Fujitsu America, Inc.

Using The Helicon Quintet With the Roland Studio Pack

First off if you are considering the Quintet for harmony creation I would suggest that you download the instruction manual HERE . This will give you some idea of the features and limitations. There was a mention in the instruction manual about needing a footswitch, which I ignored. I bought the Quintet fully knowing that a footswitch was "required". I'm working with this in a studio setting and don't care about being able to switch harmonies "on the fly".

I would also like to mention that the QUALITY MICROPHONE PREAMP in the Quintet, alone , is worth 1/2 of the price of this unit. Plugging a microphone directly into the RSP is noisy and distorted at best. I wish that I would have had this at the very beginning of production of my CD rather than now, as I'm coming to the end of this project. The Helicon Quintet makes even my $50 microphone sound better! It's like the Quintet and RSP were made for each other. You set up the Quintet for 44.1 khz and use the S/PDIF DIRECT DIGITAL OUTPUT to the RSP DIN A input AND IT'S GREAT ! You set up the VM3100 to "DIN A" CLOCK MASTER and under Windows the RSP control panel CLOCK to "EXTERNAL". With everything at 44.1 the whole thing will FLY with the Quintet as the MASTER CLOCK, for your entire computer based recording system.

If the microphone preamp justified the the cost of 1/2 of the Quintet, the PITCH CORRECTOR alone justifies the cost of the other 1/2. The Antares SOFTWARE pitch corrector has been available on the internet for the past few years for a price of over $200 and though the Antares design MAY be marjinally better, this is $200 spent on basically a software PLUGIN. Plugins cut into your CPU processing power using up CLOCK CYCLES, and will the Antares run on the next generation of Windows or will you need to buy an UPGRADE for it? I haven't tried the Antares pitch corrector, so I can't say which is better or worse.I have many good things to say about the Quintet BUT..................

The Quintet isn't the easiest thing to program with multi-toggle "EDIT" and "LEVELS" buttons and with a SPARSE instrucion manual this box of tricks has still got me a bit mystified. I'll admit that I'm a drummer and know just a little bit about Major and Minor keys, but I was hoping that the MIDI CONTROL would pick the right keys for me. It is true that MIDI does work with this box, but you may need to record or play a special CHORD track just for the purpose of controlling the Quintet. Most of my music doesn't have an ONGOING CHORD throughout. My MIDI sequences have running bass lines, lead lines and chords that come and go. I was hoping that the MIDI CONNECTED Quintet would pull the CHORDS out of this and LOCK ON to the proper CHORDS, but if you watch the box and listen , you will see it bouncing back and forth from one chord to another. You can't have anything more unnatural than to hear your voice change key sharply right in the middle of a sustained note. This is what happens when you set it up in CHORD MODE.

The pitch corrector works well, but if you turn it up FULL it sounds electronic which is good if you want that type of effect. Now don't ask me why, but FULL SMOOTH for the Quintet is "0%" and to get no pitch correction is "100%". This pitch correction is meant for HARMONIES , but if you only push the "UNISON" KEY without the other harmony keys lighted, you should get just pure PITCH CORRECTION ? Well not exactly ! My Quintet seems to want to rewrite my lead vocals to fit the CHORD I selected, so I'm still looking for a better way to do this. This would be OK early on in the composition process, but not now when I already have all of the backup tracks ready. BUT.................

There is more than just the CHORD MODE. There is also NOTES MODE which will do EXACTLY what your incoming MIDI tells it to do. This is what I mentioned before. You could play up to 4 note chords and record them into your sequencer for playback and directly control the Quintet during playback of those MIDI chords.

There is SHIFT MODE which USES FIXED INTERVALS and creates simple non-intelligent Chromatic PARALLEL harmonies much like the boxes of 20 years ago.

There is also SCALE MODE. SCALE MODE produces harmony based on the scale and KEY that you select. This is probably what I should use for pure PITCH CORRECTION. Set the Helicon to SCALE MODE and then only select the UNISON button. Have only the LED lighted on the UNISON KEY. Then turn up the SMOOTH pitch correction to 0% ? for the wildest electronic pitch correction or to an intermediate value of 50%-100% for a more moderate pitch aid. The THICKEN MODE will act much like older CHORUS units, not changing the pitch or correcting pitch, but rather adding a bit of time delay and flanging to the lead vocal.

The Quintet also produce results using JUST TUNING OR EQUAL TEMPERAMENT.

That's it! I've had this unit for a month now and that is how I see it.

Dan Laskowski