Best Vocal VST Plugins – 2020 Ultimate Guide

We’re living in an era when creating flawless vocal performances has never been easier and cheaper.

We have even created a specific music mainstream genre that relies on heavy vocal editing and filtering, so lets find out what else you can do besides applying a traditional set of vocal effects.

Comparison Chart of the Best Vocal VST Plugins

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Advanced vocal editing tool
  • 14 vocal mixing core components
  • Useful Follow EQ Mode
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  • Best post production plugin
  • Create realistic doubling tracks
  • Ideal for voice restorations tasks
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  • Simplified but very effective
  • Designed by Grammy-Award winner
  • Ideal for beginners
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  • Vintage and modern options
  • Additional modulation and dynamic modules
  • Works great for traditional music
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  • 30 different echo styles
  • Huge number of factory presets
  • Creative Rhytmic Echo mode
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  • True emulation of hardware compressor
  • 5 creative side-chain modes with dedicated EQ
  • Low CPU load and latency
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  • Low latency pitch correction
  • Multi-effects rack with 6 voice modules
  • Inspiring Auto-Motion Generator
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  • Quick acapella track extract
  • Practical and fast-paced removal of external noises
  • Repair up to 16 audio files at once
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  • The most creative vocal plugin on the market
  • Blendable modules and stompboxes
  • Vocoder and Talkbox included
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  • The most responsive real-time harmonizer
  • 4 independent harmony voices
  • Voice Ensemble mode
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What Are Vocal VST Plugins and What Are They Used For?

Vocal VST plugins are used to alter recorded vocal tracks in various manners.

While some are used in the movie industry for restorative purposes, most plugins are actually made for the music industry. Some will make singing ultra-precise or loosen (if that’s what you need), others will add a certain depth, warmth, or space that will pay a tribute to the certain music era. 

And there are VST plugins that can use vocal tracks as a source to create something completely new. They will treat vocals like an instrument and make extreme variations from it and create robotic or percussive sound, for example.

What Are The Components of Vocal VST Plugins?

As you could see in our product list, vocal VST can have many components, so lets try to group them together:

Polish

It simply tightens your performance to the top. It's tedious work that requires excessive manual editing so you can save a lot of time with this feature as it comes with some handy automated processes.

Restorative

It can heal your in-field recordings from additional noises, pops, and clicks without harming the original source. Quite often used in film and TV production. 

Pitch Correct

Instead of recording numerous takes to nail that pitch perfectly wasting both time and energy, you can rely on fine-tuning the pitch on the track where the energy was perfect for the song you’re working on.

Multi-Effect

This is probably what you first had in mind when you thought about Vocal VSTs. It adds a typical set of reverb, delay, compress to your vocal track. Many will emulate iconic hardware gear and some will go even beyond.

Special Effects

In case you might need some additional extreme effect, this component should cover it all. It will provide you with capable pitch shifting or gender-changing features and depending on specific software it also may extend to some vocoder, harmonizer or even choir modules.

iZotope Nectar 3

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Vocal VST Plugins

With so many Vocal VSTs on the market it was really demanding task to categorize them in a way to not miss any feature that modern software can do these days:

Best Overall: 
iZotope Nectar 3

PROS

  • Intelligent Auto Level Mode
  • 14 vocal mixing core components
  • Complete advanced vocal editing tool
  • Unmask feature finds “a spot” in the mix
  • Follow EQ Mode shapes vocal in real-time

CONS

  • A bit expensive
  • Some quick settings would be handy for newbies

Features and Specifications

Nectar 3 comes with fourteen components for vocal mixing both corrective such as De-Esser, Breath Removal, and Pitch or creative like 4-voice harmony accompaniment. The usual, modulation, delay, and reverb effects are also included.

Unmask feature automatically creates a frequency “gap” in the mix so that the vocal track can “sit” up front and “glue” elements together in a very natural way.

Along with the typical four types of compressors, Nectar also provides you with the Auto Level mode which may be a more subtle solution in some situations.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This plugin can improve your vocal tracks so much that once you’re done with editing you will be shocked if you replay the original track.

