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TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch

Live Vocal Processor & Looper
Published October 2011
By JG Harding

Is one voice not enough for you? Have you always dreamed of being your own choir? Read on...

TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch

The VoiceLive Touch is one of TC Helicon's premium live vocal‑harmony processors. Designed to mount clip‑free on the mic stand in front of the singer, it's a solidly constructed unit with a rubberised surface and good, firm knobs.

Your vocal mic plugs into an XLR input the back, and there's a high‑impedance instrument input there too. The Thru jack allows an instrument signal to continue through to any pedals or amplification you might have, and while there are some guitar effects in the VoiceLive Touch, they're limited to simple chorus, dynamics and reverb. Outputs comprise a mono XLR and stereo TRS jacks.

Controlling Your Voice

All the controls on the front are flat, touch‑sensitive types, and they respond very well. The main parameter slider in the middle takes a little adjusting to: sliding slowly scrolls patches or settings at a comfortable rate, while 'flicking' across scrolls quickly. There are five 'bank' buttons at the bottom that can double as favourites (patches can be managed using software and USB connection), and next to these is the 'talk' button that kills all effects. The buttons running up the right‑hand side switch particular parts of a vocal harmony on and off, allowing you to choose just how lush your one‑man choir sounds.

The main LED display shows all the information you need to use the VoiceLive Touch, while a 'mix' allows quick access to the balance of effects. The loop record and playback controls are also here, though I'd recommend the optional TC3 footswitch (£59$49) for this task, as touching the buttons on time while singing is quite a challenge. Looping can be layered, and advanced features include the ability to trigger samples 'one-shot' style, as well as in‑depth control via MIDI.

The buttons at the top of the front panel switch effects on and off. These are preset‑based and sound nice enough, but lack full parameter adjustment. EQ, compression, de‑esser and gate are available in preset form too, so you can give your voice a little polish.

As well as correcting pitch, the VoiceLive Touch can create appropriate vocal harmonies by detecting the chords played via instrument or MIDI input. To help with tracking, it's best to emphasise the main components of a chord, and with some songs you may need to alter your playing slightly, to guide the processor to change on time. If the VoiceLive isn't taking cues from an instrument, you can set either global or per‑patch key scales, though there are only three major and minor variations to choose from, so incorrect auto‑harmonies are a possibility.

Conclusion

The VoiceLive Touch's mainstay — the harmonisation — sounds nice and is quite addictive. The processed result doesn't sound precisely like a group of singers, but it's a rich, complimentary sound that makes the audience take notice! The harmoniser tracks very quickly and accurately on the whole, and once you're used to musically cueing the VoiceLive Touch effectively, it works well, but you may need to make compromises in arrangement, composing with the effect in mind. The looping function is as usable as on any similar device (MIDI control will bring the rewards), though looping is controlled using only one of the three footswitch buttons, and I think a mode that used all three would be easier.

If you see yourself only using such effects sparingly, a less expensive model might suit; TC Helicon themselves have quite a selection. On the other hand, if you're dedicated to filling out your live vocals with multi-layered harmonies and have the patience to set up the appropriate patches for each song, you'll find this high‑end model more rewarding than the basic ones from the TC range.    

Published October 2011