The best plugins for mixing vocals will result in the best-sounding vocals. If you want to incorporate a vocal track into your music, it is essential to have some of the best VST plugins for vocals.
However, vocal plugins can be costly and if you are just starting as a music producer, you may not have the funds for premium plugins like Autotune or Waves Diamond Bundle.
We've compiled a list of the most effective free VST plugins for vocals.
Yep, you heard that right...
We're talking free reverb plugins, free vocal processing plugins, and even a free saturation plugin or two.
In other words, you need some high-quality vocal effect plugins to make your singing sound as good as your favorite performers. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money.
Best Free Vocal Mix EQs
This vocal eq is a great plugin that both equalizes the signal and adds subtle harmonic content. This allows you to alter the frequency response of the vocal while also allowing the vocal to sound full and warm because of your EQ plugins.
The EQ allows you to adjust the left and right channels independently through its L/R mode. Of course, you can also change it to mid/side processing for a wider and more dynamic vocal mix.
Each side allows you to affect seven bands whose frequencies can be altered anywhere from 20hz to 20kilohertz. There is also output on each channel.
Overtone GEQ not only balances the frequencies but also applies harmonic enhancement. It has seven modules, each affecting a different band, to create a rich, harmonic sound. It was designed to allow audio engineers to apply quick EQ shape adjustments together with adding a bit of harmonic richness to the audio material (mainly mixes and sub-mixes due to a comparably high load this EQ puts on a CPU).
NOVA is a parallel dynamic equalizer that uses the familiar layout of a parametric equalizer. Each band also includes a full-featured dynamics section, allowing the processor to cover an impressively-wide range of applications. Whether you need to add density to a master track, make drums sound more crispy, or fix sibilance in a perfect take, NOVA has an elegant answer.
TDR Nova is an excellent mixing and mastering equalizer for newcomers and experienced users. The built-in spectrum analyzer and the equal loudness functionality make it very intuitive. The most impressive thing about TDR Nova is how easily it transforms from a simple parametric EQ into a super-precise dynamic equalizer.
PTEq-X is a digital emulation of 3 famous vintage passive program equalizers, with all the characteristics of the original hardware, plus some circuit improvements and additional features to increase its versatility.
The PTEq-X replicates all the features of the original hardware, as well as improves on some of the circuits and adds additional features to increase its versatility. It is intended to be used as a studio equalizer for tracking, mixing, and mastering inside hosts that support VST or AU Plug-Ins.
Best Free Vocal De-Essers
T-De-Esser is designed to be simple and easy to use, while still giving you the ability to adjust the processing to your liking. The plug-in starts working when you turn the knob, and you can choose how intense you want the effect to be.
There are four frequency bands available, so you can target the harshness and sibilance depending on where they're coming from.
While this plugin is a simplified version of the company's premium de-esser, this thing is so effective and useful you may find that you never need to upgrade (...unless of course, you want to).
We appreciate how effortless the plugin is to use, as there are only a few tweakable settings on the interface. These settings comprise intensity, depth, and pitch. The "pitch" setting is great, as it lets you target three separate frequencies, making this unassuming free de-esser more flexible than you might anticipate.
After you've picked the appropriate frequency range, turn the depth knob to the point where you have the perfect amount of de-essing for your track. If you start to hear that your vocal sounds too lispy or that the de-esser is getting rid of too many high frequencies, you can use the plugin's 'soft' mode.
Lisp is one of the few de-essing plugins available for your digital audio workstation that works regardless of the input level and requires no frequency setting. Simply set your reduction amount and Lisp will automatically detect the "ess" sounds in your audio track, turning them down with highly transparent results.
Some of the first de-esser plugins that come to mind are the Lisp De-Esser and the Classic De-Esser. Both plugins are level-independent sibilance processors with plenty of unique controls, including sensitivity, attack, release, reduction amount, sibilant range, stereo mode, and processing mode.
Best Free Tuner Plugins For Vocal Production
A free vocal pitch tuner is simultaneously the best vocal plugin and also the hardest plugin to find. Autotune and Melodyn are the heavy hitters in the world of premium pitch corrections, but there is a sizable lack of free alternatives.
But MAUTOPitch allows for all of the most popular features of standard pitch correction, including formant adjustments and pitch correction. Doubling down on these features also allows you to adjust the depth of pitch modulation and the speed at which the plugin corrects the tuning of the vocal or instrument.
