Is their a vocal effect box that I can get for live performances that can be used to sustain a note ? Or do I need to record in a loop before hand and play it as a loop by hitting a switch. thanks in advance.

4 Answers 4


The voice, when naturally sustaining a note, will do so with probably a slight vibrato effect and maybe some modulation. So, if you don't get the overall time frame correct it will sound unnatural - it's a tricky little problem that's easily fixed in a pre-recorded vocal i.e. when lengthening notes but doing it on a live vocal could end up a bit of a mess.

You need to find the right point to trigger the "looper" and loop for just the correct length of time so that the end of the loop naturally can flow into the beginning of the loop. My answer isn't really that helpful to you but I hope someone finds something that can work for you.

Interesting problem.

  • if you cut the loop on the snare [& the looped vocal is in itself accurate enough], no-one will notice. I've even done that on recordings, where no amount of crossfade/stretching will make it sound more natural. Throwing it at some judiciously-placed echo/verb will soften the transition too.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 27, 2015 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Tetsujin yeah it's a well known fact that a natural transient point in a recording is enough to con the ear that everything is fine even tough the vocal is badly spliced. mp3 encoders make use of this very fact. The trouble is, the question refers to a live gig I think so timing is a really big deal still.
    – Andy aka
    Oct 27, 2015 at 21:02

A good looper will do the the trick.

Ableton - Live is a really good software for live performances, you should definetly take a look at it. It also includes his own looper.

if Ableton's looper does not satisfy your needs you could also use plugins like Native Instrument - Kontakt or try Cycling '74 - Max/MSP.

To make your loop as smooth and natural as possible different options exists :

  • send voice to an effect return with reverb
  • use a live de-clicker (high cpu usage)
  • sample a long and stable part of the voice in order to avoid an explicit "looping sensation"
  • Try add some soft vibrato/effects that fits the style of your release



I use a TC Helicon voice live play pedal and use the hit button control. I set the vocal effect with a plate reverb and have a quarter note delay set on the the Hit Button control. Going into the note I hit the pedal and bring in the delay when I get to the end of the note I hit out of the delay and continue. It is seamless and in real time. ( use it on songs like Mornin' by Al Jarreau, etc. )


There are some guitar pedals which may work for this purpose, for example the Electro-Harmonix Freeze Sound Retainer or Boss FB-2, however you need to rework the signal a little for this to work technically (see this question).

You may also be able to achieve a similar result with a long reverb. Check out Strymons BigSky reverb/sustain pedal.

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