Qneo Voice Synth

Qneo Voice Synth is another good audio app to have in your iOS music making arsenal. I’ve been using it quite a bit adding an extra vocal bit here and there on my tracks. The app is pretty slick and the audio is good. Try having this and Samplewiz’s audio plugged into your DAW. You will get some different results rather than simply resampling ITB.

“Voice Synth is a specialized synthesizer for creative voice sculpting, for endless fun and serious productions. Speak, sing, hum and beatbox in the mic, tweak the controls and turn your voice live into a human from baby to tenor, a popstar on AutoPitch, a robot from Cylon to iDalek, a church or close harmony choir, animals from birds to dogs and lions, musical instruments from organs, guitars and a groovy bass to percussions and rich 70?s vocoders, ambient, lush string/storm soundscapes. All effects applied simultaneously, polyphonic and live in real-time with low-latency. One app, two interfaces: dedicated interface for iPad, and a compact interface for iPhone and iPod that includes all features” – qneomusic.com

For more info: qneomusic.com

Virsyn iVoxel

Here’s a tasty new iOS vocoder from Germany software house Virsyn called iVoxel. When it comes to vocoders clarity is king. This is why in the past I’ve mostly used non-traditional vocoder type units like a Digitech Talker. It seems the iVoxel has some of that mojo in it performing some resynthesis of your own voice before the vocoder section to make it clearer. I also like that you can record your own voice and use a few samples spread over the keys. How many iPads are we going to want on stage with us?

“Voxel is a combination of a voice optimized synthesizer and a vocoder. The vocoder part is based on the Matrix vocoder from VirSyn used by many famous artists – one of them the well known german group Kraftwerk. The channel filters used by iVoxel are based on the Sennheiser Vocoder VSM201 resulting in a rich and fat analogue sound characteristic.” – virsyn.net/mobileapp

For more info: virsyn.net/mobileapp

How to Wreck a Nice Beach

NPR has posted an audio story on the history of the Vocoder. They interview Dave Tompkins who recently wrote a book called How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop. Grab the book from Amazon (about $20): click here

“If you’ve listened to pop music in the past 40 years, you’ve probably heard more than a few songs with a robotic sound. That’s thanks to the vocoder, a device invented by Bell Labs, the research division of AT&T. Though the vocoder has found its way into music, the machine was never intended for that function. Rather, it was developed to decrease the cost of long-distance calls and has taken on numerous other uses since.” – NPR.org

To listen to the audio story on NPR: click here

Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder

Sweetwater has the Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder for about $215. Sometimes having hardware is better than software and lately there are a lot of products priced so you can go either way. A like having my Digitech Talker as a separate hardware box because it’s easy to plug a real analog synth and mic into it. I know you could stay soft (vocoder wise) and route audio out of you computer and back in again but are you really going to take the time to do it?

“Bend your gender, drone your tone and invite aliens into your work of art. You want flexibility? The V 256 lets you adjust the vocoder from 8 to 256 bands taking you back to the 80’s and propelling you into the future at the same time. Bring your vocals up to snuff with advanced processing “Reflex Tune”… today’s most popular pitch correction effect.” – ehx.com/products/v256

For more info: ehx.com/products/v256

Bjorn Vayner shows us vocoding in Live 8.


Vocoding Voices in Live 8 from Bjorn Vayner on Vimeo.

I use vocoders quite often. Mostly I vocode, mirror and pan hard a few last words of a verse to add tension. Although cliche the technique used subtly is one of those tricks that keeps the listeners ear interested. I prefer the sound of my Digitech Talker to any software vocoder (it’s really a pseudo talk box) but having one built-in to Ableton Live 8 is a treat. It’s all about workflow people…

“A vocoder, IPA: [?vo?ko?d?r] (a portmanteau of the words voice and encoder), is an analysis / synthesis system, mostly used for speech in which the input is passed through a multiband filter, each filter is passed through an envelope follower, the control signals from the envelope followers are communicated, and the decoder applies these (amplitude) control signals to corresponding filters in the (re)synthesizer.
It was originally developed as a speech coder for telecommunications applications in the 1930s, the idea being to code speech for transmission. Its primary use in this fashion is for secure radio communication, where voice has to be encrypted and then transmitted. The advantage of this method of “encryption” is that no ‘signal’ is sent, but rather envelopes of the bandpass filters. The receiving unit needs to be set up in the same channel configuration to resynthesize a version of the original signal spectrum. The vocoder as both hardware and software has also been used extensively as an electronic musical instrument.” – Wikipedia

There are many great hardware vocoders. One is the Roland SVC-350. Check it out over at Vintage Synth Explorer: click here

Do you have a favorite vocoder or vocoding technique?

The strange and cool Time Freezer Effect.

Time Freezer - screenshot

I like weird effects and instruments and Time Freezer from Mark Lingk fits the bill. Both the insert plug-in and instrument allow you to freeze any audio in real time. Once you have a frozen piece of sound playing you can shape it using a bandpass filter, pitch control Time Freezer - insert screenshotand de-noiser. There are mono and stereo versions. Intelligently there is a internal clipless maximizer. There is nothing as crappy sounding as plug-ins clipping in the digital realm.

The instrument version lets you morph to the next “hold”. Basically it’s applying crossfades between times you hit the “Freeze” pad. Take a listen to Time Freezer in action:

For those of you with Ableton Live you can get a similar effect using Live’s built in Reverb. Crank up the decay time, scream something and hit the Freeze button! Reverb’s aren’t the only effects that sometimes have this function. For example, Propellorhead’s Reason BV512 Vocoder has a Hold button which also freezes audio in time. If you own Reason you should really try it out as it sounds uber wicked.

Ableton Live 7 - Reverb Freeze

Remember that you can automate the Freeze and Hold buttons!