If you’re looking to move into the modern live performance realm and create some incredible vocal harmonies, you’re going to need to get yourself a vocal harmonizer pedal.
Voice harmonizers are great for solo musicians or lead singers in bands, especially if there are no other singers that are in the band to harmonize. Any modern musician who wants to bring their studio sound to the live stage should check out some of these high-tech vocal devices.
Unfortunately, people don’t know much about these things, as they’re not the most prevalent pieces of tech out there.
If you’re interested in enhancing your live performance and creating studio-quality vocals in your live set, in real time, stick around as we go through some of the top vocal harmonizers on the market.
For the born singer-songwriter, the TC Helicon offers everything from harmonies, to effects, to looping, and beyond. It is easily one of the most in-depth vocal devices around and is made for those who are seeking the best and most professional sound.
For those seeking simplicity and portability wrapped up in an inexpensive package, the VoiceTone H1 from TC Helicon gives you precisely what you need in a harmonizer pedal without all the bells and whistles. The intuitive interface and rugged design allow you to perform anywhere you go with ease.
A modern voice harmonizer should have reliable tracking. Many manufacturers will say that the tracking features on their product is supreme, though that’s not always the case. If you are someone who has songs in more complicated keys with non-diatonic chord progressions, tracking is especially important.
If your budget calls for it, we recommend spending a little bit extra so that you can get the best tracking available. You should also be able to set the key of your song manually as well!
Now obviously this whole article is about vocal harmonizers, though not all are made equal when it comes to creating organic-sounding harmonies. You’ll want to look into the number of harmonies that your device can produce.
You’ll also want to look into how the pedal creates harmonies. Are they harmony effects, or are they natural harmonies such as thirds or octaves?
Regardless, you’ll want to be able to hear the individual layers that are coming out of your harmonizer if you’re going for realism.
Ins and Outs
Depending on how versatile you want your voice harmonizer to work, you may want to consider getting one with multiple ins and outs, as well as one with different types of ins and outs.
Most harmonizer pedals will come with mono XLR ins and outs which you can use with your standard vocal microphone. At the very least, you’ll want to get one that uses phantom power so that you can use a condenser microphone, especially if you’re recording with it.
Some harmonizers come with quarter inch ins and outs that allow you to chain other pedals and effects to them. If you’re looking to get very serious, you’ll want to get a pedal that has stereo outs. Stereo outs will allow you to use stereo effects such as delays, reverbs, and choruses, as well as spread your vocal harmonies across the stereo field.
Power is one thing that many people don’t consider when buying a vocal harmonizer, though it can help make things far more convenient. A 9V DC is one of the most common ways to power a pedal.
If you’re a guitarist that uses a pedalboard with an onboard power supply brick, a harmonizer pedal that is powered using 9V DC might be the most convenient.
If you have one that uses any other type of power, you may have to get a separate power strip to use it so that you don’t risk a blowout or a shut-off that could put a dent in your live set.
Some harmonizers come with added effects such as reverbs, choruses, delays, etc. These can be awesome if you’re looking to create a true replica of your studio lead and backing vocals. Some vocal harmonizers go as far as to EQ your voice as well!
TC Helicon has a wide variety of harmonizer and vocal effects pedals that are some of the top on the market. The TC Helicon Play Acoustic happens to be at the top of the line, acting as one of their best vocal harmonizers of all time.
It truly is one of the fastest and most accurate harmonizers!
It also provides one of the most organic-sounding harmonies of all the pedals we’ve seen. That’s just the cherry on top though.
One of the coolest things about the TC Helicon Play Acoustic is the adaptive tone technology that EQs your vocals in an automatic fashion. You’d be surprised at how well the EQ works too.
Beyond that, they also have given you a few high-quality effects such as delays, reverbs, choruses, etc. As an added feature, you can plug in your guitar as well to utilize the guitar effects onboard. There are different inputs and outputs for XLR and quarter-inch.
Bottom Line: The TC Helicon Play Acoustic Vocal Effects Processor is the perfect, all-around harmonizer for solo musicians and singer-songwriters. It provides everything you need to create rich, lavish, and organic sounding harmonies with pristine tracking.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in simplicity without spending too much, the VoiceTone H1 might be right up your alley. The single-button stompbox design gives you natural sounding vocals that are controlled by your guitar.
You can choose between one or two-voice harmony, depending on how complex you want to make it. The best part is, you don’t need any theory knowledge, as the H1 works automatically to find the best harmonies possible.
