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  1. In a world full of manufacturers who offer various dynamic microphone models, a handful of proven classics rule the market. Many will agree that the design of this type of instrument has been pretty much perfected and completed over the years, so is it worth paying attention to similar products that still pop up from time to time? We chose one recent entry that has made quite a big name for itself, the JZ Microphones’ HH1, and tested it to see whether it really is an improvement of age-old microphone technology. The HH1 is a handheld dynamic microphone made by a European company called JZ Microphones. It’s their first product to feature a dynamic capsule. They claim it is “developed in best traditions of JZ Microphones” and provides users with “extended frequency range to suit most vocal and instrumental needs.” Neodymium magnet equipped cardioid capsule is housed in a handcrafted metal body with a special shock-mounting technology. It comes with a rather elegant pouch and a microphone clamp. Lighter and brighter That’s the thing with JZ Microphones: it seems that everything they make has some unique visual twist. As you can see, the same goes for the HH1. One has to admit that the microphone looks awesome: matte black coloring, a fancy logo, and diamond-shaped flat-fronted grille. It is the size of a typical dynamic (58 x 172 mm), has an XLR-3 connector, and an extended frequency response (50 Hz – 18 kHz). Weighing 280 grams (9.8oz), it is a bit lighter than the SM58. The frequency graph that comes along with the microphone shows a noticeable peak at 5 kHz and shelving-down right before 200Hz, meaning that it’s lighter and brighter than most standard dynamics. The simple geniality of a flat grille JZ Microphones says that the HH1 is a perfect fit for vocals, drums, and guitar amps. We tested it in various scenarios for all three applications. We started by trying it on both male and female vocals, and were impressed instantly. It turns out this mic needs little to no EQ. Gone were our fears that the HH1 would have a cheap brightness you get from low-quality mics. Instead, it had great clarity on male as well as female vocals. The HH1’s flat grille has to be mentioned here as well. It keeps the sound source on-axis while avoiding tone and level variations. It was the same story when it came to the acoustic guitar, which produced just the right amount of brightness even at close distances. The flat grille also made for easy, spot-on guitar amp miking (obviously). It was a good fit for a snare drum as well, providing much-needed definition. Among all the pros, the only con I could think of would be a mild self-noise (the HH1 has a pretty strong output). To be frank, it is not even close to being a real problem (at least for us, in our setting it wasn’t) but it is a bit more noticeable than that of other classics. HH1 – a dynamic with distinct studio mic pedigree In conclusion, the HH1 easily fits among the best sounding industry standard dynamic mics. It has its own sound but isn’t a black sheep or avant-garde in any way, and if the market for dynamic microphones wasn’t so oversaturated, this little piece of technology would make the competition worried. It is hard to be completely blown away by yet another dynamic because there are so many to choose from. However, there’s no denying that with the HH1, JZ Microphones has managed to raise the bar for sound and design. It is very apparent that this dynamic mic was made by people who mainly specialize in high-quality studio microphones. It is elegant yet very well built and should withstand the punishment of live performances. If you’re ready to try something new, don’t hesitate and get one of these. This can be an excellent choice for rehearsal studios, live performances, demo making, and bedroom studio projects. Find out more about JZ Microphones products.
  2. European company JZ Microphones is amongst many manufacturers that offer a modern take on vintage sound. Their Vintage 11 (V11) is said to produce very smooth sounding top end, and in theory, should be very good for voice-over work. But the concept of “modern vintage” still sounds a bit vague and lacking explanation to some. Needless to say, we got our hands on one of these mics to see what it does. When it comes to striking visual design characteristic of JZ Microphones, the V11 is no exception. This thing looks like it belongs in the interior of an expensive luxury car, perhaps as an ashtray or a compartment for your diamond encrusted smartphone. A modern take on a vintage sound The V11 is a high-performance cardioid condenser microphone with a one-inch gold sputtered capsule (JZ Microphones patented GDC capsule making technology). JZ Microphones claims that while the microphone is quite versatile it works best on acoustic guitar, vocals, and wind instruments. The frequency graph of V11 shows a noticeable bump in the lower end and suggests it is designed to deliver smooth, rich, and warm sounds. The V11 has a large diaphragm 27 mm (1,06") capsule, extra low self-noise level (6,5 dB (A)) maximum sound pressure level (SPL) of 134,5 dB, class-A discrete electronics, and gold-plated output contacts. It comes with an external specially designed shock-mount and, just like all other mics that JZ Microphones produces, is handcrafted. Noticeably above the similarly priced competition Opinions about microphones are subjective, but it has to be mentioned that V11 has caught the attention of award-winning producer Rafa Sardina (Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder). Sardina has repeatedly stated that he loves many JZ Microphones products and judging from the interviews, the V11 is one of his favorites. We tested it on both male and female singers, trying out a number of singing styles and settings.6 Other “Vintage” series mics (V47, V67) are supposedly made to bring back the sound of all time classics but with the V11 (11 stands for 2011 – the year in which the mic was launched) the company’s founder and designer Juris Zarins hoped to create a microphone that would give you a vintage vibe, but with quite a bit of modern mic-making tradition present in design and during production. The sound, however, shows why JZ Microphones is confident enough to call it the “next classic” on more than one occasion. It proved to be a true gem when it came to spoken word performances. This microphone doesn’t look the part, but it is indeed an excellent tool for radio and performs exceptionally well as a voiceover microphone. Minimal to no EQ intervention is needed, in my opinion. When it comes to singing, it is quite warm yet does not lose clarity. Also, if the bass lift is not welcome at all, you can deal with it easily. The built-in shock-mount is very simple, easy to use, and actually works. The V11’s price tag makes it fair to compare it to all other work-horses that are used for spoken word and broadcasting, and the V11 stands out with a more refined, classy sound. You can just feel that it wasn’t designed as a budget microphone meant to overwhelm the market. They’ve obviously put serious thought into it. I can’t find any problems with construction or sound. I’m going to guess that the reason for this is that the company mainly produces expensive “premium” class microphones and hasn’t really optimized the V11’s production to fit the mid-range price tag. I am pretty sure that most if not all of the high-grade components they use for their most expensive mics are in the V11 as well. After all, are there many other mid-priced microphones that have impressed the likes of Rafa Sardina? In conclusion All in all, what strikes me is the big picture. From what’s written in brochures, the big claims and peculiar marketing strategy might make some buyers confused. I’m still not sure why the whole “modern yet vintage” concept was chosen. In reality, it is simply a very good, very well built, warm-sounding studio microphone with an attractive price tag (and from what I can see, they have generous discounts very often). Someone who is operating on a budget looking for that hi-end studio sound should consider the V11. Accomplished pros have no reason to shy away from it, too. Granted, it is not made to compete with and function like more expensive studio classics, but it is so much more (I can’t stress this enough) than the price tag suggests. Find out more about JZ Microphones products.
