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Once upon a time the idea of a dedicated vocal processor just… wasn’t there. Occasionally you might spot a singer like Robert Plant (watch the Page & Plant Unledded DVD) or Mike Patton (especially in Mr Bungle) with a few guitar pedals repurposed for live vocal use, wresting control away from the sound engineer and placing it right onstage with the vocalist. Now floor-based vocal processors are much more commonplace and there’s a real push to make each one unique, rather than just ‘Hey bud, here’s your delay and pitch correction, have fun.’ The Zoom V6 is pretty serious about grabbing your attention among the various products competing for your love.
One thing that immediately sets the V6 apart from most is its integrated expression pedal, which operates over various formant effects without changing pitch, so you can truly turn your effects use into a part of your performance rather than something that is passively applied to your voice. And when you look at the three main sections of the V6 and what they’re capable of, that means plenty of creative power.
Going left to right, the first section is Voice. This is where you can sculpt the basic timbre of your sound, including chromatic and diatonic pitch correction, freaky robot and vocoder effects, octave shifts and more. Next up is a Harmony section which takes its cues from the key selection knob incorporated into the Voice section, and which gives you options for high and low harmonies easily accessed by simple buttons labelled ‘High,’ ‘Higher,’ ‘Low, ‘Lower’ and ‘Fixed.’ The final section is an Effects block which includes delays, reverbs and chorus plus special effects like Distortion, Beat Box and Telephone.
There are 40 preloaded patches or there are 100 user slots so you can create and save your own. The system also includes its own dedicated mic, the SGV-6, which is designed to isolate your voice by suppressing sounds from other instruments on stage so they don’t leak all over your vocal effects. Ah, but that’s not all! There’s also a comprehensive looper section with up to 3:30 worth of recording capability, and easily controlled by the three multi-function footswitches that also govern your memory patch selection. There’s also an inbuilt compressor and an Enhancer for optimising stuff like sibilance and EQ.
Connections include an XLR Mic input, phantom power switch, control pedal input for adding an extra expression pedal that you can assign to effects parameters, USB output for using the unit as an audio interface in your DAW, a headphone out with its own volume control, and the XLR output for connecting to a mixing desk. The V6 is powered by an included AC power supply, although it can also run on four AA batteries for around three and a half hours.
This unit is definitely designed for creative vocalists who want to build excitement and dynamics into their entire vocal texture, rather than being a product aimed at singers who need a few simple set-and-forget modules like EQ, compressor and ambience. It’s a performance machine by design, and under the feet of the right vocalist it can be a powerful creative tool. The only real bummer is that the expression pedal is dedicated to formant effects and you have to use a separate one if you want to, say, fade in an echo or vary the level of a harmony. Otherwise this is a feature-packed creative hub that the sonic explorers among us will have a great time with.