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Review: Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer

Are you looking for a vocal effects pedal that offers something a bit different?

Item: Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer
Price: $199 (US), £165 (UK)
Mic Rating: 4/5

At A Glance: Roland’s VT-3 is a vocal effect processor that is designed to transform your voice in weird and wonderful ways. It is largely based on the Boss VT-1 vocal effect unit that was discontinued around a decade ago and has now become quite sort after; however, it also adds some additional effects and some modern features such as being able to operate as a 24-bit USB audio interface. There is a microphone/TRS input (with 48V phantom power if needed) and a stereo output that, at a flick of a switch, be set so that the processed signal is sent to the left jack, the raw input to the right. You can also connect headphones to the unit for experimenting at home or monitoring while recording. The device has 3 user-definable presets and can be powered via AC adapter or USB.

High Notes: The VT-3 is solidly built and looks great. The controls are well laid out and intuitive to use – in fact, they almost encourage you to play with them and find new creative possibilities. The effects are split into 4 sections. The first is the pitch control slider, which enables you to move the pitch your voice up and down by up to an octave. Secondly there is the formant control, that essentially makes you sound more ‘male’ or more ‘female’ depending on how you have it set, or switched to be used in “robot mode”, if you are after that particular sound. Then there is the main effects section with mix control that includes “AUTO PITCH”, “VOCODER”, “SYNTH”, “LEAD”, “BASS”, “MEGAPHONE”, “RADIO”, “SCATTER”. Finally, there is a reverb control.

Off Pitch: The Vocoder section does not allow an external carrier signal to be used with it, like a typical Vocoder would. The auto-pitch function can sometimes struggle to work properly with voices that are dramatically out of tune. Also, for some people, three user presets won’t quite be enough.

VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: The VT-3 is a fun device to play with and can produce some unique sounds that will work particularly well in electronic music genres. Some may feel that the price is a little high for what is essentially a niche product, however if you consider it in relation to the price of some boutique guitar FX pedals then the VT-3 does offer reasonable value. Although some of the effects can also be replicated by other devices (e.g. TC-Helicon or Digitech multi-effects units), the tactile nature of the VT-3 with its simple controls make it a pleasure to use and allow easy real-time adjustments of the effects. Ultimately the VT-3 isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes, and it’s not perfect in every way; however, if you are looking to experiment with something a little different to add to your vocal productions, then the VT-3 is definitely worth checking out.

Manufacturer’s Website: Roland

Other Reviews: MusicRadar | Sound On Sound | Resident Advisor

Chris Kennedy is the principal technology reviewer for voicecouncil.com. Chris is a musician in the United Kingdom – you can see more about his work at www.chriskennedymusic.co.uk You can also see more articles by Chris here.

  • keithkcummings

    …all I ask for is a serious performance vocal device that has high quality pre-amps, and several outstanding reverbs/delays for $700. Enough of the toys please Roland.

  • sustainpunch1

    We’d love to get our hands on this sweet vocal processor! Roland create some solid sounding equipment, but we haven’t seen much of them regarding vocal effects… so at that price-point in particular, it could go either way! We’ll be featuring it on our review website as soon as we get one in, as http://www.sustainpunch.com/