  3. For about ten years, a European company called JZ Microphones has made its flagship Black Hole 2 (BH2) studio microphone, supposedly a versatile, visually stunning, and beautifully sounding mic that “easily finds its place among celebrated all-time classics”. It seems that up until now critics have showered this piece of technology with one favorable review after another (to the point where it almost gets a bit ridiculous), so we thought we’d give it a try and see if it really deserves such generosity. The looks JZ Microphones present their BH2 as a “premium”, “high-end” studio microphone, but I’m sure most of you will agree that it does not really look the part. First of all, there’s a hole in the middle. The microphone seems to be rather small and thin, and it doesn’t look like it will fit in a standard spider shock-mount. It leaves you with quite a few questions when you unpack it for the first time, but let’s take a look at some important facts in the brochure. The tech BH2 is a fixed cardioid, large diaphragm 1,06" (27mm) condenser microphone with one large, true electrostatic capsule inside the compact head. Qualities that make it stand out amongst the rest of the herd are JZ Microphones’ patented capsule making technology, Golden Drop Capsule (GDC). Once this technology is implemented, it gives the microphone extra low self-noise level of 7,5 dB (A), discrete class-A electronics, maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL) of 134,5 dB, and a unique reverberation-canceling shape. It also comes with a specially designed shock-mount and is made by hand. The sound When we decided to test the BH2 we came up with quite an obstacle course: we would use it in all sorts of vocal applications with numerous singers and different types of voices. Upon playing back the very first takes, it became clear how unfair it was to judge this microphone by its looks. The recorded voice sang to us with almost no coloration yet the sound was very flattering (especially for male vocals, as it later became clear) and seemed polished. BH2 presented itself to us in a very primal way. It was like being approached by a large wild animal: you feel its presence instantly. There was no need to analyze the sound or compare it to something else. It was clear right then and there that this mic should not be disregarded. It produces very crisp, detailed voice recordings and would probably do an amazing job with rap vocals. It performs very well both close up and from a considerable distance and captures clear recordings of multiple singers at once. Sure, it gave off U87 and C414 vibes (as often mentioned in reviews), but the amazing part that there’s a very large, dominating chunk of its own personality in there. It delivers the actual sound of whatever it is you’re recording with no apparent noise and features ridiculously low, yet beautiful coloration. This microphone is made for professionals and should be used in high-class studios. To a seasoned recording engineer, it will deliver the pristine sound that is expected of such a specialist. To a singer, it will bring out the very best characteristics of your voice. To someone who is not yet ready, it will tell it to you straight and emphasize your shortcomings. There is no disputing that putting “premium”, “high-end” (or any other fancy English words that the BH2’s European engineers can think of) on to the box of this microphone is completely justified. Although the unusual shape and origins of this microphone can leave you perplexed at first, it soon becomes clear that back in 2007 when JZ Microphones created the BH2, they came up with a whole new design for technology that recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Find out more about JZ Microphones products.
  4. Learn more about the RØDELink Performer Kit: http://www.rode.com/wireless/performer ***Or get one for free at the Vocal Athlete Intensive in Seattle, May 14-18, 2018.*** https://VocalAthleteIntensive.com Along with our current registrants, the next 10 participants of the Vocal Athlete Intensive receive a RØDE Microphones Wireless Performer Kit (a $500 value!) and a set of Direct Sound Studio Plus+ Headphones (a $170 value!)! ***What else do you get when attending the event?*** 30% Off the original price! A week of intensive voice training with Robert Lunte and Draven Grey, giving you results, confidence, and mastery. Attendance is limited to 20 people, which means lots of personal attention! Private Training Rooms with PA Systems provided by American Music! Spend a day at Ann Wilson's Studio X! * Spend the week in beautiful and musical Seattle. A RØDE Wireless Performer Kit worth $500! A set of Direct Sound's Studio Plus+ Headphones worth $170! ***That's like taking a vacation, taking your voice to the next level, meeting some really awesome new friends, and getting some great new gear, all rolled into one!*** When are you signing up? Our limited registrations are going fast, so register now! https://VocalAthleteIntensive.com
  5. The Chantelle Microphone by Ear Trumpet Labs is created to be the best live vocal microphone, bringing the clarity and warmth of a large diaphragm capsule to a low-profile body. In addition to a smooth high end with no harsh tones and an upper-midrange emphasis, included is also a full foam pop filter for even greater sound control.With exceptional feedback rejection, the can be used on even the loudest of stages.The microphone comes specifically tuned to handle any stage and still provide excellent feedback rejection. Chosen by performers in diverse genres, from R&B (Andra Day) to indie folk (Rachel Sermanni) to roots (Dustbowl Revival), Chantelle has a beautiful copper body and distinctive aesthetic that will inspire singers to give their best performance. Chantelle is an end-address large-diaphragm condenser with a flexible pivoting body, excellent for vocals live, in studio, and in videos. This microphone is perfect for any vocalist wanting a diverse sound with a great amount of control over feedback and tone. With a great design and a very slick aesthetic, this microphone is sure to be a great addition for any singer's arsenal. FEATURES Hand-made microphone with unique appearance Side or end address, using pivoting bracket Capsule and electronics tuned for close vocal use on the loudest of stages with excellent feedback rejection Internal shock dampers for minimal handling noise Integral silk and mesh pop filter, for effective control of plosives without loss of clarity Transformerless FET fully balanced electronics Highest quality hand-wired electronic components - film caps, precision resistors, hand tested and matched transistors, with component values tuned for the individual circuit. TECHNICAL SPECS: Transducer Type: Condenser, large (26 mm) diaphragm Polar Pattern: Cardioid Frequency Response: 20 - 15K hz (-3dB) Sensitivity: -49dB (4 mV/Pa) Output Impedance: <50 Ohm Noise Level(A-weighted): <17 dBA Power Requirement: +48V phantom power Weight: 1 lb (4 lbs cased) Dimensions: 8” x 2” x 2”; head is 2” in diameter Sku: ETL-CHANTELLE Hear The Chantelle *The Modern Vocalist World is brought to you by The Vocalist Studio, course and training for singers.
