Effects Tc helicon voicelive

SteveK

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Guildford, Surrey
I'm considering buying a TC HELICON VOICE LIVE specifically to use the harmonizers capability to build a broader 'horn section' sound from a single sax. They are primarilly designed for voice but I have heard that they are excellent for stage use with saxophones.
Does anyone have any experience of this or the TC HELICON VOICE LIVE 2 - or for that matter any similar products?
Steve
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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Dooce uses a Digitech Vocal 300 (I think it's the 300) I borrowed it off him for a short while and found it to be great fun. When I tried it live we didn't have time to fiddle around with it and in the end I didn't use it. I believe he has good results and a lot of fun with it.
No doubt he'll add his own half pennies worth. ;}
 

AlanB

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Vientiane, Laos
I have heard that an important issue with harmonizers is the ability to choose what key you want to harmonize in. In this way you can have nice chord sounds rather than straight parallel lines. I'll have to check if the TC Helicon does this, I am pretty sure it does.

People say always harmonize lower than the dry input to avoid kazoo like harmonies. Personally i think it can sound like a muted trumpet, which can be nice on certain songs.

So a harmony based on a 4th lower would basically be a 5th higher down one octave = voila...power chord. Sounds great for punchy rock horn section sound!

Just some ideas.
Al
 
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SteveK

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149
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Guildford, Surrey
Alan, Thanks for your input. I went ahead and bought one VoiceLive 1) on Ebay at a rock bottom price. It had a faulty LCD display but I managed to strip it down and localised a dry joint. So now it's fine.
The results are great - the sound can be metallic at times and I note your advise on harmonising downwards - I had also read this somewhere else.
Most of the 'out of the box' presets are not that good for sax (designed for voice of course) so I have a lot of work to do to start building a library of presets.
I plan to start working with clean sounds and then gradually add harmonies and tweek until I get the results I am looking for.
It is quite a minefield of technology but from what I can tell, as you say, you need to give it a chord or scale to harmonize on. If you are using the scale mode then as long as you don't change key it's fine but in chord mode you need to shift the chords (foot switch) as you go though the song or set up sequenced chord progressions and then trigger each change with a single foot switch action. It is also possible to use the Midi input and connect it to a key board. The harmonies will then follow the keyboard player.
There is also a third mode which simply works on the chromatic scale. Then is no need then to change chords or keys- it just gives you set interval based on what you are playing - this sounds like what I will be starting out with.

So I have many long nights playing around with this but early success are very promising and I might not need that trumpeter yet:)
Steve
 

tomato

New Member
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3
Hi,

I m playing tenor and alto sax in a reggae/dub band and I always wanted to have a brass section in the band but...too many musicians...less money on the gigs...So....

I decided to get into the funny world of harmonizers.
I tried a Digitech Vocal 300 (I really hated it, poor sound quality). Then I discovered the Voice Live and...OMG :)

I am using it through an ATM 350 wired clip-on mic.

First of all the VoiceLive unit gives a lot of useful features (especially for live situations) :

- phantom power
- mic in direct out to feed the PA (so you can split your dry/wet signal before feeding the main console and PA, which is for me essential if you wanna have a good sound quality)

- lot of functions assignable to a User button (really useful in my case for tap-tempo delay)

- Midi connections (works great with a sequencer giving the chords)

- very solid structure

- easy to understand and to edit if you are familiar with hardware instruments

- but quite hard to program harmonies if you're not used to harmony conventions.


Some factory presets work well, but the harmony structure of our music is quite simple.

Beside it could be quite difficult sometime to find the appropriate scale and mode so that the voicing sound right "in the tune."


The midi mode works great (I ve used a midi sequence played by LogicPro 8.0 to feed the voicelive).
If the MIDI in signal comes from a keyboard player, then I guess you have to be sure he won't play wrong notes (out of tune or chord) by mistake, otherwise the VoiceLive may generate bad or strange harmony voices.

I m planning to use it live (Keyboard midi out --> Voice live Midi In) or by programming it in Song mode (then you can swith the preset using a Direct Button). It seems that the Song mode is the one giving you the most control over harmonies.

Does someone here have some presets to share?
or any advises on how to program voicing so it doesn't feel too "parallel nor robotic"?


Thanks

T.
 
