In Plugin Boutique’s latest Top 5 Friday series, Tim Cant takes a look at some of the best vocoder effect plugins available.
The list includes the XILS V+ and XILS Vocoder 5000, Meldaproduction MVocoder, the free TAL-Vocoder and the popular VocalSynth 2 by iZotope.
Modelled off Roland’s classic VP330 vocoder hardware, the XILS virtual vocoder brings you classic features and some modern additions as well, for when you simply need to talk some smack in a robotic voice.
Of course, if you want to make a vocoder, it’s got to be at least partly a synth, and the original Roland hardware was famous for both its string sounds and its emulation of the human voice, which gave access to epic choir-like and orchestral tones.
XILS V+ takes it further than the original Roland hardware, offering Mixer, Vocoder, Effects and Mod panels to take more control over the sound than those 1980s musicians could.
An analogue-style vocoder plugin with up to 100 bands, MVocoder doesn’t actually make its synth tones itself – it takes the channel’s input and a sidechain input and combines them, so it’s up to you to find the two signals to smash together through MVocoder.
This one goes further than a regular synth-based vocoder, offering comprehensive modulation, envelope following, smart randomisation, automatic gain compensation and loads more.
If you want to smash together a carrier and a modulator with no messing around, MVocoder is a low-latency, high-quality way to do it.
Another XILS plugin inspired by a real vocoder synth – this time the EMS 5000 – XILS 5000 takes on the analogue filtering of the original and brings it into a single, simple-to-use plugin.
The synth sound is based on XILS’ VCS 3 emulation tech, offering dual oscillators, LFOs and envelopes, vocal de-noising and more, but you can also pipe your own sidechain input in there to use the vocoder filters on any material you’d like.
That pin matrix at the top of the synth? That’s there to select which band of the carrier will be sent through to which band of the modulator, so there’s a wild variety of tonal possibility available from this particular virtual vocoder.
Not just a great vocoder, but a free one too! Togu Audio Line are giving away the farm with TAL-Vocoder, which is an 80s-style vocoder with Pulse, Saw, Sub and Noise oscillators to get your teeth into – or any part of your mouth into, really.
So how about the synth side? Aside from basics like oscillator tuning and fine-tuning, TAL-Vocoder offers polyphonic or monophonic synth modes, portamento and oscillator sync to craft tones that are worthy of even the finest human glottis. There’s also a sidechain input option if you prefer to use your own synths, of course.
Elsewhere, TAL-Vocoder has an 11-band EQ, Ess reduction or boosting, a Release control, and an exciter onboard too.
The Vocoder is just one module in VocalSynth. This plugin serves as many possible vocal effects types as you can think of, with the others being Compuvox, Biovox, Polyvox, and the similar-ish Talkbox.
VocalSynth’s Vocoder module itself contains Smooth, Shift, Scale and Level controls on the surface, but expand it and you get access to a whole basic two-oscillator synth with band level controls.
Not only can you crank up the Vocoder module in VocalSynth alongside all its other modules, but you can avail yourself of seven effects, including Distort, Filter, Transform, Chorus, Delay and more, to get yourself the ultimate robotized vocal tone, or much more.
These and other vocoder plugins are available from Plugin Boutique. You can download trial versions of selected plugins, and don’t forget that TAL-Vocoder is a free download!
More information: Plugin Boutique