Whether you’re a singer-songwriter who is looking to add a new level of depth to your vocals,  playing in a band where the rest of the members don’t sing, or just looking to push the boundaries of what you can accomplish with your voice, a vocal harmonizer pedal can be a great addition to your rig.

Vocalists no doubt remember the early days of vocal harmonizers and processing units, and they weren’t pretty. The tracking was off, you were lucky if the harmonies being added were correct, and the sound of the harmonies was often robotic and computerized.

Thankfully, all that has changed. The best vocal harmonizer pedals on the market today are incredibly powerful and accurate, and they can add some much-needed color and depth to your songs.

Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into all things related to vocal harmonizer pedals, and we’ll also take a closer look at some of the best vocal harmonizer pedals available today.

What is the Best Vocal Harmonizer Pedal?

What exactly is a vocal harmonizer pedal and what does it do?

A vocal harmonizer pedal is a digital signal processor, similar to a multi-effects pedal for guitarists. These pedals have powerful processors that can analyze your playing in real time to apply the proper harmonies to the song when you engage the pedal.

Early incarnations of these pedals allowed the user to select the key of the song, and the harmony they wanted. These pedals typically worked very well, provided that the song you’re playing doesn’t feature a key change or any notes or chords that fell outside the key you were playing in.

To remedy that major issue, today’s best vocal harmonizer pedals actually track the guitar part to the song to provide rock-solid harmonies that are on key at all times. Most vocal harmonizers also include a full complement of different vocal effects including reverbs, delays, and more.

Since so many vocalists also play guitar as well, many of today’s top models also provide a full suite of guitar effects as well. That way, the pedal acts as a “one-stop shop” for all your vocal processing and guitar processing needs.

What makes a great vocal harmonizer pedal?

With so many different options on the market providing rock solid harmonizations, it’s harder than ever to identify the best vocal harmonizer pedal for you. But, if you evaluate each pedal you try out based on the criteria below, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect pedal for your playing style.

  1. A powerful DSP
  2. Plenty of editing capability
  3. Additional effects
  4. Intuitive and easy to use

A Powerful DSP

The most important component of any vocal harmonizer is going to be it’s DSP. DSP is short for digital signal processor, and if you play guitar, they’re something you’re probably familiar with already. A digital signal processor is the “brain” of the unit, and as a computer processor, the more powerful it is, the more capable the pedal will be

The power of a pedal’s DSP is important for several reasons. Most importantly, tons of processing power is needed to accurately track your voice and provide the appropriate harmonies. This is especially important if you’re using multiple voices as part of your harmony.

Processing power is also needed for any of the additional effects you’re applying to your vocals. So, if you’d like to add reverb, pitch correction, or other effects to your voice, you’ll need a powerful processor to shoulder the load.

Are you a guitarist looking for a pedal that can provide harmonies, vocal effects, and guitar effects? You guessed it! You’ll need even more processing power.

As you’d imagine, the amount of power your DSP has usually directly correlated to the price of the pedal. If you’re like most people, and you’re shopping with a budget in mind, it’s critical that you identify the pedals in your budget range that are capable of providing the heavyweight processing power you need for the pedal to ensure flawless operation.

Of course, you might not necessarily need all those bells and whistles. Maybe you’re looking for a pedal that only provides vocal harmonies and doesn’t include any additional guitar are vocal effects. In that case, you can opt for a unit with less processing power. But, make sure that it’s still powerful enough to accurately track your vocals.

Plenty of Editing Capability

Another important consideration to make is how much editing you’re able to do from the pedal. Regardless of how many additional functions the pedal has, it’s important that you can edit each parameter to your liking so that the pedal performs exactly the way you want it to.

Think of a vocal harmonizer pedal like another member of your band. If they showed up with a completely unmalleable skill set and told you that what you see is what you get and they’re unwilling to change anything about the way they perform, you probably wouldn’t want them on a gig with you. The same applies to vocal harmonizers and effects processors.

The best vocal harmonizers will allow you to edit many different parameters, such as whether the harmonies are male or female, how many voices are present in harmony, and how many different harmonies they’re capable of performing.

Editing capacity becomes even more important if you’re going to be using additional vocal effects besides harmonization. The pedal may have a selection of quality reverbs, but what good are they if you can’t edit things like the attack, decay, or effect level?

The same goes for all-in-one units that provide guitar effects as well. While there’s certainly value in just being able to plug and play, serious musicians are going to want complete control over their tone and effects.

