Hands-On Review:A super hot new vocal processor that puts the works in one box!




To give the VoicePrism a trial run, I joined up with my pal Steve. Steve has a deluxe sound system, a computer full of sequences, and a keyboard he uses for triggering harmonies. He plays gigs every weekend and uses a harmonizer to the max. If Steve approved, it would be a big endorsement. The result of our evening was a big two thumbs up. Steve has placed his order. And here are the main reasons why Steve was willing to shell out the bucks:

 

More Than a Harmony Processor


Really, the VoicePrism is a full vocal channel that includes a sophisticated harmony module. It offers you four voice harmonies with individually adjustable parameters for each voice, along with separately adjustable thickening and doubling parameters for the lead voice. It offers you a wide choice of harmony modes and programming capability, with a high quality mic preamp, compression, gating, and full EQ; plus two blocks of super high quality chorus, reverbs (five kinds), delays (six kinds), and flanging. And they’re all highly adjustable via editing menus. The VoicePrism can be operated from the front panel or with a foot switch. Harmonies can be triggered from a keyboard or a MIDI sequencer. It also has a digital output for recording purposes.

 

Killer Sound Quality


As with any sound processing tool, the most important thing is the quality of its sound. The VoicePrism brings harmonizing into the 24-bit 44.1kHz world, and the difference between it and 16-bit predecessors is immediately apparent. It also has a very high-quality mic pre-amp, which, coupled with the excellence of the T.C. reverbs, delays, and chorus, make the VoicePrism shine. The first thing we did after plugging it in was hit the preview button. We were treated to a series of four sample presentations, first with the VoicePrism bypassed, and then with it turned on. Channeled through the VoicePrism, lead voices became fatter and more resonant. Single voices blossomed into big, rich harmonies.

 

A Great Display

 

Anytime you select a preset, the diplay’s first window gives you a full rundown on what’s happening. It shows you how the signal flows, key and scale (when relevant), what effects are in use, and the harmony layout. It even displays little pictures of the backup vocalists indicating whether they are male, female, an androgynous blend, or even alien. These face icons may strike some users as a little cute, but they also provide useful, instant information.

 

 

 

Loads of Presets

 

It took us an hour or so just to click through the presets, giving each one a try. Some are appropriate for different styles of music, some for different harmony modes, and others just apply certain effects. There are presets with different kinds of voices: male, female, alien. It was fun to hear myself backed up by every kind of backup group: sweet female choirs, Barry White baritones, even a gang of aliens out of Star Wars. I especially liked one setting that made me sound a little like Ladysmith Black Mambazo.In another I was singing along with the BeeGees. The special effects settings, such as Scary Voices or Alien Choir, are really well done and super tweakable.

 

 

The Human Factor

 

The rap against most harmony processors is that they are too mechanical and uniform to sound real after you’ve been listening for awhile. The VoicePrism gives you all kinds of ways to “humanize” its harmonies and effects, especially as you can separately change each part or voice. Detune slightly, apply more or less vibrato, alter gender along the gender spectrum, change levels, pan, tweak the timing of attack, adjust trail offs. You can vary these parameters a little for each harmony voice, and for all of them, except for vibrato, you can choose a “set” or “random” setting. With random chosen, each of the selected parameters will vary a little just like live singers do. It’s subtle but adds a kind of realism most harmony processors just don’t offer.

 

 

User Friendliness

 

We very quickly discovered the VoicePrism to be a deep yet user-friendly machine. Clearly you could spend hours delving deeper into its possibilities, but getting started is easy. The manual is clearly written. The display is large and graphically informative. It has a help button you can push when stuck, and explanations pop onto the screen. It even gives you an e-mail address where you can get answers to your questions. Most importantly, its overall structure is logical and its operation is easy to understand.

 

 

Once you get it figured it out, the controls are very quick, easy, and even helpful. Use the browser buttons to select harmony type and effects and then isolate the presets available to each particular button. That way, only the selected presets show up on the screen as you turn the data wheel. A great simplifying feature! Underneath the display window are four soft knobs that you can tweak to change the voices or effects showing on the screen above each knob. Just push the knob to get a submenu of parameters to select from, or turn the knob one way or the other to zip through a series of instant changes. All the changes are instantly applied in realtime so you hear the results as you edit.

Affordable Price
I could go on about many more nifty details and features of the VoicePrism, but these are the main things that distinguish it as a truly state-of-the-art processor. One more feature is its price. For what it offers, it is surprisingly affordable and makes a great addition to performance systems or recording setups. Take Steve’s and my word for it. Whether you use the VoicePrism live or in the studio, it will be the star performer in your vocal setup.

 

Musician’s Friend has the VoicePrism available for a great price, and Platinum Card financing is available for those who qualify. Give us a call or just click below and order today.

 

Features:

 

Pre-Effects


Include compression and dual parametric equalizers. Can be assigned to the lead channel, the harmony channel, or both.

 

 

The Lead Channel


Has a thickening algorithm to create double tracking effects. VoicePrism Upgrade Card (planned for 2001) will introduce additional Human Voice Modeling (HVM™ ) and other effects.

 

 

The Harmony Channel


Includes four independent, formant-corrected pitch shifters to create very natural harmonies. Humanizing parameters can be adjusted independently including: gender, vibrato, timing, randomizing, and scooping.

 

 

Post0-Effects


Two post effects blocks can be applied to lead and harmony voices: chorus, flange, delay, and reverb.

 

 

The AUX In


The aux in allows integration of additional material into the final effects blocks and mixing with the vocals.

 

 

Outputs


VoicePrism comes standard with stereo 1/4” unbalanced/TRS balanced outputs plus S/PDIF stereo digital out. VoicePrism Upgrade Card (planned for 2001) also adds AES/EBU and S/PDIF I/O.