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TOPIC: In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal...

In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 22 Oct 2017 04:33 #6364

  • Diki
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I just got one of these.

www.tc-helicon.com/en/products/mic-mechanic-2/

All I can say is WOW! TC Helicon hit it out the park! This pedal does an amazing job of nicely compressing my voice, getting rid of 'mud', making it sit nicely in a mix, and adding simple effects (that you can tap time for tempo delay), and, if your needs are simple, is all the front end the BK-9 needs.

I use it to get the basic mic tone, then only use the delay section and sometimes a little pitch correction (if my voice is a little tired), then run that into the BK-9's mic in and add its nice stereo reverb there. It sounds amazing, like I'd spent hours in the studio! I always struggled before just running the mic straight into the BK. There would be bits I'd swamp the track, there would be spots I'd disappear. I spent a lot of time 'working' the mic to avoid this. That's a thing of the past... My vocal just sits there, nice and clear, never too loud, never too quiet! It like voodoo!

Is everything perfect? Well, not quite. :evil: I wish the tap tempo mode didn't time out so quick and take a time to engage (the pedal uses one button to turn on the delay and pitch effects, which isn't ideal, but to be expected in an inexpensive pedal). And the pedal really IS a footpedal... the button is a bit hard on your hands.I have it on the BK so I can quickly change delay effects (it does a great tape delay, digital delay and a slapback) and dial in how much pitch correction I want, but that means using the switch with your hands. I think these barefootbuttons.com/product-category/version-2/ are the solution. Neat idea!

So, am I keeping it? Well, in fact, no. :woohoo:

The truth is, I want something a bit easier to use parked on the keyboard. But if you can live with the way it is, the Mic Mechanic2 is EASILY the best $150 you will ever spend. Me, I'm trading it in on a Perform VK from the same company www.tc-helicon.com/en/products/perform-vk/ because it has the exact same Mic Tone front end, is easier to use with hands and adds MIDI/USB triggered harmonies (only two voices, which is two more than I really like!) and 3 presets easily selected. And only $100 more!

But if you don't need all that, and want an inexpensive pedal that will make you sound ridiculously well miked and help you sit in a mix with little drama, I think the Mic Mechanic2 is damn near perfect!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Last Edit: 22 Oct 2017 05:39 by Diki.
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In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 22 Oct 2017 12:40 #6367

  • billtracy
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I agree that the TC units have a great sound. Just a hypothetical question for you. Say you weren't crazy about the sound of the mic coming through your keyboard's mic input. Since you have to go through the TC unit and then into your mic input, wouldn't you still get the same bad sound?
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In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 22 Oct 2017 17:40 #6369

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I have no problem with the mic in on my BK-9. It is clean, neutral in color, and makes my microphone (an old EV N/D767a) sound exactly the same as when I run it through the preamp on a decent board.

If you don't like the sound of your mic, change the mic!

However, I think a lot of people make the mistake of listening to a mic WHILE THEY ARE SINGING. That isn't what the audience hears. You ALWAYS hear the sound of the mic mixed in with your 'head voice' (what you would hear if there were no mic or PA) and that colors the sound to your perception. I ALWAYS make my decision about mics and outboard gear by listening to a recording of me singing IN A MIX. And then, I try to stay realistic..! No mic is ever going to make me sound like Sinatra, or Bublé, or Pavarotti! It is going to make me sound like ME... (for good or bad! :S )

The way I judge a mic is to sing a whole night on it (and let your voice settle to where it usually sits) and record it in the entire mix. Be ultra critical of whether the voice is too 'on top' of the mix (volume colors perception enormously) or buried, try to set levels so it sits where a record would (an arranger's natural dynamics even with all the Mastering Tools tomfoolery is switched off is pretty compressed compared to a live band) and then see how it sounds THERE.

If you are playing out for an audience, never forget... It doesn't matter a damn what it sounds like to YOU. It only matters what it sounds like to THEM. I hear altogether too many user demos where the voice is too loud (and the singer is doing gymnastics to try and tame their voice's dynamics), and the played parts are too loud. Of course we all want to hear what we are doing well. But the nature of an arranger is, you HAVE to play 'inside the mix', you can't play 'on top of it' like you can in a live band with monitors. There are times where, to get that 'perfect' mix, you have to play or sing uncomfortably quietly. This takes practice and constant self-recording. Be your own worst critic!

But I have to say, despite it not always sounding 'perfect' to me WHILE I PLAY (the 6ms latency can be weird if you are in a low volume environment and can still hear your head voice over the PA or monitors), the Mic Mechanic2 has done an absolutely awesome job when I listen to recordings (there's one up on another thread I posted) of taking care of dynamics, clearing out the 'mud' (so many singers want to hear a full, deep, rich sound when singing by themselves, but that ain't what cuts through a mix!) and basically sitting me in the mix without drama and having to work the mic like crazy.

