Hands-On Review:The world's leading voice processor adds voice modeling


TC Helicon
By Ronnie Jenkins

 

T.C. Electronic dazzled the music world with the debut of its high-powered vocal processor, the VoicePrism. It was, and with the addition of the new VoiceCraft card, still is the hottest voice processor available. Actually, to call it simply a voice processor is too limiting. It's a complete vocal channel with a quality pre-amp, full effects, powerful formant processing, and a flexible harmonizer - all in one unit. At the time of its introduction T.C./Helicon promised significant upgrades to come. Now they've delivered big time with the VoicePrism Plus.

Fortunately for all of those who bought the original VoicePrism, this is an upgrade that's available to you. What the VoicePrismPlus has added to the mix is the VoiceCraft human-voice modeling card. It comes installed in the Plus, and also is available separately to plug right into the VoicePrism, providing all the new features for the original unit.


Many units in one
The VoicePrismPlus is a total vocal channel. It does the jobs normally performed by a number of separate audio devices, making it especially economical. It starts with a high-quality mic pre-amp, then provides compression, gating, and full EQ. The Plus is also packed with new algorithms providing higher quality effects: chorus, reverbs (five kinds), delays (six kinds), and flanging-all highly tweakable via editing menus.

It's also a sophisticated harmony module, offering four harmonies (each voice adjustable), with separate thickening and doubling for the lead vocal. It gives you a wide choice of harmony modes, as well as extensive formant processing of the harmony voices.

Killer sound quality
As with any sound processing tool, quality is the important thing. Here the VPP shines. Its 24-bit, 44.1 or 48kHz digital operation, and a high-quality mic preamp couples with the excellence of T.C. effects to make the VoicePrism fully studio-worthy in its audio quality. It performs the basic functions of a vocal channel excellently-making vocals fatter, richer, clearer, more resonant. And if you want to alter the voices, the VoicePrism's formant processing can transform them radically.

The human factor
The rap against most harmony processors is that they are too mechanical and uniform to sound real for very long. The VoicePrismPlus gives you all kinds of ways to humanize its harmonies and effects, especially since you can separately change each individual part or voice. Detune slightly, apply more or less vibrato, alter gender along a spectrum, change levels, pan, tweak the timing of attack and trail offs. You can tweak each individual voice and can also choose a random setting. With random chosen, each of the selected parameters will vary a little just as live singers do. The effect is subtle, but it adds a kind of realism that most vocal processors can't achieve, and it does it automatically for you, so you don't have to tweak at all.

Tweaker-friendly, gig-simple
Combined with studio-quality audio, the VoicePrism gives you the ease of operation needed for use in live performance. It has a terrific display that makes navigation through its many menus a breeze and tells you what's happening at a glance. It can be operated from the front panel or with a footswitch. Harmonies can be triggered with a keyboard or sequencer. It is also packed with presets that make using it easy.

It took me a good hour just to click through all the presets. 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 and mixes of voices. Punch up one preset and turn yourself into the Bee Gees. Another gives you a high-lonesome bluegrassy harmony. Another gives you voices akin to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. On the gig you just punch up the preset you want for a particular song, having programmed the right key, and go for it. Friends of mine use two units, one to process the lead voice only, and one for harmonies for the second singer. It makes their duo mighty big. On occasion they'll have both units doing harmonies and the effect is especially impressive.

The VoiceCraft card
The VoicePrismPlus is the world's first application of voice modeling technology. In addition to more I/O, it provides realtime resynthesis and reshaping of the human voice. Its modeling is used in a different way than usual. Guitar modeling amps, for example, give you specific, fully defined models. The VoicePrismPlus doesn't. Instead of fully developed models of specific singer's voices-Frank Sinatra's voice, Big Mama Thornton's voice, etc.-it applies modeling technology to different characteristics of a single voice. You actually create the finished model by adjusting these characteristics individually. Add breath, growl, rasp, head and chest resonance, inflection, or vibrato.

In the original VoicePrism, the lead voice can only be enhanced by doubling and thickening parameters and isn't subject to the same extensive formant changes as are the harmony voices. With the VoiceCraft card installed, the lead voice becomes even more changeable than the harmony voices. If you have a wimpy little vanilla voice, the VoicePrism can turn you into a gutsy blues singer. If you have a gravel voice, VoicePrism can make it sweet and melodious. The extent to which a voice can be transformed is amazing. The results can be subtle or extreme, but even when the input voice is substantially altered, it doesn't sound artificial or highly effected.

Considering all it does, the VoicePrismPlus is very affordably priced, and it will be the star performer in your vocal setup.

The Friend has both the VoicePrismPlus and the VoiceCraft sound card available for the lowest prices you'll find anywhere. Order today and put voice modeling to work for you.

Features & Specs

Pre-effects features:

  • Compression and dual parametric equalizers assignable to both the lead and harmony channels

 

Lead Channel:

  • Thickening algorithm to create double tracking effects
  • VoiceCraft card adds human voice modeling and improved effects

 

Harmony Channel:

  • Includes 4 independent, format-corrected pitch shifters to create very natural harmonies
  • Humanizing parameters can be adjusted independently, including gender, vibrato, timing, randomizing, and scooping

 

Post-effects:

  • 2 post-effects blocks can be applied to lead and harmony voices: chorus, flange, delay, and reverb

 

Aux in:

  • Allows integration of additional material into the final effects blocks and mixing with the vocals

 

Connectivity:

  • Stereo 1/4" unbalanced/TRS balanced outputs plus AES/EBU and S/PDIF