All Smoke, No Fire
First of all, I bought this item from Sweetwater for $299.00, expecting close to what TC Helicon’s website was advertising in this units capabilities. I was very impressed with the reviews on Sweetwater and the videos on TC Helicon.
And to be honest, this does a good job for home vocals or karaoke for parties, but nothing more than that.
I emphasize HOME USE ONLY, and I will explain as to why I gave this product two out of five stars. I don’t know if people are actually gigging with this, or just really playing in their home, but it is NOT something I would take on the road.
The three major issues that I have with the TC Helicon Voice Solo FX150 should be the same ones you consider before investing your money.
On the fence about buying? If build quality, loudness and speaker hiss are pet peeves of yours, look elsewhere for cheaper, better made personal monitors/mini PAs.
Build Quality: I would not expect this unit to last a month if I was gigging (taking outside of my practice space) with this on a frequent basis due to the plasticky exterior and the cheap audio connectors.
The exterior of this personal monitor is low-grade plastic and it feels like it would crack or break if you accidentally dropped it. Out of my 20+ years doing live sound, this monitor doesn't have the cojones to really be taken seriously as something I’d gig with.
Again, I am sure it would survive a tumble on carpet in your house or apartment, but anywhere else, like loading into a car in a parking lot, or having it accidentally kicked around on stage would be questionable as to its survivability.
My other letdown: my unit looks like it was hand-assembled. The box that I received it in, indicated it was built in Thailand and there are tool marks on the lip that separates the lid from the back enclosure AND there are very obvious swirl marks on the exterior of the plastic. Also, around the front lip of the enclosure it looks like glue marks.
Again, I’m not trying to nit-pick, but if I paid $100 bucks for this, I wouldn't be so hard with this review, but I paid $299.00 and this built quality is way below average. And it’s not because of aesthetics, but because it looks like it was shoddily put together and the cheap, plasticky feel of the entire monitor.
Also, if TC Helicon added some 25 cent rubber bumpers around the edges, my confidence level would be a lot higher with toting this around in my car. And if TC Helicon is really touting this vocal monitor as “gig-worthy” why not make the enclosure a bit more beefy and bump resistant? One star deducted for build quality.
Combo Vocal Monitor and Guitar Monitor: The size of the unit is lot smaller than I expected and I do realize its main purpose is a VOCAL monitor. If you’re wondering about actual size of this monitor, it’s about the same footprint as a standard US magazine, or close to it. It’s small.
Yes, you can add your guitar and send a clean out to your main PA. Just don’t read “150 watts” and think it’s going to be a real deal PA for you as a soloist or a substitute for a guitar amp -- No Bueno!
It can get loud for vocals but add the two together and it’s pretty muddy sounding from the speaker. I know this isn't being sold as a “studio-quality” monitor, but the output is less than impressive in terms of fidelity. Total sound projection isn't that impressive, so to get an idea of loudness think of the total sound projection as limited to a SMALL bedroom in your apartment or rehearsal space.
And again, I wouldn't be complaining if the videos on the TC Helicon website didn’t advertise supporting simultaneous vocals and guitar. From a hobbyist/ play-at-home standpoint, sure. From a weekly gig at the coffeehouse – No Bueno! It’s just too small, fragile and the speaker doesn’t project.
Vocals do sound decent, and I will say this monitor excels at vocals, but there is a top-end limit on the level and volume setting before you start hearing hiss from the speaker. There are some really great features like the reverb and per-channel EQ settings, but if you turn this up (to use as a personal PA, as advertised) you run into a bit of hiss.
Also, (and I am using my price point of $299 to validate my points here) I was not impressed with the audio connectors on the back of this monitor. Even some of the cheaper monitor/personal PAs on the market have much better audio connectors. Don’t believe me? Go find a Guitar Center and check out their personal vocal monitors /mini PAs and see what you think.
I was dissatisfied when I plugged in a ¼” input to channel one and realized my guitar cable had some play in the connector. No Bueno! I tried different ¼” connectors and also channel two. In my book (of 20+ years’ experience in the music world) there should be NO PLAY in any of your connectors. I don’t care if they are combo connectors, they should be tested before leaving the factory (QA) before shipping to the customer.
Again, you can tell I’m just a little disappointed in the overall build quality of this unit, which is something I keep coming back to. If I paid $100 bucks for this unit, no complaints. At $299 it’s nowhere near the quality I expect from TC Helicon product. One star deducted for chincy audio connectors.
Speaker Mount for Mic Stand: I have a rounded weighted-base mic stand. When you place the Voice Solo on my vertical mic stand, it is not balanced itself and although my mic stand doesn’t fall over to one side, it sure feels like it wants too. Do I want to risk my brand-new Voice Solo FX150 crashing to the floor? No Bueno!
I ended up using the supplied vertical adapter and mounted the Voice Solo up and down ways. If you don’t want to use this on the floor, I would suggest only mounting this on a tripod-based mic stand (for balance and support) or you will have problems if you use a rounded weighted-based mic stand like mine. One star deducted for poor mic connector design.
Ever hear the old phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none?” I was really sold on the “multifunction” use of this device (vocal/guitar monitor/mini PA), but it really is more of a novelty anything else outside of vocals.
Gigging with this? No way. Home use only. I was a bit deceived by the “all-in-one-device” pitch TC Helicon advertises on their videos on their website. Everybody is jamming out, having a great time with this product. Doesn’t sound as cool if they called it a “Novelty Powered Speaker” right? It’s a harsh but true description of this product.
Again, there are much sturdier personal PAs (that can be used for vocal monitors) on the market for less money and much, much higher build quality. For close to the same price range (if you shop around) I looked at the Fender Passport Pro 150 and I would of paid another 50 bucks at Guitar Center and gotten something a lot nice in terms of build quality, functionality and sound.
Summary: A very good (but expensive) vocal-only monitor, but for the premium price, it definitely needs a massive overhaul on build materials and audio connectors. Wanna sing to granny in the nursing home with this? Sure! Wanna try it out at open-mic at the coffee house? You might sound a lot better with something less expensive and more road-worthy.
If TC Helicon added some rubber bumpers around all corners, re-designed the mic stand connector, added a handle (for carrying without a custom gig box) AND dropped the price, you’d have a real bargain for the feature set. Right now, I don’t feel in any way I paid for the quality and performance that was advertised by TC Helicon.