The Best Simple and Free Pitch Shifter Plugin: Transpose Review

By Pete Anthony 
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A random fact about myself: I have perfect pitch, which basically means I can hear a note and identify it without aid – if someone plays a B-flat on a piano I can tell it’s a B-flat without looking at the keys.

I’m not just bragging about having this ability for no reason – I mention it because one interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed is that I can get tired of listening to a song in a given key. I subsequently realized that I could revitalize a song that I liked by listening to it in a different key, or in other words transposing it up or down. I also realized that I think many songs actually sound better in a different key than they’re produced in, or that the produced key sometimes sounds a tad sharp or flat – to me at least – and that a song would sound noticeably better if I could adjust the pitch slightly.

Besides all that, there are many good reasons why anyone might want to be able to adjust the pitch of a song. Maybe you’re doing karaoke and it’s easier to sing a song in a lower key for example.

Pitch adjustment is not at all a common feature – it can’t be done with any of the major music apps that I know of at least (and I’ve tried just about all of them), nor is it something that you’ll typically find on a receiver or source component. Rather, for a long time it was a function reserved for an expensive mixing board or complicated audio software.

a mixing board that can change pitch

most people won’t ever have one of these (image credit: Rebecca Wilson)

However, that has changed with the advent of various internet technologies, notably browser plugins to be specific. There are various free pitch switching plugins that I’ve come across over the years but most of them have been pretty bad, resulting in an adjusted sound quality that was pretty terrible and unlistenable. That was until I came across:

transpose plugin on the chrome extension store

The aptly named Transpose plugin is a simple and easy to use extension available on Google Chrome that can not only change the pitch of a song but also change the tempo and clip and loop a segment of a song.

transpose plugin interface to change pitch and tempo of a song

super simple and easy to use

The plugin works on many music playing apps that are accessible on Chrome including not just YouTube but YouTube Music as well, my current favorite music app (reviewed here), the premium version of which includes higher quality audio files.

Best of all? Transpose is free! Just download it like any other Chrome extension and you’re good to go. The audio quality for pitch/tempo adjusted songs is very solid and listenable, far better than any other similar product that I’ve found and tried so far. You can pay a trivial $4 fee to upgrade to the “pro” version, which I’ve done, that features increased audio quality that I’d say is noticeable.

Now is this plugin on par with professional grade mixing boards or software? No, obviously not. Some songs on YouTube sound a little off when adjusted with Transpose, especially as the adjustments get larger and larger. But, for a simple, easy, and free tool – it’s really great, I’ve used it a ton, and I highly recommend trying it.