Top 10 Vocal Mixing Plugins
Vocals are an important part of a vocal mix. They’re the focus of a track and require essentially the most attention. Nonetheless, mixing vocals is difficult. There are infinite methods and tools used for mixing vocals.
Itemizing the perfect vocal mixing plugins is tough. There are numerous VST plugins that excel at mixing vocals. There are additionally a number of vocal mixing plugins equally pretty much as good at doing a specific process.
In terms of mixing, the very best vocal plugins make for the best vocal. If you happen to plan to add vocals to your music, it’s very important to have a number of the greatest vocal plugins for mixing vocals in your arsenal.
Now, this isn’t the case with each area of production. We’re all about studying to make use of the tools you’ve bought — we’re very a lot in opposition to gear acquisition syndrome.
So, why are vocals so totally different?
Mixing vocals is a nuanced process, and a few plugins simply work better than others. Plain and easy, you want some of the greatest vocal plugins if you wish to make your vocals sound pretty much as good as the artists you like.
In this article, we are laying down the best possible plugins for mixing vocals. However, before we get to the checklist, we have to cover two important issues: getting an excellent vocal recording and the general vocal processing chain.
To get the best possible vocal recording, there are many other factors that you need to fulfill before you move on to mixing with the plugins we are going to mention. If you are in doubt if you are doing things right or wrong, check our recording vocals article.
As for the processing chain, that will totally depend on the vocals you have at hand, but there are some guidelines and basic steps that you can take to put yourself on the right path. Again, here is an article from us on mixing vocals.
To assist slim down the extensive choice, we rounded up 10 vocal mixing plugins broadly used by music producers and mix engineers.
1. UNIVERSAL AUDIO – TELETRONIX LA-2A
The Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier is one other legendary analog compressor. Many revere the LA-2A for its clean, pure, musical compression.
UA’s LA-2A excels at smoothing out vocals to maintain dynamic range constantly. The LA-2A additionally provides punch and a desired musical tone. Nonetheless, keep away from crushing the transients as a result of that can push the vocals additional back within the mix.
Not only on vocals, this plugin or tool is also good for other elements as well. We noticed that this works really well on signals that have snappy transients, especially on snares and percussive elements.
We really like the coloring it provides to the signal, so this is one of our favorite compressors to use when it comes to compressing our vocals. We are at freedom to say that this might be one of the best plugins for mixing vocals we faced because of its simplicity and the process it does.
If you are hesitating on this one – don’t. Go for it and you will not be sorry. This is a great vocal compressor and you won’t find any better on the market. There is a reason that most of the studios have this one in a hardware unit.
2. SLATE DIGITAL – EIOSIS E2DEESSER
The Eiosis e2deesser by Slate Digital is a wonderful de-esser plugin. It precisely identifies sibilance in vocal recordings and attenuates them in a pure, clear method.
It may additionally mechanically detect sibilant frequencies and reduce them within the mix. Furthermore, the e2deesser has a sublime display that reveals a spectral evaluation of the detected sibilants.
Vocal recordings typically have a tonal harshness known as Sibilance. Sibilance is the “sss” or “ts” sound created by sharp consonants equivalent to S, T, and Z. These consonant sounds can produce harsh resonant peaks.
The easiest way to scale back disagreeable sibilance is with a de-esser plugin. De-essers are specialized compressors that concentrate on a selected frequency range. They use a mix of equalization and sidechain compression to take away harsh sibilance sounds.
The de-esser is not restricted to treating vocals only. The e2deesser also can tame harsh resonances in drums, mix groups, full mixes, and different sound sources.
Even though we are big fans of FabFilter Pro plugins, especially the FabFilter Pro-DS, this one really works wonders on the sibilances. You will say that if it is a de-esser plugin, it should be fine, but there is a bunch of stuff that some plugins for mixing can or can’t do.
That’s is the reason we picked this one over FF Pro-DS. For a fairly reasonable price, you will get a beast that you will be able to use not only on vocals but on any element that needs some trimming in a certain area.
3. FABFILTER PRO Q 3
Fabfilter Pro Q 3 is a wonderful digital parametric equalizer. Use it to sculpt your vocals with excessive accuracy and transparency. This fully-featured EQ has a powerful Retina interface that provides 24 frequency bands.
It additionally features high-quality section modes, zero latency, mid/side processing, dynamic EQing, variable stereo placement of EQ bands, a clever solo function, optional Auto Gain, a customizable spectrum analyzer, and more.
Many will say this is the same as a multiband compressor, but not at all.
Subtractive EQing vocals is an important step. Equalization fixes problematic frequencies creates readability and provides presence. Parametric equalizers are the best for corrective and surgical EQ work.
