and compression, as you’d expect, and there’s also delay and reverb, but Nectar 3 leans more towards vocal tricks with harmonisation, pitchshifting, auto-levelling and Dimension processors onboard. You also get the Breath Control from iZotope’s RX package included here.

iZotope Nectar 3 EQ

Nectar 3 gives you more than just a channel strip, with a Vocal Assistant tool to recommend how to handle your voice track, and an Unmasking processor that can help expose the most crucial parts of the vocal’s spectrum in response to the other elements of your mix.

Nectar 3 also ships with a copy of Melodyne Essential, and if the whole thing’s too dear for you, you could try out Nectar Elements, a chopped-down version of Nectar at a lower price point.

Check out Plugin Boutique for these and more vocal processing plugins.

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