Rhythm Robot releases SpecTalk sample library for Kontakt

Rhythm Robot has announced SpecTalk, a sampled version of a genuine 1980s computerised speech synthesiser.

Rhythm Robot SpecTalk

It creates monotone robot voices, robot sound effects, 8-bit vocal phrases and glitchy stutter effects. It includes a complete phoneme set allowing the user to create any vocal word or phrase imaginable, plus four banks of pre-prepared words and phrases covering a variety of styles (from dance floor ad-libs to old science fiction quotes). The sound is entirely 8-bit and far more authentic than using a vocoder to emulate “robot voices”.

It also includes a built-in drum kit made by the speech synthesiser “saying” drum sounds (so the bass drum is “buh”, the snare is “tshh” and so on). This is cooler than it sounds here: check out the audio demo on the website for proof!

The source for SpecTalk was the Currah MicroSpeech hardware add-on for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer. This was an 8-bit hardware speech synthesiser that converted any key press on the Spectrum to a spoken word, and also allowed for specific word and phrase creating via simple BASIC programming. All the component phoneme sounds, plus full words and phrases, have been sampled.

SpecTalk is ideal for sound design, glitch, experimental and dance music, where its phonetic components can be treated as musical or rhythmical elements in their own right (they respond particularly well to further processing); and of course for creating robotic-style ad-libs, shout-outs, voice-overs, vocal phrases and stutter effects with a uniquely old-school 1980s flavour.

Rhythm Robot SpecTalk
SpecTalk 1980s-style 8-bit computerised speech synthesiser for NI Kontakt.

SpecTalk features

  • Complete phoneme set allowing the creation of infinite original vocal phrases.
  • Built-in library of pre-recorded phrases and words.
  • 8-bit quality throughout (sampled at 24-bit!).
  • True 1980s-vintage robot voices.
  • Phoneme components ideal for sound design and further manipulation.

The SpecTalk sample library for Kontakt (full version 4.2.3 or later) is available to purchase for £4.95 GBP. Previous Rhythm Robot customers can get SpecTalk free of charge (check your email).

More information: Rhythm Robot / SpecTalk


TwistedWave updated to v1.9

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TwistedWave, an audio editor for Mac, was updated to version 1.9.

The main new features are the support for VST plugins, the ability to import YouTube soundtracks, and support for .wmv, .flv, .ac3 and Audiobook .m4b files with chapters, and speech synthesis.

Changes in TwistedWave v1.9

  • New Features
    • Support for VST plugins.
    • Import YouTube soundtracks.
    • Integration of Apple’s speech synthesis.
    • Support for reading .wmv, .flv and .ac3 files.
    • Support for Audiobook .m4b files.
    • The markers are loaded/saved as chapters in mp4 (.mp4 .m4a .m4b .m4r) files.
    • Split multichannel support for batch processing.
    • New batch processing actions: cut, fade in/out, reorder channels, add/remove/split by markers, copy a metadata field to another.
    • Support for trackpad swipe and pinch gestures.
    • Automatically place markers at regular intervals.
  • Improvements
    • Smoother zooming and scrolling with the magic mouse or trackpad.
    • Uses Sparkle for automatic updates.
    • Added the possibility to undo all the previous actions of the same kind at once.
    • Much faster file loading, especially reading mp3.
    • The Insert Silence effect will replace the selections if a selection exists.
    • Use shift-space to stop playing without moving the cursor back.
  • Fixes
    • The markers from some wav files would not load.
    • Fixed a problem when saving files whose samples were more than 0 dbFS.
    • Saving/loading MP3 files would add a small silence at the beginning/end of the file.

TwistedWave is available to purchase for Mac OS X 10.4 or later, priced at $79 USD.

More information: TwistedWave


Gestural Speech Synth by Matt Gilbert

Matt Gilbert developed the Gestural Speech Synth, a speech synth controller which puts expression before language.

Matt writes:

Speech synthesis is usually about converting text to speech, but what if you approached it differently? With this experimental speech synth controller, I started by providing control over inflection instead of starting with discrete language. I was curious about the different expressive possibilities that would come out of this, and I also wanted to make an electronic instrument that would make for an interesting live performance.

The synth can only control vowel sounds, but it moves fluidly between vowels through different gestures, allowing for more variation in inflection and emphasis.

Matt Gilbert Gestural Speech Synth
Simply create the shape of your throat with hand and forearm.

The Gestural Speech Synth runs on a Max patch (based on research by Brad Story dealing with vocal tract shapes and voice quality) which acts as a filter. The sound input is passed through a simulated vocal tract which is picked up from the hardware input (Max/MSP -> PIC).

You can see a video of Matt playing around with it on his website where you will also find the Max patches and PicBasic program available for download.

Link via Make:Blog