TC Helicon offers a number of niche harmonizer solutions. One of them comes in form of Play Acoustic processor. Not only is great, but it is easily one of the most versatile harmonizer pedals on the market. Let's take a closer look and see what this thing has to offer.
Play Acoustic brings so many features that it's hard to cover them all. For starters, there are two types of effects. You have the vocal effects and guitar effects. Vocals section comes with Adaptive Tone technology. In essence, this feature automatically EQs your voice, adds compression if necessary and de-esses mic channel. Then we have couple of types of harmonizer, reverb, delay, hardtune and more.
In the guitar FX section, we see Flashback Delay, Corona Chorus and Hall of Fame reverb. These are all TC Helicon's famous standalone pedals combined into one unit. Play Acoustic also does automatic feedback- proofing as well as notching. There is also the BodyRez mode, which is actually a combination of filters put in place to clear up your guitar's tone on the amplifier. It really does wonders for older acoustic electric guitars.
Controls on this pedal are simple. For a unit that offers so much, it is impressively easy to use. The center of the top panel is dominated by a large LCD display, with a number of buttons around it. All of the buttons are used to navigate the interface and select different features. Cool thing about this setup, aside from its digital format, is the fact that everything is illuminated. In other words, you can work the pedal easily even in darkest conditions.
The bottom portion of the pedal is where the foot switches are. You get three, with the farthest right one being the on/off switch and the other two serving a number of functions. It might be a bit overwhelming to figure out what each button and menu does, but after just an hour of messing with the pedal, you will figure everything out.
It's no secret that we had high expectations in regards to this pedal's performance. After playing with a few of their other models, TC Helicon has really grown on us, especially in the harmonizer segment. Unsurprisingly, Play Acoustic met and exceeded all of our expectations. One thing we were most concerned about was that auto equalizing mode for vocals. That simply sounded like something that just wouldn't work right. We were proven wrong. As weird as it is, the Adaptive Tone technology was actually pretty accurate with compensating for different vocal profiles.
Mixing voice and instrument channels has shown no conflict whatsoever, with the pedal tracking impeccably even through more complex chord stacks. Lastly, that monitoring mode is a truly eye opening experience. Not only does it give you a decent enough picture of what's going on around you, but it actually reveals areas of tone that can be improved.
At the end of the day, our time with TC Helicon Play Acoustic was great. The pedal was very responsive, quick on its feet and followed input with clinical accuracy. While there are definitely cheaper models on the market, this one is absolutely worth every penny you invest in it.