TC Helicon: VoiceLive Play review

By Shem Pennant,

As the old Zimbabwean proverb goes “if you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing”. However the good people at TC Helicon, makers of all sorts of vocal effects pedals and processors, know that sometimes the voice needs a little help. Even the best of voices you hear on the radio benefits from modern studio wizardry, but TC Helicon have decided to level the playing field a little by bringing some seriously powerful vocal FX to the home recording artist via the TC Helicon VoiceLive Play.

VoiceLive Play

The VoiceLive Play contains vocalist-specific pro-level effects and state-of-the-art harmony processing but it’s so much more.

The easiest way to get to grips with the VoiceLive Play is by fiddling with one of the 200+ presets it’s loaded with. Most are cheekily modelled after hit songs and singers so you can get a strong feel of exactly how much you can do with the unit. With the tiniest bit of tweaking I was doing an impressive approximation of Nelly’s Hot in Here, much to the chagrin of everyone around me. There is also an amazing automatic Barry White generator, which you can use to make reading a shopping list sexy (Three tins of beans … if you know what I mean) and a Gregorian chanting effect, which meant I got to try my dream of singing lorem ipsem.

For the less frivolous-minded there are all manner of alt rock and pop presets and more auto-tune style effects than you can shake a stick at, so you can easily throw together your own renditions of Love Lockdown or Intergalatic. And obviously you can save your favourite presets for easy access. Every preset can be taken ‘over the top’ (an amazing arm wresting movie if you haven’t seen it) by stepping on the HIT button and is a great way to make choruses stand out instantly.

The VoiceLive Play is highly connectable and you can record direct to your computer via USB or to an iPad (via the camera connection kit) into packages such as Pro Tools, GarageBand or Logic. VoiceLive Play accepts input from external audio sources such as iPods and computers via an AUX In connector or USB so you can make your own backing tracks or use the Vocal Cancel feature and just sing over classics. For the tone deaf, VoiceLive Play can listen to the recording and generate harmonies based on the chord progressions in the track.

The built-in microphone on each side panel, can be used to add room ambience or pick up room sound basing the harmony processing on chords on an acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment. Alternatively, they could even be used for recording to a computer via USB, although I’d recommend the TC-Helicom MP-75 microphone, which comes with an onboard Mic Control button that you can assign to various effects. You can also use the microphone to trigger the real-time looping on the VoiceLive Play if you want to get all Reggie Watts (and you should).

If you sing, or speak in the microphone and are even slightly serious about it, you should probably get this box.

The VoicePlay Live is available from www.absolutemusic.co.uk for £209.