There is the added parameter for global tuning adjustments and base tuning to help created thicker, double-tracked vocal stacks that still sound in-key.
The onboard effects allow you to nestle the affected vocal underneath the raw audio while also giving formant shifting features and an added width parameter that allows you to widen your vocal.
The global tuning knob allows the plugin to lock into the key of the song so that it knows exactly which notes to be adjusting and which ones to leave on every vocal.
Graillon 2 is a powerful vocal modulation plugin to have in the vocal chain that lets you shape your voice any way you want — add different harmonic voices, octaves, bit-crushing, etc. The free version gets you the essential Pitch-Shift and Pitch Correction modules of the plugin, perfect for dialing in a robotic vocal or something similar to the “classic” Auto-Tune sound.
Graillon 2 has many great features, one of which is that it can take MIDI input. This means you can make your vocal performance follow the pitch of specific MIDI notes, resulting in a more vocoder-like sound. There is also a knob called "Smooth" which controls how quickly the pitch correction starts working. If you want a robotic sound, set it to "Fast", and if you want a more natural sound, set it to "Slow".
Occasionally, you may want the quickest and simplest option when you're wanting great vocals. This could be because you want to hear the desired effect through the plugin, or because you're doing ad-libs where precision isn't as vital. Maybe you just want to sound like Daft Punk and need that hard-tuned Auto-Tune sound.
Voloco's vocal tuning can get you there relatively quickly. The team behind the mobile app of the same name developed Voloco, which has a super-basic user interface (key, scale, and pitch correction amount) that will make you sound like Travis Scott within seconds.
Best Free Doubler VST Plugins For Vocals
What makes this plugin stand out from the rest of the free alternatives is its simple user interface. With only a few parameters to be altered, this plugin gives little room for user error which makes it an easy recommendation for newer producers.
The middle sphere on the interface indicates the original vocal, and the more you apply the effect you will see peripheral lines begin to expand from around the original sphere. These are indicative of the doubled vocal takes, so it's easy to see how helpful the visual representation of the effect can be when dialing in how much you want of it.
Heavy-handed applications of the plugin will create a detuned and phased-out vocal that may be pleasing for some genres. But when used in subtle amounts, this effect can help thicken up a vocal by giving the illusion of double tracking during the recording process.
Acon Digital Multiply is a free chorus effect with a unique twist. Each simulated voice is processed with a phase-randomizing filter, avoiding unpleasant comb filter effects.
The effect can be used to replicate the sound of several performers playing the same tones simultaneously, to create a wider spatial image, or to generate special effects for sound design. Multiply can replicate up to 6 vocal layers and both the pitch and volume of the voices can be modulated.
The integrated equalizer consists of low cut, low shelf, high shelf, and high cut filters that can be applied to the effect signal. The integrated pre-delay section makes it possible to create modulated and diffuse echo effects.
Best Distortion Plugins For Vocal
Krush's bit crushing and downsampling algorithms give it a crispy, digital taste, while its drive stage and analog modeled resonant filters add warmth. A modulation section lets you quickly add extra life to the sound by modulating any parameter.
Krush produces a sound spectrum that ranges from the dirtiest digital effects to crunchy modulated colors, including all the classic and weirdest bit-crushing effects.
Krush is a very versatile plugin since it addd warmth, distortion, fuzz, and even a bit-crushing effect, and it allows for A/B testing which means you can compare two different settings to see which version of the vocals sit best in the mix.
Vocal saturation plugins truly are the secret sauce to making a powerful, tighten, and emotional vocal mix. Of all the plugins on this list, Saturation will be the biggest help in accomplishing the results you want in your next vocal production.
Firstly, saturation tames back the vocal's dynamics in the same way a compressor might. This allows for a slightly more even-sounding recording which is easier to mix in with the rest of the elements of the track
Secondly, saturation and distortion excite the frequencies and create harmonic content making the vocal recording feel thicker and more powerful. When overused, saturation can also alter the tonality of a vocal, giving a harsh and chunky garage-punk quality that sounds great on ad-libs, vocal FX, and even entire stacks.
BPB Saturator offers two types of saturation, Tube and Tape, which can be applied simultaneously to the vocal. The main difference between tube and tape distortion is that tube distortion excites the mid frequencies to create a warmer and more rounded tonality and tape distortion excites the higher frequencies to introduce more bite and clarity to the audio in which it's being applied.
To get the most out of this tool, forget anything you know about distortion. At first, Temper may not make a lot of sense. It uses a phase distortion algorithm to do things most clipping tools can't. But once you get used to it, you'll see how powerful it can be.
