Pitch correction, harmony generation with presets, reverb, stutter effects, ring mod, and more for the iPad. This App called ImproVox makes me want a proper audio interface for the iPad. It would be fun manipulating my voice during a live show in real time via the touch screen. Of course it all depends if it sounds good… I’ll try this guy over the weekend and report back!

“Changing the sound of your voice is as easy as moving your fingers across the screen, and you don’t need to know any music theory. Because effect and harmony characteristics can be changed while you sing, the sonic possibilities are endless. Create reverberant rock hits and cavernous choral compositions, or just speak into the mic and transform your voice using abstract effects.” –

For more info:

via Synthtopia

TC Helicon Voicelive Touch

I can tell that people in my own generation are employed as Industrial Designers. A lot of new products tug at my heart strings. Just look at the new Voicelive Touch from TC Helicon. 80’s membrane? Yes I want please. Getting past the simple hardware button gearlust it’s a vocal processor and looper. Considering I sing on almost all my songs, play live often and have become obsessed with the iPhone App Everyday Looper this should be my fortay. I also use the TC plug-ins daily so… The promo video… oh no…

Apple? I’m confused. I actually saw the Voicelive over at Peter’s Create Digital Music and noticed some comments about the promo video. Pretty hilarious. That’s not to say this could be an awesome little box. I’ll wait for a few homebrew YouTube videos before I decide to go try one out myself.

Combining best-selling vocal effects, VLOOP™ performance vocal looping and a uniquely addictive ‘touch’ interface, VoiceLive Touch is truly the first instrument for your voice. VoiceLive Touch is the perfect companion for any vocalist whether you sing live or record in the studio. It can easily be mounted on a mic stand or put next to your computer or keyboard. –

For more info:

Waves Vocal Rider

Here’s an interesting plug-in announced at the recent AES show in New York from Waves. The Vocal Rider is like a virtual hand that rides a volume knob making sure a vocal is always level. It works differently than a compressor or limited. The killer feature of the plug-in is that it writes automation as it rides the track. For a more low-tech non-real time solution check out The Levelator from The Conversations Network.

Vocal Rider will be released early November and cost $800 (TDM), $400 (Native).

For more info:

Don LaFontaine heads to the big mic in the sky.

Here’s a guy who spent more time in front of a microphone than probably anyone you know. Don LaFontaine was “the movie guy”. He is the voice you hear in countless movie trailers saying, “In a world full of…”. Don passed away on Monday at the age of 68.

“Donald LaFontaine (August 26, 1940 – September 1, 2008) was an American voice actor famous for recording over 5,000 movie trailers and (according to his website) over 350,000 television commercials, network promotions, and video game trailers. His signature voice was perceived as being both ominous and sonorous. His nicknames included “Thunder Throat” and “The Voice of God”. He became identified with the phrase “in a world…”, which has been used in movie trailers so frequently that it has become a cliché. He also parodied this cliché several times, most recently in a commercial for GEICO insurance.” –

I remember seeing a documentary about his work and noticed he had his own home studio. Over the period of his life he was a recording engineer, film editor, producer, and writer. He was also known to take the time to send fans personalized voice recordings. I wonder if he had a favorite microphone.

For more info:

My Ableton Live workflow for recording vocals.

It’s 90F/30° in Berlin today (hot!) so instead of my normal routine of office work in the morning and then afternoon in the studio I had to reverse things. The only cool time on days like this is early so as soon as I got up I walked over. I’m recording vocals for an artist group from Milan, Italy called Biokip ( They are a fashion label, a group of visual artists with a gallery and an electrohouse team.

I was wondering if other people who use Ableton Live record vocals in a similar way as I do. See the screenshot above? You can click it to view it full size. What I have here is a very basic drum beat and two simple melodies for the verse and chorus. I set up a scene for each and leave a bunch of empty clip slots in between them (vertically) so I can record a bunch of takes. I usually record 2-4 takes per verse. The blue arrows are pointing to the takes, white arrows are on the scenes. If I’m feeling crazy I will label them Verse 1-1, Verse 1-2, Verse 2-1, etc… More importantly I leave a blank clip slot between each verse.

After I have my takes I then switch over to Arrangement View, duplicate the Vocal channel three times, comp the vocals (take the best bits from each take) and then consolidate all the perfect bits by hitting Command-J.

So what else can I note here? Well, I usually record vocals right after I get the basic melody and drums. First off, your CPU is happy there isn’t much going on so you can knock down the CPU latency to 96ms while you monitor yourself singing. I also find it best to work out the melody and voice in a pure or simple state. If you get too far into a song and then try and add vocals there’s a chance they may just not work. Lastly, in case your wondering 90% of what I keep comes from the first verses I record. I guess I’m best when I’m not thinking too much.

I remember Cubase had some nice comping methods. I also know in Live you can record multiple takes in one shot and then slide the start flag in Clip View around but I still like seeing my takes separate.

