tc helicon h1 review front view

 

This TC Helicon H1 review aims to give you a thorough account of my personal experience to help you decide whether or not you’ll make it a part of your gear.

As you watch and read below, you’ll be introduced to its capabilities as well as its limitations.

I was actually skeptical with the VoiceTone H1 at first because of its price – it was cheap. You get what you pay for after all.

But I gave it the benefit of doubt and I asked around, both online and offline, and I found nothing but good testimonials about it. I went ahead and got one for myself – I’ve had mine since December 2015 (it was one of my Christmas gifts to myself that year).

Since then I behold the TC Helicon H1 as one of my most beloved additions to my pedalboard in the year 2015 and beyond.

So let’s get to work and let me review this VoiceTone H1 for you.

TC Helicon VoiceTone H1 Review – Table of Contents

 

TC Helicon VoiceTone H1 Review: DEMO

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TC Helicon VoiceTone H1 Review: Full Write-Up

What is it?

It’s a harmony vocal effects pedal.

I’ll get straight to the point here – if you want a vocal effects pedal with Reverb, Delay, and Pitch Correct, then this is not the pedal for you. I suggest you get yourself the Harmony G-XT instead.

BUT if you need a quality sound-producing Harmonizer that’s stripped down to the essentials, then I highly recommend you get yourself one of these TC Helicon VoiceTone H1.

What’s in the Box?

tc helicon voicetone h1 review unboxing

  • The TC Helicon VoiceTone H1 itself
  • USB cable
  • AC Power Adapter
  • Product user manual

Features

  • Two voices with eight different styles
    • The TC Helicon H1 provides a combination of two background singers – male or female.
    • It also offers a pitch above and a pitch below your vocals or guitar key for each of the male and female voice. From there, you can choose any of the following eight pre-sets to harmonize with your lead vocals or guitar:
      • One female voice above
      • One female voice below
      • One male voice above
      • One male voice below
      • One male voice and and one female voice, both below
      • One male voice and once female voice, both above
      • One male voice above and one male voice below
      • One female voice above and one female voice below
    • The Voices Arrangement Knob is used to select these pre-set voices.
  • Key Auto-selection.
    • Set the key manually or auto detect the key (or scale) from your guitar input.
    • The first knob from the left is the key selector.
  • Mic controlTM for remote on-off with TC Helicon’s MP-75 microphone.
    • The TC Helicon H1 allows you to control the on-off mechanism from your mic. This gives performers the freedom to move on the stage instead of being tied to the foot switch. I personally wish it also included remote controls for the other knobs aside from the on-off switch.
  • Balanced XLR in/out with mic gain control.
  • Clean, quiet mic preamp Phantom power that’s always on
  • USB connection for computer connectivity and firmware updates

Physical Specs

  • Dimensions (height x width x depth):
    • 140 x 90 x 60 mm
    • 5.4 x 3.5 x 2.3 in
  • Weight: 14.7 oz or 420 g

Okay so now that we have those features and specs out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty stuff.

Sound

The VoiceTone H1 allows you to choose one or two voices in a variety of harmony styles. You can choose above, below, close or far your lead vocal.

You should unleash the power of this harmonizer by using a combination of these choices.

It produces a full sounding vocal performance, which we can very well hear from the video demo above. Here’s another one that demos even more of the pedal’s settings:

A factor that I always consider with effects pedals is whether or not there is tone or signal loss when it’s added to my guitar chain. I’m happy to report that the VoiceTone H1 passed with flying colors – there is no tone or signal loss at all.

As far as the sound goes, TC Helicon claims the VoiceTone H1 to be the most natural sounding and affordable vocal harmony processor.

In my opinion, it’s NOT the most natural sounding vocal harmony processor in the market. It is indeed very affordable and you get more than what you pay for with its price.

But to my ears the VoiceTone H1 sounds a bit “robotic” when the Dry/Wet knob is set over twelve o’clock.

However I took the time to tweak and experiment with it and I was able to get some realistic, natural sounds. It’s as if I hired real background singers to perform with me (this is not an overstatement).

From then on the harmonies produced are heavenly to my ears, almost majestic.

Therefore if you need a great harmonizer then you don’t need to look any further. I think the H1 is a very fun addition to any performer’s rig that’s why I highly recommend it.

As for the mic preamp, I was surprised to hear how clean it sounds.

I’ve tried other pedals in this price range and the preamps all sound horrible which is not really a surprise in this price range. However the TC Helicon H1 mic preamp caught me off guard – it’s actually very clean.

So overall the TC Helicon H1 produces a high-quality sound that adds such dynamic depth to anything I play.

Performance

Operating this pedal is basic and yet I find the overall performance to be top-notch.

It tracks or “recognizes” the key in real-time so I don’t need to worry about changing the pedal’s keys or worry about tuning up and down as I play.

The harmonies stay in tune as it effortlessly follows the chords of my guitar. (You can opt to manually select the key if you won’t use any instrument.)

The Dry/Wet knob gives me precise control on the exact level of prominence of my harmonies.

The “dry” setting makes the harmonies sound more “in the background”, giving prominence to the lead vocals, the while the “wet” setting makes the harmonies very prominent.

VoiceTone H1 Chained with the Other VoiceTone Singles

This is not a pedal designed to help correct your singing.

It helps your voice sound better to some extent, but if you’re off-key then the Harmonizer will sync with the key you’re in and the sound produced will still be off-key.