The top of the line options (and many of the mid-tier ones as well) provide powerful editing capabilities and allow you to take control over virtually every parameter of the harmonies and effects they provide.

Additional Effects

The vast majority of players who are in the market for a vocal harmonizer are looking for more than just harmonies. For these people, there are plenty of options that provide powerful harmonization options in addition to a full suite of different vocal effects.

Some of these effects, such as reverb or delay, are useful to have, but chances are they’re already available from your PA mixer. Meanwhile, other effects, such as auto-tune or pitch correction, can be incredibly useful to have in your vocal harmonizer.

Auto tune and pitch correction get a bad rap with vocalists who look at it as if it’s cheating. But, when you’re feeling less than your best, and you’ve got a gig that night, some slight pitch correction can help keep you on point when your vocals aren’t at their best.

Some top of the line options, such as the TC Helicon VoiceLive Extreme also provides a full suite of different guitar effects in addition to vocal effects, allowing vocalists who also play guitar to handle all of their processing needs from a single unit.

Intuitive and Easy to Use

Another critical consideration to make when shopping for a vocal harmonizer is how easy to use it is.

It’s one thing to be fiddling around with knobs and settings when you’re practicing or learning how to use the pedal, but when you think about the demands of a live performance, the last thing you can afford is a clunky and hard to use vocal processor on stage with you. If you’re forced to focus more on your pedal than on your performance, your performance is going to suffer, and so will your audience.

Thankfully, there are great options on the market that are both intuitive and easy to use. For singer-songwriters, there’s plenty of processors that take the form of a familiar looking multi effects processor. They have large, high-contrast screens, and can easily be controlled from the floor with your feet.

But, what if you’re a vocalist who doesn’t play guitar at all? Is a stompbox-style enclosure the most effective option? Probably not. Thankfully, there’s plenty of options that mount to a mic stand that allow you to control every component of the unit from a touch panel.

When shopping for a vocal harmonizer, keep the way you’ll use the pedal in mind when shopping. Do you want a pedalboard style option you can control with your feet? Do you want MIDI capability so you can delegate most of the tap dancing to MIDI so you can focus on your performance instead? Would you prefer a pedal that mounts to a mic stand that you can control with your hands?

Whatever style you prefer, you should be able to find a handful of different options that meet the bill.

Vocal Harmonizer Pedal Reviews – Our Top 5 Recommendations

TC Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme

Best Overall

What Makes It Special?

The most powerful and full-featured vocal and guitar processor on the market, the VoiceLive 3 Extreme provides a full suite of impressive vocal effects, tons of different harmony options, and legendary TC Electronics guitar effects to boot in one intuitive and easy to use package.

  • A full suite of harmony, vocal, and guitar effects in a single unit
  • A full complement of dedicated outputs including stereo guitar, mic, and MIDI
  • Separate DSP engines for vocals and guitar
  • Multi-track looping capabilities up to 8 minutes

For players who need a full complement of guitar effects in addition to powerful vocal processing capability, there’s nothing on the market that can compete with the VoiceLive 3 Extreme. This monstrous pedalboard provides every effect you could ever want, and then some, in an ergonomically designed, road-ready case.

In addition to harmonization, this pedal offers pitch correction, hard tune, adaptive tone with live EQ, and a full suite of reverbs, delays, and modulation effects.

For guitar, there’s plenty of gain effects, compressors, reverbs, filters, and modulation effects. The pedal can also be used with an external expression pedal so you can exact even more precise control over the pedal on the fly.

The interface is easy to use and features large rubberized knobs for adjusting effect parameters, a large digital screen that’s visible in all lighting conditions, and familiar stompbox style switches for controlling the pedal on the fly. At the rear of the pedal, there’s dedicated inputs and outputs for guitar, microphones, and MIDI.

For vocalists who play guitar, the VoiceLive 3 Extreme is the most powerful processing option on the market, and it’s the ideal way to take your live performance to the next level.

What Customers Like

  • TC Electronic quality guitar effects
  • Beautiful and accurate harmonies and vocal effects
  • Intuitive and easy to use

What Customers Dislike

  • Doesn’t offer much editing capability for the looper
  • Can be buggy depending on which firmware you’re using

TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony-G XT

Best For the Price

What Makes It Special?

Simple, intuitive, and accurate, the Harmony-G XT provides up to two additional voices of harmony, independent footswitches for vocal effects and harmonies, and a precise mix control that allows you to tailor exactly how much of the harmonies come through in your playing.