  6. The Copperphone by Placid Audio is a vintage character effect microphone. Unlike full range high fidelity microphones, it operates within a limited bandwidth of frequencies which imparts a compelling nostalgic quality on the signal. Some might compare the sound to an AM radio or an old telephone... The sound is achieved through a combination of the microphone’s element and a mechanical filtering device. The element is rear ported into a hollow resonant chamber and as sound passes through the diaphragm into the chamber, upper midrange frequencies are accentuated while low and high frequencies are reduced. The Copperphone can be used as a stand-alone mic on vocals or any other instrument to create an all-out, attention-grabbing sonic effect. Or it can be used in conjunction with a more traditional mic and the resulting signals can be blended together for subtle character and midrange enhancement. Sound samples of the Copperphone on vocals and various instruments can be heard here: https://www.placidaudio.com/products/copperphone/ The critically acclaimed Copperphone is the worlds most popular vintage effect microphone and used by hundreds of professionals and vocalists around the world. Here are just a few notable users: Norah Jones (Norah Jones) Sam Smith (Sam Smith, 2014 Grammy Winner) Annie Clark (St. Vincent, 2015 Grammy Winner) Sean Lennon (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Cibo Matto) Beck (Beck) Jack White (Raconteurs, The White Stripes) Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) Geddy Lee (Rush)
  7. The Copperphone by Placid Audio is a vintage character effect microphone. Unlike full range high fidelity microphones, it operates within a limited bandwidth of frequencies which imparts a compelling nostalgic quality on the signal. Some might compare the sound to an AM radio or an old telephone... The sound is achieved through a combination of the microphone’s element and a mechanical filtering device. The element is rear ported into a hollow resonant chamber and as sound passes through the diaphragm into the chamber, upper midrange frequencies are accentuated while low and high frequencies are reduced. The Copperphone can be used as a stand-alone mic on vocals or any other instrument to create an all-out, attention-grabbing sonic effect. Or it can be used in conjunction with a more traditional mic and the resulting signals can be blended together for subtle character and midrange enhancement. Sound samples of the Copperphone on vocals and various instruments can be heard here: https://www.placidaudio.com/products/copperphone/ The critically acclaimed Copperphone is the worlds most popular vintage effect microphone and used by hundreds of professionals and vocalists around the world. Here are just a few notable users: Norah Jones (Norah Jones) Sam Smith (Sam Smith, 2014 Grammy Winner) Annie Clark (St. Vincent, 2015 Grammy Winner) Sean Lennon (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Cibo Matto) Beck (Beck) Jack White (Raconteurs, The White Stripes) Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) Geddy Lee (Rush)
  8. The Copperphone by Placid Audio is a vintage character effect microphone. Unlike full range high fidelity microphones, it operates within a limited bandwidth of frequencies which imparts a compelling nostalgic quality on the signal. Some might compare the sound to an AM radio or an old telephone... The sound is achieved through a combination of the microphone’s element and a mechanical filtering device. The element is rear ported into a hollow resonant chamber and as sound passes through the diaphragm into the chamber, upper midrange frequencies are accentuated while low and high frequencies are reduced. The Copperphone can be used as a stand-alone mic on vocals or any other instrument to create an all-out, attention-grabbing sonic effect. Or it can be used in conjunction with a more traditional mic and the resulting signals can be blended together for subtle character and midrange enhancement. Sound samples of the Copperphone on vocals and various instruments can be heard here: https://www.placidaudio.com/products/copperphone/ The critically acclaimed Copperphone is the worlds most popular vintage effect microphone and used by hundreds of professionals and vocalists around the world. Here are just a few notable users: Norah Jones (Norah Jones) Sam Smith (Sam Smith, 2014 Grammy Winner) Annie Clark (St. Vincent, 2015 Grammy Winner) Sean Lennon (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Cibo Matto) Beck (Beck) Jack White (Raconteurs, The White Stripes) Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) Tom Petty (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) Geddy Lee (Rush)
  9. Sometimes great songs come quickly in a burst of inspiration. This is the story of my student Michael Murray who had a songwriting experience like that. Be sure to enjoy his performance video titled, "3000 Miles of Room". Special thanks to Ear Trumpet Labs Microphones for giving us the opportunity to record with their gorgeous "Chantelle" microphone. Check out these incredibly unique, handbuilt microphones from Portland, OR. http://www.eartrumpetlabs.com/ Michael has been a TVS student for about 2 years. He came into his lesson one week before this video was created and said, "I wrote a new song last night". When I heard the song I was blown away. This song has magic and it truly is great. I insisted that he come back immediately and record the song in our studio. Enjoy!
  10. Hi Guys, I would like to welcome you to my new website where I offer accompanying services- I provide already pre-recorded tracks as well as customised ones. Don't hesitate and get in touch. https://www.pianoaccompanimentforyou.com/
  11. Robert Lunte, of The Vocalist Studio and The Four Pillars of Singing shares some details about the Audio VX5, condenser microphone. Purchase the Audix VX5 here: http://www.TheVocalGearStore.com. Description The VX5 is a multi purpose, professional vocal condenser microphone designed for live, studio and broadcast applications. With an ability to duplicate studio quality sound on stage, the VX5 has a smooth and accurate frequency response, resistance to feedback and handles very high SPLs without distortion. Designed with a tight and uniformly controlled supercardioid polar pattern, the VX5 helps isolate vocals from the rest of the stage. Other features are a 14 mm gold vapor diaphragm, an acoustically ported steel mesh grill with a multi-stage pop filter, and a -10 dB pad and bass roll-off filter. The VX5 will handle SPLs in excess of 140 dB (with pad and roll-off engaged) and will provide over 20 dB of ambient noise rejection on live stages. In addition to vocal applications, the VX5 is designed to capture instruments such as guitars, woodwinds, brasses, percussion toys, drum overheads, hi-hats and pianos. The VX5 requires 18 - 52 V phantom power. Applications - Live and studio vocals, lead and backing - Speech - Acoustic instruments Please see the spec sheet under the specifications tab for more information about this product.
