As the dust settles after the NAMM conference in Anaheim this past month, we can be sure that there will be all sorts of new products heading our way in the following months. We have seen some great new releases this year in all areas, especially effects units, but this isn’t just limited to guitar effects pedals. No, there is a growing trend from manufacturers to meet the on-stage needs of singers, realizing that you, the vocalist, want to take control of your vocal effects as well. Let’s take a look at a few great new additions being presented at the NAMM show.
Digitech have been delivering vocal harmonizer units for many years now, with the Vocalist Live series delivering some amazing results in vocal harmonies that are automatically tuned to the appropriate key using the guitar signal as a reference. These pedals have seen several stages of development since first being introduced some 6 or 7 years back with the new Live Harmony unit being the latest addition to the Vocalist range. What this pedal offers is two extra voices or harmonies to match up with you as you sing. Running the guitar through this unit allows it to detect the songs tempo, key and scale and work from there to match up effects and harmonies. You not only get great backing vocal from this, but you also get effects on your own voice with a great selection of delays, reverbs, compression and other special effects. It is almost like having two backing singers, with a quality channel strip and insert effects for your own voice.
SAY IT AGAIN
Many of you will be well aware of the wide range of effects and harmony pedals that TC Helicon offer for vocalists to work by themselves or with guitarists. I am sure a lot of you have seen or have even used the TC Electronic Ditto loop pedal, which has proven to be one of the most popular guitar loop pedals in the past 12 months. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the TC Helicon range is getting some attention with their new offering that gives the singer something that guitarists have almost taken for granted in recent years. The Ditto Mic Looper allows the singer to now take control and bring vocal looping into the performance. This is something that I am sure many of you have been waiting a long time for. It integrates into any live setup with an XLR in and out of the unit, so it can be easily added to the signal path at the base of the microphone stand, ready for the singer to take control. This unit doesn’t add any effects, or change the vocals as they pass through, it simply allows you to set the level of the loop signal and away you go. Multiple overdubs are available and the last loop recorded is held in the unit’s memory even after powering off. This is going to change vocal performances forever.
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Boss have always been at the forefront of the effects pedal game and just as they did in the past, they continue to deliver great pedals for a wide range of uses. The release of the VE-1 shows that Boss are still committed to ensuring singers have their share of the pie too. This handy little unit is a vocal echo system that offers a range of ambient effects and brings character to your performance. As well as a range of reverb and echo styled effects, the VE-1 is also capable of doubling up your sound so it delivers the appearance of two singers working in unison. What makes this a real standout unit is the way Boss have designed it to be a really portable option. It is not only lightweight and compact, but it runs on batteries if the situation so required. There are very few pedals out there like this that can do so, with most chewing too much juice and needing a power supply. Further to this, you can connect the unit via USB to your computer and run direct in for recording through the VE-1. These three pedals are but a taste of what is on offer this year in the world of vocal effects. Both Boss and TC Helicon have an extended range of products designed to work with the vocalist. There are plenty of others to consider as well. I got to try the Mooer MEP-VEM a number of months back with surprising results. Electro Harmonix always delivers something a little left of centre that is generally worth having a listen to as well. But of course, for all you Bon Jovi fans out there, you can’t go past the MXR talk box for the greatest vocal effect of all time… possibly.