Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys is a “monophonic voice manipulator” for vocal pitch/formant shifting, hard-tune effects, and more. Like the rest of the Soundtoys plugin library, it offers a distinct and intuitive layout that’s as powerful as it is easy to navigate. If you’re looking to add some ever-popular tuning effects to your collection, Little AlterBoy may be just the plugin for you.
What Does the Soundtoys Little AlterBoy Plugin Do?
Little AlterBoy is an easy-to-use pitch and vocal formant shifter. The results can be quite drastic depending on the settings, and the plugin allows for a wide variety of alterations using just a few simple parameters. At the most basic level, you can pitch a voice up or down. By adjusting the formant, you can make a vocalist sound like their opposite gender.
It goes a bit further than that, with the ability to create quantized effects a la Auto-Tune, vocoder-style robotic effects, or your run-of-the-mill pitch transposition effects. Moving along, a great inclusion is a Drive control which lets you add saturation to the signal; it’s based on Soundtoys’s incredibly popular Decapitator. Finally, there’s a Mix control to dial in the perfect blend of wet and dry.
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Little AlterBoy Review
We love AlterBoy for how simple, yet powerful, it is. Opening up an instance gives you four knobs and three buttons. That’s it. The knobs are Pitch, Formant, Drive, and Mix. The buttons are Transpose, Quantize, and Robot (which we revisit soon). The range of sounds and effects you can get out of AlterBoy is pretty inspiring for such a lightweight plugin.
Pitch & Formant Shifting
The pitch control gives you an octave of play in either direction. By default, it moves by the semitone, but if you hold Shift you can bypass it for fine-tuned adjustments.
The formant control is what allows you to make a female voice sound more like a male voice and vice versa. Depending on the effect you’re going for, it might take some experimentation to set both the pitch and formant in a way that sounds right. Ultimately that’s up to you!
Choose from 3 Modes
The three modes we mentioned earlier are Transpose, Quantize, and Robot. In Transpose mode, it works like a basic pitch and formant shifter. Quantize mode is comparable to real-time pitch correcting effects like Auto-Tune. What it does is very rapidly tune the incoming pitch to the nearest semitone, so you can rehash the “0 Retune Speed” Auto-Tune effect. With Robot mode engaged, any incoming signal gets tuned to one note. You can adjust which note that is with the Pitch wheel.
Versatile MIDI Control
The MIDI feature is really cool. What it allows you to do is essentially “play” the plugin. You can tap out a melody in Robot mode using a MIDI controller, and the plugin will tune and lock the signal to the melody you input.
Soundtoys is reputable stuff. The processing and algorithms are all top-notch, so there’s no concern at all about overall sound quality. With that said, Little AlterBoy is a specific type of effect with subjective interpretations of what sounds good or bad. If you’re looking for an excellent pitch shifter, AlterBoy it’s certainly near the top of the list.
Also, AlterBoy is awesome on other instruments, too — not just vocals. Toss it on any monophonic source and play around with the parameters. It doesn’t always have to be this really obvious pitch-shifting effect, because the Mix knob lets you be tasteful with the blend. You can use it to thicken up an anemic sounding instrument, or anything else you can imagine.
Is Soundtoys Little AlterBoy the Best All-Around Pitch Shifter VST?
Little AlterBoy is definitely one of the best pitch shifters. Its flexibility on a variety of instruments and sound sources is what helps it stand out. Strictly for vocals, there are better tuning, transposing, and pitch correcting plugins out there, but AlterBoy is an excellent creative effect worth trying on a multitude of signals.