LittleDevil – Harmonizer II
Harmonizer II isn’t just an update to my previous harmonizer attempt; it’s a significant improvement! This version introduces two modes for pitch shifting across three signal chains. The core concept remains the same: split the signal, pitch shift it, position it in the stereo field, and add some delay. Additionally, this version includes a reverb effect. Harmonizer II is a chromatic harmonizer device chain for Ableton Live, although I haven’t found a way to shift harmonies based on scales (hopefully, Ableton will develop such a feature in the future). For those interested in the science behind pitch and frequency, check out this resource: Pitch and Frequency.
So, how does it work?
There are two modes: “Grain” mode and “Shift” mode.
In grain mode, pitch shifting occurs using a grain delay plugin, and changes in pitch happen in terms of steps. This mode is handy for creating harmonies with specific intervals like the 5th. However, because it relies on grain synthesis, it can sound stuttery and robotic, making it a bit challenging to achieve natural-sounding harmonies.
Shift mode, on the other hand, offers smoother pitch shifting by utilizing a frequency shifter. Here, you’ll need to use your ears to fine-tune the harmonies, but the results are much smoother and believable.
NOTE: In Grain mode, some of the dry signal may still be audible regardless of pitch changes in that chain. This seems to be a characteristic of the grain delay, even at 100% wet. Shift mode does not allow the dry signal through unless the harmony value is set to 64 (dry). I’ve documented all macros, so be sure to check the text/info window when hovering over the dials.
Understanding the signal path:
The incoming signal is split into three chains, each undergoing the following processing:
- Pitch shifting (controlled by macros 1, 2, and 3).
- Delay (spreads the voices along the timeline).
- Format/gender adjustments (depends on the selected mode, grain mode changes frequency, shift mode changes EQ settings for male or female voices).
- Level settings (adjusts the volume for each voice).
- Pan (default configuration places the first chain in the center and the second and third in opposite sides of the stereo field, but you can experiment for different results).
You can further tweak parameters for each voice by expanding the device chain.
Other possibilities include:
- Frequency flux (applies randomness or pitch fluctuation, in shift mode the rate is controlled by the “Rate” macro).
- Feedback (grain mode, adjusts grain delay feedback).
- Flux rate (shift mode, sets the frequency of pitch modulation or “Flux”).
- Grains (grain mode, controls granulation amount for grain delay, allowing for sci-fi effects).
The voices are then merged and sent through a reverb plugin to create a sense of space. I’ve mapped two settings to the main macros: reverb (wet/dry) and delay, making it easy to swap between different patches or settings using the hot-swap button on the reverb.
That’s all there is to it! Enjoy experimenting with Harmonizer II. And hey, if you happen to modify it and add something cool, please do share it with us!