Tascam TA1VP Vocal Producer Buyers Review (October 2020)
Tascam TA1VP Vocal Producer
- ✔ A generous collection of integrated signal processing
- ✔ The unique Auto‑Tune and mic modelling algorithms
- ✔ Valve emulation
- ✖ Wall-wart PSU and no power switch
This vocal processor is kind of a one-trick pony. It’s great for autotune, and you can select whether you want autotune for all the notes, or a particular note, maybe that high note that you always struggle with. You can also choose which scale you’re singing in, which will make it easier for it to know which note you’re aiming for.
Although it doesn’t contain a mic preamp, there is a surprisingly large amount of fun technology! It starts with Antares’ mic modelling and valve emulation, followed by Auto-Tune real-time pitch correction. Then there is a variable-knee compressor, an expander/gate, a tuneable de-esser, a two-band equaliser (which is far more flexible than it sounds), and an automatic double-tracking facility (using Auto-Tune to create the second voice). Most parameters can be accessed and adjusted with only a couple of button presses, and the whole shebang is fully programmable. It is also equipped with a broad range of factory presets designed to complement particular instruments and voices, as well as different musical styles. These serve as excellent starting points for inveterate twiddlers, and offer pretty good instant solutions for those who would rather get on with the music making. Most parameters can be controlled via MIDI continuous controllers too, for automation from a sequencer.
There are two MIDI sockets (In and Out) for remote control and user data transfers, and a quarter-inch footswitch socket, again for remote control of various functions. The AVP1 is clever enough to detect whether the footswitch is of the normally-closed or normally-open type when it powers up, and behaves appropriately thereafter.
The mic modeller is based on the company’s previous AMM1 stand-alone unit, but offers a diminished collection of source and modelled microphone types. There are a handful of specific source mics which include common stage and budget studio mics with denoted models from Shure, Audio Technica, Rode and CAD. There is also a variety of generic source mics such as handheld and studio dynamics, small- and large-diaphragm condensers, and wireless mics. The modelled options are all generic and include handheld and studio dynamics, two small- and three large-diaphragm condensers, a trio of drum mics and a telephone emulation. High-pass filtering options are provided for both source and modelled mics to allow adjustment of proximity effects.
The Compressor/Gate section provides a variable-knee compressor with dedicated buttons to access directly the attack and release time-constants, and the slope of the knee. The threshold, ratio and gain make-up parameters are found by pressing the Comp button, and pressing this a second time recalls the detailed gain-reduction meter to the LCD window. The Expander/Gate section is accessed from a dedicated button which provides ratio and threshold controls. Another lozenge display indicates the total amount of gain reduction applied by both the compressor and expander/gate.
The Auto-Tune is fast and easy to use and can save the day with a vocalist (and some instrumentalists for that matter) who occasionally drifts out of tune. The handbook suggests setting the footswitch to bypass the processing until needed on the odd duff note — a handy trick which helps to minimise the processing side effects. And yes, it will also do the Cher warble if that is your thing…
There is no doubt that this is ideally suited to stage use, and mainly with vocals, helping to create a more impressive and well-controlled sound from the typical stage dynamic microphone, while also tidying up any tuning inaccuracies. However, it would also be handy to tidy up fretless or upright basses and other freely pitched instruments. It is reasonably easy to set up and operate, and the provision of a number of preconfigured starting points helps a lot. It would have been nice if there had been a separate set of user program memories, rather than having to overwrite the factory presets, but this is only a small gripe.