Cloudvocal

Isolo Choice

Microphone

 

I was given the Cloudvocal microphone system by my colleague Dr. Paul Haar and asked to give my impressions for TheSaxophonist.org.  Although I am not a saxophonist, I have years of experience in both studio and live sound recording/support and have approached this review as a professional experienced in backline/sound support.

 

 

Cloudvocal Observations

 

Overall I found the Cloudvocal system to be a quality microphone with a very transparent sound.  I tested on acoustic guitar and enjoyed the control box that offers a good amount of features. The in-device effects are a good selection of basic sounds for most use situations. However, if you are an effects player you might find them a bit limiting.  For someone looking for effects but doesn't wish to purchase seperate units, this provides a nice starting point.  

 

The Cloud Vocal microphone is really the only wireless microphone I've seen that offers as many features in a single turnkey unit and at this price point ($499).  The closest competitor would be a pro wireless system at a cost of $350 with an additional mic element $300-$900.  Additionally, the unit is small and portable.  The teardown is quick and simple, which as someone left to put away the equipment, I can appreciate.

 

Out of the box, the neoprene that holds the wireless mic to the Velcro backing was already cracked and would be completely unusable within a few months of normal use. It’s something that if I had paid in full I would have already sent this unit back for a return. 

 

The wireless unit also has a combination of small plastic switches and a single metal housing that over time, could fail or break. It’s concerning only because of the price.  If I am buying a premium product for many years of use, these are things that I would immediately flag as problems. Also, if I have any issues with fine motor-skills or larger hands these switches could be an issue.

 

There is sync in and out with a number of other units and services, but this box seems to serve as a tone + effects box primarily. What is odd is that all of the settings are physical encoder knobs in a floor box shape… why not have a toggle (you can connect a mute switch) to cycle through the effects or turn them on and off? If I am playing as part of a group and go into a solo section it would be nice to have the ability to use effects or tone presets to help push my sound out

 

I understand that this is considered a DI (direct in) by the manufacturer, but a DI would have a balanced XLR out and 1/4”.  This unit only has 1/4”.  If you are bringing an amplifier then this will work, but the front of house engineers will generally want XLR.  This is just food for thought.

 

There is a 1/4" input that does not connect to the effects and has no independent volume control on the box, so I am not sure who is this for? I don’t know that I would use this for a vocalist (who would typically want way more control that this box offers) and I wouldn’t send this signal to the front of the house because my source would be tied to the vocal. 

 

The manual showed that this box can be powered by a large format USB portable power brick. I tested with two different bricks and could not get it to work. It could be the types of portable chargers that I have, but it was still disappointing from a portability standpoint.

 

At this time 2.4Ghz is a very saturated frequency band (cell phones and wireless home/commercial infrastructure) I was able to make this work in a home setting, but it might be a concern that at scale or in larger venues you might have dropout or saturation issues.  It should be noted that I didn't run into any issues with this wireless unit.  As a professional soundman, there is always a concern in large cities or large venues when performing  For the sake of being picky, included in this very nice package was an Nvidia power charger that was probably a holdover from the Nvidia Shield or another product. I know that this charger is fine, but for some reason I kept asking why would they send a branded aftermarket part in a kit that costs this much? 

 

Overall assessment

 

While I applaud the technical knowhow and innovative aspiration of this unit, I am left wondering who this unit is for? The young player might find the features interesting, but the price might be too high a barrier.  Whereas the professional would be ok with the price but may want something that is built for heavy duty road use. Ultimately, there is one feature that the Cloudvocal offers and that it is it's wireless. If you are a small venue player this kit will work well, but if you are playing in halls with possible 2.4Ghz interference, this might not be the most stable way to get what you are looking for.  All in all, this is a nice unit for the price and one in which considerable attention was given.-J.O.

 

 

Jeff O'Brien is the IT Associate for the Glenn Korff School of Music at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His main duties include providing technical support for music related software, maintaining the sound/recording for the School of Music as well as sound recording/production for featured performances in the Glenn-Korff School of Music.