This vocal effects unit faces some stiff competition -says Chris Kennedy
Type:Vocal Effects Unit
Price:US: $249.00, UK: £175.00
At a Glance: The Boss VE-20 is a pedal controlled effects unit aimed at vocalists. It has an XLR in for a mic and connections for output to a PA or headphones. The VE-20 includes a wide range of effects, harmony generation, phrase looping and auto-tune all designed to enhance your vocal performance on stage at home.
High Notes: The unit has a range of presets to get you started that you can then adjust to suit your sound or you can create your own presets from scratch which can be saved and instantly recalled at a later date. Unlike other similar units, the VE-20 can run on either mains power or batteries. Its included ‘Phrase Looper’ can record up to 38 seconds of your voice which you can then loop, stop, start, and sing over – this can create many creative possibilities for live use as well as being useful for practice at home. The unit includes several standard vocal effects such as reverb and delay, however it also includes a selection of ‘Special FX’ (such as distortion, radio and strobe), real-time pitch correction for tuning your vocal performance and up to 3-part harmony generation.
Off Pitch: The large range of editable parameters and sounds may be a plus for some people, however there are also people who will find all the options a little complicated compared to the ease of use of other similar devices. Also, some of the included ‘Special FX’ are possibly a little gimmicky and may not be of much use to the majority of singers. As the unit does not have a guitar/keyboard input like some other units do, pitch correction and harmony generation is made harder to use as you have to manually select the key for each song. This also creates an added problem, for example, with minor keys where you want a sharpened 7th in the scale when moving to chord V, the device will only allow you to select a natural minor and, as such, will produce the wrong harmony part or tune your vocals to the wrong note.
A VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: Overall the Boss VE-20 is a very useful piece of kit for gigging vocalists. The quality of the effects is far better than found on most mixing consoles and will help you achieve a more professional sound on stage. Compared to other similar units the sound quality VE-20 stands up well, however the lack of guitar or keyboard input makes things a little trickier for live use as you will often need to set up a separate preset for each song. The unit faces stiff competition from similar devices from TC-Helicon and Digitech that are arguably a little easier to use and have inputs for guitar or keyboard, allowing greater accuracy for harmony generation and pitch correction.
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Chris Kennedy is the principal product 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.