25 of the Best Free Vocal Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
Even with the best recording setup, sometimes you may find yourself unable to make your vocals sound as good as they should. The secret is to use plugins to manipulate them ever so slightly.
Whether you are looking to make your vocals sound better or change them completely, here is a list of some of the best free vocal plugins available to help you do that:
- 1. TAL-Reverb-4
- 2. MAutoPitch
- 3. Live Voice Changer
- 4. Multiply
- 5. Vocal Doubler
- 6. Pitchproof
- 7. EasyVox
- 8. Reverb SOLO
- 9. OTT
- 10. HYSTERESIS
- 11. DC1A
- 12. Proximity
- 13. Voxengo OldSkoolVerb
- 14. KeroVee
- 15. TimeWarp
- 16. Mystique
- 17. CODE RED
- 18. Logic Channel
- 19. DSP-2
- 20. Nova-67P
- 21. Luftikus
- 22. preFIX
- 23. GGate
- 24. ThrillseekerXTC
- 25. Modern Plugins
Plate reverb by TAL
Check it out: TAL-Reverb-4
One of the easiest ways to add depth to a vocal track is by adding a little bit of reverb. Reverb is a sound reacting to a space. Sound travels in waves. When these reach a physical space, like a wall, they reflect and decay in amplitude till the reflections eventually die off. This is referred to as “reverb”.
When we record vocal tracks in a room, like a recording studio, there is no scope for natural reverb. While this is an ideal environment because it prevents microphones from picking up any unnecessary noise, the vocal track itself does not sound great. Thus adding reverb to it can give it body and a kind of depth.
The TAL-Reverb-4 is a great tool, especially for beginners because it is easy to use and offers professional-quality reverb effects such as a vintage 80s reverb plate.
The interface is user-friendly and has dedicated controls for ‘SIZE: the amount of reverb’, ‘DIFFUSE’: diffusion of the reverb, and ‘DELAY’ amount under the ‘MAIN’ category. You can also tweak modulation parameters of the reverb such as ‘RATE’ and ‘AMOUNT’. There is a provision to control the frequency of the reverb itself, with the ‘LOW CUT’ and ‘HIGH CUT’ knobs. Lastly, you can determine how much reverb you want on your track using the ‘DRY’ and ‘WET’ controls.
This plugin is compatible with almost all machines and DAWS. You can also use it for other elements such as drums and guitars.
Automatic Pitch Correction by MeldaProduction
Check it out: MAutoPitch
Whether you want to emulate T-Pain and use a pitch correction (autotune) plugin as a vocal effect or fix the little mistakes in your vocal takes, the MAutoPitch by Melda is compatible with all major DAWs and available to both Windows and Mac computers.
This plugin offers pitch correction in major, minor, pentatonic, and chromatic scales but does not offer much when it comes to fine-tuning and customization of the parameters. While this is a good plugin for beginners, like with any other pitch correction software, a little knowledge of melody and notes can go a long way when it comes to using them effectively.
On the bright side, you can run both mono and stereo signals through this plugin and the automatic gain compressor makes the vocal track balanced in terms of troughs and peaks.
3. Live Voice Changer
Vocal Live Changer by Auburn Sounds
Check it out: Live Voice Changer
If you are producing music that needs more textural manipulation to your vocals than just a reverb or delay then this might be the one for you. Apart from pitch correction, this plugin offers a Bitcrusher to add grittiness to the vocal texture and a Pitch Shifter to transpose the octaves up or down as you require.
The good thing about this plugin is that users have marveled at how CPU-friendly this is and while there is a latency, as is the case with most other plugins, it is relatively low and easy to workaround.
Chorus effect by Acon
Check it out: Multiply
A chorus was made popular by guitar players in the 1980s but it can add a new dimension to vocals as well. Think of a chorus as two people singing the same thing, but they are not in perfect unison and there is a very slight delay between the two. This gives the sound more body.
The Acon Digital Multiply Chorus is an easy-to-use effect that lets you modulate frequency and amplitude to give you a clear chorus with up to 6 different voices. Having a chorus VST, like this one, will give your voice an added richness in parts where you need the vocal track to stand out among the other elements of your song.
5. Vocal Doubler
Vocal Enhancer by iZotope
Check it out: Vocal Doubler
Over the years, iZotope has made quite a name for itself because of the stellar quality of plugins they have been releasing. The Vocal Doubler is one such example. Apart from doubling your vocals to make it sound meaty, you can also add a little bit of chorus to it.
The variation feature lets you alter pitch and vibrato. The separation knob lets you adjust the amount and kind of stereo effect you desire. Lastly, the amount knob is for the amount of effect that is to be added to your vocal track. All in all, this is an easy-to-use plugin and will save you time if you are looking for a quick fix to thin-sounding, single vocal layers.