The Equalizer module that iZotope provided is one of the most capable we’ve encountered so far. It comes with a dual 24-band panel so you can surgically tune your vocals with up to 48-bands in total.

Dynamic EQ Gain feature has a threshold level option. This may be handy for treating extreme vocal values independently. The Follow EQ worked for us like a charm. It monitors source track in the real-time and adjusts EQ according to what’s currently going.

PROS

  • Supports ARA2 plugin environment
  • Improve tightness for vocal or instrument tracks
  • Create realistic doubling tracks from a single file
  • Replace and sync problematic vocals with clean retakes
  • The most advanced post-production audio alignment software

CONS

  • De-essing requires extra attention
  • Waveform changes are not visible instantly in the DAW

Features and Specifications

The core of this software is organized into three segments - APT, Doubler, and Warp.

APT will match all kinds of characteristics from a source file to all selected takes - timing, pitch, vibrato, and so on making lip-syncing work much easier.

Doubler can create another take of any monophonic instrument track which is very useful for the vocal stacking process.

Warp is a typical audio editing tool that allows you to manipulate certain parts of audio by assigning warp points.

It also supports ARA2 integration for DAWs that support this type of plugin.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Originally Revoice software was created for aligning any kind of TV or cinematic dialogue and with version 4 Synchro Arts took another step toward the musical world. Doubler is a huge time-saver for any kind of music projects. And the best part is that you can use it on any other instrument as well as it comes with a myriad of different presets.

All the given features can’t be summed in such a short article, but lets put it this way - if you can’t finish repair or editing with this software, there is a small chance something else will do it.

Best for the Money:
Waves CLA Vocals

PROS

  • 3 versatile modes per slider
  • Affordable all-in-one vocal mixing solution
  • Ideal vocal plugin for beginners or quick mixing
  • 6 sliders that cover basic EQ, effects, and compression
  • Settings designed by Grammy-award winner Chris Lord-Alge

CONS

  • Mid-EQ slider wouldn’t harm
  • Not designed for advanced users

Features and Specifications

CLA Vocals comes with the very basic and straight-forward user interface with 8 sliders and pan knob and 6 editable parameters - bass, treble, compress, reverb, delay, and pitch. All the controls and options are placed in the front panel.

Every parameter has 3 different types to select from that extend the range of every slider, so Bass EQ can treat either Sub frequencies or even work with upper-bass range while Delay can change between a decent Slap Delay, Quarter and Eight which are in sync with the tempo provided within a song project.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Grammy-award winning mix engineer Chris Lord-Alge provided us with the most usual settings he uses every day so you can have a great head-start without spending too much time with technical specs and the most important, at the very affordable price.

In the digital ocean of vocal plugins, newbies are often let on their own to find a way to jump from basic plugins to the ones that require advanced knowledge. Luckily, Waves created a couple of plugins like CLA Vocals that can help them on that road and get some incredibly good and fast results that will buy them some time before they get into the business.

Best Vocal Reverb VST:
Waves H-Reverb

PROS

  • Useful factory presets
  • Ideal for traditional pop and rock music
  • Graphic 4-band EQ with parametric Mids
  • Musical reverb that can be both vintage and modern
  • Drive, delay, modulation and dynamic modules provided

CONS

  • Limited MIDI control
  • Gain-reduction indicator is missing

Features and Specifications

H-Reverb is a synthetic reverb built on FIR technology that creates a musical reverb tail that doesn’t create mud in the mix. It uses signal behavior found in high-end hardware reverb devices that enables input drive control.

Delay is split into an input section with seven different types to choose from and output section that is configurable by three dedicated knobs.

Besides reverb and delay parameters, there are dedicated modules for EQ and dynamics such as compression and de-esser. Reverb build-up time and shaping can be configured manually and there are many factory presets to select from.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This reverb may not be that hardware emulation you might be looking for currently, but it’s versatile in a very musical way so it may cover all your vocal needs, especially with certain presets that were inspired by legendary hardware units. It can sound both vintage and modern if needed and the rest of the effects provided may be just enough to solve all your vocal edits within a single plugin.

