Roland Introduces the VP-7 Vocal Processor for Keyboardists
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-07-14)
Slowly but surely, Vocal Processors and Harmonizers are becoming smarter and thus taking on more of a plug 'n' play aspect. That trend is very much evident in Roland's new VP-7 Vocal Processor, a slimmed-down harmonizer which creates smart backing vocals with only a MIDI line from your keyboard and a microphone. Sure, the VP-7 isn't anything that's going to revolutionize the industry, but it's an easier, smarter way to go approach the product, and that's just as important. Let's break down each section one by one and see what we have to work with.
First, we have probably the most popular section. Referred to as the "Vocal Designer" section on the VP-7, this offers your choice of Duet, or two kinds of Trio harmonies to add texture to your singing. The sounds, as expected, are clean and track your voice very quickly. Harmonies are smooth and connected and the Roland VP-7 CPU made decent note choices in video recordings I've seen.
Second, the Human Voice section sets up backing choirs that aren't tracking your voice, but your keyboard playing. With no microphone necessary, this can be used as a patch section with 4 different choirs or as backing to a rather epic piano solo. The 4 choices of choir are Female, Boys Choir, Gregorian Choir, and Jazz Scat. Roland hasn't yet issued demos of them all, but I think we can all assume what they sound like.
Last but not least, for all you house and techno fans out there (or even a Daft Punk cover band?), there's the Vocoder section, which tracks your voice and adds it into your keyboard, much like Peter Frampton's signature Framptone effect pedal does for his guitar sound. To understand exactly what this sounds like through a keyboard, listen to just about any Daft Punk song recorded, particularly "One More Time," "Harder Better Faster Stronger," or "Digital Love."
Roland has included a jack for a footswitch to turn the harmonies on and off at any time, something which should be standard on more products. There is also a bypass button on the front panel. To round out the front panel, we find four large and clearly labeled knobs: Volume, Mic Level, Harmony Level, and Ambience (Roland's fancy name for Vocal Reverb to add warmth and space to the computer generated sounds).
The VP-7 even comes bundled with the DHS-5, a headset microphone developed by Roland for keyboardists. Don't worry; it isn't proprietary, and not only does Roland include a combination 1/4" and XLR jack for whatever kind of microphone you intent to use, the VP-7 can also provide phantom power for condenser microphones. Otherwise the back panel features only what is necessary (which is not a bad thing here), a MIDI input, A/C Adapter (included with product) input, Mic input, Phantom Power switch, Foot pedal jack, and 1/4" outputs.
That last bit is my only gripe about the VP-7. I really wish it could have featured balanced XLR outputs or combination jacks instead of just 1/4" outputs, especially for live situations running to a PA, but that isn't a matter of TOO much consequence, certainly not for studio use.
James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri, and his compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. His contest winning essays and short stories have seen publication in and around the Tri-State area.
Feel free to e-mail James with comments, questions, concerns, at firstname.lastname@example.org.