Pitch Input Shifter by Aegean Music
Check it out: Pitchproof
More than just a pitch correction module, this plugin emulates a pitch shifter pedal. So it is not only for guitars, but yields interesting effects on vocals as well. While it does not offer sonically perfect pitch shifting, if you are looking for a colorful effect for your vocals via some dissonant notes thrown in, then this one is definitely for you.
Vocal Processor by TerryWest
Check it out: EasyVox
Offering three major dynamic effects: compression, a limiter, and an enhancer, the plugin has a three-band equalizer with 3 EQ models to choose from.
If you are unfamiliar with a noise gate and gain, then you can simply use the auto noise gate and autogain to give your vocal track a gritty texture. Although this does not have the best vocal doubler, it can be quite useful if you are looking for a plugin to add texture to your vocals.
8. Reverb SOLO
Reverb by Acon Digital
Check it out: Reverb SOLO
Probably one of the most user-friendly plugins in this list, this plugin has just one knob and does one thing: add reverb. You can choose between a ‘small and bright’ or a ‘large and dark’ reverb effect. Additionally, you can tweak how much of the effect you want with the ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ bar at the bottom.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity, this plugin has a high-quality sound and is perfect for those who do not want to bother with too many intricacies and are looking for a great no-frills reverb.
Virtual Effect Audio by Xfer Records
Check it out: OTT
Primarily a 3-band compressor, the OTT plugin lets you adjust the depth of compression, the attack and release time, and the input and output gain. This can also be used as an EQ and brighten your vocal track. While some users have complained about latency and the toll it takes on the CPU, you can use it for not just vocals but add it to your master track to make it pop.
Glitch Delay by Glitchmachines
Check it out: HYSTERESIS
Regular delays often start to sound clichéd, especially if you are an electronic music producer. The good news is that Glintmachines has just the tool for you. You can choose from a wide array of presets that vary from noise to stutter to drone sounds and also tweak the parameters to suit you best. This is also great if you are looking to add a robotic twist to your vocals without compromising on the quality of output.
If you enjoy using a ‘beat repeat’ on Ableton Live but do not like how limited the parameters are, then you need to check this plugin out.
Compressor by Klanghelm Audio Plugins
Check it out: DC1A
Another great and easy-to-use compression plugin, the DC1A is based on the revered DC8C and has additional features such as negative (over) compression, independent left, and right channel compression, and ‘DEEP’ gives you a high-pass filter to reduce bass boom. Although this is used primarily for drums, having this on your vocal track will give it a push when you mix it in your master track with all the other elements.
Gain Tool by Tokyo Dawn
Check it out: Proximity
A gain is used to increase or decrease the power and amplitude of a signal to its output. Simply put, it controls the loudness or softness of the output of an audio signal. Recording vocals at the correct level can often be tricky and they may turn out either too soft or heavily clipped. Having a gain plugin helps fix those problems.
The Proximity plugin has some exciting features such as ‘original distance’ which lets you virtually change the distance from the microphone, a true delay, air absorption, and a reverb. You can cut out the noise caused by high frequencies in the air and also tweak the stereo width of the effect.
If you do not have a high-end recording setup and are looking for high-quality results, then this is the perfect little hack for you that can turn even the worst quality vocal takes into professional studio-quality ones.
13. Voxengo OldSkoolVerb
Reverb by Voxengo
Check it out: Voxengo OldSkoolVerb
Based on classic reverb simulating engines, this one is for you if you want to dig deep into your reverb plugin and control even the most minute of parameters. You can choose between a plate, hall, or room reverb with stereo output.
If you do not want to spend too much time tweaking your settings, you have a variety of presets to choose from such as Big Reflective Room, Empty Stage, Vintage Plate, and many more. A good reverb is an essential tool for any kind of music production and this one is definitely guaranteed to elevate the quality of your tracks.
Pitch Corrector by g200kg
Check it out: KeroVee
It is no secret that even the greatest of vocalists need slight pitch correction when they are recording vocals and a plugin like the Pitch Corrector by KeroVee is an example of a simple yet effective tool.
To use it, you first choose a key and a scale that your track is in. The piano roll gives you a clear visual of the notes you hit and thus makes it easy to correct the pitches. You can transpose up to +12 octave sounds and this will yield interesting results for the vocal tone.
Two primary ‘voice’ channels will let you control the formant of the track which affects the tonal quality. If you need a plugin that can retain the natural texture of the voice while still making it sound processed and heavily manipulated, then this is the one for you.
