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Voco-Loco™ Using & Applications

The following describes how to use the Voco-Loco on a typical stage. For more information, feel free to download the full manual by clicking on the icon to the left.

Overview

The Voco-Loco is a specially designed preamp that is equipped with an effects loop for guitar pedals. Unless carefully managed, guitar pedals can be noisy and introduce distortion. The Voco-Loco employs the same high performance circuitry that is used in Radial's 500 series studio modules to deliver true studio quality in a pedal.

Following the signal flow diagram above, the microphone connects to the Voco-Loco via the XLR female input. The built-in preamp is equipped with 48V* phantom to power condenser microphones. The signal then passes through a 'straight ahead' two band EQ with low and high shelving. This enables the artist to shape the tone of the clean (dry) signal to taste. This is sent to the effects loop where the effects pedals are engaged as needed. The Voco-Loco delivers a full +4dB pro studio output level that can feed a recording system or a typical PA setup including snake, splitter and front of house (FOH) console.

The effects loop

Separate 1/4" send and receive jacks are used to connect from the Voco-Loco to the guitar pedals using standard hi-Z cables. The Voco-Loco takes care of adapting the impedance and converting the balanced mic signal to unbalanced and then back again. Individual send & receive controls are used to adjust the output level going to the pedals and the input level as the signal returns. This optimizes the signal path for improved signal-to-noise and distortion. As guitar pedals are intended for use with 12" guitar speakers, the sound of the effect can sometimes be harsh when sent directly to a PA system. To counter this problem, a tone shift lets you smooth out the top end for a warmer rendering.

Once the effects have been routed, a MIX control lets you blend the original dry signal with the wet effects to retain as much of the original voice or instrument you want and then add the desired amount of reverb or distortion to suit. As some guitar pedals inadvertently reverse the polarity of the signal, a recessed 180⁰ polarity switch lets you invert the phase so that the wet and dry signals can be combined without phase cancellation.

Using the Voco-Loco

Setting up the Voco-Loco is easy. Start by connecting your mic to the XLR mic input. If the mic is a condenser and requires phantom power, depress the recessed +48V* switch. An LED will illuminate to indicate phantom power is active.

Although 48 volts is often specified, truth is, it is not always present or needed. In fact most condenser microphones are designed to work from 12 volts to 52 volts, many of which will also work on a simple 1.5 volt battery. The reason high voltage is used to charge condenser mics in PA systems is that in enables the condenser microphone to be positioned 200 meters (600 feet) away from the mixing console. Considering the Voco-Loco will likely be used near the musician with a 3 or 6 meter (10' or 20') mic cable, the high voltage is simply not needed. *The Voco-Loco actually generates 40 volts phantom, not 48 volts. We chose to do this in order to reduce a power stage which could add noise. We have tested a wide range of popular stage and studio microphones and in all cases, the results were excellent.

It's a good idea to set up the clean or 'DRY' tone first. Turn the MIX control fully counter clockwise to the dry position. Set the LOW and HIGH tone controls to the 12 oclock position. Set the mic input level to the 12 o'clock position. Bring up the gain on your mixing console. Listen to your dry tone and adjust the EQ to suit.

When getting started, it is best to test your setup using one effects pedal at a time. This will make trouble shooting easier while you familiarize yourself with the Voco-Loco's functionality. Using hi-Z instrument patch cables; connect the SEND jack to the input of your pedal chain and the output of the pedals to the RECV jack. Start by setting the SEND, RECV and MIX controls to the 12 o'clock position. If your pedals are equipped with a wet-dry control, set the effect to wet.

Activate the effects loop using the right-hand footswitch and then adjust the levels and wet-dry blend to suit. If the wet sound is excessively bright, turn the TONE control counter-clockwise to roll off some high end. If the sound is dull, turn the TONE clockwise to add highs. The second footswitch acts double duty by enabling you to either mute the microphone in between songs or create an all-wet patch for special effects. In this case, the wet-dry MIX control is bypassed.

The Voco-Loco is a unique device... so be prepared to experiment... this has never been done before so you are breaking new ground! Have fun!