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TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - INTRODUCTION
Having reviewed the original Voicelive Touch and experienced what a great product it is both in terms of sounds and ease of use, I was extremely excited to get my hands on the next generation model, the VoiceLive Touch 2, which was announced at NAMM this year. I'm looking forward to seeing just how much improvement the VoiceLive Touch 2 offers over the original.
TC-Helicon say that the VoiceLive Touch has received a major update, providing even more state-of-the art effects. I even noticed that you can download from a selection of over 500 presets for it. It already comes with 200 presets and space for another 100 and you can overwrite all 300 so I am sure there is plenty there to suit your voice. Are you tempted yet? Well, I am...
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - A BOX OF VOCAL WONDERS
As I take it out of the box, the first thing I notice is that it is nowhere near as colourful as the original. Instead, TC-Helicon have opted for a more professional black look with grey and blue trimmings. Whilst I like colourful products, this new look appears less gimmicky and I suppose when it comes to vocals, that is the image that TC-Helicon want to give. They don’t want your first impression to be that their product will make you sound like a cartoon character despite the fact that the Voicelive Touch is more than capable of producing that effect if that is what you desire! They simply want you to sound great live (or in the studio if this is how you choose to use it) and achieve that vocal sound that you aspire to.
Once I had removed the unit from the plastic bag that it was tightly packaged in, and removed the protective screen from the control surface, the VoiceLive Touch 2 revealed a classy, professional sheen and a product that made me very proud to own! (Yes, I ended up buying one!)
There is not too much in the box apart from the unit itself, the region specific power supply, a USB cable, the User Guide, a Velcro cable wrap and a 1 year warranty for parts and labour. Interestingly, whilst it is exactly the same size as the original (9" x 4" x 7"/230 x 100 x 180mm), it is actually a lot lighter. The original was 2.3 kg and the second incarnation is only 1.6kg. My first thought on this (before testing) was that I hope this new lighter model feels just as sturdy when mounted. I really can’t understand how it can be 0.7kg lighter!
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - MOUNTING IT ON YOUR MIC STAND
The instructions show how to mount the VoiceLive Touch 2 on your mic stand and TC advise that you do this before making any connections. The piece that slides in is easy to understand and carry out, but actually clipping it back on the stand seemed to take a bit of effort. However, once on, it was easy to position exactly where you wanted it.
If you don’t wish to have it mounted on a stand, it feels equally at home on a desktop with its angled design for ease of use.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - CONNECTIONS AND OPTIONAL EXTRAS
Around the back of the VoiceLive Touch 2 you have an XLR mic input and an XLR output followed by left and right quarter-inch TRS outs, a quarter-inch jack Guitar In and Thru, an Auxiliary In jack, MIDI input, a USB connection, a quarter-inch jack footswitch input and a power supply input.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - STARTING TO USE AND THE FRONT PANEL
TC-Helicon state that the VoiceLive Touch 2 is really a vocal designer, which allows you to design a dynamic vocal performance, and having started to use it, I can really see why it is pitched in this way. Although I will be using mine in the studio, I also can’t ignore the features that make this thing super useful for live performance purposes. However, from a studio perspective and composer's point of view, it is simply a great tool for vocal creations and generating ideas.
I ran through a new song that I am working on and I loved how easy the VoiceLive Touch 2 made it for me to bring in effects, customise them and turn them off. The range of dynamics that it provided was also very impressive.
I thought it was worth noting that for the first few days of usage, I did find myself referring to the manual quite a bit as not everything was immediately obvious to me. However, the more I investigated and experimented, the more interesting it became.
I did not always like the lightness of the controls and I originally wondered if heavy vibrations might somehow trigger the unit to do something unwanted. In my first few days as a novice user, I did think that some kind of preset lock would have been a good idea, which would prevent any changes from taking place until it was 'unlocked', but as I used it more and became more familiar with it, I realised that I was worrying unnecessarily. In addition, I'm sure that TC-Helicon gave this careful consideration in the design process.
The front panel of the VoiceLive Touch 2 has a touch matrix interface with an FX slider for real-time control and modulation. The matrix has been designed so that you can quickly jump between 36 performance functions. It has a 2.5 inch LCD display that allows you to add and remove effects, for example. Under the screen is the 9 pad matrix for your selections. I found that on a few occasions I wanted to select from the screen instead of the corresponding matrix pads.