We also really loved that they provided a Test button so you can check how the reverb preset sounds even without playing the complete track.

Best Vocal Delay VST:
Soundtoys Echoboy

PROS

  • Flexible Rhythm Echo mode
  • Huge number of very useful factory presets
  • 30 different echo styles with configurable EQ
  • Most versatile delay plugin with in-depth editing
  • High-quality tape saturation based on Ampex ATR-102 emulation

CONS

  • Presets doesn’t load instantly
  • Certain settings can be missed because of menu-diving

Features and Specifications

Echoboy is a versatile delay plugin that contains 30 different echo styles based on the vintage hardware units such as Space Echo or Memory Man with the parametric multi-band decay setup. There is a huge collection of factory presets organized in folders either by category (chorus, spaces, and modulation, e.g.) or instruments (vocals, drums, etc.).

It works in four modes that include the usual mono, stereo, and ping-pong imaging and the unique Rhythm Echo mode. Apart from delay it also provides you with a quite decent modeled saturation effect.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the biggest collection of the delays you can find on the market. It should cover all traditional music needs and extend even further as it contains some chorus effects that could be used on guitar tracks and saturation could suit drum tracks as well.

Echoboy also allows you to edit the groove element by changing the swing values or emphasizing the accent to match the groove of the song. And while speaking about groove Rhythm Echo mode is a definitely unique experience. You can set up to 16 delay repeats and shape every repeat independently.

Best Vocal Compressor VST:
 Arturia Comp-TUBE-STA

PROS

  • Low CPU load and latency
  • 3 calibrations mode for Analog VU meter
  • 5 creative side-chain modes with dedicated EQ
  • Emulation of the legendary vacuum-tube compressor
  • Original modeled path and modes with variable Recovery parameter

CONS

  • More tutorial tips would be welcomed
  • Analog distortion requires additional input tweaking

Features and Specifications

This plugin is a faithful recreation of the Gates STA-Level hardware compressor made by Arturia’s TAE modeling technology.

Its tube electronic path contains the original non-linear attack and release, Single, Double and Triple modes along with the variable Recovery parameter. A vast number of factory presets are also included.

There are also 3 calibration modes for Analog VU meter and analog clipping LED indicator. Dry/Wet knob allows you instant parallel compression and its features are enhanced with 5 creative side-chain modes with a dedicated EQ.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Arturia had a hunch that some users might be unaware of how to apply the compressor parameters correctly. That’s why an integrated tutorial is a real game-changer as it provides you with tips on how to use presets and leaves us to desire for more hints.

This compressor has been used on vocals since the 1950s and it also works awesome on bass guitar as well and with the given side-chain compression it got another breath of fresh air for its features. And the way it’s visually organized so you have a feeling just you’re treating the real hardware worked great for us.

Best Vocal Harmonizer VST:
Antares Harmony Engine EVO

PROS

  • The most responsive real-time harmonizer
  • Many vocal variations with Humanize function
  • Useful Harmony and Voice Parameter Preset matrix
  • 5 CHOIR Vocal Multiplier channels for Voice Ensemble
  • 4 independent harmony voices with Fixed or Scaled intervals

CONS

  • Not so inspirational user interface
  • Audacity and Pro Tools First DAW not supported

Features and Specifications

Harmony Engine EVO is built upon Evo Voice Processing Technology which provides you with accurate pitch detection, artifact-free pitch shifting, and natural-sounding throat modeling.

It has four harmony voices with many harmonizations presets and settings and if you have a need to create a vocal ensemble, you can use the CHOIR Vocal Multiplier option and add up to 5 vocal channels. Harmonies can be organized either in fixed or scaled intervals and can rely on chord input provided in the form of a pre-recorded MIDI track or tracking real-time playing.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Antares are the pioneers of auto-tune plugins and they have been in this business for 20 years. So, if you need a harmonizer, it’s somewhat logical to check their offer first as the complete process heavily relies on pitch-perfect notes.