My suggestion is to use the C1 Pitch Correction Pedal and link it with the H1. The C1 should be placed first before the H1 in your chain.

I use the C1 to correct the key deviations in my voice and this saves my ass when I “accidentally” sing off-key.

Speaking of the C1, I met a musician who swears by the C1 pedal and H1 pedal combo, claiming it changed his performing life. That’s a bit of a funny overstatement in my opinion, but you get the point.

Usability

One headache I get with the more expensive vocal pedals is some of the features are hard to use. The VoiceTone H1 came to my rescue by being very straightforward. I find it easy to set up and very easy to use.

It’s what I like about these TC-Helicon Singles Pedals. For the H1 specifically, just plug it in and let the auto-key sensors do its thing, or manually set the key and start singing.

It lacks the advanced features of more advanced harmonizers, but it nailed the basics down. The basic operation is actually super simple and of high quality.

But if you want more, you could always consult the user manual. The user manual that comes with it provides a key and scale chart to help users dial the harmonies. You’ll need this because some of the minor (and even major) keys require tweaking.

As you tweak and experiment like I did, you’ll discover more power and capabilities that this pedal offers. I recommend you spend time to dial this in to hit your personal sweet spot.

So in terms of usability, the H1 is very easy to use and it makes singing much more fun.

PROS

  • Effective and intelligent automatic guitar key detection
  • Works well when driven by a guitar, keyboard, and even bass guitar
  • Works well even without an instrument (just pure vocals)
  • High quality signal path
  • Clean mic preamp
  • Sounds better than the other vocal effects pedals in its price range
  • Very easy to use
  • Versatile due to its many harmony options

CONS

  • There’s no option to remotely change the harmony during a song. This is not a big deal for some but it is for me. I just tend to prefer different types of harmony for different parts of a song sometimes. In these cases, I have to turn the knob while performing. I got used to it but it’s a bit of a hassle in the beginning.
  • Sounds a bit synthesized contrary to its claims of sounding the most natural. I suggest you spend some time to mix out the robotic sound and you’re good to go.
  • It will really follow your voice so if you are singing off-key, the harmony will also sound off-key. As I previously mentioned, this is not a pitch corrector pedal, and you should also use the C1 for that purpose.
  • It does not possess the advanced settings (such as reverb) that come with the more advanced vocal processing pedals. Lucky for me, I can adjust these through my mixer instead. Another option is to chain it with the VoiceTone R1 for reverb but I already have an excellent mixer so that’s what I use. I also think limiting the options to the essentials is what allowed the manufacturers to keep the price down. This limitation is a strength in my opinion because it makes it very easy to use right out of the box.

Build

The appearance itself is dope, but what I like the most about the build of the TC Helicon H1 is its durability. It’s made of two-part die cast metal case after all.

The base is rubberized so its stays in place and does not scratch the surface it’s on.

tc helicon h1 review left side

tc helicon h1 review right side

tc helicon h1 review top

 

Another thing I like about the H1 is how portable it is. Despite the huge sound it produces, it’s actually a compact box, small enough so that I can carry it around with no hassle.

Price

This Harmonizer is very affordable. At the time of writing this review, it costs 140.26 USD. You can click here to check the current price on Amazon.

Is it worth the price?

Absolutely. Like I said earlier, it’s a basic harmonizer that performs very well.

It lacks all the advanced harmonizer features, but it’s the best I ever bought compared to others in the same price range.

Conclusion

Overall, this is one useful pedal that I can no longer live without. It adds dynamic depth to anything I play.

In your context, imagine the current sound you play then add more life to it with background singers, and that’s what the TC Helicon H1 brings to the table.

And as previously mentioned, this Harmonizer is a simple and basic harmony processor pedal. Despite that, it delivers pretty well and thus it’s a great choice for starters and professionals alike, for personal or performance use… for both live gigs and recordings.

It’s the perfect definition of simple yet powerful.

I personally use it with my Yamaha FGX830C plugged into my Behringer Q802USB for live gigs. As for home recorders, this small box will end your headache with dubbing.

It’s even more fun when you chain it with other VoiceTone singles to create your perfect sound:

I would buy this harmonizer again… and again… and again. As you have guessed, I highly recommend it.

I hope this VoiceTone H1 review helped you decide whether or not it’s a pedal for you. I hope it answered the questions you have while considering this harmony vocal effects pedal.

Try it out for yourself and make magic with this fun Harmonizer:

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4 Comments

  1. Matt

    January 6, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I’ve used a couple of TC vocal units and have been impressed with them. They do sound more natural than some other brands, however, I do have one big concern. You mention phantom power is on permanently. This could potentially damage some mics as hot plugging is not something to be done when it’s on. I hope they revise this in a future edition, although I suppose you could always simply turn the unit off when plugging/unplugging a mic.

    Reply
  2. Dan Forrest

    January 15, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    HC have replaced mine 3 times now, the third one after 3 rehearsals is now exhibiting the same problem, and is now out of warranty. Its the guitar through that is the problem, with the guitar fading in and out and some times cutting out altogether. Fortunately the vocal still works but of course I have to manually select the key. Clearly this is affecting a whole batch of these, its a shame because it is a well made pedal. An internet search didnt flag this up either which is odd.

    Reply
    • Jeff Barkley

      January 16, 2018 at 6:26 am

      Ah that sucks man, so sorry to hear that. What are you using now?

      Reply

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