Pitch Shifter: Get to Know and Top 6 Picks VSTs

Pitch shifters are a distinctive audio effect type utilized for audio manipulation in your DAW. They have the ability to address tuning problems or completely metamorphose a sound into something fresh. But what precisely is pitch shifting? What are its applications, and which pitch shifter plugins are the finest to acquire? This article will provide an in-depth exploration of pitch shifter plugins, covering all the essential information you need to know. Let’s begin.

What is exactly a Pitch Shifter?

What is a pitch shifter? A pitch shifter is a hardware device, DAW plugin, or standalone program that modifies the pitch of an incoming signal while preserving its duration. It can raise or lower the pitch of the source material or generate multiple voices. Pitch shifters are distinct from varispeed effects, which alter the playback rate of audio to achieve pitch changes. Through intricate digital signal processing techniques, they maintain the fundamental timbre of the original material while altering its perceived pitch. Pitch shifters gained popularity through pioneering devices like the Eventide Harmonizer and Digitech Whammy. While they serve practical purposes, they can also be employed as a creative stylistic effect.

What can you use it for?

Where can we use pitch shifting? Pitch shift effects find application in both problem-solving and sound enhancement.

Let’s explore the different scenarios where pitch shifters come into play:

  1. Correcting tuning issues: Not all sound sources arrive perfectly in tune. Whether it’s samples or instruments, tuning problems can occur in recorded tracks. Thankfully, transparent pitch shifting plugins offer a solution by allowing you to adjust the pitch by semitones or cents.
  2. Dive bomb effects: The Digitech Whammy, a popular pitch shifter effect for guitars, earned its name from the slang term for an electric guitar’s vibrato arm. It was capable of producing intense, glitched-out squeals and dive bombs. You can achieve similar effects using a hardware pitch shifter with expression control or by utilizing automation in your DAW.
  3. Alien/robot vocals: Certain pitch shifters are popular for their unique lo-fi effects. Early digital technology had imperfections that producers now appreciate. Classic vocal transformer devices, for instance, had a distinct pitch shift sound along with formant shifting and other effects. These effects can transform vocal passages into something extraordinary, adding robot-like effects or alien textures.

In summary, pitch shifters have versatile applications, ranging from fixing tuning issues to creating intriguing sonic textures.

The 6 Best Pitch Shifting Plugins

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, let’s dive into our top picks for pitch shifter plugins that cater to various mixing scenarios.

#1: Zynaptiq PitchMap

Zynaptiq takes pitch shifting to the next level with their advanced technology. Unlike other plugins, PitchMap enables you to shift individual elements within a complex texture. It’s perfect for altering the pitch of a vocal within a finished mix, although it comes with a higher price tag.

#2: Kilohearts Pitch Shifter

Pitch Shifter

Sometimes, simplicity is key. Kilohearts Pitch Shifter may not have a flashy interface, but its powerful pitch correction algorithm and excellent sound quality make it highly effective.

#3: Soundtoys Little Alterboy

Pitch Shifter

For those seeking the eerie pitch effects of vintage hardware, Soundtoys Little Alterboy is worth considering. Designed for vocals, it offers controls for pitch, formant, and drive, making it a versatile tool for character vocal effects, including robot-like and alien pitch shifting.

#4: Waves Soundshifter

Pitch Shifter

If you’re on a budget and need a reliable pitch shifter for general purposes, Waves Soundshifter is a solid choice. This no-frills plugin delivers quick and flexible pitch shifting and basic harmonization. Keep an eye out for Waves plugins during sales and bundle offers to snag Soundshifter at a discounted price.

#5: Eventide H3000 Harmonizer Factory

Pitch Shifter

Originally released in 1974, the H910 digital effects unit revolutionized recording studios. The subsequent H3000 model, introduced in 1986, became legendary for its pitch effects, including the highly sought-after MicroPitch. Eventide has recreated the H3000 in plugin form, preserving its authentic sound and classic status.

#6: Your DAW’s built-in pitch shifter

Many commercial DAWs offer built-in pitch and time editing features. Your DAW may have purpose-built plugins or options for manipulating pitch. For example, Avid’s Pro Tools includes the standard Pitch II plugin, while Logic Pro provides direct access to pitch shifting operations through the sample editor window.


Pitch shifters have been a staple in the world of digital effects for a long time. Even today, they remain a crucial effect that every producer should have in their collection of plugins. If you’ve followed along with this article, you now have a solid foundation for incorporating pitch shifters into your workflow.

Share this post