Harmony Engine EVO has more than enough options for any composer of any music genre. It may provide you with the ideas you didn’t think of at first and Throat Modeling technology physically models each harmony voice along with the Humanize option to create certain imperfections for every vocal necessary to create a realistic and natural harmony singing.

Best Vocal Synth VST:
iZotope Vocal Synth 2

PROS

  • Inspiring creative vocal editing tool
  • Works in Auto, MIDI, and Side-Chain mode
  • Expansion preset libraries for instant inspiration
  • 5 blendable modules including vocoder and talkbox
  • 7 stompbox effects with interesting sequencer-based Shred effect

CONS

  • Reverb effect is missing
  • Unwanted aliases popping on certain settings

Features and Specifications

Voice Synth 2 is equipped with the modern user interface and contains five synthesis modules. Biovox alters the human voice shape, Vocoder and Talkbox act like you would suppose it to do while Compuvox goes a step further and gives you that computerized bitcrushing flavor while Polyvox can create realistic doubles and harmonies from your audio track.

Along with these modules, there are seven stompboxes that can modify your vocal tracks further with effects such as distortion, filter, delay, chorus, ring mod, transform and very interesting sequencer-based shred.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Modern music is all about surprising a listener with something unique and authentic in a good way. Even if it sounds awkward at first, it may be just the right flavor that will lure them towards your song.

This is exactly where this software excels at. No matter if you’re looking for high-quality aggressive rock textures or ethereal vocal pads, this is your plugin. We recommend it to all indie producers out there that are looking for a creative tool that can keep up with the storm of their ideas. And for the rest of the artists, even a traditional talkbox could be a reason to grab one.

Best Vocal Auto-tune VST:​
Antares Auto-Tune EFX+

PROS

  • Multi-effects rack with 6 voice modules
  • Extensive patch library made by professionals
  • Versatile Retune Speed and Humanize features
  • Versatile and low latency pitch correction plugin
  • Inspiring Auto-Motion Melodic Pattern Generator

CONS

  • No pattern editor for Auto-Motion generator
  • Requires additional purchase for automatic key detection

Features and Specifications

Auto-Tune EFX+ is made from six effects modules that cover numerous vocal manipulations. Apart from regular Pitch and Throat module that covers pitch and formant shifting with very low latency, there are modules for doubling effect (Duet), vintage vocoder emulation (Vocode), analog distortion modeling (Tube Amp), ring modeled manipulations (Mutate) and high-pass filtering (Filter).

Auto-Motion Melodic Pattern Generator can create melodic patterns by pitch-shifting tracks with three different Trigger Modes. Antares provided a huge preset library for this feature so you can pick one that matches your song the best.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Whether you need corrective but realistic pitch-tuning or a full auto-tune effect found in many modern songs where it behaves more like a voice trait than a subtle effect, this can be your all-in-one solution. You can get decent results with other software but Antares managed to provide us with that extra pinch of realism or versatility thanks to the Humanize feature that treats short and sustain notes differently.

It provides you with a very useful vocoder and tube amp modules and comes packed with various presets of industry-standard quality. These features can give you that extra burst of brainstorming in any situation.

Best Vocal Isolation VST:
iZotope RX7

PROS

  • Fix vocal sibilance, breath, and mouth clicks
  • Complete solution for any kind of voice restoration
  • Repair up to 16 audio files at once in Composite View
  • Quick acapella track extract with Music Rebalance feature
  • Very practical and fast-paced Spectral Repair and Repair Assistant

CONS

  • Limited multi-channel support
  • Price might be too professional for a hobbyist

Features and Specifications

The latest version of this software provided us with the Music Rebalance feature that can extract or nullify vocals from the audio source while the Repair Assistant feature can remove any kind of noises, clippings, or pops by simply selecting a type of material you’re editing.

Spectral Repair is another feature of this product and it can remove any artificial sound from your mixes such as air conditioner or outdoor traffic.