  12. Robert Lunte, of The Vocalist Studio and The Four Pillars of Singing shares some details about the Audio VX5, condenser microphone. Purchase the Audix VX5 here: http://www.TheVocalGearStore.com. Description The VX5 is a multi purpose, professional vocal condenser microphone designed for live, studio and broadcast applications. With an ability to duplicate studio quality sound on stage, the VX5 has a smooth and accurate frequency response, resistance to feedback and handles very high SPLs without distortion. Designed with a tight and uniformly controlled supercardioid polar pattern, the VX5 helps isolate vocals from the rest of the stage. Other features are a 14 mm gold vapor diaphragm, an acoustically ported steel mesh grill with a multi-stage pop filter, and a -10 dB pad and bass roll-off filter. The VX5 will handle SPLs in excess of 140 dB (with pad and roll-off engaged) and will provide over 20 dB of ambient noise rejection on live stages. In addition to vocal applications, the VX5 is designed to capture instruments such as guitars, woodwinds, brasses, percussion toys, drum overheads, hi-hats and pianos. The VX5 requires 18 - 52 V phantom power. Applications - Live and studio vocals, lead and backing - Speech - Acoustic instruments Please see the spec sheet under the specifications tab for more information about this product. View full articles
  13. Thank managers as well so to admit to all the members that make up this prestigious group. I want to tell about VocalCare® because that will be useful to you all.Many professionals in various disciplines who need and depend on their voice to perform work: singers, vocalists, coreutas, comedians, drivers on radio or TV, actors, lecturers, teachers, trainers, broadcasters, entertainers, business consultants and sales, telemarketers, pastors, etc.They use for many hours a day the voice as a basic tool to develop their work.Who must preserve your voice various factors that require daily.To all of them is aimed VocalCare®.And of course we realize that with the constant demands that arise on a day to day wear are produced in our tool, either by endogenous factors (inherent in ourselves or we can prevent), as well as exogenous factors ( we can not control or predict), which can produce significant changes in the organs that produce the voice and consequently deficits.The need to preserve our voice in optimal conditions led us to develop the most complete line of natural products for voice care !!VocalCare® is the answer to a better quality of life that helps us to protect and develop the most valuable asset we have: our voice !! More additional information on our website www.vocalcare.net
  14. RODE Microphones brings the big guns to iOS with the iXY RODE i-XY Podcast However good they claim to be I've always been a bit leary of using iOS devices along with the loads of 3rd party plug-in devices for anything remotely related to audio. Most surmount to little more than toys with sketchy build quality and laughable user interfaces that inevitably result in more irritation and poor quality sound than the price of admission. Australia-based Rode Microphones hopes to change that perception with the introduction of their iXY Stereo Microphone. Immediately out of the box its clear that Rode has brought the proverbial gun to a knife fight. The i-XY is unquestionably one of the most professional looking iThings to plug into the 30 pin dock of an iOS device. Side note - sorry iPhone 5 adopters there isn't an i-XY for you - yet. The Rode i-XY features twin stereo capsules in a clever X/Y stereo configuration and is housed in a rather attractive silver alloy casing. Machined allen-head screws complete with Rode's trademark gold pickup area dot and a b uilt-in power on indicator light fill out the look. Construction is in fact so robust that in hand it feels almost as if Rode constructed the iXY out of a solid block of aluminum. The 30 pin connector fits rather tightly into the base of your iOS device leaving little concern for getting dislodged. Along with the iX Y unit comes twin foam wind screens as well as a compact hard zipped carrying case. Rode also provides a recording app - RØDE Rec - for download in the iTunes store. More on that below. Order RODE i-XY Recording Microphone for iPhone and iPad from The Vocal Gear Store I tested the i-XY with a variety of sound sources from spoken voice to acoustic guitar as well as a rather l oud metal concert. The i-XY seemed to handle all with relative ease and had more than enough headroom to preserve the original recording without clipping or phasing issues. The noise floor was reasonably low for a field recording microphone with minimal background noise when recording in quieter settings such as acoustic guitar. However, as expected, the Rode did prefer to be as close to the source as possible especially when dealing with soft-spoken tracks. Overall the iXY gives any high-quality field recording array some solid competition from the standpoint of preserving the original source. While the Rode i-XY is an impressive piece of hardware on its own the available Rode Rec iOS app is what makes the i-XY shine. Starting with the ability to track in 24-bit 96 kHz resolution the Rode Rec app also features built-in editing much like a DAW as well as the ability to add various effects such as compression, EQ and some additional processing courtesy of Izotope. While recording you also have the option of live monitoring through the iPhone/iPads build in 1/8" mini jack. The main recording transport screen features quick rather accurate metering that's a nice bonus and when the device is flipped sideways the transport gives way to simple yet intui tive editing screen which allows for simple to more complex fades and trimming. Once you complete your recording tapping the 'Share' tab reveals a rather complete set of file sharing including SoundCloud, Dropbox and the usual email and iTunes options. Talking about iPhones and iPads, take a look on this wonderful iPad accessory - Hercules DG305B iPad Holder, order online from The Vocal Gear Store When it comes high-quality field recording for iOS devices Rode brings their A-Game with the iXY. They've managed to package high-quality hardware with a clever and complete recording application that in our opinion negates the need to carry around a separate field recording device. The Rode iXY is available now for $199.00 on the street. The Rode Rec (not included) is available for $5.99 in the iTunes store. ~TN i -XY Specifications Acoustic PrinciplePressure GradientCapsule0.50"Polar PatternAddress TypeEndFrequency Range20Hz - 20kHzMaximum SPL120dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)Sensitivity-42.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (8.52mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHzEquivalent Noise Level (A-weighted)18dB-APower Options(Powered by iOS device)Weight40.00gm 46.00mmH x 55.00mmW x 40.00mmD http://www.rode.com/microphones/ixy Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  15. RODE Microphones brings the big guns to iOS with the iXY RODE i-XY Podcast However good they claim to be I've always been a bit leary of using iOS devices along with the loads of 3rd party plug-in devices for anything remotely related to audio. Most surmount to little more than toys with sketchy build quality and laughable user interfaces that inevitably result in more irritation and poor quality sound than the price of admission. Australia-based Rode Microphones hopes to change that perception with the introduction of their iXY Stereo Microphone. Immediately out of the box its clear that Rode has brought the proverbial gun to a knife fight. The i-XY is unquestionably one of the most professional looking iThings to plug into the 30 pin dock of an iOS device. Side note - sorry iPhone 5 adopters there isn't an i-XY for you - yet. The Rode i-XY features twin stereo capsules in a clever X/Y stereo configuration and is housed in a rather attractive silver alloy casing. Machined allen-head screws complete with Rode's trademark gold pickup area dot and a b uilt-in power on indicator light fill out the look. Construction is in fact so robust that in hand it feels almost as if Rode constructed the iXY out of a solid block of aluminum. The 30 pin connector fits rather tightly into the base of your iOS device leaving little concern for getting dislodged. Along with the iX Y unit comes twin foam wind screens as well as a compact hard zipped carrying case. Rode also provides a recording app - RØDE Rec - for download in the iTunes store. More on that below. Order RODE i-XY Recording Microphone for iPhone and iPad from The Vocal Gear Store I tested the i-XY with a variety of sound sources from spoken voice to acoustic guitar as well as a rather l oud metal concert. The i-XY seemed to handle all with relative ease and had more than enough headroom to preserve the original recording without clipping or phasing issues. The noise floor was reasonably low for a field recording microphone with minimal background noise when recording in quieter settings such as acoustic guitar. However, as expected, the Rode did prefer to be as close to the source as possible especially when dealing with soft-spoken tracks. Overall the iXY gives any high-quality field recording array some solid competition from the standpoint of preserving the original source. While the Rode i-XY is an impressive piece of hardware on its own the available Rode Rec iOS app is what makes the i-XY shine. Starting with the ability to track in 24-bit 96 kHz resolution the Rode