Under the matrix is the FX slider bar. Around this you have twelve touch controls labelled 'Edit', 'Store', 'Home', 'Effects', 'Voices', 'Tap', 'Setup', 'Mix', 'Loop', 'Start', 'Record' and 'Hit'. If you hold the 'Home' control it will display a list of genres. All of these controls only require a soft tap to engage them.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - LOOP THE LOOP
The looping feature of the VoiceLive Touch 2 is great but it is a shame there is only 42 seconds of memory (or 84 in mono). There are also further limitations in that it can reduce the number of tracks, so you don’t necessarily always have six tracks to work with. The number of available loop tracks is dependent on the length of the original loop, since all tracks share the 42 (or 84 in mono) seconds of memory.
TC explain how this works in practice: If you are in stereo then you have 42 seconds of available loop time. If you divide this by the 6 tracks it gives just 7 seconds per track. If your initial loop is 7 seconds or less, all 6 tracks will be available to you but if your initial loop is more than 7 seconds, the number of tracks available will be divisible into the 42 second limit.
For example: Initial loop = 10 seconds - 42/10 = 4.2 - Available tracks = 4 or
Initial loop = 14 seconds - 42/14 = 3 - Available tracks = 3.
You can create a whole composition by yourself with this looper. It also has something called Loop Assist, which gives you metronome and quantize for perfect loops every time. Loop effects include 'Reverse', 'Filter', 'Slow Speed', 'Squeeze' and 'Squeeze Auto'.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - EFFECTS, SLIDER, STYLES AND GENRES
The VoiceLive Touch 2 is a great box of tools, no matter what style(s) of music you're into, and you can customise it to suit your own individual performance. The VoiceLive Touch 2 really does come with a fantastic selection of quality effects.
When the 'Effects' page is displayed, each effect corresponds to one of the nine matrix buttons. The effects are Modulation, Delay, Reverb, Harmony, Choir, Double, Transducer, Rhythm and Hard Tune. The VoiceLive Touch 2 also has something called 'Styles', which allow you to quickly load different variations of a particular effect without editing a large number of individual parameters. Within these Styles there are modifiers that can be edited and these can then be saved as part of your preset, for example 'Speed' in the Mod effect.
I would say that the most complex effect is the Harmony effect, which allows you go quite deep with your edits. The VoiceLive Touch 2 allows your own voice to be multiplied up to four times at musical intervals to achieve the incredibly large sound of a group of singers.
When using the harmony effect it is useful to have some knowledge of harmony and chord construction, but if you don't, the manuals explain how to make everything sound musically correct. There is also a Style parameter for you to select from a range of pre-authored harmony effects, giving you a unique voicing arrangement. There are two types of Styles - Naturalplay styles, which follow the Key setting to guide the harmony voices and Shift styles, which ignore the Key setting. In these advanced editing pages there are many other editable parameters such as Lead Level, Human Style, Vibrato Style, Scale, Human Amount, Vibrato Amount, Level, Pan, Portamento, Voicing, Gender and Smooth.
When you are in Effects and Loop modes, the slider FX bar can be used to activate and modulate an effect. You need to be aware that the selection of effects is different when you are in the Effects menu from when you’re in the Loop menu. I found that if I slid my finger over the bar, I could get different effects depending on how I moved my finger. Tapping the bar activates the effect.
While you are holding the slider bar it is also worth mentioning that you can still turn other effects on and off using the Matrix buttons. TC-Helicon says that the initial placement of your finger on the bar, the direction you slide over it and the resulting effect modulation is called the action and they give you four different action options to offer the widest range of control.
This slider bar works in different ways depending on the effect. For the Gender Warp effect, as you slide your finger, the gender changes from male on the left to female on the right. The Delay Feedback effect slide extends or shortens the length of the echo. The Harmony Hold effect gives you infinite sustain of the harmony voices as long as you hold your finger on the Slider bar and by sliding it, you can control the volume of the held harmony notes. There is also a Dual Filter effect that sweeps the low or high frequencies and a Harmony Bend effect where you can sweep the pitch of the Harmony voices for some really interesting effects.
And yes, there is more! The Shift Wide effect sweeps the pitch in semitones over a range of plus or minus three octaves and the Shift Narrow effect is the same except that the range is only plus or minus one octave.
