One of the most interesting and long-standing vocal effects is that of the vocoder. Though they have been around since the 1930s, they only became popular in the music realm during the 1970s. Funk musicians were using these pieces of hardware to synthesize the human voice. It’s one of the most instantly recognizable sounds around, helping to give the human voice an alien or robot-like quality.
Saoftware Vocoders are great for adding a bit of width and edge to performances that are a bit dull otherwise. Whether you want to add some vowel sounds to your instruments, get experimental with tuned percussion, or pull some otherworldly tones out of your leads, here are the best vocoder VST plugins on the market to help you do so.
Top 9 Vocoder Plugins
- Soundtoys Little AlterBoy
- SONiVOX Vocalizer Pro
- iZotope VocalSynth 2
- XILS Lab XILS Vocoder 5000
- Image Line Vocodex
- MeldaProduction MVocoder
- TAL TAL-Vocoder
- XILS Lab XILS V+
- Zynaptiq ORANGE VOCODER
The Little AlterBoy plugin from Soundtoys gives you a lot of room to explore creatively with your sounds. Little AlterBoy gives you the ability to hard tune, add a robotic tone to vocals, pitch shift, and manipulate your vocal formants. There’s a Formant knob that you can use to change the vocal’s “gender.” There’s also a Pitch knob for you to adjust the pitch of the vocals throughout your mix.
If you want to achieve hard-tuned, robotic tones, pick a single pitch in the vocal and tune it like crazy. The MIDI section is where to go for classic vocoder effects. Yes, the plugin is very digital, but you can still add some grit and warmth with the same classic tube saturation model that’s included with the Decapitator.
Little AlterBoy gives you all the tools you need to perfectly replicate the sounds of the classic vocoder hardware. It’s definitely worth having in your collection.
- Wide selection of effects in a user-friendly interface
- Doesn’t take up much CPU
- Impressive formant shifting
- Only works monophonically
The SONiVOX Vocalizer Pro is an exciting vocoder plugin that can be used to make some super special sounds. It’s set up in the same way as the VocalSynth 2 with a four module system. You can move the modules around in any order you like to develop some truly unique, complex tones. You are only limited by your own creativity.
On each module you’ll find a number of parameters to mess with, including pitch shift, filter, and modulate—all with the use of high-quality LFOs. The SONiVOX has been optimized for live use, so it can be used both inside and outside the studio. At the bottom of the GUI, you’ll find eight MIDI map pads in two rows. You’ll be able to save various presets and parameters on the top row. This makes them easy to access in the middle of a live performance. The bottom row gives you the tools you need to map out chords and put sequences together.
You’ll also find an Effects tab with several options like Chorus, Reverb, EQ, and Delay. This plugin also features a high-quality browser system that allows you to search presets based on genre, color, and other qualities. There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve with this one, but the sounds you get from the Vocalizer Pro are worth the effort.
- Customized routing capabilities
- Built-in effects tab
- Numerous presets to work with
- Some might find the interface a little overwhelming
The VocalSynth 2 is among the most popular and powerful vocoder plugins you can get your hands on today. It has an awesome selection of features to help you create some interesting vocal effects. There’s four panels found on the interface: the Polyvox panel, Vocoder panel, Compuvox, and Talkbox panel.
The Vocoder panel is what you would expect; you can utilize it to apply classic robot-like effects. You can also choose from a wide selection of vocoder modes to create different tones from vintage to futuristic. The Polyvox panel is perfect for when you want to build rich vocal harmonies with the help of a polyphonic pitch shifting device. It can also be used to add numerous effects from organic BGVs to artificial sounds.
The Compuvox panel gives you crazy computerized effects like speech synthesis and glitchy vocals. Finally, the Talkbox panel allows you to apply talkbox sounds, which are pretty similar to a vocoder but with their own distinct tone. Additionally, you’ll have access to distortion modules, filters, pitch correction, and delay modules. The VocalSynth 2 is not cheap by any means, but the versatility and functionality it offers make it well worth the cost.
- You can reorder effects
- Advanced processing engine
- A good selection of modules to work with
- Shred algorithm generates bad pops and clicks
The XILS Lab XILS Vocoder 5000 is a replication of the famous EMS 5000 module with some added digital features. You’ll get that iconic EMC 5000 sound along with a number of other features like a Freeze button, detailed PWM and FM mods, some Slew rate mods, a top-notch output detection module, a great selection of oscillator waveforms, and Emphasis and Emphasis ponderation with the filters.
With this plugin, you can achieve all the complexity of the EMS 5000 with an easy-to-use design and an intuitive interface. No matter what your level of experience is, you won’t have a problem using this plugin. The interface is comprised of a single panel with all the controls you need right at your fingertips. If you need some help getting started, there are plenty of presets to get you going.
If you prefer to take a deeper dive, you’ll be able to explore all the additional parameters when you open the “center door” behind the logo. This secret stash of more elaborate options is perfect for sound designers and others who like developing different routing and filtering options.
- Super versatile design
- An impressive collection of creative parameters to work with
- Awesome built-in synthesizer
- Can overwhelm your CPU
The Vocodex from Image Line is a super straightforward software vocoder, but it produces sounds that are better than just about any of its competitors. It simply contours any sound with the use of various modulators.