Vibrato Effect by MGF
Check it out: TimeWarp
Vibrato is a pulsating and constant change of pitch. Think opera singers holding a note when they are singing. Although the note they hold is constant, there is a physical vibration and this causes the pitch to shift ever so slightly.
The MGF Time Warp lets you choose between sine, triangle, saw, and random wave, which you can then pan for a more stereo effect. The plugin is not very heavy on the C.P.U. and can thus let you enjoy a seamless workflow.
Tape Machine Simulator by Cana San Martin
Check it out: Mystique
There is nothing better sounding than being able to record on tape but since the process can be quite cumbersome, this Tape Machine Simulator plugin is a magic tool to emulate the quality without having to give up digital recording practices. Although mostly used as a mastering effect, if you process your vocals with this, it adds an incredible amount of depth and body to your track.
17. CODE RED
Emulator by Shattered Glass Audio
Check it out: CODE RED
The Code Red Free VST plugin is a preamp simulator that you can use to recreate a 60s sound reminiscent of the Beatles. Although primarily for guitars, using this preamp on your vocals will let you EQ them. You can adjust the treble and mid. The bass boost feature also adds a roundness to the sound. Get this one if you have a minimal recording setup and want to add a little juice to your vocal takes.
18. Logic Channel
Channel Stripper/Compressor by smacklabs
Check it out: Logic Channel
The Logic Channel by Smack Labs is a compressor, gate, eq, and filter all rolled into one. You can use this to make your vocals sound clean by getting rid of the pops and crackles in the recording. Since it is easy to use, it works great for those looking for a plugin to fix little recording glitches in their voiceovers or non-sung vocal parts.
Vocal Processor by MaxSynths
Check it out: DSP-2
As a dedicated free vocal VST plugin, you can fix the key your vocals are in and then eq them. This is a specially useful feature since it makes the EQ a lot more intuitive. The Room emulator is based on the Schroeder model and is also low on C.P.U. usage. Additionally, if you place this at the beginning of your master chain then it will also brighten the overall sound.
Parametric Equalizer by Tokyo Dawn
Check it out: Nova-67P
One of the best features of this plugin is easily the full band equalizer that lets you control the parameters minutely. If you have a working knowledge of frequencies and want a plugin that lets you dig deep into your vocal EQ, then this one is a great fit for you. Conversely, for those who are just starting, this can often seem confusing and not the easiest to use.
Virtual Effect Audio by lkjb
Check it out: Luftikus
Modeled after an analog EQ, this plugin is for you if you are looking for the warmth that only comes from analog machines. You can boost your highs without any added distortion, which is especially great if the vocal track involves singing. Although it is easy to use, having a little bit of knowledge about the different frequencies will help you navigate this plugin with a lot more ease.
Virtual Effect Audio by Variety Of Sound
Check it out: preFIX
Another plugin that tackles bad recordings, you can use this to clean up your track by fixing unwanted frequencies, for phase alignment, and making adjustments to the spatial stereo field. Although some users have complained about the faders not being the best, extra features such as the gate leave very little room for further grievances.
Virtual Effect Audio by GVST
Check it out: GGate
A noise gate, like this one, will silence your source audio signal when it drops below a certain level, as set by you. You can control this parameter with the ‘Threshold’ knob. A lot of times during vocal takes, the microphone picks up noise and distortion.
It can also often be white noise. This makes the overall track sound clumsy. To fix this problem, all you need to do is download this plugin and place it on your vocal track. It is easy to use and a must-have for everyone, regardless of their genre of music.
Exciter / Enhancer by Variety Of Sound
Check it out: ThrillseekerXTC
The ThrillseekerXTC is an emulation of an analog parallel equalizer with 3 dedicated bands: Low, Mid, and Air for 3.2-18kHz frequencies. The harmonic enhancer is great for vocal tracks. Although this is a great plugin, they do not have a version that is compatible with macs, thus alienating half of the potential users.
25. Modern Plugins
Virtual Effect Audio by Antress
Check it out: Modern Plugins
Slightly different from the other plugins in this list, Modern Plugins by Antress is not just one but a bundle of plugins that you can download for free. There are 19 plugins in this pack such as a compressor, limiter, equalizer, reverb, etc. If you are about to start your journey into the world of VSTs then this is a great fit for you because you get all your basics in one go.
VST plugins are like guitar pedals. Some are essential for almost all musicians, others help shape and color your sound. Whether you are a vocalist looking for plugins that will elevate your tracks and make them sound more professional, or a producer looking for fun effects, there is something for everyone.
I hope this list introduced you to some of the best vocal plugins out there, the fact that they are free VSTs is all the more reason to explore what they can do with your mix!