Most arranger players don't use their Vocal Harmonizers anyway, so it is not overused or overrated. Few that do use it can miss-use it. None of the TOTL arrangers have great VH processors, but can be handy for some songs and registrations.

I've used VoiceLive 2 Extreme, for quality harmonies of my own voice. However, the best unit for dynamics and quality gender bending is Roland in their VP-770 and the small VP-7 unit. I wish Roland continued to develop the VP-7, but decided to discontinue it.

For lack of dynamics, common mistakes are no mic technique, especially poor quality headsets at a fixed distance. Second mistake is using fixed harmony, for just a bland fixed harmonic intervals throughout your songs.

At least the arranger onboard VH can pickup your complex chords and give you the interesting harmonies and chord accuracy. Portable units therefore would give you more interesting harmonies matching your keyboard chords via midi control and minimize using the fixed harmony setting or having to fuss to setup the correct key.

In the case of the VP-7, dynamics interpreted through your playing technique is sent live to the VP-7 at whatever midi channel you choose. Besides your own voice and mic technique, the Vocal Designer/Vocoder dynamics will respond to changes in the microphone input volume and can be adjusted over a range of seven levels.

Just these two user changes can dramatically improve the dynamics in your VH renderings, and this is before even adding Roland's Variation Sounds in Variation mode for more added dynamics to your own voice.

Rather than the Roland VP-7 giving you accurate harmony intervals to your own voice from the chord data sent from your playing, your actual notes played become the chosen harmonies and with Roland's great presets (in this mode) different gender and choir combinations are now added to your original voice.

None of the Roland demos demonstrate this mode, yet it is the best I have heard from any VH processor. Roland, from their older VP-550, has developed this nice organic feel and gender authenticity to the various choir presets. Roland killed these settings by optimizing their fixed presets settings. Depends on your own voice, but professional players like, Don Lewis makes his voice sound like an authentic southern gospel choir. All your playing technique and fingered notes, even midi bass notes(feet)information are translated to the choir or chorus parts.

VP-7 Variation Mode preset descriptions
1) Male & Female (Female Choir button) - A mixed choir with independent male and female parts. Sparse harmony will produce a three- dimensional sound that is thicker than "Classic". Female voices sing the high range, and the male voices sing the low range. Female voices at the right on the stereo field, and the male voices are heard on the left.

2) Kids Choir 2 (Kids Choir button) - Unlike the mixed choir, the female parts is sung by young boys whose voices have not yet changed. Compared to the mixed choir, this produces a more transparent sound. The high range is sung by young boys, and the low range by youths.

3) Classic (Gregorian Choir button) - This is a large chorus suitable for classic music. The sound is clear, making it suitable when you want the lyrics to be heard.

4) Jazz Scat 2 (Jazz Scat button) - This is the jazz scat sound. Since this is an expressive and crisp sound, it's suitable for songs with rapid passages, or for scat singing. By playing the keyboard strongly while you sing, you can switch to a "fall" note.

5) Background (Duet button) - This is the sound of a simple backing chorus. It produces a clear-sounding chorus of a small number of people, maintaining a sense of presence even in the background.

6) Pop (Trio 1 button) - This is a small chorus that is broadly useful with popular music or with songs containing rapid passages. The sound is clear, making it suitable for songs in which you want the lyrics to be heard.

7) Gospel (Trio 2 button) - This is a chorus with the distinctive performances techniques and irregularities that are characteristic of gospel music. It is suitable for jazz or gospel.

I have used the Shure SM58 or a Samson dynamic mic for playing out for convenience , plus the VP-7 has phantom, but for home studio I use a nice quality tube mic to add warmth and adds subtle sympathetic harmonics at higher vocal levels to enhance the organic characteristics of the VP-7 variation sound, for even more authentic dynamic changes.

The Roland VP-7 Ambiance (reverb) is pretty good and the stereo output matches perfectly with my Tyros 5 AUX-IN or to the T5's Hard Disk Recorder along with the Tyros 5 sounds. For even more variation and dynamics, one or both of the VP-7's audio output can be fed back into the Tyros 5 mic input to take advantage of the high end DPS effects or simple harmony splits using VH2, like doubling the VP-7 output, or doubling the choir sound....or add the ultra realistic "Real Reverb" DPS for more authentic dynamics.

Your VH doesn't have to be bland or lack dynamics. The Yamaha VH2 is no worse than the other TOTL arrangers. Add the dynamics of a TOTL arranger like the Tyros 5 and add your favorite VH unit, you won't be bored or lack dynamics.

Regards, Marcus