Useful Vocal Effects you can make in Snap Heap

In the first of our blog guides to creating useful Snap Heap patches for specific uses we’re going to look at vocal effects.

Snap Heap is a modular Snapin Host for creating serial and parallel effects by combining your Snapin Effects with our proprietary modulation system. You can use it to build pretty much any kind of effect you can imagine… in the first of our blog guides to creating useful Snap Heap patches for specific uses we’re going to look at vocal effects. Effects Throws

Effects throws

A “Throw” in music production refers to when you only apply an effect to a signal at just specific points in time during a song, rather than all the way through. They are most commonly used for delays and the end of phrases but is also very nice when used for reverbs and other effects.

Throws are usually achieved by automating the original track’s send to an aux track in your mixer. Snap Heap makes effects throws easy by combining the power of automation and parallel processing.

Simply set up a parallel FX lane in Snap heap so that one lane is clean and the next has a Delay Snapin on it, making sure the Delay mix is at 100%. Then, drop a Gain Snapin before the Delay Snapin, switch it to percent mode and drag it down to zero. Connect a Macro to the Gain that can dial it up to 100% and that’s your throw controller.

At 0% there will be nothing going into the delay and you will only hear the clean signal, use automation to dial it up to 100% for the words or phrases you want to apply the delay to.

And of course, because this is Snap Heap and it’s part of the Kilohearts Ecosystem you can add other effects to warp and colour your delay to make it totally unique and interesting. Or try a Reverb Snapin instead for the occasional long tail!

Parallel Saturation

A popular way to add character to a vocal and help it cut through the mix is to use distortion or saturation. Doing this in parallel means you can preserve the tone and integrity of the source track and augment it with the affected one. Once again, Snap Heap can step in to make parallel saturation super simple.

As above, switch a pair of Snap Heap lanes to run in parallel, keeping one for the clean signal. Then drop a Distortion Snapin on the other at 100%, choose your preferred distortion mode (Saturate works well with vocals) and dial in to taste. Use the effects lane’s Gain control to set the volume of the distorted signal.

For even more control, use Filter Snapins before and after the Distortion Snapin to sculpt the tone to perfection.


Vocal recordings are generally in mono as they’re usually recorded with a single microphone (unless you're David Bowie). But in the real world, we hear everything in stereo (unless you’re Vincent Van Gogh). So to make a vocal part more pleasing to the ear(s) you can use some kind of widening technique.

Luckily for Snap Heap owners, you have loads of width-boosting options that you can mix and match together.

A quick browse through the free Kilohearts Essentials collection will reveal a number of effects that include some kind of spread control. Chorus, Comb Filter, Distortion, Ensemble, Flanger, Phase Distortion, Phaser, and Ring Mod, all allow you to widen your signal in different ways and with varying degrees of subtlety and character.

Some work best directly on the vocal, while others are best used in parallel or some combination of both. Because we’re using Snap Heap you can mix and match to your heart’s desire to create your own unique style of stereo loveliness.

Pitch Shifters

One sure way to thicken up a vocal line is to add harmonies. If you don’t have the option to record them yourself you can always add them using a pitch-shifting effect. Luckily, you have our free Pitch Shifter Snapin available to throw into a Snap Heap patch!

To ensure your harmonies remain in key, the safest option is to add an octave above or below (or both) to the source. This is as simple as adding two Snapins onto separate parallel effect lanes and setting the offset to an octave either way, then blending in to taste. It is possible to use pitch tracking to create a smarter harmonizer, but we’ll save that for another tutorial.

Super-Mega-Combo FX

One of the special powers of Snap Heap is that it can itself be loaded as a Snapin within any other Snapin Host… this means that you can save your customized delay throws, reverb throws, parallel saturation, and pitch shifting patches as presets and then combine them to create incredible combo patches in a new instance of Snap Heap.

Like in the video at the top of this post where we’ve got all of the above and a little bit of automation to take this simple vocal chorus line to the next level.

You can grab examples of the Snap Heap presets described here. Feel free to take them and make them your own. We hope you’ve found some inspiration in this blog post… What will you create?

Kilohearts Press Team Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Related products

Kilohearts Essentials

Snap Heap