Synchro Arts VocAlign Ultra by tomazsa
VocAlign Ultra is a plugin developed - as its name suggests - for time aligning between multiple vocal tracks in an audio project, but that’s not all it offers, having inherited its SynchroArts famous brother algorithm - the Revoice Pro - VocAlign Ultra not only aligns time but it’s capable of align and correct pitch shiftings as well, offering as the manufacturer tells us: “ the highest quality results with the least amount of work”.
During the last month I had the opportunity to use VocAlign Ultra several times in different situations. For aligning and correcting time between backing vocal tracks, overdubs and extending its functionality for melodic and harmonic instruments mixed ITB. Also took it for a spin in a friend’s professional studio where it could be tested overdubbing voices in a live video project of a local music group.
At home using Reaper as DAW I had the plugin installed up and running fast and easy. If your DAW supports ARA it should be inserted in each track you choose to align, electing one of them as GUIDE. Normally as source I’d choose the mix lead voice for overdubs or the lowest one for harmonic backing vocals alignment, it's very important to consolidate your tracks first in a way all of them starts and ends at the same time so the plugin can analyze them and work properly, once you follow popping up instructions about its correct usage a waveform in the OUTPUT display can be seen showing your tracks alignment altogether and you can start tweaking. If your DAW does not support ARA you may have to configure a side-chain feed from your GUIDE track for real-time processing before you start using VocAlign, which will require higher CPU usage.
Interface and Controls
A resizable and nice dividedly GUI with colour-coded waveforms offers you good visibility and straightfoward operation. A good number of presets with self explanatory names lets you choose between Dialogue, Instrument, Rap and Vocal main menus, almost dismissing any user configuration. You have a ‘Basic’ button at the right of the screen that shows timing and pitch parameter knobs going from LOOSE to TIGHT according to the user’s will as well as a Formant Shift knob at the bottom that goes from LOWER to HIGHER in a percentage scale. Once you click ‘Basic’ it turns to ‘Advanced’ and you can have access to more detailed parameters such as flexibility of the alignment rule (normal, more or less flexibility, more compression, maximum expansion, etc), you can also limit max timing shift in milliseconds or leave it in ‘No Limit’ mode, still on your right there is the ‘Match Pitch’ section that when in advanced mode you can change the target to the nearest octave or relative, a nice feature that may save you lots of pitch-correcting time when used together with the ‘Transpose’ knob that goes from LOWER to HIGHER. You can also set Pitch Ranges for your Guide and Dub tracks choosing between Normal, High and Low Pitch voices or instruments.
It is a real life and time saver during studio mixing sessions where we would use the live recorded voice as GUIDE and the Studio voice as DUB, producing live performance seamless lip sync in video and a very happy client. Also very good in different octave guitar solos without the need for octave pedals preserving the artist tone and perfectly synchronized. That being said, VocAlign Ultra still counts very much on the user's knowledge and experience despite being developed as a ‘not so complex’ time and pitch alignment plugin. Setting up your tracks can be tricky and it’s noticeable that the algorithm works better in shorter stems than longer ones, also in non-ARA supporting environments configuring might take longer as well as consuming a higher CPU performance.
- An easier way of aligning pitch and time in whole stems
- Straightforward operation with a very user friendly GUI
- Depending on your knowledge and system setting it up can be complicated
- 399 USD may be too much for a ‘simpler’ time and pitch software