The plugin has a modulator noise reduction feature, which works great for eliminating ambient noise. This means that your results won’t be skewed by the plugin picking up notes or harmonics in the background. The Vocodex can handle all your standard vocoder needs and can also double voice and add reverb to get a fatter result.
One unique feature is the Soundgoodizer, which will help give you a warm, limited output so that your vocoded vocals mix well with your leads. The sidechain carrier gives you more freedom, and there are 100 bands that can be launched at any point in the frequency spectrum. Overall, a solid vocoder plugin to consider adding to your toolbox.
- Warm and limited output
- Technology that decreases ambient noise
- Top-notch vocoder sounds
- Might have problems if used with other DAWs besides FL Studio
The MVocoder from MeldaProduction has a ton of exciting features that will meet all of your vocoder needs. It comes with a hefty 102-page manual, so you know this thing is loaded with functionality. Actually, you could probably modulate or manipulate just about any parameter that you could imagine. There are a total of four distinct modulation sections, which come with a great selection of morphable shapes, envelopes, followers, and so much more. You’ll find some impressive options in the Band Matrix and Band Graph sections, and you can also take advantage of the onboard upsampling and M/S capability.
The GUI is completely stunning with an impressive collection of controls to work with. You can pick from 11 distinct interface styles with varying colors and layouts. As you might have guessed from the novel of a manual, it takes a lot of time and effort to wrap your mind around everything this plugin offers to maximize your experience.
If you want to dive deep into all the layers of the vocoder realm, this is the absolute best plugin out there. It’s super detailed and gives you every tool imaginable to control your sound and achieve optimal results.
- Option to use your own synthesizers
- Crazy powerful
- Modulation potential is top-notch
- Very CPU-hungry
- Takes a lot of effort to learn the software
Togu Audio Line (TAL) has a great reputation partially based on some incredible free VSTs that they have in their lineup. The TAL Vocoder VST is so good that you’ll feel like you’re ripping someone off by not paying for it. It’s designed to replicate the classic vocoder sounds from the ‘80s. It features an 11-band filter and a built-in carrier synth. It’s super simple to dial-in various waveforms, including noise, synch, saw, osc, portamento, sub, pulse, and others.
This plugin also allows you to use external sounds as carriers. TAL doesn’t use direct convolution with the carrier and modulation signals like many of their competition do. Instead TAL utilizes an envelope follower on each band. One exciting feature is the Panic Button, which uses the synth clip LED to freeze sustained notes. This prevents your input signal from clipping. We think that’s pretty awesome.
Overall we can say that this is an incredible VST with way more functionality than you would expect from a free synthesizer.
- Infinite routing options
- Super user-friendly
- Faithfully reproduces the classic sound
- Can’t complain about something that’s free
The XILS V+ is a ten band vocoder VST that utilizes string and human voice synthesis. The V+ is essentially a replication of the Roland VP-330 Vocoder unit but with greater in-depth routing capabilities. XILS has been a respected player in the digital realm for quite a while, and they definitely don’t disappoint with the V+.
Similar to the XILS Lab Vocoder, it takes plenty of time and effort to learn all the ins and outs of this plugin. This means it’s geared more towards those who are really invested in the vocoder effect, not those who just use it every now and then. It also adds in complex synthesis if you’re someone who appreciates that kind of thing. It’s about the most versatile vocoder plugin you’ll find on the market.
If you want to explore the advanced settings, you’ll find a top-notch effects pane, modulation controls, and freeze and water controls. If you really want to go to a different level, check out the arpeggio panel. You’ll be able to manipulate pitch, customize the shape of the added strings, or mix the human voice with various oscillators.
The V+ plugin may have a classic vintage design, but its synthesis is more advanced than anything else you’ll find in this arena.
- Very authentic synth sounds
- Both paraphonic and polyphonic
- Impressive VP-330 clone
- Difficult to learn
If you’re looking for a vocoder plugin with contemporary vocal effects, Zynaptiq has you covered with their Orange Vocoder. With this plugin you’ll get impressive sound quality and sonic versatility. This latest version features many upgrades to give you the best possible processing experience.
At the center of the Orange Vocoder is a 32-voice synthesizer. This is supported by more than a dozen distinct vocoder algorithms that each bring their own style into the mix. The algorithms give you an incredible range from cross-synthesis modes to analog circuits. Whether you want pure digital transparency or analog warmth, this plugin has your back. And you can choose to work with either samples or waveforms.
You’ll find two modulators that you can set to either LFO or dedicated pitch modulation. Its other features include a freeze button, rich reverb, ring modulation, and a helpful mixer section. The GUI is visually stunning, and it is designed to help you work more efficiently. You’ll also appreciate the awesome selection of sub-presets and the smart section randomization feature.
- Flexible sounds and parameters
- Tones are immediately satisfying
- Nothing to mention
Value the Vocoder
At the end of the day, which vocoder plugin is right for you will depend on how and how often you plan on using it. It’s ok to take the cheaper route if you only occasionally use the effect to shake things up. But if the vocoder is more of a feature than an enhancement in your mixes, you’ll definitely want to check out the higher-quality options we’ve talked about in this article.