The three controls – Curve, Drive, and Saturation – dictate the flavor of distortion. The Drive knob ranges from -10 to 10. With the gain at zero, there is no distortion. If the gain is set to any other number, the plugin applies a distortion based on how the Saturation and Curve controls are set. The Cutoff control sets the frequency of the low-pass filter, and the Resonance emphasizes certain frequencies. Temper also adds some harmonic excitement.
Best Free Compressor Plugins For Mixing
The human voice is incredibly dynamic but having such wide discrepancies between your vox channel's peaks and troughs will lead to an unpredictable and poor mix. That is where compressors come in handy (especially on vocals).
But not every compressor is created equal and not every one of them is worth the megabytes they occupy on your hard drive.
Luckily, the MCompressor from Melda offers more functionality and better tonality than most premier-level compressors and is an amazing addition to any producer's arsenal.
You have all the standard settings like attack, ration, threshold, release, and more. But you also get lookahead features, sidechain input monitoring, custom settings, and expansions. You can even alter the routing and adjust the gain control.
I'm not lying, this compressor packs some serious heat and it's wild that it's completely free
To ensure your are sounding their best in your mix, you need to compress them. For a great free compressor that does an amazing job on , check out DC1A by Klanghelm.
Achieving great sounding is easy with DC1A's two knobs; input and output, along with four buttons for compression characteristics. This compressor works from gentle leveling to excessive pumping - perfect for compressing all styles.
Best Free VST Reverbs
To be frank, I'm still floored that this reverb plugin is a freebie. This is a great free reverb that can do all the usual things a reverb does and so much more.
The actual reverb is authentic, lush, and realistic meaning whatever the place you want to place your vocal in, this reverb can handle it with ease. And the complete control over the decay time, width, feedback, and more makes dialing in the settings a breeze.
But where this free reverb plugin truly shines is through its massive decay tails, heavily affected modulation capabilities and killer presets. Long story short, this reverb is a Swiss army knife when it comes to creating vocal atmospheres, reverb reverses, atmospheres and more.
OldSkoolVerb is a vocal reverb plugin that uses an algorithmic reverberation for professional streaming, sound, and music production applications. This plugin uses a “classic” stereo reverb algorithm which is simple yet effective and produces a clear spatial image that blends well with the mix.
OldSkoolVerb provides a wide range of parameters that allow you to create different types of reverb, from plate reverb to room reverb to hall reverb. OldSkoolVerb works best with non-percussive and soft-attack sounds like vocals, piano, and pad sounds. However, you can get good results with percussive sounds by using a narrow "plate" range of settings.
There's nothing quite like a great-sounding reverb to liven up a vocal performance. The TAL-Reverb-4 is perfect for that.
Its design is easy to understand and use. The three main knobs let you adjust reverb size, diffusion, and delay amount. You also have two additional knobs for modulation rate and amount, as well as a low and high cut equalizer to shape your reverb sound. Finally, use the dry and wet knobs to adjust how much reverb is applied.
The reverberation characteristics are diffused with a hint of the ‘80s. The echo sound is warm, organic, and analog – making your vocals shimmer deep in everything from small to large room reverbs.
Best Free Delay
A good free delay can be hard to find. Many delay plugins, including even paid delay plugins, might do a single thing well but are completely unusable for any other situation.
Freq Echo from Valhalla does it all and does it all well. Whether you're looking for cascading and modulated vocal delays or a tight slapback delay, this thing can handle it with ease.
And the ability to sculpt the delayed frequencies is a powerful feature as well. Sure, many other delay plugins have similar features, but it never hurts to have access to it on this one too.
The most basic three controls are pretty straightforward. The damp control is a low-pass filter and works in conjunction with the resonance control. The plugin adds some odd harmonics and noise to the delay, so this is the ‘vintage’ part of the delay although you can’t control how much of this is added.
Note that none of the delay time controls have numerical values - they can only be viewed by the knob's position. This will take some getting used to, but eventually, you'll be able to do it by ear.
This is a "name your price" VST/AU delay plugin with a warm, lively sound. The interface is clean and it has all the features! It seems to work well without any bugs but it feels like a work in progress. The drive sound is harsh, there are no value readouts on the knobs and only a handful of presets.
Cocoa Delay is a free and open-source software program. If you're feeling generous, you can donate any amount of money to them. If you're a programmer type, you can check out their code on GitHub.