In stark comparison to bass players and drummers, the singer in the band has by far the easiest job. I mean, sure it’s rough being the centre of attention all the time and keeping your instrument tuned is a veritable hedge maze of guesswork, but relative to lugging 8x10 cabinets up darkened, narrow stairwells, that’s a breeze. When compared to the tap-dancing that a guitar player has to do to keep tone in check, even the most dedicated front person has little to think about other than simple delivery of soul. How easy it would be to eschew all that burdensome physicality and rely on the beat-up Shure 58 at every venue as the be all and end all of your backline needs.
TC Helicon changed all this a few years ago with the advent of their VoiceLive products, a range of incredibly powerful, mic-stand-mounted super-computers designed to complicate a singer’s thought process in as creative a way as possible. With the Perform-VG they have taken the idea and compassionately simplified it down to the absolute essentials of intuitive vocalisation.
It looks a little bit like a gaming console controller. With its rubberised buttons and sleek, burgundy housing it could almost be some sci-fi super villain’s Machiavellian torture device. On the contrary, the Perform-VG is designed to do everything it can do to help. On the right hand side you have a series of buttons dedicated to the enhancement of your guitar accompaniment. Studio grade effects like an epic yet clear hall reverb, subtle, jabbing echo and juicy chorus are fully programmable to suit the sweet spot in every tune. On top of this TC have added an anti-feedback capability, which is particularly important where a guitar and vocal are working so closely together. Body resonance thickens and enhances even the boxiest of six-strings, and all of this is available at the touch of a button.
With your guitar signal dictating the key you’re playing in real time, you have a similar set of heroes lifting your voice out of the doldrums. The reverb and echo on the vocal side marry perfectly with their guitar counterparts, via the tap tempo that controls both in tandem. The real kicker of this whole shebang, however, the thing we really all came to see, is the harmony function. Gone are the days when Diana Ross needed The Supremes to fill out her arrangements. At the flick of a switch you have a rich three-part harmony sat neatly behind your top line and, if you have the accompanying footswitch at your disposal, the timing of said harmony is as occasional as you like.
One thing to look out for where pitch shifting is concerned is the distinct and unforgivable wheeze of low-bit rate, digital, grubby fingerprints. TC has always been keenly aware of this issue and has managed to keep it as clean as possible, and this newest addition to their lineup is no exception. The harmonies are lush, realistic and not overbearing in the slightest, tracking almost better than ever before. Canadian designed Perform-VG from TC Helicon is a simple yet thorough vocal bag of tricks. If you’re a solo performer or a duo looking for more than just chords and words, then look no further.
Hits and Misses
Quick, easy and thorough with clean and realistic harmony potential