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SteveK

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Guildford, Surrey
T.
Glad to meet another sax player with a Voicelive.
Sounds to me like you are ahead of me so I'm sorry to say that I don't have any useful presets to share yet.
I'm working on setting myself up with some standard sounds - e.g. several clean presets, several effects (reverb, delay and thickening) only presets and then a series of harmony presets with, for example, just octaves, fifths and then maybe thirds - but I think the thirds have to be used carefully as so many songs use both the flattened and major third - I know they use flattened fifths as well but not so often in horn sections. So generally the octave and the fifths are safe harmonies. (I just know someone is going to get on my case for saying this, but I just want to keep it simple) I have not had a chance to play over a PA yet with a band so have not been able to 'fix' any presets yet, but I have had some good results at home playing over closed back headphones - that's the only way in a home setup to back off the original sax sound itself.
My intention is to move forward very carefully on stage with probably only using octaves at first with the reverb, delay and thickening.
While I know that you can use a midi keyboard input to 'set' the harmonies I'm going to stick with scale and shift for now and simply switch out the harmonies in parts where this approach might give confusing results.
I have learnt that it is important to back-off the harmonies considerably more than in the factory presets. Your idea of using the dry mix as well is a very good one - I was thinking of setting that up for emergency back up but had not thought of using it in the mix. The harmonies can sound poor if they are too high compared to the lead sax sound.
I have read that it is best to make the sax the top of the harmonic stack for best results - sounds like a good idea as the top harmony tends to have a certain dominance - but it is unsatisfactory to play so high up the range all the time.
I have found that the 'Arnold S' factory preset makes a great baritone sound with a little tweeking.
Interested to know how you synchronise the midi sequences with the rest of the band - I assume that you mean that you drive the chord changes into the Voicelive from a PC/MAC to define the harmonies. How do other band members follow?

It would be great to hear of your progress and I'll certainly keep you updated on mine.

Steve
 

tomato

New Member
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3
Hi Steve,

Nice to see your answer ! I have to try out more stuff regarding the harmony and the arrangement of generated voices...

I have the VoiceLive since friday and spent almost all the week end trying stuff at home. I still didn't try the VoiceLive with the whole band on stage yet...But I ll try to post tomorrow a post about how I did while rehearsing.

Regarding the sound on stage, I may say it could be quite difficult to have a good sound. So, in my opinion, first thing is to be sure you'll have a great "dry" sound for your sax. Quite often in little gigs there is no sound engineer...And when we do have one, saxes is definitely not the easiest instrument to deal with...So....Bad sound and/or sax not audible at all...

Sax sound spread from different places of the instrument according to the notes your are playing (bass, medium, treble)...It could be tricky to have a good dry sound.

When dealing with effects, splitting dry and wet sax sound on two different channels is, according to me, very important so you can really achieve a better sound quality, cause you got control over the two different signals in terms of Gain, EQ and Dynamic..etc..etc...but you need someone on the front to check.

My microphone gives very good results (ATM 350 From Audio-Technica)...I used to have a Shure SM58 but didn't like the sound....And if you move out from the mic directional cone, then you lose a lot of dynamic. So no worries with clip-on mics...they might be more expensive than the Shure SM 57/58 but really I think it's a "must have". This is my opinion, many saxes use SM57 / 58 and are happy with them...

Talking about harmony, I ve just played around with the presets...trying to understand how scale/chords/notes/shift mode work...Here is I think the most complicated stuff...

I ve tried the midi mode using a sequencer...(Logic Midi out on midi channel 1 --> In Voice Live midi channel 1).
A basic II/V7/I sequence, one bar II, one bar V, 2 bars I...but as soon as you have more complex sequences, it was messing around...but once again, I didn't pushed the experience further and I m new in this harmonizer so...I might did something wrong for sure.

I m gonna try tonight with the keyboard player and see how the VoiceLive interpret MIDI signals to generate the harmony voices. So for now I can't tell you more on this.

I ve had a lot of fun using the Arnold preset too :)

Regarding the Major/Minor thirds issue, I guess the best way would be to work in song mode as you can switch presets "on the fly"...Did not try it yet...but i guess playing live it could be quite stressy to do it that way....That's why I wanna try out the midi mode with the keyboard player...

I ve noticed that in some cases, upper harmony voices doesn't sound too bad at all...nor "kazooey" as I could have read somewhere. But I can't say why...Harmony is not my best musical skill actually...

I m gonna try to do some simple presets with 2/3 voices, trying to match as much as I can the reggae horn section arrangements :

Lead sax
Voice 1 --> Unison (or Thickness FX) or Octave Up (and also octave down)
Voice 2 --> 1 Octave and a fifth up the lead (or down).

Well...I still have a lot of work to do on this harmonizer...but it's a lot of fun...And for backing vocals...it's really good.

