When I hear the name Roland, the first thing that comes to mind is innovation in music technology. The company was established in Osaka in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi. He wanted to provide affordability and simplicity in smaller music devices which would draw in amateurs and non-professionals.
After a long history of superb achievements, Roland is still at the forefront of innovation. Continuing to deliver high-quality solutions to audio professionals and home studio enthusiasts.
The Roland VT-4 is a compact, portable vocal processing box that expands on the success of its predecessor, the VT-3. There is a lot of focus on tuned and processed vocals these days, and the VT-4 is probably one of the best vocal processing boxes currently on the market.
There are lots of software options and stand-alone hardware units on the market that do similar things. So, what makes it one of the best voice processors around? Let’s take an in-depth look in our Roland VT-4 review and find out…
This is a small desktop unit that is not much bigger than an iPad Mini. The VT-4 will give you high-quality studio effects with ease. It is simple to use and has the versatility to allow you to create new and exciting layers to your music. Plus, it is one of the best portable vocal processors you will find.
One major change from the original VT-3 unit is the large auto-pitch knob on the front panel. This will allow for soft or hard quantization of your vocals. Depending on how much pitch correction you need and how far from the original signal you wish to go.
The original distinctive faders representing pitch, formant, effect mix, balance (wet/dry vocoder) are still in place. Additionally, it has five hours of battery life, with an impressive 24-bit/192kHz effects processing.
The unit can be battery-powered or powered via USB. It has an XLR microphone input on the back and a quarter-inch input on the front. A 48-volt phantom power switch is included on the front for condenser microphones. And there is a microphone input gain and clip indicator on the top left.
For headphones, there is a stereo mini-phone jack input on the front. The line outputs and headphone level are controlled by the volume knob on the top left of the front panel.
If you are looking for a box that you can use for tuning, harmonizing, and layering up vocals, it’s all available here with a very hands-on unit. Plus, there are no confusing menus to slow you down. It is a very intuitive unit that allows the creative process to flow effortlessly. Therefore, it is one of the best easy to use vocal processors around.
This is a great box for someone writing ideas and looking for inspiration. Awesome vocoder sounds and ways to create unusual, unique vocal sounds are found easily here with the use of the pitch and formant faders.
The VT-4 is a great stand-alone unit to use in a live environment but for great results in the studio. Use the USB or MIDI to trigger the unit via your DAW. You can easily layer up different harmonies of your vocals at different pitches and perfectly pulled into tune via midi.
Unlike the earlier VT-3 model, the pitch of the VT-4 can be controlled by any external MIDI device. Furthermore, up to four notes can be triggered via MIDI, giving a natural and smooth sound to your harmonies.
However, the limitations in polyphony are not for people wanting chunkier chords. That being said, it does work well with the intended sounds. All of this makes it one of the best midi vocal processors on the market.
The VT-4 has various modes, including robot. It does, as you would expect, makes a robotic monotone sound. The megaphone mode was pretty good. And if you are looking for low-fi vocals, then you’re pretty well covered. I like vocoder mode, which is quite smooth and can be triggered by your voice or MIDI.
The on-board effects are pretty good for a unit this compact and do work nicely in the different sound modes. I would think the effects are more for the live experience, though. So, for final studio polishing, you could always find something better.
Hold down the bypass button on the front panel to preview and control the four types of effects to its immediate left.
The Roland VT-4 is a great device for the songwriter or anyone looking for a bit of inspiration in the professional or home studio. It’s also a great device to use on the live circuit; with the hands-on approach, you will find yourself adding new layers and ideas to your music in real-time.
- Presets: 8 scene memories.
- Effects included: Robot, Vocoder, Reverb, Harmony, Megaphone.
- Analog inputs: One XLR-1/4” combo (mic), One 1/8” (mic).
- Analog outputs: Two ¼” (line out), One 1/8” (headphones).
- One Type B USB.
- Height: 2.31”
- Width: 6.87”
- Depth: 5.25”
- Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Roland VT-4 Review – Pros and Cons
- Compact size.
- Live applications.
- Easy to use.
- 4-note polyphonic.
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Roland VT-4 Review – Final Thoughts
There is something quite comforting about having a little hands-on desktop unit as versatile as this next to your computer. This Roland VT-4 does deliver in sound, versatility, and ease-of-use. The VT-4 gives you a wide range of studio-quality vocal processing effects with the push of a few faders.
Back at the studio…
I wish the Roland VT-4 had been available when I was on George Michael sessions ten years ago. We spent forever trying to find good vocoders for George to use, but there was very little around at the time. He certainly would have loved the VT-4.
The amount of time we spent blowing into one of those old talk box units with mediocre results would shock you. It’s so easy to get a cool vocoder up quickly from the VT-4. Whether it’s Stevie Wonder or Daft Punk you’re looking for, you’ll find them effortlessly here.
There are many hardware units or soft-synth options around that do very similar stuff. I think having a small hands-on, versatile device like the Roland VT-4 is a plus for both studio work and the live circuit. The price is very reasonable for what you can achieve, and I highly recommend the Roland VT-4 voice transformer.
Until next time, may the music make you merry.