  • Up to two additional voices of harmony
  • Chromatic pitch correction
  • Tone button for automatic EQ, de-essing, and gating
  • Compact and easy to use

The Harmony-G XT is one of the most popular harmonizers on the market, thanks to its incredible ease of use and powerful processing engine. This pedal is ideal for players who are looking for a pedal that delivers strong harmonies without any guitar effects or additional bells and whistles, which can drive the price into the stratosphere.

Beyond harmonization, this pedal also provides several reverb options, modulation effects, and voice doubling. A tiny screen indicates which patch you’re using, and all editing can be done from the collection of analog knobs located on the front of the pedal, making the Harmony-G XT one of the easiest to use vocal processors around.

Dual footswitches allow vocalists to toggle vocal effects and harmonization on and off with the press of a button. This pedal includes a power supply, and it’s backed by TC Helicon’s 3-year warranty.

What Customers Like

  • One of the easiest to use pedals on the market
  • Affordable
  • Up to two voices of harmony

What Customers Dislike

  • Guitar jacks are mediocre and easy to break if you’re not careful
  • Slight delay when harmony is engaged

Boss VE-500 Vocal Performer

What Makes It Special?

A classic performer with heavyweight processing capability, up to nine simultaneous effects, and multi-part harmonies, the Boss VE-500 is a tried and true option that’s been on the market for over twenty years.

  • Large suite of vocal effects with up to nine simultaneous effects
  • Multi-part vocal harmonies
  • Storage for 99 user patches
  • Assignable quick access knobs

The VE-500 has been so popular for so long because it delivers live performers with the effects and harmonizations they need, all with an interface that’s as intuitive as it gets. Unlike many pedals which can only track guitar to generate harmonies, the VE-500 can track guitar, MIDI keyboard, or backing tracks to deliver the most precise harmonies possible.

Three knobs at the front of the pedal can be assigned different functions by the user, so making on-the-fly adjustments is easier than ever with the VE-500. You can also edit harmonies for songs which feature complex key structures or modulations.

In addition to one of the most accurate harmony generating engines on the market, the collection of effects is studio quality and includes pricey add-ons like a vocoder effect. The pedal also includes Mac and PC editing software which allows you to fully maximize what the pedal is capable of.

Plus, this pedal is exceptionally compact, making it a perfect companion for guitar players who already have a busy pedalboard setup beneath their feet.

What Customers Like

  • Studio quality vocal effects
  • Extremely accurate harmony tracking
  • Compact size

What Customers Dislike

  • Tiny screen is difficult to read
  • Steep learning curve for MIDI features

Boss VE-2 Vocal Harmonist

Best for Beginners & Students

What Makes It Special?

Intuitive and easy to use without any extras to bog you down, the VE-2 tracks harmonies with either a guitar, a preset key, or a combination of the two. The VE-2 provides 24 different one and two voice harmonies across a variety of intervals, and a few studio quality vocal effects for good measure.

  • 24 different harmony options
  • Tracks with guitar, a preset key, or a hybrid of the two
  • Simple stompbox style operation
  • Battery or AC power

As vocal harmonizers get more and more complex, companies seem to be forgetting that some people are looking for a pedal that provides rock-solid harmonizations without the bells and whistles that are available on more expensive units. Not everyone is looking for a full suite of guitar effects in their vocal processor, and if that sounds like you, the VE-2 may be right up your alley.

This pedal provides an impressive 24 different harmony options, with up to two voices of harmony. The harmonies are mapped either by a connected guitar, a preset key, or a hybrid mode which uses both the guitar and the key to generate harmonies.

Compact and easy to use with all analog controls, the VE-2 is ideal for beginners and vocalists who aren’t looking to lug a full cache of gear to practices and gigs.

What Customers Like

  • Accurately mapped harmonies
  • Industry leading ease of use
  • Compact and easy to travel with

What Customers Dislike

  • Limited effects options
  • Can be a bit noisy in larger rooms

TC Electronics VoiceTone H1 Intelligent Harmony Pedal

Best on a Budget

What Makes It Special?

One of the easiest to use and most straightforward products on the market, the H1 provides accurate harmonies and nothing else. Its compact stompbox size makes it a perfect companion for busy pedalboards.

  • Up to two voices of vocal harmony
  • Tracks with guitar or preset key

If you’re interested in a vocal harmony pedal, but you’ve been put off by all the screens, additional effects, and knobs that are common with the high-end pedals available, the VoiceTone H1 is perfect for you. A true plug and play solution, you should only need a manual for this one if you plan on starting a fire.