Cheers

Thomas
 
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SteveK

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Guildford, Surrey
Top man! You are talking along the lines that I am thinking :)

This is quite a learning curve - we could probably go into business teaching it later ;}

A IIm/V7/I sequence is diatonic i.e. all the notes will remain within the key signature of the I chord. So there should be no need to shift the harmony setup - it should be OK to just use the scale setup of the major scale on the I chord. But I guess that the emphasis of the major and minor thirds will not come over - hum? So in theory the chord mode should give a better sound but at the cost of the need to intervene. Interesting.
It's if the song shifts away from the tone centre of the I chord or accidentals are used (typically flat third, flat fifth and flat seventh) that the problems will arise. This is going to happen anyway in most all solo's (if they are interesting to listen too) but for horn section parts, I'd suggest that there is not usually much deviation from the key.
The lines I'm thinking along are to switch the harmonies in for chorus/bridges and outtros where the horns sections tend to be heaviest and then switch the harmonies out for lead lines and simple fills. Lead lines and fills usually contain a lot more variations on the key and bends, scoops etc and so the harmoniser will be stuffed regardless of how you set it up.
By the way - have you set up the VYXOR software on a PC/MAC? It is very convenient for editing.

Your approach to setting up the harmonies is pretty much what I have been thinking of:
Lead sax
Voice 1 --> Unison (or Thickness FX) or Octave Up (and also octave down)
Voice 2 --> 1 Octave and a fifth up the lead (or down).

It's really going to take a stage setup to get these right - and then some.

Good luck and stay in contact.

Steve
 

tomato

New Member
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3
No i didn't knew Vyzor was working for TC helicon voicelive...But i use to have it installed on my mac (10.4.8) and it wasn't stable at all...always crashing so I decided not to use it anymore (at least to edit my hardware synths).

So I m gonna install the free downloadable version provided by TC on their website support section. Looks easier to edit actually...Hope it's not too buggy....

By the way, I just found this forum which is dedicated to TC helicon voicelive products.

http://www.takeforum.com/tcheliconvoicel/index.php?mforum=tcheliconvoicel

Didn't take time to browse the forum but I m sure there are a lot of usefull informations to get there.

Keep in touch,

Cheers

Thomas
 
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SteveK

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Location
Guildford, Surrey
I've found it to be very stable. Maybe you had an earlier version. Go to the TC Helicon web site you can find it there on the support pages.
Thanks for the forum link - it looks very useful.
Steve
 
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SteveK

Member
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149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
Tomato,

Regardsing the voicelive, I haven't had it on stage but I've used it in a studio and have had varied results. Background sound is really a problem as it creates uncontrollable harmonies even when not playing. These are primarilly from the high harmonies. I know that a way around this is to use the type of pickup that is attached to the mouth piece. I really don't want to go down that route. It's very hard to predict quite what will happen in a band environment without actually trying it. Setting it up at home is really no indication of how it will work on stage.
I am finding the lower harmonies very useful to add a baritone sound below my tenor - that is working well and it doesn't seem to be so susceptible to background sounds.
I'm going to have to rethink how I use the harmonies and probably just use the harmonies below my tenor.
I'll also give it a try next week with my Alto and then only stack harmonies below it.
The device is very useful as phantom power supply and for the thickening, reverb and delay.

How's it going with you?

SteveK
 

Pegwill

Member
Messages
56
Hi Guys
I just noticed your thread. There is quite a good forum for Voince live at:
http://www.takeforum.com/tcheliconvoicel/

Not sure if it will be of any use as it is mainly for vocals but like all forums theres bound to be some snippets.
Regards
Bill
 
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SteveK

Member
Messages
149
Location
Guildford, Surrey
Thanks Bill, I had seen this but unfortunately there is very little that helps us saxophone players. The content is almost exclusively for vocalists.
The setups seems to be very different for sax.
Steve
 

petercr

New Member
Messages
1
multivoice harmonies

Hey guys and gals,

Just wondering if the voicelive touch can do diatonic (within the scale) 3rds as well as 5ths in the voicings. I know it can do 5ths and octaves, but can we get a third that isn't in the chromatic mode?

Pete
 

stackedsax

New Member
Messages
1
Tone settings

Hey there,

I was wondering whether you guys use the adaptive settings for tone, or whether you have configured them custom? It seems like setting the compression, gate and EQ would be things that would cut out some of the unwanted noise.

For example, rolling off gain on the low frequencies below 103Hz would be useful for the tenor since it doesn't go below that frequency, and anything below is just wasted. If you're using a clip-on like me, lower frequencies like that are probably just key noise.

Likewise, the gate might allow us instruments who are louder than a normal voice to specify that we only want loud things to be picked up.

Anyway, if you've found custom settings that work for your horns, I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks,

-SS
 
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