Digitech Announces Vocalist Live 3 Harmonizer
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-01-12)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Just after I had discussed in the forums why it’s almost never a good idea to cover Yes or The Eagles because of very dense and often complex vocal and guitar harmonies, I got this reminder from DigiTech® about how it just could be possible. They just recently announced the newest addition to the Vocalist product line, the Live 3. Finally explaining why the Vocalist line, up until now, has only included the Vocalist Live Pro, Vocalist 2, and 4, Digitech makes quite a showing with its most recent addition’s more powerful MusIQ technology, providing vocal harmony, pitch correction, and vocal pre-effects in one pedal. The Live 3 provides guitarists a 3-part vocal harmony, pitch correction, and vocal pre-effects in a single pedal.
Vocal processors and harmonizers aren’t exactly brand new (Eventide has been making them for years at extremely high quality and well into the thousands of dollars), but Digitech is certainly making strides to make them easier to use and more intuitive for the average performer than Eventide’s rackmounted powerhouses or Digitech’s own products, the feature-burdened Vocalist 4. If you’re looking for phaser, flanger, chorus, and other filter or modulation based effects, then take a look at the Vocal 300 instead.
Setup is simple. Plug in your guitar and your microphone; turn on the pedal (before you turn on your amplifier) and play. Digitech’s pedals do not require any kind of special midi or digital cables or synth pickups to work. This is because a digital pedal (as opposed to analog) works by copying your sound with the new effects added and deleting the original. Thus the Vocalist 3 is able to track the harmonies of your guitar chords and follow your voice almost instantaneously. Digitech boasts that with this pedal, there is no longer a need to pre-program chord changes or even a key signature into the pedal.
The layout, as you can see above, is wonderfully intuitive. At first glance, I feel like I can understand and be comfortable using the Vocalist 3 to get 3-part harmonies easily without reading the manual. This thanks to its rotary knobs and easy to understand LED’s rather than the menus and button combinations required for accessing certain patches or parameters. Granted, the lack of in-depth menus may mean a step down in the overall amount of tone-tweaking possible, but I doubt most vocalists will take notice. Digitech seems to have made some very good choices as to what to include and what to remove. The basic requirements are all there: Voice and Guitar mixture, Compressor, Vocal pre-amp High and Low EQ, Reverb, and Delay. The rest is just gravy, including its ability to store your settings in 5 separate patches with two different harmony setups accessed with the A/B pedal.
The Live 3 can add up to two separate voices of harmony to a lead vocal to create a full 3-part vocal performance. It features Gender Control that gives each individual harmonizing voice a masculine or feminine sound. It also features a Humanize control, which, according to Digitech, “allows users [to] customize the natural sound of the harmonizing voices from loose to tight...” I’m not entirely sure what parameter this actually adjusts or what effect it has on the sound. Perhaps it adjusts the tracking delay or vibrato on the harmonizing voices. While it says nothing for the better or worse per se about the Vocalist 3, I find it somewhat off-putting when a manufacturer gives an obscure name to an effect or control and an even less informative description as to what it DOES. (At the time of this article’s release, I have been informed that turning the knob counterclockwise introduces pitch variation to make the singers sounds more “human,” and turning it clockwise makes them follow the chords very closely.)
The Live 3 is a worthwhile look for anyone seeking to add harmonies to their music, although it is clearly aimed at the singer/songwriter with a non-singing band, or even a solo singer/songwriter looking to recapture the harmonies on a recorded CD on the stage. Scott Klimt, the Marketing Manager for the Vocalist, had this to say:
“The Live 3 is the tool performers are searching for to capture the
audiences’ attention and take their performance to the next level.” stated Scott Klimt, Marketing Manager for Vocalist.
With a large array of features and backed by the MusIQ tracking technology, the Vocalist Live 3 looks like a very easy-to-use addition to the lineup of vocal processors and harmonizers out there.
The Digitech Vocalist Live 3 holds an MSRP of $429.95, well below many processors out on the market.
James Rushin is a pianist, bassist, composer, and organist in the Pittsburgh/Morgantown areas currently performing with baritone Justin Barclay (www.justinbarclay.net). Feel free to e-mail him with comments, questions, or the hope that processors with pitch correction will show up in karaoke bars across America at James.Rushin@musicgearreview.com.
Compiled from a Digitech press release.