Three knobs on the front of the pedal allow you to set the pedal to track to a key, or a guitar, select the harmony you want, and dial in the effect level. A gain dial at the side of the pedal provides precise control over your instrument and helps combat feedback.

Despite its powerful processor, the VoiceTone H1 is a pint-sized solution and is hardly larger than the average guitar stompbox, which makes the H1 an ideal option for guitarists who already have a ton of pedals to contend with.

What Customers Like

  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Up to two voices of harmony

What Customers Dislike

  • Tracking isn’t as precise as high-end pedals
  • Not a great option for pitchy singers

6 More Really Good Vocal Harmonizer Pedals

TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2

TC Helicon has done a fantastic job of making products that appeal to both guitarists and vocalists. But, what if you want the heavy-duty processing power that the VoiceLive line provides, without the additional guitar effects? What if you don’t play guitar at all? The VoiceLive Touch 2 may be exactly what you need.

This vocal processor attaches to a mic stand and looks like a cross between an iPad and a drum machine, allowing vocalists total control over their harmonies and effects with the touch of a finger.

A large backlit screen allows you to see exactly what the processor is doing, and the large touch-sensitive buttons make it easy to make necessary changes on the fly. The effects and harmonies generated by this pedal are in line with TC Helicon’s other high-end processors, like the VoiceLive 3 Extreme.

Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer

The VT-4 provides a full suite of harmonizations and vocal effects in a mixer-like interface that any vocalist should feel immediately familiar with. Unlike other options which require you to manipulate effects from a screen, or with your feet, the VT-4 provides a more analog approach, so it’s perfect for vocalists who don’t want to be bogged down by techy extras.

Unfortunately, this pedal lacks a guitar input, so you can’t use your guitar to provide the basis for harmony tracks. But, it does have a MIDI in, which makes this processor ideal for keyboardists who are looking to add vocal harmonies and haven’t been able to find that functionality in other vocal processors.

TC Helicon VoiceLive 2

While the VoiceLive 3 Extreme is TC Helicon’s newest high-end creation for vocalists, the VoiceLive 2 is still the preferred processor for many top vocalists and performers. It seems to some that TC Helicon is still working through the bugs with their newest model, but the VoiceLive 2 provides bulletproof operation right out of the box.

Like the VoiceLive 3 Extreme, this pedal provides a full complement of guitar and vocal effects, and tons of harmonization options including harmonies with up to four voices at once. Plus, with a new model on the market, you may be able to score a great deal on this powerful and comprehensive vocal processor.

Boss VE-20 Vocal Performer

Another proven performer from Boss, the VE-20 is one of the most popular and easy to use harmony pedals on the market.

With tons of different effects housed within a familiar stompbox style housing, the VE-20 is ideal for vocalists who are looking for a vocal processor that provides the highest-quality effects possible, in addition to some lush harmony options.

The VE-20 allows for up to three-part harmonies, all of which are controlled by Boss’ DSP engine. While the harmony tracking is surprisingly accurate considering it tracks by key and not with a guitar, you can run into some issues with sour notes if you play songs with complex key structures.

TC Helicon Perform-VK

For vocalists looking for a quality vocal effects processor they can control from their mic stand, there are several solid options on the market. But, most of them are high-end, leaving few options for the budget minded vocalist. Fortunately, the Perform-VK fills that void.

This easy to use pedal mounts to any mic stand and its controls are reminiscent of a drum machine. The pedal allows users to save up to three different presets, add vocal harmonies, and reverb or delay, and correct pitch. There’s also a powerful noise gate to help singers control feedback.

While there’s no guitar tracking with this unit, you can control harmony tracking with either MIDI or backing tracks loaded into the machine.

Boss VE-8 Acoustic Singer

A powerful vocal processor that’s tailor-made for singer-songwriters, the VE-8 is the ideal companion for your coffee shop gigs.

The VE-8 provides the same powerful suite of harmony options that are present in the VE-500, as well as a few guitar and vocal effects that can add depth and life to your music. The pitch correction feature is especially effective, and there’s also a hard tune option for adding an auto tune-like effect to your vocals.

Add to that an effective 80-second looper, and you have a full-featured workstation that includes all of the tools gigging musicians need to shine.

5 FAQ’s About Vocal Harmonizer Pedals

How do you use a vocal harmonizer pedal?

