Vocoders

Bit OT, I’m afraid, but anybody like vocoders? I do! I’ve finally got all four of my vocoder-equipped synths hooked up with audio i/o, and thought I’d make a little comparison track to see how they all sounded. I’ve learnt a few things along the way, the most important lesson probably being that you have to be careful to record your voice well, in order to get an intelligible result. I held the mic too close to my mouth (what can I say, I was trying to do it quietly, so my better half didn’t hear me pretending to be Africa Bambaata…), and didn’t use a pop-shield, so there are too many low-frequency plosives going on. It’s all good fun though. I’ll definitely be using them more in the future.

a|x

The more bands the better. I have a 40 band vocoder on my Novation Nova that i’ve never used.

I also had the vocoder card for my V-Synth but ended up selling it as I didn’t use it either.

@6581punk depends what you mean by ‘better’. The Nova has the most bands, but because it’s much smoother, it doesn’t have quite that robotic quality I like in a vocoder. The DVP-1 was the biggest surprise, actually. I’ve had it for a while, but what with moving house, and setting stuff up again in the new place, I’ve not had a chance to play with it before. From the brief time I’ve spent with it, I think it sounds more like Sonic Charge’s Bitspeek plugin than a true vocoder. The DVP manual doesn’t say what technology is used in the vocoder mode, but it does say that it’s completely digital, and my guess is that it’s based more on the kind of Linear Prediction technology Bitspeek emulates (and which is also used extensively in mobile telephony), than an actual digital model of a traditional analogue vocoder. It certainly doesn’t have many of the parameters you’d expect if it was a modelled analogue vocoder- there isn’t even a ‘Waveform’ control…

a|x

Hmm, from my equipment:
MAM-VF11: 11 bands of analog goodness! Sounds surprisingly good.
Korg Wavestation A/D: Err, use the vocoder on internal sounds. Sounds so-so.
Korg Radias: Kick-ass vocoder. There’s a slight increase in DSP capacity since the WS-A/D… a slight…
Virus Ti2: Everything sounds good using this!
Roland JP-8080: I’d rate the vocoder just below the Radias. However, the talking modulators are wild!
Reason (S/W): This vocoder is surprisingly effective.

Waldorf MW XT: There are those who say that it can vocode, but I haven’t had the time to test this. However, both this and the JD-990 are excellent sources to vocode using the MAM.
Yamaha FS1r: No vocoder, but the formant sequences are delicious. There are plenty of vocal-type sounds to use for further experimentation.

Two things of my To-Do List:

  • try the MS-200BRs Vocoder
  • try the MicroQs Vocoder

@Jojjelito thanks very much for the rundown! Do you have any examples of the JP-8080 processing audio input handy? I’m intrigued, now. Never really considered that particular box.

I’ve seen the VF-11 come up on eBay a few times, for very little money. I’ve always thought if I was going to go for a dedicated vocoder, it would be the Electrix Warp Factory. Having said that, I read a review that suggested the internal oscillator couldn’t be controlled by MIDI notes, which seems crazy to me, and if true, has probably put it out of contention for me.

Incidentally, I don’t think the Microwave XT does do vocoding. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of it in the manual. It does have an audio input though, so maybe that’s what caused the confusion.

a|x

For those who haven’t heard the audio I linked to, the machines I tested were:

Redsound Darkstar with Vocoda chip (11 bands + noise)
Clavia Nord Modular (G1) (16 bands + sibilance)
Novation Nova (40 bands + noise)
Korg DVP-1 (unknown no. bands + sibilance)

a|x

I should sign up for SoundCloud I guess.

Anywho, Vanderson to the rescue
and some info from the tutorial DVD

J

Well, better as in clearer voice so you can hear what is being said. Of course you don’t always want that :slight_smile:

I had a Nord G2X (sold it when I was out of work a couple of years ago, very dumb move). I liked the vocoder on it, lots of fun, very deep synth. I wish Nord would get back to their roots.

Randy

Clavia/Nord has to make money so they followed the market and turned to performing live musicians as it looked really grim for hardware synths a few years ago. There was also a story about some key component being used in the Nord Modular and Nord Lead 3 platforms being discontinued.

Apart from the Wave and the NL2x things look grim on the Nord synth front. That said, both of those are good but maybe not revolutionary products.

They were using old Motorola DSPs for the Nord Lead series. Are those chips dead now?

Yups. If they would make something like the 2GX i would be really tempted but the rest seems to be mostly red…

I know Nord had to follow the market, it’s just disappointing to see something really interesting disappear. Selling the G2X was almost as dumb as selling my Clavinet C way back when.

Randy

I bet they optimized their code as hell and wrote it in assembly… Which means that they have to restart all the development from scratch when they have to migrate to another platform :frowning:

My nord micro modular sounds something special, especially with a touch of timefactor.

Could’ve been Assembler, although if a C or C++ compiler was available, I would’ve done that instead. Anything that can be done in Assembler, I could do in C (at least, back when I was a coder).

And back on track again :
Akai Miniak (Re-badged/re cased Alesis Ion with improved vocoder+rhythm stuff added on top) :
Very nice, goes from very understandable, to choir of synth angels, to "Stop hitting mah drainpipe yo!"
It does however mostly feel like its a mixing vocoder(is that even a term?)… There isn’t that much control over it,
the focus is completely on banging out beats+going on stage with it, editing it is a BITCH…
Not sure why they didn’t add a USB-midi interface… Probably so that they won’t have to pay someone to develop a VST editor… Sigh

Vocodex(S/W, included with ‘bigger’ versions of FL Studio, might be obtainable elsewhere as well…) :
"Now we’re talking!"
Some people might not like the S/W part though… Anyways, easy to use, can be pretty much anything you like, & is more or less free… :slight_smile:

Love vocoders+piping random stuff trough them… The results are often weird gargle noises, but when something unexpected happens… ooOo Magic!

I imagine Clavia’s decision to discontinue the Modular had a lot to do with two factors:

Competition from the many modular software-only applications (Reaktor, Bidule, etc.)

The necessity to keep updating the editor software to ensure compatibility with new OS versions.

I’m really not surprised they decided to ditch these products. It is a shame though. It’s particularly a shame because they’ve so far refused to release the source code for the editors. I hope some day they will reconsider that decision, because at some point, without updates, the editing software for both the original Modular and the G2 is going to stop working on current Windows and Mac OS versions. Of course, there’s always the possibility of reverse-engineering the editors, as the Nomad project did for the G1, but I’m not sure there are enough people out there with NMs to make this viable.

Derailed again, sorry…

a|x

the redsound one sounded the best IMO :slight_smile:

Weird always wanted a krog dvp1 as used in the Ultraviolence CD (yeah, loved it at the time tho).

I have a super cheap zoom 1204 which has a vocoder which ive never used.

Theres a DIY one coming soon from L1, check the muffwigglers forum, theres also Jurgen Haibles insane one too…