A vocal harmonizer is very versatile equipment in the music industry today. A lot of people were skeptical about its use, but today it has gotten so much popularity that it is now one of the major constituents of most studios. Vocal harmonizers evolved over the years from hardware to software. The vocal harmonizer system is connected directly to the audio input or source, and its effects are now transmitted to the mixer or directly to the computer for output.
This hardware form of vocal harmonizers has been the dominant form of harmonization and vocal effects for quite a while. Some are even used with a pedal, giving the singer the ability to adjust the effects at will.
Advanced technology, and software for harmonization were produced. This software form has all the capabilities of the average hardware vocal harmonizer. However, it might struggle to compete with high-end harmonizers. Just as there are software effects for lead guitar, they cannot replace the hardware effects.
Before making a purchase, you must understand the types of harmonizers and their strong points. It is safe to say that software harmonizers are best used in studio productions and hardware harmonizers (foot pedal) in live performances. Software harmonizers used in live performances restricts the creativity of the performer and limits the use of effects to the sound engineer.
However, a hardware harmonizer (foot pedal) allows the performer to manipulate the effect at will. In studio productions, the use of effects depends on both the singer and the producer. The singer might want the effect, but it is the producer’s job to implement the effect and do so perfectly. So all the singer has to worry about is singing the song well, and the producer would do the addition of effects.
Knowing the two types of harmonizers and their strong points would only allow you to make the right purchase because buying either of the two can be a significant investment or a total waste of money.
Using it for studio production
If you own a studio, and you want to join the vast population of harmonizer-using producers, you should consider getting both the software and hardware vocal harmonizers. Why? Because you absolutely would need versatility in your music production. Your studio must be standard enough to leave no room for errors. The singer must be able to add effects where needed and when needed. If the singer does not know how to use a harmonizer, you would then implement the software form while the song is sung. However, to save cost, a software harmonizer would do just fine for a start. This would serve well for your production purposes, as it can add live effects to the song as it is sung and also add the effects after the song is sung. It is a great substitute for the hardware harmonizer (even though it can replace it) and a modern tool in music production.
To use a software vocal harmonizer, you would have to buy a copy of the software and register your name on it. Some brands sell theirs at a fixed price for a single purchase, while some allow you to purchase theirs as you pay a set amount on an interval basis – usually monthly or yearly. Consider which of them works for you and consider which payment method would suit you. Bear in mind that the ones with the fixed price are often costly.
It’s application in live performances
There is nothing sweeter than using vocal effects to twist your songs on a grand stage creatively. Most singers do this, and one can say nothing but give positive remarks. So you are a sound engineer, and you set up instruments for concerts and other musical programs, it is no doubt that you would love to add a vocal harmonizer to your instruments.
However, you should ask yourself about the type you would prefer – software or hardware. Hardware vocal harmonizers are usually the bomb for live performances. They give the performer the chance to make the effects at will. By using a foot switch (otherwise known as pedal), the singer can use the effects at will. However, there are cases where the singer might not be conversant with the use of harmonizers.
This is where the software form comes into play. The engineer can add effects for the singer at agreed points or just to add some life to the concert. The use of harmonizers in concerts would depend on the singers since they are the ones using the harmonizers and no one else. It is safe to say that the sound engineer can purchase both hardware and software variants of the vocal harmonizer.
This would leave no room for error and add professionalism to your set up. But you would have to be cost conscious and not add equipment that would only bring you loss as it is not being used.