Want to channel your inner Daft Punk? Here are 9 of the coolest vocal processing tools

Singer in front of mic
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Ever since the advent of the vocoder, musicians and producers have been using vocal processing tools to warp, mangle and reimagine the sound of their voices.

These days, there's a dizzying array of vocal effects on offer, from the now-ubiquitous pitch correction of Auto-Tune to the weird and wonderful sonic possibilities offered by plugins like iZotope's VocalSynth. Here, we run you through 9 of the most powerful tools available to those looking to process vocals creatively.

1. Antares Auto-Tune Access 10 

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Vocal effect buyer’s guide 1

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The Auto-Tune lineup has expanded to considerable proportions, with numerous versions of the plugin to satisfy every price point and user type. This is the most basic iteration of Auto-Tune, but there is nothing basic about its capability. This timeless plugin is reliable and dependable, and does exactly what it says on the tin! 

Mac/PC | £49 from Antares

2. Softube Vocoder

Softube Vocoder

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Designed to offer a vintage sound, Softube’s vocoder plugin offers a passing nod to the Roland vocoders in both sound and aesthetic. It includes a basic but powerful on-board synthesizer, which will provide you with your carrier wave. It’s great for classic vocoder duties, especially for pushing drums in the vocoder’s direction

Mac/PC | €99 from Softube

3. Zynaptiq Orange Vocoder IV

Zynaptiq Orange Vocoder IV

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The Orange Vocoder is one of the longest-standing plugins in existence, but was in need of a radical reformation, and that’s certainly what we have with version IV. As well as having everything built-in to get you started, it also has a myriad of vocoder styles and pretty good examples of talkbox

Mac/PC | €169 from Zynaptiq

4. Antares Harmony Engine 

Antares Harmony Engine

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As one of the most highly regarded harmoniser plugins on the market, the Harmony Engine’s reassuringly expensive price underlies its capabilities. If you want to create the Prismizer effect easily and effectively, this is really the plugin you need to fulfil the harmony element.

Mac/PC | £286 from Antares

5. iZotope VocalSynth 2 

iZotope Vocalsynth 2

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VocalSynth 2 is a feature-packed plugin that can turn an imported vocal of the most average quality, into an impressive-sounding synthetic line. It can also provide classic vocoder, and talkbox effects with a minimum of fuss! It’s impressive, and one of the best on the market.

Mac/PC | £189 from iZotope

6. Eventide Quadravox

Eventide Quadravox

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This very capable harmoniser plugin from Eventide is a slightly different proposition to the Antares option. Adding four harmonised voices to an incoming signal, it can create interesting rhythmic and harmonic patterns. It is more simplistic than the Antares, but can yield some excellent results if working on a smaller budget.

Mac/PC | $99 from Eventide

7. Waldorf STVC Vocoder/ String Machine

Waldorf STVC Vocoder/ String Machine

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There is nothing quite like sitting down at a keyboard vocoder to get you inspired. The Waldorf is a great contemporary example of what a vocoder can do, with some excellent vintage and modern sounds, backed up by some beautiful string sounds

£499 (hardware only!) from Waldorf

8. Antares Auto-Tune Vocodist

Antares Auto-Tune Vocodist

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As if Antares didn’t have much of this already sewn up, their very own vocoder plugin not only features Auto-Tune built-in, but it provides a complex dual-oscillator synthesizer to handle your carrier wave. It also comes complete with an extensive set of artist presets. 

Mac/PC | £88.50 (or monthly subscription) from Antares

9. MXR M222 Talkbox

MXR M222 Talkbox

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Finally, if you want to channel your inner Daft Punk, you might want to explore the hardware option of a talkbox. MXR make an easy to use guitar pedal, aptly named Talkbox, which can accept a guitar or keyboard input and will have you sounding like Roger Troutman in a matter of minutes! 

£198 (hardware only!) from Jim Dunlop

Roland Schmidt

Roland Schmidt is a professional programmer, sound designer and producer, who has worked in collaboration with a number of successful production teams over the last 25 years. He can also be found delivering regular and key-note lectures on the use of hardware/software synthesisers and production, at various higher educational institutions throughout the UK

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