I’m not a singing performer, but I do have fairly unique experience in offering advice to singers who want to explore live vocal effects. I was CEO the most successful live vocal effects company for 13 years.
During that time, I spent a lot of enjoyable time with singers helping them control their sound. These singers truly realized creative and quality benefits from using technology built specifically for singers.
However, I also saw how singers can start with too much or get too many features that end up standing in the way of creativity.
When you’re starting out, focus on your particular interest.
Let me break down the top types of singers looking to get into vocal effects and what products they should look at based on common interests.
SOVTs come in many forms, some of which are quite fun and a little bizarre.
Bubbling is all the rage with voice scientists and therapists. It involves singing through a straw into water.
Not only will this watery SOVT exercise bring out your inner child, but it will also fix all kinds of technique problems almost instantly.
This is a very typical position to be in. You know the quality of you’re own voice. Yet, you’ve heard other singers with similar skill sound better in a live setting. Is there an extra edge you can get to help you with your live vocal sound? Yes! You need some automated EQ/Compression, a bit of reverb and an on/off button. That’s it – that will help take your vocal up a level.
There are two products to check out: TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic and Boss VE-1.
You may be interested in very specific sounds from certain recordings you want to cover or emulate in your songs. Even though there may be one effect you need today, there will be more tomorrow. You’re best to get started with a vocal effects device that has a large suite of effects. However, I’d discourage you from jumping right into the more full-featured multi-effects products for vocalists.
These three products are a great place to start: Zoom V6 and TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play or Perform-V.
You don’t need to tell me or anyone the reason why – but you may just want pitch correction. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re looking for a safe way to build confidence. The main thing to understand is that for natural pitch correction in a live setting, the point is for you to hear your tuning – not the audience to hear you corrected.
(BTW – if you’re looking for an effected / Auto-Tune pitch correction sound, then check out products in the previous and last section)
The best product for natural pitch correction to help you hear your tuning: TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic (see video in the first section).
(Oh I also want to mention a great resource – check out MIDINation.com for insights on production, gear and great software.)
You may have heard another performer use a harmony processor, or maybe you have songs you’re not able to re-create because you don’t have the back-up singers. Getting into harmony starts with deciding how you’ll be controlling the key of your harmonies
If you don’t play an instrument when you sing: Zoom V3 or Boss VE-2.
If you play keyboard and sing: TC-Helicon Perform VK
If you play guitar and sing: TC-Helicon Play Acoustic / Play Electric, Harmony Singer or Boss VE-8
Maybe you want get into looping or you want to make a sound no one has heard of before. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with wanting to expand creativity through the use of vocal effects.
The best options for pushing the creative side: Zoom V3 or TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play
Any of these vocal processors can get you started. They may also be all you need to improve the live sound of your voice while expanding your creativity.
Here is the list of products with links to their manufacturer’s product pages.
Zoom V3 Boss VE-1 Boss VE-2 Boss VE-8 TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic TC-Helicon VoiceLive Play TC-Helicon Harmony Singer TC-Helicon Play Electric TC-Helicon Play Acoustic TC-Helicon Perform V/a> TC-Helicon Perform VK
Kevin Alexander is CEO and co-founder of Singdaptive, bringing his past experience as CEO of the singing technology company TC-Helicon, as well as live sound, recording and love of music. Recently, he has been a university instructor in Multimedia Learning and is helping to envision an exciting future with technology at the research firm Kinsol.io
Johnny Bulford & Heidi Raye
Janine Le Clair
Gregory A. Barker