Rec app also features built-in editing much like a DAW as well as the ability to add various effects such as compression, EQ and some additional processing courtesy of Izotope. While recording you also have the option of live monitoring through the iPhone/iPads build in 1/8" mini jack. The main recording transport screen features quick rather accurate metering that's a nice bonus and when the device is flipped sideways the transport gives way to simple yet intui tive editing screen which allows for simple to more complex fades and trimming. Once you complete your recording tapping the 'Share' tab reveals a rather complete set of file sharing including SoundCloud, Dropbox and the usual email and iTunes options. Talking about iPhones and iPads, take a look on this wonderful iPad accessory - Hercules DG305B iPad Holder, order online from The Vocal Gear Store When it comes high-quality field recording for iOS devices Rode brings their A-Game with the iXY. They've managed to package high-quality hardware with a clever and complete recording application that in our opinion negates the need to carry around a separate field recording device. The Rode iXY is available now for $199.00 on the street. The Rode Rec (not included) is available for $5.99 in the iTunes store. ~TN i -XY Specifications Acoustic PrinciplePressure GradientCapsule0.50"Polar PatternAddress TypeEndFrequency Range20Hz - 20kHzMaximum SPL120dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)Sensitivity-42.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (8.52mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHzEquivalent Noise Level (A-weighted)18dB-APower Options(Powered by iOS device)Weight40.00gm 46.00mmH x 55.00mmW x 40.00mmD http://www.rode.com/microphones/ixy Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International. View full articles
  16. Smart VL2 software on PC/Windows extends features of TC-HELICON Voicelive 2 allowing wireless remote control from any microphone; Playing WAV and MIDI files related to presets and steps that can automate effects changes and/or control harmony while playing. Not to mention the full-screen visual control. The software now already available for Voicelive2 will also be released soon for others devices of Voicelive series. Website: http://www.smartvl.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smartvl
  17. Throw out your vintage effects, this mic does it better. You can find Placid Audio products on Vocal Gear Store. Most of the time in either a live or studio situati on when I'm looking to give a vocal track a bit more of a distinctive sound I instinctively either reach for some flavor of an effects processor or my favorite plugin. Why? Because generally unless one enjoys combing through Craigslist and eBay listings for that perfectly elusive esoteric microphone, modern effects processors with hundreds if not thousands of available models to choose from often sound quite good in addition to offering nearly infinite control over our sound. Convenience, however comes at a price and there is one effect situation in my experience where the cold unfeeling electronics continually seem come up a bit short of something authentic sounding: the vintage "telephone" effect. Sometimes there's no replacement for the real thing and thanks to Mark Pirro of Placid Audio we have something called the Copperphone Mini that may just fill that niche. INTRODUCING THE COPPERPHONE MINI Placid Audio was initially spurred by a need of the singer of Pirro's band - The Polyphonic Spree - to find the perfect vintage sounding microphone. Instead of trying to actually find something authentically old Mark - whom is also a sound engineer - decided to have a crack at creating his own. After creating a few prototypes, word started to spread around the musician community and in 2003 Pirro started producing small quantities in his garage outside of Dallas, Texas to fill the need. As popularity grew he created two additional models, one of which is the Copperphone Mini . One of the most distinctive features about the Copperphone series is Placid Audio builds them out of rather robust looking polished copper housings. The Copperphone mini is no exception and is rather attractive to look at especially when installed it is removable aluminum shock mount housing. Construction and fit and finish is high grade and I would say the overall look belies its $299.00 MSRP. Oddly enough the Copperphone Mini was originally designed with Harmonica players in mind but after artists started using it on vocals, guitars, upright basses and the like it became apparent that the point of the Mini isn't the application but rather the creativity it can introduce into the sound. The Copperphone Mini uses a fairly forgiving dynamic as well as a cardioid pickup pattern to make it fairly versatile both live and in studio. Contrary to the look the Mini does not use any vintage internal components but rather high-grade modern electronics with an impressively low noise floor. It should be noted that any mic or effects box operating in a limited frequency bandwidth can increase the potential for feedback depending on how much gain you are trying to pump through it. However, in practice I didn't find the Mini to be any better or worse compared to other similar devices when pushed beyond realistic limitations. THE SOUND OF NOSTALGIA So then how does the Copperphone Mini sound? Impressive. On vocals, the Mini finds an excellent balance between that vintage lo-fi effect and leaving a wide enough of a frequency band so the vocals still have some weight to cut through the mix. The Mini when compared to some telephone effects I had in my signal chain really shined with its warm analog goodness. I found the Mini to inspire more creativity than just a stock telephone effect as I felt generally it had a much more authentic sound and that could even be varied by careful use of proximity effect. WRAP UP With its tank-like boutique build quality, killer vintage sound and lifetime warranty the Copperphone Mini is decidedly one to consider adding to the arsenal. It's not so much IF you'll find a use for it but rather WHEN and I'm willing to bet the first time you do you'll quickly find more and more uses. We at TMV are certainly having some fun with ours. ~TN Copperphone Mini Specs: - Type: Dynamic - Polar Pattern: Cardioid - Frequency Response: 200Hz , 1.4kHz - Impedance: 150 ohms - Output: 105 +/- 2dB SPL @ 1 kHz - Microphone Dimensions: 1.75 inch x 2.25 inch - Shock Mount Dimensions: 6 inch diameter x 0.75 inch - Weight: 0.75 lbs FEATURES - High-grade passive variable reluctance transducer - High-quality Switchcraft 3 pin XLR connector - Rugged copper housing and components - Dismounting kit for optional ergonomic handheld use - Handcrafted in the U.S.A - Lifetime operational warranty - Aircraft aluminum shock mount ring to fit North American style stands http://www.placidaudio.com/products/copperphone-mini/ Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  18. Has anyone ever tried these products? They seem to have a solid reputation and are well endorsed. Thank you, Bob http://www.tmrgsolutions.com/shop/tmrg-classic/#.Vv8H0PkrK2y
  19. Robert Lunte, founder of The Vocalist Studio International offers some insights regarding the TC-Helicon, Performance-V processor for singers. VISIT THESE SITES TO LEARN MORE: http://www.TC-Helicon.com http://www.TheFourPillarsofSinging.com
  20. Ever wanted to add some sparkle to your mic cable? Item: Neutrik crystalCON, Decorative Mic Cable Connectors Price: $18 (US), £15 (UK) (per connector) Mic Rating: 4/5 At A Glance: Neutrik’s crystalCON range consist of XLR (mic) connectors that are decorated with Swarovski crystals to add some sparkle to your mic cable. They have a tough black metal housing and gold plated contacts to ensure you get a great quality connection to your microphone that will withstand years of use. The connectors also support Neutrik’s colored coding rings that allow you to add a further degree of customisation so that your mic lead doesn’t get mixed up with your band mates if you all have similar looking cables. High Notes: The are available in both male (NC3MXX-B-CRYSTAL) and female (NC3FXX-B-CRYSTAL) XLR connection formats – so you could just solder one to the end of your mic cable that is on display if you wanted to and not have to buy both connectors. The CRYSTALLIZEDTM, Swarovski Elements stand out nicely against the Black chromium chassis and the color ring can be changed without unsoldering insert. Off Pitch: Adding crystals to your mic cable won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Also, there are very few ready-made cables available that use the connectors – so you may need to solder your own. VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: Love them or hate them, Neutrik’s crystalCON connectors offer something a bit different from your usual mic cable connectors. They are built to an excellent quality and if your stage look involves a lot of sparkles, then these could be the perfect to addition to your setup. It is a shame that there are very few ready-made cables available that feature these connections, as I’m sure many singers are not that confident using a soldering iron (however, it’s not as difficult as you might think and can be a useful skill to learn). If you also play guitar or keyboards while you sing, Neutrik also produce a ¼ jack lead version of the connector if you want it to match your mic lead. Manufacturer’s Website: Neutrik Other Reviews: We could not find any other reviews at the time of publishing.
