Hands-On Review:Digitech Vocalist Live 2 and 4

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Vocal harmony for guitarists

By Michael Parminter


DigiTech Vocalist Live 2

DigiTech has come up with two hot new good ones, the Vocalist Live 2 and Vocalist Live 4 floor harmony processors. The smaller unit is a two-part harmony processor for use with electric or acoustic-electric guitar, and the more sophisticated Vocalist Live 4 delivers up to four-part harmony and is also used with guitar. Both feature breakthrough technology called musIQ that makes them smarter and easier to use than any previous harmony processors. No programming needed.


Beautiful harmonies for singers/guitarists


Until now, intelligent harmonizers have used scale, key, and melody to make harmony note choices. The problem is that music breaks rules, at least momentarily, in ways that fool these processors so you occasionally get notes that are wrong. They aren’t intelligent enough to deal with exceptions, because they don’t have enough information.


The Vocalist Live is a hybrid system that works with more information. It uses scale, key, and melody like other processors, but it also listens to the guitar part, taking chord changes into account. Having more information to work with and using the special note detection algorithms developed for DigiTech, it creates harmonies that are always on the money, free of the mistakes other processors make.


The beauty of its system, in addition to its error-free performance, is its plug-and-play simplicity. No telling it what key you’re in or scale you’re using, no measure by measure programming. All you do is select the kind of harmony you want and then simply play and sing. Vocalist Live creates perfect harmony parts automatically.


Vocalist Live 2

This unit is designed for use by a singer/guitarist in performance and also can serve as a recording tool. It is both simple and sophisticated—simple to operate and sophisticated in its note detection, chord recognition, and harmony generation algorithms. Once you have levels set, you simply sing and play, and trigger harmonies and/or effects with two footswitches on the unit. As long as your guitar is in tune (there’s an onboard tuner for that) and you sing on pitch, the Vocalist Live 2 will produce flawless harmonies on command. You can use alternate tunings, as long as A is at 440 and you use a chromatic 12-tone scale.

The harmony choices allow you to place parts above or below the lead vocal, and you can choose harmonies based on a third interval or a fifth. There are also two unisons you can use to fatten up a single vocal line, and you can choose any two harmony presets at one time. For example, you can have two harmony voices, one a third or fifth below the lead vocal and one a third or fifth above.


In addition to creating harmonies, the Vocalist Live 2 can serve as a simple two-channel mixer with onboard effects. Plug in your mic and guitar, connect the Vocalist to a pair of powered speakers, and you have a workable, complete system. It even has switchable phantom power, so you can use your favorite condenser mic.


The effects are only applied to the vocals, and they consist of three kinds of reverb—studio, room, and hall—and three Enhance effects—resonance, clarity, and shine—that apply filters to bring out the lows, mids, or highs. There is also compression for smoothing out vocals in live performance, and handy when recording with the Vocalist Live.


Vocalist Live 4


This version of Vocalist Live is similar to Vocalist Live 2 in the way it works and its capabilities, there’s just more to it: more voices (up to four), more effects, more footswitches, factory and user presets (50 of each) and a more extensive built-in mixer. Otherwise it is plug-and-play simple, like the 2, and requires no programming. One difference between the 4 and the 2 models is that the 4 can be used with or without the musIQ technology.


The effects matrix is much more extensive, including guitar as well as vocal effects and adjustable parameters. The guitar effects include reverb and chorus, both of which have four adjustable parameters. The vocal enhancement matrix includes up to five changeable parameters for preamp, compressor/gate, EQ, lead effects, harmony, reverb, and echo delay. It also features pitch correction technology with four adjustable parameters for singers who don’t nail pitch. There are even gender and genre style selections to choose from. The four footswitches are for effects on/off, harmony on/off, and up and down switches for preset and effects selection.


Choosing 2 or 4


Basically the Vocalist Live 2 is designed for singing guitarists who don’t need more than three voices including their own, don’t like messing with gear, and want to get straight to the music. The Vocalist Live 4 is for guitarists who like to fine tune their sound, and who want more voices for complex harmonies. Either model will dazzle you with the richness of its sound and the accuracy of its musIQ technology.



Features & Specs

Vocalist Live 2:

  • Up to 2 harmony parts
  • Selectable voicing
  • Vocal enhancement effects matrix Compressor, Reverb, and EQ/Enhance
  • Separate Harmony and Effects on/off footswitches
  • Built-in tuner
  • Built-in mixer
  • XLR mic/line input with level adjustment
  • 48V switchable phantom power
  • Guitar input and thru with ground lift
  • Stereo line out and mono XLR line out
  • Road-rugged metal chassis
  • Power supply included

Vocalist Live 4:

  • Up to 4-part vocal harmony
  • Selectable voicing
  • Built-in mixer
  • Pitch correction with adjustable parameters
  • Guitar reverb and chorus with adjustable parameters
  • Vocal enhancement effects matrix with up to five parameters for each effect
  • 50 user presets; 50 factory presets
  • LED display
  • Built-in tuner
  • Major/Minor and Key Change Up/Down buttons
  • Harmony, Effects, and Preset Up/Down pedals
  • XLR mic/line input with level adjustment and phantom power
  • 1/4" guitar input and pass-through with ground lift
  • 1/4" line input and 1/8" AUX input for CD or MP3 Players
  • 1/8" headphone jack
  • Jack for optional footswitch
  • Balanced XLR stereo outputs
  • Power supply included