The VoiceLive Touch 2 also has rhythmic options that create Stutter, Panning and Chopper effects. The Rhythm Div effect modulates the Chopper effect by making it either faster or slower. The Rhythm Depth effect allows you to increase the intensity of the effect and the Stutter effect (which I really enjoyed) requires you to firstly tap the Slider to sustain a short snippet of your vocal and then as you slide your finger you can change the division value.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A GUITAR
If you are a guitarist as well as a singer then the VoiceLive Touch 2 can offer you even more! For a start there are built-in guitar effects, which you can access simply by plugging in your guitar to the Guitar Input on the back. By default you get some subtle reverb and chorus effects applied to your signal. In the Global Settings menu you can also get some compression and EQ and you can of course make modifications with the slider FX bar.
To make harmony and Hardtune effects correctly follow your music, you can connect a guitar or keyboard to the VoiceLive Touch 2, although it also has the functionality to follow an acoustic piano or acoustic guitar (or even an mp3 player)! As you sing and play your instrument (or mp3 player), you will find that the harmony effect will follow what you are playing and sound musically correct. If your instrument is not connected then the VoiceLive Touch 2’s Room Sense mics will pick up the chords you are playing and use them to guide the harmony and Hardtune effects. As I tested this I found that you have to make sure that your vocal mic is further away from the Room Sense mics than your instrument is.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - MAKING A HIT SOUND
You may notice that there is a ‘Hit’ button on the bottom right of the VoiceLive Touch 2. When you tap this button, the effect status will change, allowing for some big changes in your vocal sound. This provides a quick way of turning multiple effects on and off. Depending on your preset, there could be two completely different effect combinations: one for Hit On and another for Hit Off. You could also use Hit On to simply add one effect to your sound. This is a very fast way to move between a verse and a chorus in your song as every preset has an A/B function via the Hit button.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - VOICE SUPPORT, PRESETS AND LIBRARY
TC-Helicon has some software called Voice Support for their products that you can download for free (click here). This software allows you to install new firmware updates to the VoiceLive Touch 2 via a USB connection to your computer. It also gives you access to the latest news and tips, maintain your personal database of presets and download from their library of 500 professionally authored presets. This is great because it just takes a simple drag and drop from the library to your VoiceLive Touch 2 to load in the new presets. You also get direct access to manuals, product registration, account settings and support. Some of these preset patches are from even well-known artists.
To assist with browsing through 300 patches there is a Genre feature where you can choose a style that suits you and the VoiceLive Touch 2 will list the presets that fit your preference.
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE VOICELIVE TOUCH AND THE VOICELIVE TOUCH 2
As I have already mentioned, the VoiceLive Touch 2 has built-in Room Sense technology, which uses 2 small mics that listen to music being created in your room and attempt to pick out chord information for use in processing key and scale. What I really like is that Room Sense can also be blended in with your headphone mix to allow you to hear the room sounds. This is especially useful with in-ear monitors.
The VoiceLive Touch 2 also gives you Vocal Cancel, which compares the left and right channels of a stereo recording, determines common elements (usually the lead vocal) and uses phase cancellation to reduce or remove those elements. When I tried this I found quite a bit of variation in the results it produced and so it does require a bit of trial and error.
The other additions to the VoiceLive Touch 2 are Loop Assist, 6 loop tracks instead of 1, increased loop time, MIDI sync, a metronome, Vocal Cancel, Slider FX and a new rhythmic effect. The FX slider has also been enlarged, making it easier to create sweep effects etc.
The only negative point that I could find was that the VoiceLive Touch 2 only gives you four voices compared to the eight of the original VoiceLive Touch. There must be a reason for this though; perhaps it is a resource issue?
TC-HELICON VOICELIVE TOUCH 2 - CONCLUSION
The TC Helicon Voicelive Touch 2 is a very powerful and clever vocal effects unit. You get a great live vocal toolbox that conveniently mounts on your mic stand and if you want to use it in your studio it is full of production quality effects for your voice. When you add in a harmoniser, a six track looper and a touch sensitive control panel matrix with a slide control for real time performance, it really becomes a must-have product. The Touch 2 automatically takes care of vocal tone with adaptive EQ, compression, de-essing and gating. If you get stuck for ideas, TC give you access to hundreds of downloadable presets and hopefully they will continue to add to this already impressive collection.
I have to say that there is a little bit of a learning curve to get the best out of this vocal effects unit but if you've ever taken the time to browse through some Youtube VoiceLive Touch 2 performance videos, you'll be aware of what is possible if you put in the time and effort. The creative way that people use the looper to create a whole layered performance is particularly impressive.
For more information on the TC-Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2, click the link below or give us a call on 01202 597180.
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