Little Alterboy Review
So you're interested in Soundtoy's Little Alterboy and need an honest review?
Well look no further, because this bad boy is well… little, but bold!
Let's face it, auto-tune is almost a necessity for any modern producer.
Be it for spicing up your vocals, creative hair-standing sound design, or achieving that hip-hop extreme auto-tune sound, it's used widely amongst professionals.
So how do you achieve the sound that the pros make look so effortless?
Well… Soundtoys are here to rescue you, with the super versatile Soundtoys Little Alterboy plugin.
And you can grab it for the steal of $99 right now! Close to a no-brainer eh?
Soundtoys has proved to take a very unique and creative approach to their plug-ins. None of their products feel like anything else around, and the Little Alterboy is no exception!
The Soundtoys bundle is something that we couldn't live without. The likes of Devil-Lok, Echo Boy and Crystallizer are a mainstay of our production workflow and they should be yours too!
It's an extremely simple, versatile plug-in, that offers a great deal of variety in what you can achieve. You can do anything from simply bringing more dynamics into your dull vocals, as well as achieving that classic hip-hop, hard tune effect.
And like with all our reviews, we like to include everybody.
This Little Alterboy review is aimed, to help those from beginners, to advanced ?.
What does The Soundtoys Little Alterboy Do?
“Little AlterBoy is a simple and intuitive Formant & pitch shifting plugin that provides users a wide range of voice manipulation tools. It can be used to simply add some extra dynamics to a dull vocal sample or to completely manipulate the sample into the much-abused hip-hop auto-tune effect.“
When you first open the Soundtoys Little Alterboy plug-in, it greets you with a very simple layout.
You have 4 knobs (pitch knob, formant, drive & mix) and less than a handful of buttons to play with.
So, you have the plug-in open, you've got your favourite vocal acapella loaded up, what can you do?
Well, I'm glad you asked!
Let's start with the basics.
Using the pitch knob, you can adjust the pitch of your vocal in semitone increments.
TIP: if you hold shift, you can adjust the pitch shifting incrementally, without any quantization to the nearest semitone
And, when comparing Alterboy vs Ableton's built-in pitch control algorithms, the Alterboy beats it by a mile & sounds completely natural when adjusting your vocals within an octave range.
(No more chipmunk vocals! Hooray!)
The pitch knob also uses a far superior algorithm and allows for far more options.
The Soundtoys Little Alterboy also does formant shifting.
Next to the pitch knob, you can find a dial that controls the formants of your vocal.
This bad boy allows you to control the sex of the vocal sample.
For instance: by lowering the formant control, you can turn a female voice into a male voice.
A great thing to try when layering vocals, is adjusting the formants of the individual vocal parts, to make your vocal mixes sound warmer and fuller.
Tube Saturation Driver
Let's skip over the pitch shifting section and focus on the drive controls (seen below).
The drive control allows you to add tube saturation to your audio.
The tone of the drive is very full and warm, and is modelled after the super classic tube saturation sounds that, the heavyweight: Soundtoys Decapitator, is famous for.
You can either add a little tube saturation to your mix, or a lot. Each will give you different results.
One will completely decimate your audio and the other will add a little bit of warmth.
The mix knob is pretty self-explanatory, it just adjusts the mix between dry and wet versions of the vocals.
In laymen's terms – the vocals with the effect on and the vocals without the effect on.
You can use the mix knob to precisely dial in as much of the effect as you want to the dry signal of your audio.
It's great to add harmonic effects to your vocals. We recommend using it on a bus, with the mix turned fully wet. This will give you the entire wet signal and entire dry signal to play around with to your liking & mix to perfection.
The mode section of the plugin is where it starts to get even more interesting!
The mode section of this plugin contains 3 different options to choose from that drastically change the sound of your sample.
Let's start with transpose…
Transposition mode is your default mode and it allows you to alter the pitch the entire vocal track either +24 or -24 semitones.
This is the mode that will get you those really high pitched or low pitched vocals (or give you the sex change we mentioned earlier).
This is your second mode. What quantize is, is essentially autotune.
This mode pushes your vocal melodies to the nearest semitones, creating a hard tune effect.
This is the bread and butter of hip-hop vocals and, with the little alterboy, you're never further than a click away to getting that perfect hip-hop sound.
Robot will make your vocals stay on one note, which you can adjust using your pitch knob, or alternatively play it with midi.
My oh my, when we played around with this, we could hear the incredible harmonies and it inspired us with floods of track ideas!
One of our favourite features of the Little Alterboy, by far, is the midi control.
Ever wanted to re-record the melody of your vocal after the fact? With Little Alterboy, you can write new melodies and control the plug-in using MIDI.
But rather than have us explain all that, check out the video below!
Imagine you have a vocal sample, you got from a random free vocal site that you googled. It's part of the way there, but you don't care about the melody, and it's a little off.
Not to worry, drop a Little Alterboy on it, with robot enabled, and you can essentially create completely new melodies and harmonic lines, by playing your midi keyboard!
TIP: Don't forget, automation is a great tool for making your plug-ins sound more alive
Try stacking a couple of your vocals, and playing with the pitch and formant controls on each vocal layer, to create lush and interesting vocal harmonies.
What Else Can Soundtoys Little Alterboy Do?
So you're probably reading up to this point thinking: ‘but what else can it do?'.
Being truthful, there are a lot of plugins out there, that do all of, if not more, of what the Little Alterboy does.
We couldn't possibly suggest the Little Alterboy, if it was just for vocal pitching.
What makes the Little Alterboy, so, so great, is the possibilities it offers for stuff that isn't vocals.
We've put the little alterboy on everything in this review. From vocals, to keys, to pads, saxophones, you name it.
Essentially anything melodic can be bettered by Little Alterboy.
Here are some great examples of what you could try out on your own time:
- Put the Little Alterboy on a piano track, drop the pitch by an octave and adjust the formants all the way up or down. Turn the mix to 50% and enjoy a thick, layered piano sound.
- Drop the Little Alterboy on a send in your DAW of choice, adjust the settings to be quite offensive and heavy, and bring it up in parallel to tracks of your choice. This will add great dynamics and some warmth to your track, depending on how you set it up.
- Use the midi-control, to rewrite vocal lines in a vocoder-like fashion.
To run the Soundtoys Little Alterboy you need the following:
Mac OS X 10.10 or later; Windows 7 or later.
An internet connection to be able to activate your license.
And a DAW that supports it:
- Pro Tools (11 or above)
- Logic Pro
- Digital Performer
Little Alterboy Review
With simple, but powerful plug-ins like the Soundtoys Little Alterboy, experimentation is key. That being said, the way that evey producer uses the Little Alterboy will be inherently different.
The greatest plug-ins are just like the Little Alterboy, simple and easy to use, while still providing heaps of possibilities for creative use. Feeling restricted by a plug-in is one of the worst feelings as a producer, but with the Little Alterboy you're not!
And that's why we believe it's simply one of the best plugins from standard auto-tune editing all the way to creative sound design and audio manipulation.
This thing is a little beast at what it does and it's not too hefty on the price tag!
That about brings this thing to a wrap. We hope you enjoyed the review and it helped you in your production journey.
If you're looking for more information on plugins/reviews & the best audio plugin deals on the net, be sure to flick through our other pages here.
That's it from us! See you in the next one.
Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he's done a tonne of cool stuff! He's played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry.
Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that's intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.