Electro-Harmonix Voice Box Harmony Machine/Vocoder Pedal
Originally published in Guitar World, October 2009
The Voice Box be more suitable for singers than guitar slingers, but it’s definitely a versatile unit for your guitar as well.
Throughout its history, Electro-Harmonix has offered guitarists numerous ways to make their guitars “talk.” The Golden Throat talk box provided the most convincing effects, but even the Talking Pedal, Frequency Analyzer and Soul Kiss (sold by E-H founder Mike Matthews’ New Sensor company in 1990) produced expressive vocal-like sounds.
Electro-Harmonix’s new Voice Box pedal is really more vocal processor than guitar effect, but it offers guitarists cool vocoder functions as well as two- to four-part vocal harmonies that follow the key of an instrument plugged into it. Add in reverb, octave shifting and a Unison mode with gender bending and Theremin-like whistle effects, and the Voice Box provides plenty of thrills for only a few bills.
Despite being housed in a six-by-five-inch box, the Voice Box is packed with more features than the average stomp box. The pedal provides nine selectable effect modes (six Harmonies, Octave Up and Down, Unison + Whistle and Vocoder) each with its own programmable preset memory. XLR input and output jacks are provided for a microphone along with a +45-volt phantom power switch for powering a condenser mic.
In addition to blend and voice mix controls that let you adjust the balance of dry/processed signals and harmony voices respectively, the Voice Box offers separate reverb level controls for dry and harmony vocals and a Gender Bender control that morphs your voice from high and feminine to low and macho.
The Vocoder effect produces everything from robot voices to angel choirs that are triggered by your voice but pitched the same as your instrument, which, when used effectively, could make William Hung sing like Susan Boyle (or Robo-Boyle). The other effects, however, require that you already have some vocal talent to sound halfway decent. While the harmony and vocoder effects both require you to play an instrument along with the vocal (to determine key or provide a sound source for vocoding), the Octave and Unison + Whistle modes will work without accompaniment from an instrument. Only signals routed through the XLR mic input are processed, not those that pass through the instrument input.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Voice Box may be more suitable for singers than guitar slingers, but it’s a versatile processor that can make your guitar talk (in Vocoder mode) and provides rich vocal harmonies that effortlessly follow your guitar’s key.
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