What’s your method?

Voxonic international dubbing is totally amazing.


There is a company in New York called Voxonic and they are doing something that completely blows my mind. They can take a vocal track from a song and change the audio into a new language. For example, the vocals from a English hip hop track can be made into French or Spanish in the artists original voice. The artist does not have to re-sing the song or know the foreign language! The results are amazing believable.

Take a listen to this clip “French/English/Chinese”:

I came across this company while listening to an interview with Arie Deutsch the Co-founder of the company on I highly recommend taking a listen. During the interview they play several more audio examples including Bill Clinton’s inaugural speech translated into Spanish: click here

Voxonic has developed proprietary patent-pending software, which transforms voices, making it possible to replicate any person’s voice in any language. Voxonic applies its “Voice Models” to transform speech from one person to another. All we need is a one-time, fifteen-minute sample of your voice. With that we will be able to present you saying what you want in the language of your choice. –

For me this is one of those “wow they can do this now” moments. Imagine this technology built into your DAW? Another amazing fact from the interview is that Mr. Deutsch says the processing happens quickly in about the length of the source. So could this mean with a much faster computer we are approaching real time language translation? Voll giel!

Testing the zplane Vielklang harmonizer plug-in.

Vielklang screenshot

I have been working on a new song called “Born this Way”. It’s a dark tale about a killer who is apologizing for his actions. In the first part of each verse the subject states his sadness. The second part of each verse he details the evil he is compelled to do.

I like the first part of each verse clear, up front and with just a small amount of delay effect. However, when the subject states his evil doings I am looking to add more effects and possibly a second or third voice. To add the harmonies I would normal sing a backing track into the arrangement or possibly use Melodyne. I have been reading reviews of a new plug-in by German software making Zplane called “Vielklang” which creates harmonies in real time on the fly. Most of the reviews have been positive so today I downloaded and tried the demo.

vielklang “thinks musically” and prepares the ground. vielklang by zplane is packed with musical intelligence and music theory: it automatically detects the best fitting harmonies for each individual input melody, and automatically synthesizes up to four voices with the voices not merely running in parallel but with their voicings automatically selected to sound most natural (voice leading). vielklang gives you a natural-sounding result immediately and allows you to concentrate on tweaking the results rather than edit them from scratch as with traditional harmonizers. –

In Ableton Live you load Vielklang into a MIDI track and to hear it you add an AudioHarmonies - photo Track and route the MIDI track into it. Open Vielklang and either drag or load an audio file into the plug-in. At first I could not get any sound from Vielklang but after reading the manual I was able to deduce I needed to start playing the song from zero. This worked and then I read the other ways you get Vielklang to play anywhere in the arrangement. It sounds a little fuddy duddy which it is but the end results are good enough it doesn’t matter.

I’m not sure I’m going to use Vielklang’s harmonies in this song but I am going to buy this plug-in. After hearing what it’s capable of I was inspired. Take a listen to a few audio samples:

Vielklang on the second part of the first verse:

Again Vielklang on the second part of the first verse but with a different key:

The song in progress:

photo credit: Dhamma

Synthetic speech in your music.

Robot Hed - photo

Have you ever used a speech synthesizer in your music? I’ve used a 1970’s Texas Instruments Speak & Spell, Apple computer’s built in MacInTalk text to speech synthesizer, Magnavox Odyssey² video game peripheral “The Voice”, AT&T’s “Natural Voices” for telephony, Commodore Amiga’s “Soft Voice” synthesizer and a handful of other talk making algorithms.Speak & Spell - image

You can hear synthetic voices in a lot of popular music. Most recently Benni Benassi’s song Satisfaction highlights Apple’s MacInTalk speech synthesizer.

In my own music I sometimes have the synthetic voice mirror the last few words in a verse acting as a robotic backup singer. In my live version of the song “One Night in NYC” I have a synthetic female voice tell her side of the dark story. I recorded a futuristic minimal track with German producer Miro Pajic titled “Gigabytes Numbers” and the last minute of the song a male synthetic voice with a British accent rambles gibberish and well large numbers. To increase the futuristic effect on his voice we put it through a TC Electroinc’s Filtrator plug-in and then automated some delay effect times using Ableton Live’s standard Ping Pong Delay plug-in. Here’s an audio sample:

Here are a few online places you can go right now and create some synthetic voices:

What’s next? Software that creates real singing vocals of course. Yamaha’s Vocaloid software takes a stab at it but the technology really is not ready for prime time. However, I could see using Vocaloid for interesting sounds. You can jump over to Sound on Sound Magazine to hear a sample.

Keep in mind we are not “talking” about vocoding in this article. Vocoding uses a carrier signal and a real human voice and will be a subject of a different post in the future. For a current stream of updated info on Text to Speech check out the Text to Speech blog!

photo credits: redomestication and inju