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Vocal processing for live applications?

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  • Vocal processing for live applications?

    Mostly I write and perform in a full band, but at times I do a solo act. I have a decent voice, but always looking for a little something extra.

    recently I have been looking at some vocal processors from TC Helicon, Roland, and EH among others.

    Anybody have experience with any of these?

    Have you used features like harmonizer or pitch correction?

    Are the stomp boxes decent, or should I be looking at rack units?

    Its awfully hard to tell what it will sound like live from a couple minutes demo in a store.

    Any input is greatly appreciated!!

  • #2
    I am a long time TC Helicon user, first the GTX and currently the voicelive play acoustic. I changed because I wanted the bodyres feature for my guitar.
    cant imagine performing without it now and indeed have built my act around it.

    I leave the pitch correction at its default, which is not really noticeable but definitely helps at the end of the night when my voice is getting tired. I use one preset as my standard for about 90% of my songs, it has some reverb and a hint of doubling plus a high harmony on the hit button. For the rest I use my fifties/sixties sound i.e. A bit of slapback and lower and higher harmonies on the hit. i use this for Elvis, Beachboys, Dion type songs.

    I occasionally bring up a couple of "novelty" presets for if I want to grab the crowds attention about half way through my set, one has the pitch correction on max, think TPain, which I use on my acoustic version of Chers Believe and I also have one set with the main vocal an octave down, think Barry White, which I use for King of the swingers from the jungle book which always prompts a laugh.
    When I leave my mic for a break, I leave the setting on an octave high which makes any drunk who jump up to "have a go" looking daft and they soon climb down.

    All in in all the settings can be as much or as little as you want but at the levels I use them, to my ear they certainly don't sound fake.
    I also use the looper feature so all in all a bargain for me and means I have guitar/vocal effects plus looper in one pedal so not much of a footprint.
    Hope this helps Steve
    Last edited by steve mac; 06-16-2018, 10:41 AM.
    Cheers Steve


    • #3
      Cheers Steve


      • #4
        Absolutely helpful, thank you Steve!

        I was definitely looking at the voicelive play acoustic - and also the voicelive 2 and 3. The 3 goes for around 800, it difficult to see how the extra would be worth it, especially since my acoustic act is pretty simple.

        How is the harmony function? fairly realistic?


        • #5
          I use a tc helicon fx unit and put some delay and spring reverb on the mics. That's it.

          I don't use pitch correction because sometimes I sing off pitch on purpose. If Otis Redding had auto-tune on "I've Been Loving You Too Long" when he sang "You walked out" and hit that long "Out" note a hair flat, it added the emotion of pain to the performance. It wouldn't be the same if it were pitch corrected.

          I toy with pitch a lot as a vocal and sax effect. Sometimes hitting notes flat and slowly bringing them up to pitch, sometimes hitting high notes a hair sharp so they mimic a stretch-tuned piano (the best I can) or provide just intonation rather than equal temperament with another instrument in the mix.

          To sing on pitch I practice a lot. No it's not perfect even when I try to be, but it's usually damn close.

          Part of that is from playing sax. The sax is not in tune with itself. You have to use your ears and adjust the pressure of your lower lip on a note-by-note basis if you want to play in tune. And in school, I played 'classical' where it is imperative to always be in tune. Then once you learn to play in tune, you can use an occasional slightly out of tune note for emotional effect.

          But for me, that's the joy of making music. And of course, my way isn't the only way. There is more than one right way to make music.

          Bob "Notes" Norton
          Owner, Norton Music
          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
          The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<


          • #6
            I use a hybrid guitar ( PRS Hollowbody ) with the humbuckers lead going into one processor ( formally Zoom 3 now an Atomic Firebox ) and the piezo into the TC Helicon play acoustic. Therefore it made no sense to me to get the voice live 3, although I would like to play with one, I couldn't justify it either in terms of price nor size.
            I have found the playacoustic perfect for my needs. I have tried a few other harmony generators and to my ears the playacoustic is easily the most natural.
            I tend to have the harmonies probably a bit more intense than most purists would but then I am playing to drunken holidaymakers and subtle is not a word they know. I perform a few Beatle songs and often start with Nowhere Man and hit the first couple of lines with a big harmony which certainly gets everyone's attention. Then I finish my set with All you need is love and I loop a heavily harmonised "love love love" which I sing the verses over. Written down sounds terrible but works really well.
            So yes I am a big fan of the playacoustic.
            All the best
            Last edited by steve mac; 06-16-2018, 02:53 PM.
            Cheers Steve


            • #7
              excellent! thank you for the replies!


              • #8
                I've thought about harmony FX, since I'm in a duo, it would help background vocals. But I'm schlepping too much already

                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<


                • #9
                  live vocal procrssing is going to be rack mount almost exclusively
                  on vocals think lexiconpcm seriesiriespcm96 for reverb as for processing preonus studio channel or similar vocal channel strip joemeek or others
                  lexicon vocal reverb is widely used and well respected
                  pedals simplydo not have eneough processing power to work it is a rack mount world for high quality vocal processing
                  as faras computer softwareplugins remember revverb cosumes vast amounts of cpu processing power rackmount reverb is the most practical and foolproof for live use!!


                  • steve mac
                    steve mac commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Have to respectfully disagree with you, perhaps a few years ago you would be correct, but the world has turned since then. Lots of major acts are using foot pedals live for vocal processing these days. If it's good enough for their huge audiences it's fine for my drunken hundred or so.