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Digitech Vocal Harmony Processors (part 5)

The first thing you will notice about using the Studio Vocalist is how precise the harmonies are. This will probably come as quite a novelty after years of trying to get real singers to be as precise as this, and early Queen style vocal harmonies come out of the speakers almost unbidden...

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The first thing you will notice about using the Studio Vocalist is how precise the harmonies are. This will probably come as quite a novelty after years of trying to get real singers to be as precise as this, and early Queen style vocal harmonies come out of the speakers almost unbidden. Eventually, you may wish for something a little more like what ordinary people can manage, so Digitech have thoughtfully provided a number of 'humanising' features. These are Gender, which I have already mentioned, Detune, Vibrato, Scoop and Timing. Gender here isn't just a matter of being male or female. You can choose which you want to be and then set a value from -50 to +50. A masculinity or femininity value if you like. The idea is to make multiple harmonies sound as though they are coming from different people instead of clones of the soloist, and it works. The Detune function adds what Digitech call 'a subtle out-of-tuneness' to the harmony voices. Human voices are rarely perfectly in tune and Studio Vocalist doesn't have to be either. Vibrato is another human feature, one that often becomes more pronounced the older the singer is! Vibrato parameters include Depth, Rate, Type (sine, square wave, sawtooth up, sawtooth down), Delay and Randomness. Scoop is a technique (or do I mean mannerism?) where a singer hits a note slightly below pitch and then slides up to correct pitch. Scoop can be introduced randomly, or via MIDI velocity data. Timing is a variable delay before the onset of a harmony note, which also can be randomised.

With all this functionality, you might think that creating and storing programs would be pretty difficult, since each time you use the unit you will probably require a different harmony. Fortunately, Digitech have provided a 'Style' feature where you can edit harmonies and each of the humanising functions in detail, and then store them independently as Styles. Styles can be mixed and matched as necessary to create new harmony effects. I won't say that it is the work of a moment to create a harmony that exactly suits what you are trying to achieve, but if you compare it with the alternative of writing it all down and working with a group of singers, then I think you will see it in its correct proportion.


Features and facilities

Studio 5000

  • Effects
    • Two and four voice harmony
    • Two voice harmony with distortion
    • Four voice harmony with regeneration
    • Chord shifter
    • String pad
    • Multitap delay
    • Stereo delay
    • Stereo chorus
    • Stereo flange
    • Dynamic filter
    • Graphic equalisers
    • Sampler
    • Stereo reverb
    • Distortion
    • Speaker and cabinet emulator
    • Modulation
    • Envelope generator
  • Inputs and outputs
    • Input left & right (left input doubles as effects return, right doubles as mono input)
    • Effects send
    • Output left & right
    • Headphones
    • MIDI IN, OUT & THRU
    • Continuous control pedal
    • Footswitch
    • Foot controller

Studio Vocalist

  • Harmony Types
    • Chordal
    • Scalic
    • Chromatic
    • Vocoder
    • Pitch Correct
  • Chord types
    • Major
    • Major 7th
    • Minor
    • Minor 7th
    • Dominant 7th
    • Minor 7th flattened 5th
    • Diminished 7th
    • Augmented 7th
    • Suspended
    • Suspended 7th
    • Scale types
    • Major
    • Minor
    • Whole Tone
    • Diminished
    • Blues
    • Dorian
    • Harmonic minor
    • Melodic minor
  • Humanising Features
    • Gender
    • Detune
    • Vibrato
    • Scoop
    • Timing
  • Inputs and outputs
    • Mic input (switchable 48V phantom power)
    • Line input
    • Effects send & return
    • Dry signal output
    • Right/Voice 1 output
    • Left/Voice 2 output
    • Voice 3 output
    • Voice 4 output
    • MIDI IN, OUT & THRU
    • Footswitch

Other units which incorporate pitch shifting:

  • Any of the Yamaha SPX series - rack mounting multi-effects units for everyone
  • Korg ih Interactive Vocal Harmony - compact pitch shifter controlled by Korg i-Series or other MIDI keyboards
  • Korg ToneWorks AX30G Guitar Hyperformance Processor - floor standing guitar effects processor
  • Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer DSP4000, Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer H3500, Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer H3000B - the last word in pitch shifting for pros with money to spend
  • Alesis Quadraverb 2 - pitch shifting in a snazzy reverb unit
  • Alesis Midiverb 4 - as above
  • Boss SE-70 Super Effects Processor - half rack pitch shifter probably for gigging musicians
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By David Mellor Thursday September 7, 2006
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