And just in case you need to edit multiple microphones at once, Composite View can work with 16 audio files at once.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This software has been on the market since 2007. It is officially licensed as Final Cut Pro X’s default audio editor and with every version, iZotope keeps on delivering more restorative enhancements and features.

So, if you need any kind of fixing or isolating vocals, look no further. This software has been used on many movies, TV shows and this version has the best noise reduction so far. Whether you need to clean up dialogue fast, create acapella from the full music track or fix those tracks from a live show all together, you’ll be satisfied with the outcome.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Here are some advices so that you can make the best buying choice:

Beginner or a Pro?

Most Vocal VSTs provide you with in-depth editing which may confuse you if you’re not prone to editing. Luckily, there are plugins that can deliver you decent results while being newbie-friendly. Maybe they can’t compete with the pro software, but they will provide you with the results that can probably surpass your current needs while being generous with your time.

Define Your Needs

Speaking of needs, define what you are looking for first. Some plugins may excel in regular or special effects, others will make wonders for correcting your pitch but it will be impossible to find an all-in-one solution. If you just go out and browse you may end up buying overkill or wrong software and waste a lot of money. 

Not a Singer?

Most VSTs are designed for musical use. But, in case you’re a vlogger or you work in the movie industry or at a TV station, you should know that there are special plugins made just for this type of work, so you won’t end up paying for the features you don’t need at all.

Tips For Mixing Vocals

Mixing vocals correctly can be a demanding process and it’s easy to get lost along that road.

Preparing Your Tracks

You can save a lot of time in the studio if you approach vocal tracks in the correct order.

First, edit your tracks - pick the best takes for the final track and check the tune. Also, tame any extreme dynamics manually. Then, remove any unwanted frequencies such as low-end or problematic mid-frequencies. If needed, boost certain freq range after you cut. And, always remember the main EQ rule - cut narrow, boost wide

Finishing Touches

Once you’re done with preparing, it’s time for applying a de-esser, compressor, and optional saturation. Sometimes, double compressing can work really well, and in that case, always apply a fast compressor first. Reverb and delay should be added in the end and its level can follow the song arrangement by performing a DAW automation control.

(Always) Trust Your Ears 

In the end, compare your vocals to the reference track. Got the result you want without applying all advices? Great! Stop right there and move on. Advices are not a mandatory part of mixing, just a tip. As a matter of fact, even some professional producers love to compress before EQ and still get awesome results.

If you would like to find more mixing tips, check this video: 

Conclusion

Vocal VSTs are more than capable of totally replacing any need for the hardware equipment. They even extend the mixing possibilities, so, the things are very simple for most studio producers these days - record vocals as clean as possible and vocal software will do the rest of the magic.

People Also Ask

With so many bedroom studios and affordable gear out there these days, you are surely very interested in recording vocals yourself at home. Let us cover some of the most usual questions regarding this topic and also handle some mixing tips and techniques that make you wonder:

Can I Record Vocals at Home?

Honestly, many pro songs have vocals recorded “at home”. You could grab some affordable mid-range microphone (cardioid condenser microphone would work the best for this environment) and purchase some acoustic treatment equipment such as a portable reflection filter. Even a duvet behind a singer can help! 

Should Vocals be Louder Than the Beat?

For pop and hip-hop music, vocals should be as loud as the drums. For rock music, they are somewhere around with the guitar level. But, we would advise you to think about the song arrangement instead. When vocal starts, try to put focus on the vocals by minimizing what you’re playing.

How to Make my Vocals Sound Better?

It’s quite a wide field, but recording doubles or applying a certain level of compression can make wonders on any track. EQ and reverb/delay treatment will vary based on the song genre. But, eventually, it all starts from decent equipment, correct positioning, and take-practicing before recording. Practice makes everything perfect.

Should I Record Vocals With Effects?

We would strongly advise you to record your vocals dry. This way you can decide later what type and what amount of effects works the best for your song while mixing. But, you can make a recording more pleasant if you put some effects in the monitoring chain.