The original idea behind a vocoder was to code speech for telecommunication transmission in in the 1930s. Nowadays we use this kind of synthesis as an electronic instrument for audio production, which is an interesting way to pimp your VO. I know a lot of you use vocoders, melodyne, auto tune or else already, so you might be interested in what we do here at Benztown!
A vocoder picks up the way human speech operates: Harmonic, periodic waveforms are produced by vocal cords and is then filtered by the nose and throat. Additionally a big variety of sound is generated by using the mouth. For a working vocoder a bandpass filters split up the signal in its frequency components. These sounds are analyzed in their amplitude and then sent on a carrier signal, which triggers an oscillator. To recreate speech, the vocoder reverses the process by passing it through the number of filters, the signal was split at the input side. The higher the numbers of filters, the better the voice will be recreated. Hääää? Thats what wikipedia says…:)..
Our guys at the Stuttgart office have several vocoder favorites !
Morphoder by Waves brings an exceptionally clear output with the the iconic character sound of a vocoder, plus the sonic flexibility you need to create truly unique sounds. It’s easy to use and although some of the controls may be unfamiliar, they significantly change your sound. Morphoder acts like a traditional vocoder: it starts by combining the frequency information of a carrier signal with the amplitude information of a modulator signal.
The Mouth is a Reaktor ensemble which works like a combination between instrument and effect processor. It can manipulate any input signal into a melody, so it can be used nicely as a vocoder or talkbox. A main feature of The Mouth is that you can easily add harmonies to your material, without being a genius keyboarder: The Mouth auto tunes the input notes, regarding to your pre set key. All four sound generators are triggered simultaneously and can be mixed with the faders. Nice and fast results.
Like the Mouth, the Razor is a Reaktor ensemble from Native Instruments. It is mainly a synthesizer which is based on additive synthesis with up to 320 individual sine waves. But I use Razor mainly as a vocoder. Presets are plenty and great! It has a really brilliant sharp sound, which let your VO cut through your production. None of the vocoders I used in the past, sounded that massive. So this vocoder is my recommodation for CHR. But note, that Razor is a performance hungry beast and my MAC is often out of CPU Power because of it!
Bitspeek uses a technology, called “Linear prediction” which is a voice compression that appeared in commercial products in the 70s and was implemented in toys of the early eighties. The same technology is built in your mobile phone, so you use it every day. It only has a few parameters which gives you a basic control about your sound. Bitspeek sounds unique and it is not everybody’s fast, but we use it often.
(For all of you, using Vocoders already – you can skip that next paragraph)
It’s quite simple to set up a vocoder in a Pro Tools Session.
First, create an audio track for the VO. Put your favorite vocoder as an insert effect on this track. Then create MIDI Track and route it to the vocoder.
Now you can play the vocoder in the key of your song. Try to play some chords. If you’re using a cpu hungry plugin, record it to another audio track and bypass the vocoder to save cpu power.
If you want, add some Distortion, Delay, Filter EQ the vocals or just go crazy and mess around with it
Check out the CHR Promo I did last week:
You can achieve nice results with all of the vocoders above. Bitspeek and Morphoder are available for demo use! Have Fun!