The three-knob interface is pretty self-explanatory, and the on/off footswitch gives you seamless performance control. You’d be surprised at how well this thing sounds too.
It’s made with the same high-quality, low-noise preamps that the higher-end TC Helicon pedals are made with. Just like the above-mentioned Harmony Singer 2, you can use this with the TC Helicon MP-75 for hands-on control.
It’s also perfect for travel thanks to the rugged and portable design. You can stick this on your pedalboard with the rest of your pedals without taking up too much real estate.
Bottom Line: If simplicity and budget-friendly are two things that you look for when purchasing a harmony pedal, you’ll love this thing. The simple, one-button interface and natural-sounding harmonies provide a pro sound at a low price.
The Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer not only creates a variety of impressive vocal harmonies for live performance, but it also delivers a variety of onboard vocal effects including doubling, hard-tuning, distortion, and more.
Beyond that, there is a dedicated guitar channel that makes it perfect for the modern singer-songwriter. You can use the Acoustic Resonance features to add cool effects like reverb and chorus. It also has a small phase invert button and a notch filter that is great for controlling unwanted feedback.
If you’re looking for studio-quality vocals in the live world, the real-time pitch correction will be your best friend. It works to automatically follow your voice to make sure that it stays in tune.
There are 80 seconds of looping onboard, meaning you can record 80 seconds of your guitar and vocals and stack them up to create a wall of sound. You can even store up to 50 different presets so that you can go through them during your live set at the simple click of a footswitch.
Bottom Line: For singer-songwriters who play acoustic guitar, the Boss VE-8 is the biggest competitor to the TC Helicon line of vocal harmonizers. With studio-quality, real-time harmonies, a long loop time, and a variety of high-quality effects, it’s one of the most powerful vocal harmonizers out there.
The TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony G XT is a wonderful vocal harmonizer that delivers a variety of overdub styles and harmonies. You can add up to two harmony voices that are directed by your vocals or guitar playing, perfect for the acoustic singer-songwriter.
In terms of vocal doubling, the VoiceTone Harmony G XT helps to add rich overdubs to give you that shimmering sound.
Beyond creating harmonies and doubling, there is an auto-chromatic pitch correction that helps to shift your voice to the correct pitch without having to set the scale or key.
You can improve your sound with subtle correction to give your voice that added shimmer. This harmonizer also uses adaptive EQ, shaping, compression, and de-essing, to help smooth your voice to give it a bright and musical tone.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to get the best harmonies around, as well as a variety of high-quality vocal effects, the VoiceTone Harmony G XT narrows it in with a solid interface and groundbreaking processors.
The Boss VE-2 Vocal Harmonist Pedal is a simpler product that helps to create perfect harmonies depending on the key that you are singing in. All you have to do is set the key using the knob on the interface and start singing. There are a wide variety of harmony types for you to choose from - just select one of the dozen effect types to get the perfect harmonies for your specific vocal performance.
You’ll see a little “Enhance” button on the machine that helps to improve your vocal definition overall by compressing your vocal input and giving you a slight tune to pitch correct your vocals. Essentially, you get studio quality vocals that come from a box.
Speaking of studio quality, there is a USB audio function that gives you the ability to send these processed vocals straight to your computer. You can even use a condenser microphone thanks to the XLR phantom power.
Beyond the harmonizer functions, you can utilize the onboard delay and reverb functions to give your vocal that extra shimmer in the live realm.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a portable and simple vocal harmonizer that is best for studio situations, the Boss VE-2 is a solid device.
The TC Helicon Harmony Singer 2 looks more like a guitar pedal than anything else. This is mostly because it works with your guitar to create harmony based off of what you are playing.
You can easily add one to two voices of natural-sounding harmony with a simple stomp of your foot. It’s as easy as harmony on/off. This is perfect for when you want to talk to the audience between songs and need to shut off your harmonies, so you don’t sound like the Devil incarnate.
In terms of giving you a studio-quality vocal sound, this baby helps to apply impressive reverb effects that help to sweeten the tone of your vocal.
The adaptive electronics work to also provide EQ, compression, and gating, that works in tune with your unique voice. If you decide to buy the TC Helicon MP-75 microphone, you can even control the pedal with your hand!
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a high-quality pedal to take with you on the road, we highly recommend picking up the TC Helicon Harmony Singer 2. It’s one of the most travel-friendly vocal harmony pedals around and is reliable and straightforward to use!
Vocal harmonizers can help to add a unique element to your live performance. They allow you to take your studio recordings to the stage, especially if you don’t have a full band of singers to back you up.