[Harp-L] TC-Helicon Voicelive Play

I've been singing more or less badly for close to 50 years, and I decided after hearing some of Brendan Powers's recent work with a TC-Helicon vocal processor that it was time to recruit a device that might help tilt me further towards the less-badly side.  After some research, I decided to buy a TC-Helicon Voicelive Play, a footpedal processor with a nice range of capabilities, lots of presets representing specific vocal treatments, and a price under $250.  I decided against the Mic Mechanic by TC-Helicon, a less-expensive device that Randy Singer recently recommended, because it can't do all the tricks that the Voicelive Play can do (such as add harmonies).  I decided against various Digitech devices because they all seemed to be aimed at guitarists.  (The Voicelive Play can harmonize your voice based on ambient sounds, e.g. if your band is playing on an A minor chord, it can hear that and harmonize accordingly; the Digitechs want you to strum a chord into them.)  

I've been using this device in rehearsal for a few weeks.  I was happy with it almost from the first minute, and I'm getting happier as I go along.  The thing really does make my voice sound louder, clearer, and more consistent on every song, regardless of what other processing is going on.  Out of the box, it offers over 200 distinct vocal treatments, the names of which pretty clearly describe what sound you can expect to hear (e.g. "Eagle Fastlane", "Born to Springsteen"), assuming you're familiar with the songs referenced. Two dedicated footswitches make it easy to navigate between presets.  

If you plug the device into your computer and register it online, you can get another 500 presets to play around with.  Granted that the best sounds you get out of any device are the ones you tune up yourself; that's still a lot of useful stuff to work with.  I've been going through my vocal repertoire and matching presets as I go along, and I'm finding plenty of stuff that works. 

There are lots of features on this device that I haven't tried yet, including pitch correction and distortion.  The device includes a 60-second (one layer with no undo) looper (30 seconds with multiple layers and undo capability), and I doubt I'll do anything with it, given that my Digitech JamMan Stereo is a much more capable looper.  I'll try the other features sooner or later; the freakier vocal sounds haven't been high on my priority list up to now.  But then I couldn't make freaky digital vocal sounds until now...

I doubt that I'll get around to plugging the harmonica into this thing for awhile, and I strongly doubt that it will ever be my main harp processor. If I was playing mostly acoustic harmonica into a PA, maybe it would.  As a performance-oriented vocal processor, the thing certainly earns its keep. 

The two most popular outlets for musical expression right now seem to be singing and playing guitar, in that order, and there are plenty of purpose-built processors out there for each.  It's instructive to see how high the bar is set for those instruments--how well and easily for the player they do what they do, which is a lot. 

Regards, Richard Hunter 



author, "Jazz Harp" 
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