Item: TC-Helicon VoiceTone X1, Vocal Distortion FX Pedal
Price: $99 (US), £99 (UK)
Quick Singer Assessment:
Enjoy a wide range of great sounding distorted vocal tones with the VoiceTone X1, but you might find you have feedback issues if you are planning to use it on stage.
At a Glance
VoiceTone X1 lets you add a new tone to your vocals with a range of distorted sounds from megaphones to amplified distortion effects. You can use its on/off pedal to use the effect on a word, phrase or an entire song with these sounds. There are controls for the amount of distortion and a filter to adjust the tonality of the effect. The X1 is powered by a 12v power adaptor (supplied) and is compatible with TC’s MicControl feature found in microphones such as the MP-75. It has an XLR input and output and can provide 24V phantom power.
The distortion comes in three different styles: “phone,” “distortion” and “Drive” (there are also 3 different variants of “phone” and “drive”). You can then fine tune the effect with the use of the drive and filter controls. The drive knob controls the amount of distortion; whereas the filter is essentially a sweepable EQ that changes the tone of the effect. With these controls a wide range of great sounding distorted vocal tones can be achieved and adjusted as you perform.
One issue with the X1 – and essentially every distortion effect unit used in combination with a microphone – is that it reduces the amount of available gain before feedback. As a result, you might find you have feedback issues if you are planning to use it on stage, especially with loud stage levels and high drive settings. To help with this problem there is a noise gate; however several users have had problems setting this to only cut in and out when they want to.
Audio-Savvy Reviewer Says…
The X1 is probably a niche product – however if a distorted vocal sound is what you are after, it has a great range of sounds. It can go from making your voice sound like you’re on a telephone to like it’s coming through a guitar amp turned up to 11! The filter control is particularly useful to shape the sound. For example; on a phone distortion effect, adjusting the filter can make it sound like you’re singing into an older or newer telephone (or on a megaphone). Like all the VoiceTone pedals it has a heavy duty chassis that can easily withstand of years of use at gigs and if you have a MicControl compatible microphone you can also switch the effect on and off with your mic instead of the footswitch. Using any vocal distortion effect in a live setting is likely to caused increased issues with feedback depending on your setup; however, the X1 can be also a great tool in the studio too. Overall, it is a product that offers something a bit different to your typical vocal effects and in the right context it can product some great sounds. – Chris Kennedy
Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.tc-helicon.com/en/products/voicetone-x1/
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Chris Kennedy is a songwriter, producer multi-instrumentalist and freelance journalist from the UK. He has performed extensively over Europe and written and produced over a dozen albums. Chris also has a passion for music technology and was the principal product reviewer and tech expert of the original Voice Council magazine.