  21. What is a vocalist's gig bag? Generally speaking, a vocalist's gig bag is a bag in which you will keep all of your tools as a serious vocalist so that you will always have everything you need for the gig, practice or your voice lessons. I have been training contemporary vocalists for over 10 years and performing live and recording since I was a teenager. The following recommendations are field tested. If you have any questions about these products, please feel free to contact me on The Modern Vocalist or send me an email at robert@thevocaliststudio.com and we can talk your specific application. Recommended Vocal Gear Microphones RODE M1 (dynamic) RODE M2 (condenser)Electro -Voice N/D 767a Electro-Voice N/D 967a Electro-Voice PL80aSENNHEISER e935 AKG D7 Lampifier 111TC-Helicon MP-75 Neumann 104 The Samson Airline 77 (Wireless Microphone Solution) Vocal Effect Pedals TC-Helicon Mic Mechanic TC-Helicon VoiceTone Create XT TC-Helicon Doubler (simulates studio doubling) TC-Helicon Correct (compression)TC-Helicon VoiceTone Singles D1 Digital Audio Work Stations (DAW) & Plug-ins LogicPro X (The DAW from Apple. Can be found on a Mac Book) Nector 2 Suite (DAW Vocal Plug-in)Waves (DAW Vocal Plug-ins) Vocal Rider Vitamin Doubler Olympus LS-12 Live Recorder (for quick plug-in play demos) Microphone Pre-Amps Universal Audio Twin-Finity 710 (Professional Level) Focusrite ISA One (Professional Level) Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (Home Recording Solution) Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (Home Recording Solution) Headphones Extreme Isolation Headphones X-29s Other Vocal Gear Master Writer Sofware Singer's Tea & The Vocal Inhaler Olympus Hand held Digital Recorder (The WS SeriesHercules Microphone Stands Pocket Tone or purchase the PocketTones app. on iPhone. Vocal booth to go or Sterling Reflection Filter Spectrum Software Recommendations PC: " Voce Vista" Click HERE >>> Apple (iPhone & iPad only): "Spectrum Analyzer" by ONYX Settings: FFT Size - 8192 / Window - Rect / Average - Fast / Graph - Mixed / Scale Log CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE RECOMMENDED VOCAL GEAR * This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  22. INTRODUCTING: The Electro-Voice N/D767a Dynamic Mic A vocal microphone is a very personal item. It's the key element you have for showcasing your work and talent. It can also be the difference between an outstanding performance or blowing your voice out halfway through the set. Admittedly a competent sound engineer can do a fair amount to remedy vocal issues in a live environment but the best way to to ensure a great sound is actually in your control at the head of the signal chain - YOUR mic. When I first heard about the EV N/D767a I'll admit that a vocal microphone costing $100 and marketing itself as a "premium" mic triggered my skepticism considering some of the notable competition including the industry standard Shure Beta58a and Audix OM5 (both dynamic mics) are nearly $60 more. Did I mention the EV came out nearly 10 years ago? So how good could this mic really be? Electro-Voice N/D767a Dynam ic Mic: Design And Useability In the box the Electro-Voice 767a comes with the usual compliment of padded zipper bag, clip and spec sheet. Nothing out of the ordinary here. It comes dressed for the party all-businesslike in the standard EV black with gold bumper strip around the windscreen - not exactly sexy but fit and finish is excellent. EV uses a rubber sleeve on the body of the mic that they like to call WarmGrip that not only feels better and grippier compared to more standard painted metal bodies but likely contributes to reduced handling noise. And yes for those of you with perpetually cold hands it does in fact feel warmer than a metal body. One thing that EV has done with this microphone that I appreciate is how nicely balanced it feels in-hand with the fatter than most grip on the body. Some mics have a tendency to feel a bit top-heavy at the windscreen which over the course of a set or rehearsal can start to feel fatiguing. Electro-Voice N/D767a Dynamic Mic: Specifications The EV N/D767a is classified as a supercardioid dynamic which in lamens terms means it should be excellent at rejecting input anywhere but directly in front of the mic as well as being able to be subjected to very high gain levels before feedback-something of critical importance in a live situation. While specs don't tell the entire story it's notable to point out the 767 touts a close-up frequency range of 35hz-22,000hz which, on paper, looks rather impressive compared to some of the other offerings out there. I should note however that its hard to say whether that additional frequency response is actually usable considering a pretty steep roll-off after a +12-13db bump around 12khz. I suspect some of this to be what amounts to clever marketing in the specs department. Finally unscrewing the top half of the windscreen reveals what is a HUGE diaphragm and likely what helps give the EV its big meat and potatoes sound. Electro-Voice N/D767a Dynamic Mic: Sound Characteristics I would consider my voice to fall into the tenor category with a significant amount of ring [read: overtones] but not really much to spare in the low end category. The biggest issue I run across with other vocal mics is lack of low-end cut. At best this results in a thin sound that ends up getting lost in the mix and at worst it borders on shrill. By the time I've managed to get the gain to an acceptable level to hear myself we're already deep into the feed back zone. This is where the EV really shines. Using what they refer to as VOB i.e. Vocal Optimized Bass which is likely a combination of the aforementioned big diaphragm plus some clever electronics the EV provides an excellent amount of low end grunt. I find this to be especially useful in more sensitive passages where I'm using lower parts of my range while singing right up on the windscreen. This is typically where in a live situation my vocals would dissapear for lack of gain before feedback with other vocal mics. For those of us who like to use the proximity effect to get the most out of a scream here or there in our work the EV accomodates this nicely as well. I found the 767 to be excellent at rejecting feedback when half-covering the windscreen during a screaming passage. Occasionally I have found the 767 to borderline on bein g a bit boomy in the mids depending on the PA and vocal effects but this can usually be corrected via EQ. Another excellent trait of this mic is clarity. I went through a phase of about a year where I was sick of dealing with cables so I had put away my 767 and was instead using my wireless Shure Beta87A condenser. As luck would have it at a recent rehearsal my battery ran down and I didn't have a replacement so I pulled out the EV. We ran through a song with the EV and immediately afterwards my bandmates commented on how much better they could hear every word I was singing. As we finished out the set I was reminded to just how sensitive this mic is at capturing the little vocal nuances that tend to otherwise get lost in the mix. I was actually able to adjust the gain on the PA down slightly and still have the vocals sit comfortably in the live mix. WRAP-UP The Electro-Voice N/D767 is an all-around good if not excellent live performer. It's smooth character, excellent dynamics and and high gain before feedback make it a winner in my book and at $100 you would be hard-pressed to find a better value. Generally speaking this mic would be a great fit for most female performers as well as baritone and tenor range male singers. For very husky sounding female and bass male voices I highly recommend trying before you buy due to its tendency to slightly exaggerate the lower range. EV N/D767a Product Page What's your take on the EV N/D767a? Feel free to send any comments and or suggestions to me directly at travis@travisnorth.net. Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  23. The Aussies Gave Us The Rode M1: Was It Worth While? Somebody told me once that Australia is like the United States minus about 10 years of progress. I didn't exactly get the point but I would have to disagree. The Aussies have given us things such as the Electric Drill as well as the modern WiFi standard ( Wireless LAN IEEE 802.11 ) used in just about every connected device out there from Laptops to e-Readers. They are also home to Rode Microphones.{C} A Brief History Of How The Rode M1 Came About Rode got its start in the late 1960's when two Swedes, Henry and Astrid Freedman, emigrated to Australia and opened a small pro audio shop according to the RODE website. They spent the next 20 years honing their craft and finally, in 1990, Rode Microphones was born with the release of the RODE NT1 studio mic. The NT1 was unique in that it was one of the first studio quality mic's introduced that was actually within reach of the project studio budget - a completely new market that was just coming into its own in the early 90's with the introduction of the DAW. Over the next 20 years they would continue to build on the original concept of the most microphone for the dollar in the studio. More recently however Rode has expanded into the live audio market with the RODE M1. Rode M1: Look And Feel Order from The Vocal Gear Store Click HERE I had to snicker a bit at the rather innovative packaging [ read: a CAN! ] the Rode M1 comes in. In typical Seattle fashion I initially thought to myself, "Well, this can be recycled right!?" Rode deserves points for originality and its nice to have another potential safe option for transport besides the standard soft case. Outside of said can-in-lieu-of-box the usual suspects of mic, clip, spec sheet, soft case can be found inside. The mic clip actually looks extra beefy compared to most. Extra bonus: If you register your mic on www.rodemic.com the 1 year warranty magically extends to a LIFETIME warranty! The M1 itself won't actually stop traffic with its looks but certainly won't send everyone packing. Just don't expect anyone to say "Hey dude! What kind of mic is that!?" Elegantly Understated is the operative phrase here. The dark satin gray finish looks classy and aside from the small Rode M1 lettering near the gold-plated XLR connection there are no other graphics. The gold dot near the pop screen is a nice throwback to Rode's start in capacitor mics but considering the M1 is a cardiod dynamic this is clearly decorative here. Rode M1: Useability In hand the Rode M1 feels solid and substantial at 360 grams. Comparatively speaking, the Shure Beta 58a weights in at 278g and the recently reviewed EV N/D767a is a relative flyweight at 260g. Despite the aforementioned porkiness, the Rode is fairly short at 171mm which combined with a relatively fat tapered body feels nicely balanced and comfortable. While the integral grill/pop filter feels pretty stout I would be a bit leary to see what happens the first time this mic gets dropped on its head. Rode M1: Specs As stated earlier, the Rode M1 is a dynamic mic and sports a cardiod pickup pattern. Rode advertises the frequency range as 75Hz - 18,000Hz which looking at the frequency graph seems about right. After a slight rise around 150-200Hz to probably add a touch of warmth theres a gradual rolloff from 150Hz down. Response upward from there is fairly flat with the exception of a broad bump of approximately +6db around 7-8000Hz which could lend itself towards a little air or sparkle to the vocals. Rode states it's sensitivity as -56dB ±2dB re 1V/Pa (1.6mV @ 94 dB SPL) @ 1kHz which is more or less inline with the Shure SM58 (1.85mV @ 94 dB SPL) and the Audix OM5 (1.8mV @ 94 dB SPL) with the outlier being the considerably more sensitive EV N/D767a at 3.1mV @ 94 dB SPL. Rode M1: Test For the sound test, I was fortunate enough to have a number of mic's at my disposal including the Audix OM5, Shure SM58, Shure Beta 87a, and of course, my trusty EV N/D767a - all dynamics with the exception of the Beta 87a. I came prepared with the instrumentals for a new track I'm working on and proceeded to work through the song with each of the mics starting with the Rode M1. Upon powering up the Rode M1 I noted that handling noise is quite low. Short of swinging the mic around wildly by its cable in raucous fashion, it definitely does just as good as its competition. Likewise, feedback with the cardiod pickup patte rn is also very well controlled. With the mains up at significantly high levels I had to get dangerously close to the PA speakers before feedback started rearing its ugly head. Plosives were also well controlled with thanks to fairly thick foam contained within the grill. Rode M1: Comparison If I had to make a comparison sound-wise I would call the Rode M1 the illegitimate love child of a SM58 and Beta87A.The Rode exhibits some of the warmness of the SM58 minus the muddiness but seems to share more of the natural flat frequency response sound of the Beta87A. As a result it almost sounds more akin to a condenser mic than a dynamic. The Rode M1 exhibits a nice but not overly pronounced airiness to vocals on the upper end and generally gives the vocals a clarity that is very studio-like in nature. When using both the OM5 and N/D767a I noticed just how much more presence both microphones had over the Rode. My voice sounded not only more full but while singing through some more challenging passages with some sustained belts hovering around high A/B I was actually able to use about 15-20% less effort vocally. Again with both the EV and OM5 the harmonics naturally present in my voice seemed to be better showcased than with the Rode. WRAP UP With the Rode M1, Rode has brought what amounts to a very solid addition into the already somewhat crowded live microphone arena. Their years of experience building top-notch yet within reach studio microphones has led them to create a live vocal mic that not only approaches condenser studio-like quality in sound but is built to withstand ridiculous amounts of abuse. I have a feeling a lot of these will be going strong well after the grill has crusted over with nasty green growth and the 10-year warranty expires. Your mileage may vary but at the end of the day my only gripe is that its natural sounding dynamics may not give your vocals as much cut through a live mix as you might want. On the flip side if you naturally have a bigger sounding voice and an Audix or EV borderlines on honky then th is may very well be an excellent option. Regardless, at $99 USD the Rode M1 is a hellava lot of microphone for the money and if you happen to be in the market for a new premium live mic then this one is certainly worth a look. Rode Microphones - www.rodemic.com Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  24. Is The Allen & Heath ZED-22FX Mixing Desk For You? Hello, everyone! My name is Sebastian Zuendorf (yes, even hard to pronounce in English for myself) and I'm both a sound engineer and singer. In the future, I will review some vocal-related products like microphones, mixers, effects processors and other equipment like that and show you what it can do for you. For now, I will tell you something about the Allen&Heath ZED-22FX small format mixing desk. And as this unit is fully dedicated to audio, it will be an audio review. Allen & Heath ZED-22FX Mixing Desk: Test Ok, let's get started with the overview in which I will tell you about the main features: Part 1: ZED-22FX Overview I hope you enjoy listening to these little samples from a very fine small format mixing desk. Made in China but engineered in the UK, it sounds quite good to my ears, is easy to operate and will last for years due to it's sturdy construction. You will find more information at the Allen&Heath Homepage. As always, I have to say I'm not a native speaker so please bear with me :-) Corrections and comments are very welcome! http://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/zed-22fx/ Review by Sebastian Zuendorf *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.
