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This article was originally published in issue #25
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I must admit to a feeling of slight trepidation on opening the box containing the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2, as the sleek, curvy rubberized unit was sporting just one physical knob - I wondered how long it would take me to get to grips with all the functions and effects on offer. However, once powered up, the combination of the large back-lit screen and associated touch buttons made perfect sense and almost invited me to just start prodding and explore this under-stated, but extremely powerful vocal processor. For the not so brave, there is a (very) helpful “Getting Started” manual.
All ins and outs, save for the headphone socket, are at the top of the unit, nestled inside the curved rubber-coated metal plate that extends from the bottom, allowing it to be securely held onto a mic stand. As the name suggests, this unit is meant to be used off the ground and has been designed to be touched or “played” during performance, using the buttons and the multi-purpose “Slider FX” control strip to turn effects on or off, control delays, filters or volumes of effects on the fly.
The XLR mic input has phantom power if required (activated from the setup menu) and the pre-amp gain is adjusted using the knob on the side of the unit and corresponding three LED lights on the top right. Outputs are on a single mono XLR or stereo balanced jacks. There is a jack input for guitar (which the unit uses to analyse the key signature for the harmony side of things) and a thru. If the thru is not connected, the guitar signal is mixed in with the vocal and has its own level and dedicated EQ/Reverb section - this is global, but a great addition for a solo singer/guitarist. The remaining connectors are a jack input for an optional 3-way footswitch, a MIDI input for keyboards, a mini USB port for audio connection to a computer for software updates and pre-set management and finally a stereo mini jack aux input.
Along with the dedicated editing buttons, there is a matrix of nine ‘soft’ buttons below the screen which correspond to the parameters of whatever mode you are in at the time, which are: Edit, Store, Setup, Mix, Home, Effects, Voices and finally, Loop. Edit gives you access to the nine effects stages, all of which can be used at the same time or a selection turned on and off with the ‘HIT’ button. These include reverb, modulation, echo, distortion and more. A second press of the button gives a second level of editing to get in and fine-tune the effects. A press of the Voices button displays all the nine (count 'em!) harmony intervals available and these can be turned on or off using the ‘soft’ buttons. The Effects page is the overall display of the effects used in the preset. I found this very useful when pressing the hit button, as you can see immediately what is being activated when pressed.
Set-up is where you can select input and output choices, turning on phantom power and how it analyses key signature (MIDI, guitar or onboard microphones). The Mix section handles all the levels for the effects, harmonies and inputs and outputs. Store allows for renaming and storing presets and Home returns the unit to play mode.
On that microphone point, incidentally, the VoiceLive Touch 2 is another of TC-Helicon's FX units that can be remotely controlled by Sennheiser's fine e835 FX microphone, which I reviewed back in GI issue 21. This is a useful facility, which makes the VoiceLive Touch2 even more valuable for the solo performer, duo or small ensemble who want to deliver a high quality, professional performance but don't have a mixing engineer on hand.
The Loop section is very comprehensive and more than a regular sound-on-sound affair. There are six tracks available, all of which can be turned on or off and have effects added to them in real time. The onboard metronome and “Loop Assist” feature takes a lot of the guess work out of the start and end points to keep everything in time. The looping facility is particularly impressive and lends itself to a lot of creative possibilities which would take a bit of time to get your head around, but that's a testament to the depth of facilities here, not a problem.
TC-Helicon describes this unit as a “Vocal Designer” and the quality and variation of the effects on offer means you can do just that. From a sizzling plate reverb with stereo delay, to a chopped, gnarly distorted overdrive with chorus - it’s all here in spades and the sounds are all top drawer. Although I had a lot of fun with this unit, I still feel that there was even more to be had from it. Check out our video for a demonstration of just some of the things you can do with this unit and then have a look in the Tech Spec box, where we've listed its impressive range of abilities.
With great sounds in an intuitive package, the VoiceLive Touch 2 would be as equally at home as the centre of a singer/songwriter’s setup as it would for a creative DJ set. The maker says it provides “pro vocals on the go” and that's exactly what it does. Very impressive!