- Effects include Double, Reverb, and Echo
- Tone settings include EQ, Compression, De-esser, and Gate
- Other features: Pitch Correction, Anti-Feedback, Auto Gain Control, Talk (bypass), and 48v Phantom Power
Do you follow social media? Most of us are involved in social networks with other worship leaders. I know that I see posts often of gear, guitars, stage setups, guitars, set lists, and… guitars. There’s gear that enhances our tone or sound that the audience most probably does not notice… and then there is gear that really brings an extra spark and folks truly do notice. I honestly think the Perform-V from TC Helicon would be in the latter group. Read on… I see so much information, teaching, and training about playing guitar, but what about vocals? The words we are singing are the most important thing about what we do musically in a worship service. We have to admit that a sweet guitar tone can be incredibly moving, but if it is accompanied by a dry and thin vocal, the worship experience suffers.
When TC sent me the Perform-V, I really had no idea what was coming other than knowing it was a new vocal processor. Out of the box, I found it to be very easy to understand, and very versatile. The unit itself is made of a hard plastic with an integrated mic stand clip on the left side. It’s quite obvious how it snaps onto the mic stand. This allows the unit to be in a fixed position within easy reach as you are singing. The Perform-V has three easy-access memory buttons, three effect buttons, a center dial (for effect levels), a 48v button for phantom powered microphones, Talk (bypass), and buttons for Tone, Pitch, and Anti-Feedback. The unit includes a long power cord that can reach all the way down the mic stand. Each button is a lighted pad that is quite bright and easy to press. There is no guessing whether or not something is on or off with this unit! The onboard effects include Reverb, Double, and Echo. These effects can be dialed in on the fly or they can be saved in groups as one of three presets. The Tone, Pitch, and Anti-Feedback are turned on or off separate from these presets.
I need to separate out the Tone, Anti-Feedback, and Pitch buttons. The 48v is pretty logical. First, the Tone button automatically and dynamically adds EQ, compression, de-essing, and gating to your vocal. The Anti-Feedback button isolates and reduces problem frequencies and helps to eliminate squeaking from your speakers. Lastly, the Pitch button will subtly make your vocal pitch more accurate.
I have played guitar and sng with a good number of worship teams, whether it be as a volunteer, as my job, or as a guest. On each of the teams, the guitar players usually all have their own gear, often more than one guitar, pedals, and amps… everything they have found to create the sound they are looking for. In nearly every situation, the vocalists show up to use the church’s microphone and trust the sound engineer to make them sound good. I have encouraged vocalists for years to purchase their own microphone. Now, here’s a reasonable way for vocalists to supply their own effects just like the guitar players do.
As for my experience with the Perform-V, I have a personal microphone that I’ve used for about six or seven years and I’ve been really happy with it… that is, until recently. I started thinking maybe the mic was getting too old because it just seemed to not sound as clear. I switched to a new wireless handheld for a few months and then, to test out this unit, I brought out my personal mic again. I had the EQ removed from my channel on the soundboard and left the EQ setting up to the Perform-V. I did not yet mention the last button, and that is an automatic gain setting. Simply hold the button, sing into the mic, and the gain is set by the Perform-V. I was amazed! The comparable sound was so crystal clear. It had the warmth and depth I have been missing and looking for. Having four background vocalists for Sunday morning worship services, I was not sure how I would test out the Double or the Echo effects. However, a couple of weeks ago, I had a song that paired well with my pastor’s message and I added the song as a solo after the worship set.
The Double effect added more body to my vocal and really enhanced the feel of the song. It was easy to turn on and off while playing the guitar with the unit connected to my mic stand. My first impression had been that this would be more of an effect unit designed for “coffee house” performers over worship vocalists, but the more I have been using it with my worship team, my opinion has changed. It would actually be really helpful for each vocalist on the platform to have a Perform-V. They would have the auto EQ, compression, de-essing, and gating as well as the adjustable reverb. Then, on songs that different vocalists have a breakout solo, they could punch in the Double or Echo effects where appropriate. It’s really no different than my electric guitar player having a boost or delay pedal.
Well, I’ve only given a taste of what the Perform-V can really do. A few years ago, TC–Helicon introduced a totally cool technology called Tone Print and it’s included in the Perform-V. I wrote a review on one of their bass amplifiers with Tone Print. It’s simply the ability to have a library of tones and presets available on a smartphone app that can be instantly transferred to the amp (or in this case, the Perform-V). With this capability, it would take much more than this one-page review to explain everything this unit can really do. Imagine, being able to start a song with a megaphone effect or to have a sound like a particular song or artist? That’s how the Perform-V app is set up… with a list of songs and a list of genres.
The TC-Helicon Perform-V debuted at NAMM in January and has a retail price of $199! Totally reasonable for worship vocalists and coffee-house performers alike to invest into their sound.