  25. Electro-Harmonix Vocoder: Dedicated To Voice At Last? "Don't they make guitar pedals?!," I thought to myself when I first got word of a new Electro-Harmonix Vocoder box coming home to roost in the The Modern Vocalist Journal test barn. While over the years a lot of EH pedals have likely been used for vocal effects in the name of experimentation it has only been within the last couple years that Electro-Harmonix have begun to develop a dedicated line of vocal effects processors including the v256 Vocoder, the Iron Lung, and Voice Box vocal synth processor. I say dedicated in that all 3 of these processors come with a built in mic pre-amp with XLR connections meaning you can actually plug a mic directly in without the necessity of an external mixer or separate pre-amp. Electro-Harmonix: Company History Electro-Harmonix got its start in the late 1960's when an R&B keyboard player named Mike Matthews had fi nally had enough of his salesman job at IBM and decided to focus on his music. Unfortunately the income stream as a musician wasn't going to cut the proverbial mustard to support both him and his wife so he set about working with an audio repair friend of his to manufacture and market a guitar fuzz pedal. At about the same time the demand for effects pedals was starting to pick up due to some cutting edge sounds featured on the latest albums by a few notable artists including Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. After some success distributing the pedal through a deal with the Guild Guitar Company, Matthews officially began developing and marketing new effects pedals including the Linear Power Booster and Big Muff under the name Electro-Harmonix. Over the next 20 years he would continue to primarily focus on the stomp box effects model until the mid 1980's when Electro-Harmonix changed directions to primary produce vacuum tubes. This would continue until the mid 90's when demand and prices for the vintage EH effect boxes started to increase on the secondary market at which time a decision was made to start manufacturing reissue versions of the original effects pedals. They were so well received that in 2002 Electro-Harmonix decided to expand on the original lineup which in 2009 included the creation of the v256 Vocoder. The Electro-Harmonix v256 Design And Durability: ANALOGUE? NO! OLD-SCHOOL? YES! The v256 Vocoder comes out of the box looking very much like the vintage 70's EH line complete with naked die-cast case and retro orange decals. This is by design as EH specs their new gear to look like the old-school versions right down to the switchgear. It's actually a refreshing departure from the typically menu-driven feature packed vocal effects boxes currently on the market. You won't find any LCD screens here. In it's place is a clean well-marked layout with simple LED mode lights, sturdy foot switches, micro-toggle switches and smooth rotary knobs. Don't be fooled into thinking this puppy is all analogue however. Removing the 4 screws holding the back plate on reveals a modern micro-processor controlled device. That being said on the input side of things you will find balanced XLR mic input with a high/low mic gain mode as well as phantom power for condenser mics as well as instrument control input and midi control in. Output includes a dry instrument out and balanced wet effects XLR out. Overall I have only two relatively small issues with the design. First is a +9v mini-power connector located in the rear which is affixed directly to the circuit board without any chassis reinforcement. While this is perfectly acceptable and not uncommon, it does raise some concern about long term durability. Considering most of the other connections and controls are chassis mounted it would have been nice to see one of the most used connection points also have more robust mounting. Secondly it would have been nice to see the 5 control knobs at the top of the device actually line up to their respective 12 0'clock positions in relation to the centered detents. Electro-Harmonix v256: Features And Modes Order Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder with Reflex-Tune from The Vocal Gear Store Click HERE The Electro-Harmonix v256 comes out o f the box with a total of 7 different modes: Robo-vocoder mode, single, major, and minor drone modes as well as transposition, instrument control and reflex-tune. Each mode can then be custom tailored via the blend, bands, tones, gender bender, and pitch controls. As you dial these into your liking you can set each custom setting to one of the respective 9 available presets. As a rock guy I don't tend to venture too deep into the vocal effects category aside from the usual delay/reverb. Instead I prefer to focus on delivering a solid vocal performance and don't necessarily want to concern myself with switching effects. So when I first fired up the v256 the only thing going through my head was how to potentially find a way to incorporate this into my material. My test of the v256 used a Rode NTK tube condenser mic to the vocoder and then routed through a TC Helicon Voice Live for a bit of delay/reverb to an otherwise dry mix. Starting at the top with the Robo-Vox mode after about 30 seconds of tweaking I was instantly reminded of the song Mr. Roboto off the 1983 Styx album Kilroy was Here. The next few modes consist of drone single note modes. With tweaks you can pretty much get as crazy and cartoonish as you want but in keeping with the theme of fitting these into my own material I focused primarily on the drone modes. With a little experimentation by primarily dialing down the blend and the gender bender controls in single drone mode, I was able to get some nice subtle undertone notes that gave the vocals a little extra kick on some simpler melody lines. Then bringing the gender bender back up to the 12 o'clock position the vocals took on a slick "doubled" effect. The other mode I found myself focusing more on was the minor drone mode. I took a song of mine with minor tonality feel and by adjusting the pitch and bands controls I was able to emulate a fairly convincing minor harmony tonality for a particular vocal line. Overall the real beauty of the v256 lies in it's simplicity of actually providing direct controls instead of menu's. This leads to worrying less about whether the mix is set at 38.5% or whatever and instead more on what it sounds like. That's not to say that you wouldn't necessarily want that type of finite control but sometimes the details and menu's can get in the way of creativity. I didn't spend as much time with the last 3 modes however they could certainly prove useful. Transposition does pretty much as you would think. The pitch control knob will directly transpose the note sung up to +/-1 octave. Here's your Barry White or Alvin and the Chipmunks sound. Instrument control enables an instrument to control the pitch with the amount of control being tweakable via the Pitch knob. Finally, Reflex-tune has the capability of giving you that T-Pain sound but should you turn the Pitch knob fully counter-clockwise will also act as plain pitch correction. After a few quick adjustments, I managed to g et some very natural smooth sounding basic pitch correction that in my opinion sounded every bit as good as some of the more fully-featured vocal boxes. WRAP UP: ORANGE BOX OF WONDERS Don't get me wrong. The v256 is not going to take the place of the primary effects box in your signal chain. It's something that must be used tastefully. However for something just calling itself a vocoder the EH v256 packs a lot in there. From wild Robo sounds to fairly realistic harmonies to simple pitch correction this device will find a use in just about any genre. The lack of menu driven architecture that is commonplace on the vast majority of vocal effects boxes today makes it easy to start dialing in your sounds and getting good results right away. It inspires you to be creative and makes it easy to step outside the box however sane or crazy that may be. Review by Travis North *This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.