They’ll enhance or minimize frequencies with pinpoint accuracy. They’re additionally the most versatile, have adjustable frequency bands, and are clear sounding. The FabFilter Pro Q 3 is one of the best vocal plugins that have transparent sound and will not add any coloring to your signal.
There is not much to say about this one, except it is a great plugin that has a spot in our mixes 100% of the time. Since we discovered this one, there is no mix where it is not included.
As you can also see from our YouTube video, this is the first plugin that we use to reduce and find problematic frequencies. And for vocals, it has the flexibility to create one nice frequency-balanced signal that will be ready for more processing later on. A true gem indeed.
4. SOUNDTOYS – ECHOBOY
EchoBoy is among the greatest echo/delay plugins out there! It combines 30 echo types modeled on iconic classic gear. It additionally supplies deep modifying choices and expression tools that allow you to create any delayed sound possible.
This versatile plugin may even create chorus, reverb, flange, and rhythmic results. EchoBoy additionally features varied kinds of analog saturation to offer your echoes some perspective. This boy does all of it and sounds superb at a similar time!
Making use of subtle quantities of stereo delay additionally provides width and depth to the vocal.
If you are wondering what makes this delay plugin be in our list and not some other one, it is because this one has lots of other features in it.
Besides the regular delay parameters, it also has some saturation knobs on it where you can tweak the harmonics on the delay, making it fuller and rounder so as to fit the vocals you are having. All in all, one complete delay plugin that every mixing engineer should have.
We believe that this one might not be a mandatory one and that there are a bunch of other choices, but we really dig the EchoBoy analog processor and for that reason, it made it on our list.
5. MAAG AUDIO – EQ4
A number of excellent analog-style EQs can improve vocals. Selecting the perfect one is difficult. Nonetheless, this roundup settled on the Maag Audio EQ4.
The Maag EQ4 gives its legendary ‘Air Band,’ which does an unbelievable job at boosting the high end so as to add coloration and readability. You can even enhance the ‘Air Band’ to carry the vocals into focus without sounding harsh and ugly.
After doing corrective work with subtractive equalization and compression, try shaping the tone of your vocal with additive equalization. Tonal equalization provides presence and character.
For instance, it’s frequent to spice up the high end of a vocal to add presence in pop and digital music.
The easiest way to add presence and form tone is with an analog-modeled EQ. These equalizers add, heat, presence, punch, character, and sheen to vocals. When you’ve got an uninteresting or buried vocal, attempt using the Maag EQ4 to place your vocal on the front of the mix.
This is one other plugin that we probably use in most of the mixes where we are attacking simple-sounding vocals. And not only the Air Band, but other bands also provide good tone and are created in the specific areas where the vocal might have some problems.
At 40Hz we are cutting the not-needed lows, with 160Hz we tame the boominess of the vocal. At 650Hz, depending on the vocal, we can eighter boost or cut and with a 2.5kHz high-shelf band, we start to add presence to the vocal track. This is one complete EQ that you should try out.
6. FABFILTER – SATURN
Numerous saturation plugins work gloriously on vocals. It’s hard to select the perfect one as a result of many are equally pretty much as good.
This roundup settled on FabFilter’s Saturn as a result of its versatility. Saturn can produce a number of types of saturation and distortion. It’s an all-around saturation plugin!
Saturn gives a spread of various high-quality distortion models, inspired by the classic sound of tubes, tape, and guitar amps. As well as, Saturn includes a multiband design with a number of tone and dynamics controls.
Saturn additionally gives modulation choices, XY controllers, envelope followers, and more. This versatile instrument excels at including heat and definition to something you run via it!
Making use of small amounts of saturation or distortion can fatten up a vocal track and help it cut through a busy mix. Saturation provides harmonics, presence, character, heat, excitement, and cohesion.
Additionally, saturation will make it simpler to listen to your vocals on small audio systems like laptops, earbuds, and telephones.
We make a bunch of variations when it comes to saturation, but most of the time we go with the Saturn and the Twin Tube from SPL. These two plugins are our go-to ones when it comes to adding saturation to our vocal, and we practically add these plugins at the end of the vocal chain, just to spice things up.
If you are after great-sounding vocals that have full potential in them, then these saturation plugins are your answer to get them. Even though Saturn might be a bit more expensive than other plugins, it is well worth its price.
7. WAVES – VOCAL RIDER
Waves Vocal Rider will mechanically modify vocal levels. This plugin saves time by not having to automate every level change or ride faders manually.
Vocal recordings are very dynamic. There are a number of loud and quiet elements all through the performance. It’s important to manage the dynamics so the recording stays at a constant degree all through the mix.
