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Play Elec­tric is basi­cally a multi-effects unit ded­i­cated to the singing gui­tarist, whether they play elec­tric or acoustic gui­tar, solo or in a band or duo (there’s also a model called Play Acoustic, which is specif­i­cally aimed at the needs of the acoustic gui­tarist). It fea­tures professional-level TC-Helicon effects, includ­ing state of the art har­mony pro­cess­ing. And because TC-Helicon is asso­ci­ated with TC Elec­tronic, one of the finest gui­tar effect mak­ers in the busi­ness and the com­pany behind leg­endary units like Stereo Cho­rus Flanger, TC2290 Dig­i­tal Delay and G-System, Play Elec­tric is over­flow­ing with gui­tar effects and amp sim­u­la­tions. The amp mod­els are from the Voice­Live 3 proces­sor and there are effects from the TonePrint range of ped­als, includ­ing the Hall of Fame Reverb, Flash­back Delay and Corona Chorus.

Each pre­set — whether it’s one of the onboard ones, one of hun­dreds you can down­load or one you make your­self — can be enhanced with the ded­i­cated HITbut­ton, which adds addi­tional vocal effects as you need them. For instance, if you only need a har­mony in the cho­rus, or if you need a mega­phone effect for three words in a verse, you can add those effects to your exist­ing sound via the HIT but­ton with­out hav­ing to dial in an entirely new pre­set. And you can store selected pre­sets as ‘favourites’ to make setup easy. There are inputs for micro­phone and gui­tar (Gui­tar In and Thru jacks are included, in case you want to send the mod­elled sound to its own ampli­fier or bypass the effects com­pletely), and Play Elec­tric has the abil­ity to sense the note or chord you’re play­ing on gui­tar and to then cre­ate a har­mony based on what it hears! Play a D chord, sing a note over it and you’ll get a lus­cious har­mony, then change to a Dsus4 and part of the har­mony will shift too. The effect can be sur­pris­ingly com­plex, and it really aids in cre­at­ing the illu­sion of sev­eral singers. There’s also pitch cor­rec­tion, which you can use for every­thing from the most sub­tle tidy­ing up of errant notes to the full-on robot effects. There are also dou­bling effects which can be made to sound more nat­ural or more arti­fi­cial at your discretion.



Just like TC Elec­tronic gui­tar gear, part of what’s great about the Play Elec­tric is that the pre­sets aren’t ridicu­lously over-the-top like some other multi effect units. Some pre­sets have very sub­tle effects on the ‘Hit’ but­ton – a lit­tle dou­bling here, maybe some reverb there – which gives your music a lit­tle extra push for a big cho­rus or a moment here and there. Or there are more overt effects like addi­tional har­monies or a mega­phone effect. The pitch cor­rec­tion fea­ture is handy, espe­cially when used either very sub­tly or in com­plete overkill mode.

The gui­tar effects are good, although it can take some tweak­ing to make the amps sound nat­ural. They’re cer­tainly use­ful in a cover band or duo sit­u­a­tion where you need a lot of sounds with­out fuss, and they’re great for demo­ing song ideas, but it’s nice to have the option to bypass them too if you’d rather use your own amp. And embed­ded stereo Room­Sense mics allow you to detect the pitch of instru­ments nearby, replace the cabled mic for head­phone prac­tice, or give you some much-needed ambi­ence in your head­phone mix. There are some other handy fea­tures as well: MIDI jack (yes, you can ‘play’ vocal melodies on a key­board), foot pedal jack for adding even more con­trol, an aux­il­iary in for prac­tic­ing or tak­ing con­trol of your live back­ing tracks (with a use­ful Vocal Can­cel mode for singing over exist­ing record­ings), a head­phone jack, stereo out­puts, and a USB con­nec­tion, which you can use to update the soft­ware and to share new patches.



Although this is a great unit for singing gui­tarists, there’s also another very handy use for it: non-guitar-playing singers can use it to put con­trol of their vocal pro­cess­ing — and par­tic­u­larly their har­monies — at the feet of their band mate or musi­cal direc­tor so they can focus on per­for­mance, or to sim­ply take a feed off the gui­tarist in order to con­trol intel­li­gent har­monies. And even singers who don’t play gui­tar or have a gui­tarist to work with can use the aux input to detect the pitch of back­ing tracks. Ulti­mately, any­one who needs to cre­ate har­monies from a musi­cal source can ben­e­fit from this great lit­tle gadget.