TC-HELICON PLAY ELECTRIC VOCAL EFFECTS PEDAL

Amber Technology | 1800 251 367 | www.ambertech.com.au | RRP: $749

Vocal effects and har­monies can really add to the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of a live per­for­mance, but they’re hard to imple­ment, espe­cially for the singing gui­tarist. It’s dif­fi­cult to get har­monies hap­pen­ing between band mem­bers some­times: bad mon­i­tor mix, one or more vocal­ists hav­ing an off night – and that’s before you start to think about how this will all actu­ally sound to the audi­ence, which is the most impor­tant thing. TC-Helicon has tack­led this prob­lem head-on with the Play Elec­tric, a floor-dwelling device aimed at giv­ing the singing gui­tarist two things: inter­ac­tive con­trol over the cre­ative exe­cu­tion of their vocals, and con­trol over the qual­ity of the final sound as heard by the audience.

FEET, DON’T FAIL ME NOW

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.

 

SHUT UP AND SING!

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.

 

AND VOCALS FOR ALL

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.

Hits and Misses

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Easy to control

Great vocal effects

Awe­some intel­li­gent harmonies

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None!

Specs

  • Com­plete vocal path includ­ing Tone, Har­mony, Hard­Tune, Reverb, Dou­ble, Delay, μMod (chorus/flange, etc.), and Trans­ducer (megaphone/distortion FX)
  • Global Adap­tive EQ, Com­pres­sion, De-ess, Gate and Pitch Correction
  • Note-perfect Vocal Har­monies using Auto Chord Detec­tion from gui­tar input
  • 2 Voices of Nat­u­ralPlay Har­mony, plus 2 voices of human­ized Doubling
  • TC Elec­tronic gui­tar FX with styles from Flash­back Delay, Hall of Fame Reverb and Corona Chorus
  • Ded­i­cated Gui­tar and Vocal FX access/edit buttons
  • Sep­a­rate vocal and pro-quality gui­tar out­puts or stereo mix
  • VLOOP™ per­for­mance looper for vocal and/or gui­tar with undo and redo
  • Loop time: Stereo: 15 sec­onds with Undo (30 sec­onds with­out). Mono: 30 sec­onds with Undo (60 sec­onds without)
  • Room­Sense micro­phones for mon­i­tor­ing and practicing
  • Key/Scale har­mony mode for set­ting spe­cific song keys via the footswitches
  • Plug in and prac­tice with your mobile device via AUX or stream tracks and record over USB includ­ing a Vocal Can­cel function
  • USB for audio stream­ing and con­nec­tion to Voic­e­Sup­port, our free app for firmware updates, pre­set man­age­ment, and tips & tricks
  • Com­pat­i­ble with the MP-75 Mod­ern Per­for­mance Vocal Micro­phone and Sennheiser e 835 fx micro­phone with Mic Control
  • Optional Switch-3 for addi­tional per­for­mance control
  • Head­phone output

 

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