Perhaps you'd like to be a bit more specific about what it is you don't like about the BK-9's preamp? If you care to, post up a recording of you singing and playing. Detail what mic you are using. Note where you have the gain and reverb settings. Let's see if there's a problem. Hypothetical questions are one thing, but is the question rooted in something you are experiencing or are you just trying to split hairs? :evil:

Of COURSE, if in a studio, the mic pre in the BK is no substitute for a $3000 preamp. Nor is the the Mic Mechanic2 a substitute for a nice LA2A and a rack full of gear..! But live, that's the best $150 you will ever spend!
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In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 22 Oct 2017 22:05 #6373

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I can't post anything right now, I'm having some health issues and my voice is not good anyway. The situation I was talking about is I tried my Sm58 through a borrowed PA900 I am fooling around with to see if I like it. I haven't done a side by side comparison but it seems like my EA7 sounds better with the 58 than the 900 does. I am using an old Fostex mic on the 900 which has a brighter sound anyway and it sound better than the 58 to me. I have used TC Helicon stuff in the past and like the sound. But my point is if I don't really like the sound of the 900 now is the TC really going to make a difference since it is going through the 900? One reason I am considering the 900 is I don't want to use outboard gear since if I ever get my heath on track I will just be doing nursing homes and need a quick setup.
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In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 23 Oct 2017 00:41 #6374

  • aviro
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Hi DiKi
The perform-VK is great! You will like it, OR-NOT?!
It will not always welcome to have it "al" controlled by midi, think about pitch-bend ? .... NTA CHannel?...splitmode?...and if you don't need Vocal-harmony and vocoder follow the keys/chord you are playing .... and don't want to fight the midi-setting al the time !!!!!!!!
Maybe the perform V-vocal will be much better!
To say, if you don't want to use your vocal as a up3 instrument don't go for the VK YOU BETTER TAKE THE PERFORM V_VOCAL

For 6 months my band lead singer is using the Perform V-vocal (U2-coverband) together with his old sennheiser evolution 800 mic.
very great smooth sound! reverb,echo are great, chromatic pitch and a 2e close harmony very nice auto-pitch on key of the song (no-midi)

It save me a-lot of work controlling our famous lexicon-mpx100
I do the sound-mix console and play the 2e key's layer (synth-pad and piano solo's)

Note to the VK and V-vocal, always use the anti-feedback and the chromatic pitch controle ON .Only that will give you good smooth sound!
The full harmony's ares still a little bit Digital on the VK when you control it by the chord you play , its a long way learning traject to sing along with the chord harmony's.
Last Edit: 23 Oct 2017 01:48 by aviro.
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In praise of the Mic Mechanic2 pedal... 23 Oct 2017 17:48 #6376

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To be honest, I wasn't thinking much about the harmonies. I didn't order the VK for those, but for an easier way to set tap tempo without having to hold the MM2's footswitch down by hand for 2-3 sec to enter that mode. I want something that remains in tap mode while I turn the effect on or off with a DIFFERENT switch.

The problem with anything without MIDI/USB as a trigger for the pitch information is, an arranger (particularly these lower end models) only has the one set of outputs. If you want the harmonies derived from audio, it works best if it sees JUST a piano or a guitar input. But an arranger outputs EVERYTHING. So drums, percussion, and unpitched sounds are getting in there to confuse the detection algorithms. I have yet to hear a harmonizer accurately track an entire mix. This is why you see guitarists primarily use them using audio (or piano players playing nothing but piano).

I understand the VK is tricky to set up, but I think the BK's MIDI Sets can go a long way to filtering out messages you don't want to send. And, I hate to admit it, but until Roland come up with a way to display lyrics WHILE IN ARRANGER MODE, I still primarily use SMF's and MP3's as backing. If I absolutely HAVE to use a style, I will usually make an SMF of the arranger backing and use Mark/Jump to allow me to still control the song structure, just so I can insert lyrics into it!. I am not a big fan of entertainers surrounded by a field of iPads, laptops and TV screens. I am just too old school for that! I think the audience wants to see ME :evil:

So I expect, if I want harmonies generated by the VK, I will embed the codes to select voices and play the notes I want into the sequence itself. Problem solved.

I will be experimenting with the MIDI controlled harmonies when I get it, I will post up here if I find a decent solution. One advantage I have is that nothing else will be connected to the BK's MIDI (or I may use USB, not sure yet), so I think I can basically set up EVERY Keyboard Part to send on the same channel. This way, it might work that it won't matter which Part I have enabled, it will still get sent to the VK.

Alternatively, The BK has a bunch of MIDI Sets, linkable to each Performance. There's only four Keyboard Parts... So four MIDI Sets, each one set to send ONLY that Part's MIDI out, and then linked to the performance depending on whether the full keyboard or just the LH keys the harmonies. That may also be doable. Remember, a MIDI Set can decide whether to transmit any of the Keyboard Parts, and/or any of the style and SMF Parts. So it should be pretty simply to set up in advance which one the VK sees.

And, for harmonies with audio backing, you simply set up a Key Audio Set for each backing track. The sequencer can trigger this, which then allows you to embed the codes the VK will want to see to derive the pitch information for the harmonies (and on/off status, etc.). Mind you, for audio backing tracks, I tend to use the backing vocals that the backing track has, or sing some and overdub them myself in a DAW.

So, all in all, I think I have a handle on the harmony section, and, as I pointed out, it isn't the REAL reason I got the VK. I simply needed something that was easier to run with hands than feet, like the MM2 is. The VK's large pads and separate controls for tap and on/off (I doubt I will be using the feedback and pitch stuff much) make it ideal for my needs.

The main thing was, I wanted something with the exact same Tone section the MM2 has. That little section is voodoo! I love it... :kiss:
Last Edit: 23 Oct 2017 17:48 by Diki.
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