A vocal harmonizer pedal is a type of pitch shifting device that combines an original pitch with its shifted pitch to create two or more notes in harmony. It is a method of pitch shifting that alters the original pitch to produce different pitches at various wavelengths. Often, the device is called a pitch shifter; a device or sound effects unit that raises or lowers the pitch, by a preset interval, gotten from an audio signal.
Vocal harmonizing involves pitch shifting, and there are diverse methods used. One of the simplest methods used is to increase pitch and reduce duration, or increase duration and reduce pitch. The approach here is to keep replaying the waveform of the sound at different speeds than the speed it was recorded. An old way to do this is to use a reel-to-reel tape recorder by changing the drive shaft diameter of the capstan or using a different motor entirely.
Now let’s get back to the characteristics like the speeds of the motor can be controlled using an electronic servo system circuit. A straightforward is by using ‘vari-speed’ capstan motors that allow speeds to change and be achieved more simply. If you use a vinyl record turntable, you can place your finger on it to slow it down with friction, or you can spin it to give it more speed.
How to judge which one is most suitable for you
Technology has improved over the years, and you are most likely to use modern methods and devices, there are plenty of decent choices, decently take a look at this great resource Best Vocal Harmonizer Pedals | Review 2018 - CGuide.
Let’s start with the major distinction: Digital vs. Analog Interface
The digital ones are those that the cool kids use, and I think we all know what to expect from them, but let's take a look at the other site. For example, the BOSS VE8 analog one, it has classic built with physical knobs that allow you to pick it up and play while adjusting your sound pretty effortlessly.
The problem with devices of this type is that they are not particularly advantageous because of their inability of adjusting and tweaking the already saved presets because of the absence of a digital interface. Also, you should keep in mind that using such device in a poorly lit room could be a problem. You may sacrifice those features in favor of solid build, intuitive interface and you can expect to get a decent tone out of.
Features that matter
- You should qualify each device by the following criteria.
- How intuitive is the device in general?
- The quality and control over the tone
- How are the compression, warmth, de-esser and the harmony?
- Guitar tone
- Vocal tone
- Build quality
- Presets and other extras
How exactly it works?
The speech and its sound are usually shared into two aspects: pitch (the vibration of the vocal cords) and prosody (the modification of the pitch characteristics and additional sounds, like sibilance, accomplished by varied movements of the mouth)
It's possible to strip out the pitch and replace it with a particular pitch (in the case of a vocoder typically one controlled by a keyboard) whereas holding tons of the prosody data.
You can simply use a pitch generated by a keyboard or utterly different instrument and modify it with prosody characteristics from speech to make a different, robotic voice-like sound, this is essentially what a harmonizer can offer.
Using vocal harmonizer in a studio
The vocal harmonizer is an equipment understood by a few studio owners. In a lot of cases, you might not even find them in a home studio. One can say that the studio owner might not have a need for them at that time, or one can say they are complicated and expensive for a home studio.
Either way, the use of a vocal harmonizer is solely on the need for vocal adjustments. If you own a studio at home and you do not often make vocal adjustments, then you should consider not getting one or getting a really cheap one. For those that use a lot of vocal work and editing; such as in radio stations, there are expensive ones you can go for to enhance the quality of your work. Vocal harmonizers that are very good are quite expensive. An example is the famous TC- DigiTech Vocalist, Helicon Play Acoustic and BOSS VE-8.
Today, there are more software harmonizers all over. The use of hardware has begun to wane as software are easier to acquire and do not need maintenance. However, no software can compare to the use of hardware. The vocal harmonizing software can only compare with the average hardware vocal harmonizers.
Should vocal harmonizer pedal be an essential part of your gear
The importance of a vocal harmonizer cannot be stressed enough. If you are a professional sound engineer or producer, you would need a vocal harmonizer. Today, vocal harmonizers are used even in live performances, and they sound quite good. There are numerous advantages to getting a vocal harmonizer for your studio. A common misperception is that vocal harmonizers are meant for voices only. For creativity’s sake, you can use a vocal harmonizer for other purposes.
Other purposes include attaching it to your guitar, drums, keyboard, and any instrument that pleases you. All you need here is creativity and knowledge of waveforms of every instrument. Many fat R&B string pads are made with harmonizers. Harmonizers are just superb in music production. All you need is one note in the audio input, and a range of 1 to 5 notes come out. The number of notes produced is dependent on what setting you use and the model of harmonizer you are using.
Effects; such as reverb and delay, can also be found on some harmonizers. Some have Mic Preamps. If you are a still contemplating on what reverb, delay or preamp to buy why not go for a harmonizer that has all these capabilities. If you consider the combined cost of a reverb, a delay, and a Mic preamp, you would realize that purchasing a harmonizer with the three capabilities would cost you lesser than buying them individually. Also, purchasing a harmonizer that has those three additional features would guarantee you of quality. This is because you can only find those additional functions on high-end harmonizers pedals.