Enhance Your Vocal Mix with the Best Vocal Plugins

Of all the elements that need mixing, vocals can be the trickiest to perfect. Not only do they make the biggest impact on listeners, but they also come with unique challenges. Unlike other instruments or electronic signals, human vocals are influenced by our complex biology. Each take will differ slightly, and perfection is an elusive goal. Variations in tone, projection, pitch, and pronunciation are inevitable. That said, vocals should both stand out and blend in seamlessly. Luckily, a range of vocal plugins can help you address these challenges and enhance the natural qualities of the human voice.

The Waves plugins

Waves offers a remarkable collection of vocal plugins, each serving a specific purpose when it comes to mixing vocals. Among their vast selection, four plugins stand out for the significant impact they can make.

1. Waves Vocal Rider

Save yourself countless hours of mix automation and compression by using the Waves Vocal Rider. This nifty tool automates the real-time volume level of vocals, ensuring they remain consistent. By analyzing both the vocal track and the rest of the mix, the plugin adjusts the volume contextually. Say goodbye to manual adjustments of clip gain or excessive compression. Let the Waves Vocal Rider do the heavy lifting for you.

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2. Waves MV2

While not exclusively a vocal plugin, the Waves MV2 is exceptionally useful when working with vocals. Once the Vocal Rider has done its job, the MV2 steps in to bring the vocals to the forefront. With faders controlling low-level and high-level compression, complete with automatic make-up gain, you have full dynamic control at your fingertips.

3. Waves Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter

To give your vocals an extra boost, the Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is a fantastic option. This plugin functions differently from the MV2, bringing vocals to the front using harmonic distortion effects and phase shifting. By tweaking these parameters, you can achieve greater clarity and brightness in your mix. The Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter is widely regarded as one of the best and most popular exciter plugins available.

4. Waves Reel ADT

Do you desire that iconic stereo vocal sound made famous by the Beatles? Look no further than the Waves Reel ADT. This plugin emulates the artificial double tracking processor used at Abbey Road Studios. Created in collaboration with Abbey Road, the Reel ADT ensures an authentic and remarkable stereo vocal sound.

Other Remarkable Vocal Plugins

Now, let’s explore some other vocal plugins (not from Waves) that are worth adding to your arsenal. From a de-esser to a reverb and a synthesizer, these plugins offer additional creative possibilities.

5. FabFilter Pro-DS

Engineers and producers often rely on FabFilter Pro-DS as their go-to de-esser. This plugin features a highly intelligent sibilance detection system that identifies and highlights any instances of sibilance on the waveform. You have full control over threshold, range, and other parameters, enabling precise and effective removal of sibilance. Additionally, the Pro-DS can help limit other high frequencies, making it an excellent tool for managing drums or full mixes as well.

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6. Lexicon PCM Native Reverb

For professional-grade reverb, the Lexicon PCM Native Reverb bundle is unmatched. This comprehensive bundle includes vintage plate, hall, room, chamber, and various other reverbs. Each type offers distinct qualities and contains hundreds of presets. While these plugins come at a price, they deliver the highest quality and most natural-sounding vocal reverb.

7. iZotope VocalSynth 2

If you produce EDM, pop, or hip-hop music, the iZotope VocalSynth 2 is a must-have vocal synth plugin. Packed with five vocal processors, each with specific controls, this plugin offers a wide range of vocal manipulation possibilities. It even features Biovox, which can mimic or reduce natural human vocal qualities such as breath and nasality. With hundreds of presets and an intuitive interface, the VocalSynth 2 is an incredibly versatile tool.


Even with a limited budget, your vocals can still shine. Here are three fantastic free vocal plugins you can use:

8. Voxengo Oldskoolverb

Included in our list of the 25 best free Mac plugins, the Voxengo Oldskoolverb adds a vintage reverb effect to any instrument. While it works well on various sources, it particularly shines on vocals.

9. Acon Digital Multiply Chorus

Known for their exceptional free plugins, Acon Digital delivers once again with Multiply Chorus. This plugin excels at creating lush background vocals by spreading the sound across the stereo field and adding warmth.

10. Flux BitterSweet

Don’t be fooled by its minimalistic appearance; the free version of Flux BitterSweet is a powerful vocal plugin. With just one knob, it allows you to emphasize harsh consonants for a punchier sound or reduce transients. This little plugin can make a big impact.

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The ten vocal plugins listed here are powerful tools that can transform your vocal mixes. However, this list only scratches the surface of what’s available. There are numerous other excellent plugins waiting to be discovered. Enjoy experimenting with these plugins, and remember that your vocal mix can always benefit from further exploration.

If you found this article helpful, we invite you to visit ProgramMatek to learn more about our range of creative tools and resources. And for additional advice on selecting the best reverb plugin, don’t miss our article on “Choosing the Best Reverb Plugin.”