Trendy requirements of production require vocals to be constant, current, and intelligible. This is one of those vocal mixing plugins that ease the job for the mixer guy.
Controlling vocal dynamics typically requires a combination of volume automation and compression. With the real-time processing with this plugin, you will be able to get straight vocals without any hard moves and hard thinking.
Using gain automation to create consistency before using compression is the cleanest and most clear technique to level out the volume of vocals. This method additionally eases the load in your compressors.
This plugin almost all the time has its place in our vocal chain before or after the corrective EQ plugin. It has a tendency to ease up the pressure on the compressor later on in order not to hit it very hard with the gain reduction.
Even it is not the same as a human hand and feel, the Vocal Rider has great sensitivity to take down or bring up parts to make the signal even. A great pick for a great price and it will totally be used if you have it in your toolbox.
8. WAVES – DOUBLER
The Doubler plugin by Waves makes use of delay and pitch modulation so as to add width and texture to vocals. Doubler also can create double-tracking, harmonizer and pitch detune effects, chorus effects, and much more.
Vocal doubling provides width, fullness, presence, and character to vocals. Doubling vocals and processing them in another way additionally creates fascinating vocals. The method can add emotion, build depth, and supply pleasure throughout choruses and hooks.
The primary effect is “Enriching the sound”. Usually, it’s used to double vocals or guitar tracks. For instance, let’s say you might have a vocal or instrument track that you simply wish to “open up”.
Take voice 1, detune it down 4 cents and pan to the right. Take voice 2, detune it up to 4 cents and pan to the left. Setting the voice’s gain at about –12dB already makes a giant distinction; bringing it as much as – 6dB ought to make it wide open.
Now, altering the delay time of every voice and additional offsetting and modulating the detune will additionally change the color of the sound. Working a track through the Doubler’s presets is an efficient option to get acquainted with the variety of sounds of the Doubler.
So if you are lacking some doubles or you want to make the signal richer, the Doubler is your savior. One thing that we like to mention is to watch out for the signal not to stay in the anti-region field to avoid any mono compatibility issues.
9. SLATE DIGITAL – VERBSUITE CLASSICS
VerbSuite Classics is a diverse reverb processor. It captures the evolving and modulating traits of ten iconic hardware models. You can’t go wrong with this plugin; it gives 40 years of the business’s most-used digital reverb processors.
Furthermore, you get that legendary sound from basic reverbs in a user-friendly plugin construct with trendy options not found on their hardware counterparts.
Applying delicate quantities of short stereo reverb provides width and depth to the vocal. Reverb also can put a dry vocal in a space, which sounds extra pure and helps it sit within the mix better.
Numerous reverb plugins sound superb on vocals. It’s hard to select the perfect one as a result of many are equally pretty much as good. This roundup settled on VerbSuite Classics by Slate Digital. One of the leading effect vocal mixing plugins from Slate.
A great reverb plugin can take you a long way. Not only for vocals but for every signal to which you need to add some space to. The Slate reverb suite has the ability to take your track to the next level.
Our philosophy is not to save on great reverbs, that’s why we have this one in the toolbox + some others that we feel are a great picks for improving a sound.
10. OEKSOUND – SOOTHE
Soothe is a dynamic resonance suppressor for mid and high frequencies. It does an unbelievable job of smoothing out a vocal recording by cleansing up harsh resonances.
Soothe contains a dynamic equalizer with self-adjusting frequency bands. In contrast to traditional EQs, Soothe analyses the signal and adjusts the frequency-wise reduction based mostly on the input.
This function saves you from having to notch problematic frequencies manually. Furthermore, the reduction kicks in when wanted and where wanted, without affecting the close-by frequency areas.
The end result provides detail and presence to your vocals. This is one of the secret sauces in the vocal mixing plugins section, so give it a try if you have a chance.
This one is very good for vocals that are recorded badly and that have a bunch of stuff in the recording that you need to take care of. From cracklings, bumps to noise floor sound, the Soothe can eliminate these unwanted parts and leave you with a vocal that is clean and ready to move on with the processing.
So basically that would be it. Not that our list is perfect, but it is a great one and we listed a bunch of plugins that you can use to improve your vocals. Mixing vocals surely is a process that is there to improve your vocal sound.
The only reason we didn’t mention the auto-tune and pitch correction plugins is that we have a different article fully on that, which you can check here. That one is fully on pitch correction methods and plugins.
Anyway, we think we again delivered you great content that you will be able to draw some nice ideas from and that will improve your vocal mixing process. Now, if you decided with which plugin you will go, take it and go mix the hell out of your vocals!