Each vocal harmonizer pedal is going to be different, and depending on the model you choose, it may provide a wide scope of functionality or a limited one. We recommend treating the owner’s manual like your new favorite book until you get a handle on the different features of the pedal.

But, when it comes to getting started, most pedals are very similar. The vast majority of vocal harmonizers track the guitar to find and produce the correct vocal harmony. So, you’ll start by plugging the guitar into the pedal. From there, you can run an additional cable out to your guitar amp, or into other effects. Plug your mic into the unit, and then run a cable from the unit’s output to your PA mixer or vocal amplifier.

From there, all you’ll need to do is find the harmonies or effects you need, and get to playing.

Most vocalists use a harmonizer pedal to add weight and texture to specific sections of songs. But, there’s no right or wrong way to use a vocal harmonizer pedal. As you get more familiar with your pedal, you’ll get to a point where you’ll know exactly when and how to best use your harmonizer.

Where do you place a vocal harmonizer pedal (in the chain)?

Thankfully, pedal chain considerations are something that most vocalists will be able to ignore. Chances are, the vocal harmonizer is the only effect that’s part of your signal chain. If that’s the case, setting up your rig is as simple as plugging your mic and guitar into the processor, running cables out to your guitar amp and PA system, and playing your heart out.

For vocalists who also play guitar, this can be a bit more complex if you have additional effects you use that aren’t part of your vocal harmonizer. In this case, the best practice is to run your guitar into the unit and then run a cable from the unit out to your other effects. You can check out our other articles about guitar effects for more info on setting up your signal chain if you’re unsure how to configure your pedals.

The critical thing to remember here is that your guitar should be entering the pedal as dry as possible. If you were to run the guitar through your pedalboard and then into your vocal processor, you’re inviting issues into your life, because the vocal harmonizer will have a much more difficult time tracking a wet guitar signal than a dry one.

What are the top vocal harmonizer pedal brands?

When it comes to vocal harmonizers, three brands completely dominate the market. In fact, you’ll have trouble finding any vocal processors that aren’t made by one of the “Big 3.”

TC Helicon has cemented themselves as the industry leader for vocal harmonizers and processors. The company manufactures a full suite of different harmonizers and processing tools, some of which are affordable, and some are top-of-the-line. Their VoiceLive line of products is considered the industry standard for vocal harmonizers and effects.

Boss is another major player in this space, and while they’re best known for manufacturing guitar effects, their vocal processors are among the most powerful and useful on the market. Their Vocal Performer line contains several different harmonizers and processors, with products designed for both vocalists and singer-songwriters.

Roland rounds out the lineup of the most popular companies. The Roland Company manufacturers a full line of musical instruments and accessories under different brand names. In fact, they own the Boss corporation as well. Their Vocal Transformer series of products provide vocalists with a full suite of effects and harmonization options.

How much does a good vocal harmonizer pedal typically cost?

When searching for a vocal harmonizer, you’ll find options across a wide variety of price points. The different price points usually correspond to how versatile the unit is.

You should have no problem finding a vocal harmonizer pedal that provides harmonies, and maybe an additional effect or two for between $150-250.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive pedal that provides harmonies in addition to a full suite of vocal effects, you can expect to drop $250-500 for a quality option.

Or, if you’re in the market for a complete workstation that provides a full complement of guitar effects in addition to vocal effects and harmonizations, excellent pedals usually cost upwards of $500.

Where can I learn more about vocal harmonizer pedals?

Sweetwater is a retailer that also doubles as a premier resource for all things gear related. They do a great job of providing info, tips, and tricks, on their website. But, the real gems are their product pages, which usually feature detailed product video demos. This is a great resource if you’re looking to hear how a pedal sounds without trying it out on your own.

Guitar Fella is a relatively new resource that provides gear reviews, useful information, and tips and tricks for all things guitar related. They also offer some great information about today’s top vocal harmonizer pedals.

Sustain Punch is similar to Guitar Fella, but with a slightly broader scope. This site is an excellent resource for vocalists, bassists, and recording engineers in addition to guitar players. The link above has some great info on some of the top vocal harmonizer pedals on the market.

Conclusion

A vocal harmonizer pedal is a great way to add rich harmonies, additional depth, and feeling to your music. These effects have come a long way over the years, and now you’ll be able to find great pedals whether you’re a singer-songwriter, playing in a band, or just looking to take your solo vocals to the next level.

Do you use a vocal harmonizer pedal when you play live? Which is your favorite? Do you have any recommendations for our readers? Sound off in the comments section below!

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