by Jerry Vigil
There are two schools of thought regarding microphone voice processors. One doesn't even consider using them, and the other doesn't work without them. It's probably safe to say that most who adhere to the latter school are reared in radio where more compression, more "bottom," and more crispness and "presence" are all good. The more the better. Obviously, there are limits, but you'll find very few, if any, of today's top radio voice talents using NO processing on their voice. If you're the type that wants the voice you're working with, whether your own or someone else's, to sound different, sound "improved" on the finished product, you need a voice processor like the Rane VP-12. You get high and low-cut filters, a de-esser, a gate/expander, a compressor, and a 2-band parametric EQ section, packaged in an easy-to-use single rack-space unit.
The input section of the rear panel accepts both mike and line level inputs. The mike level input is balanced XLR and the line level input is 1/4-inch active balanced/unbalanced. A terminal strip can also be used to access the line level input. A unique feature of the VP-12 is the ability to use both the line and mike level inputs simultaneously, making it possible to process more than one signal, although the processing will be identical for both inputs. A phantom power switch and LED are at the far right of the rear panel.
There are two outputs, the Main output and the Auxiliary output. Both are balanced XLR, and both are also available on a terminal strip between the two XLR connectors. The Auxiliary output delivers the same signal as the Main output, but you get independent level control for each. The terminal strip outputs can be used simultaneously with the XLR outs when driving high impedance loads. A MAIN OUT LEVEL switch on the rear panel selects Mic or Line output level.
All the functions of the VP-12, with the exception of the high and low-cut filters, are brought to a large 13-screw terminal strip at the center of the rear panel. The panel is factory configured with a set of jumpers which have all functions enabled. This terminal strip makes it possible to disable any of the functions and even rearrange the order in which the individual function blocks affect the input. Disabling any of the functions takes that function's circuitry completely out of the picture. A Side Chain Patch is provided on the strip and individual functions can be patched to external devices for additional processing. A ground connector and AC power connector complete the rear panel. The power connector looks like a telephone jack and connects to the external power supply.
The front panel features controls from left to right in the order in which the input signal is affected (unless the order has been rearranged on the rear terminal strip). At the far left, the Power LED indicates whether or not the AC power is connected. There is no power on/off switch. The OL (overload) LED lights whenever the signal is within 4dB of overloading the circuitry and monitors five different stages of the unit. Therefore, an OL indication means the signal is too hot somewhere in the path, but it's up to you to figure out if it's the input level or perhaps the output of the EQ section, etc.. Next to these LEDs is the MIC INPUT GAIN control. The range is +15 to +60dB. The INPUT SELECT switch below selects either Mic, Line, or Both, which, as mentioned, lets you use both the mike and line level inputs simultaneously.