Features: Like its name implies, the Mic Mechanic is a Swiss-army knife of a pedal for vocalists. 8 presets include settings for three reverbs: room, club, and hall, 3 more each with echo, plus a simple echo and a slap delay. A single knob allows you to navigate between the presets, while a separate knob allows control of the wet/dry mix. A third knob controls the amount of pitch correction and an on/off switch bypasses the pedal. A tone button activates EQ, compression, de-essing, and gate while a knob on the side controls mic gain. An indicator lights turns from green to red depending on how much signal it sees, and XLR in and out are located on the top of the pedal next to the power input, and provides phantom power if necessary. The pedal is extremely light for a pedal its size, making it extremely convenient to carry around in pocket of a flight case, laptop bag, or even purse.
Sound: An industry standard in digital effects, TC Electronics has always impressed me with the quality of their reverb and delay. Verb, delay, EQ, compression, de-essing, gate, and pitch correction is a huge list of effects for one pedal, and all performed incredibly well. In short, I was extremely impressed with all the features of the Mic Mechanic! Not only do the effects sound great, but the entire pedal is very, very useable, and the effects are subtle, warm and easy to use.
Reverbs: The reverbs are all incredibly useable with the Hall my favorite and the Room a close second. The club definitely has a vibe and provides a cool effect especially when paired with a quick echo.
Hall: This is a big, extremely warm, smooth reverb. What I love about the Hall is that it is big and long but subtle at the same time. It never gets cheesy or too “digital”-sounding; it’s a nice, big verb that sounds great under your vocal.
Club: The club reverb is a medium reverb that has almost no trails, simulating a microphone in a medium to small sized club. For big rock vocals, a hint of the club makes the vocal almost sound doubled, and paired with the echo, it makes a great effect.
Room: Last but not least, the room setting simulates singing in a small to medium sized room. If you’re looking for something subtle, the room is perfect. Warm and short, this preset gives the vocal just a little space, which is nice if you’re singing in a quiet, intimate environment.
Echo: The echo is a simple, straightforward delay that has tap tempo and feedback controls. Only one style of echo is available, a digital echo that is clear and clean sounding. Feedback is controlled by holding the tone button and moving the dry/wet knob to the right or left. Tap tempo is quite effective and is controlled by holding the bypass switch until the LED flashes, then tapping it to the desired tempo. When paired with a reverb, the controls are a little bit more limited, the dry/wet controls both the reverb and the delay level, so there’s no way to bring up the level of one effect without affecting the other. This for me is the sole drawback of this pedal, because I like to set my reverb high with just a hint of echo for added ambience. The slap is a great sounding quick delay, that’s perfect for folk or country style songs.
Tone: All the other effects (besides pitch correction) are activated by pressing the tone button. The effect is subtle at first, but after a little bit of singing, I recognized a huge difference in sound. The first thing I recognized is the EQ: the tone button cuts boomy lows and adjusts to the frequencies you sing to give a good quick mix, even compressing the spikes in high sibilant frequencies (de-essing). Compression works incredibly well, almost inaudible except when the vocal goes from extremely quiet to extremely loud, the mark of a great vocal comp. The gate adjusts to the ambient noise on stage, but was never too much and was almost indistinct.
Pitch Correct: The pitch correct is very subtle, providing a gentle nudge to the pitch if needed, but never too much, even when the correction knob is turned all the way up. The pitch correct adjusts each note to the chromatic scale, making it useable in any key. While I’m not a fan of hard autotune, this understated application was quite a nice touch.
Value: The TC-Helicon Voicetone Mic Mechanic is a vocalist’s dream come true. With a tap of the foot, it engages all the nuances utilized by great studio and live sound engineers to make your voice sound great. The biggest strength of the Mic Mechanic lays the subtle nature of all the effects; the engineers at TC did an outstanding job of fine-tuning the effects to be perfect for any voice, male or female. I was amazed at the difference the Mic Mechanic made on stage and at just $149.99, it’s affordable, sounds great, portable, and subtle enough to bring to any live situation. While not every singer needs one, it certainly brings a highly polished quality to the vocal sound, and helps fine tune things that your sound engineer might not be able to do. Overall, the Mic Mechanic is an outstanding tool for any vocalist and a great value for the price.
For more information about the Mic Mechanic and other TC-Helicon products, visit www.tc-helicon.com.