A nother Roland goodie, this time it
looks old, feels old and performs... well, timelessly! Our VP 330 is a
thoroughbred vocoder, one of the nicest, surpassed only by the EMS model
which earned it's extra browny points by boasting some quite off the wall
features. The Roland machine is styled very similarly to the Jupiter
4 synthesizer; indeed they are both very much from the same era, the early
eighties. To see a picture of the JP4 and it's bigger brothers cruise back
to our SuperJuper page with the link below and when you've finished on that
page hit the "BACK" button on your browser to return
B ut why buy a vintage piece of kit like
this when there are perfectly adequate modern vocoders around, and usually
for a lot less money? That's easy to answer........ they sound absolutely
cat in comparison!!!
B eloved of such bands as Clannad , the Electric Light Orchestra and Pink Floyd , the distinctive vocoder sound is instantly recognisable and easily remembered, you can't fail to have heard Cher's recent offering, "Believe"!!! But it has it's detractors too; many people will tell you that a vocoder is only good for doing "Sparky The Magic Piano" rip-offs. We strongly disagree for who can forget the haunting "Harry's Game" or "Pigs" from Floyd's "Animals"? And Jean Michel Jarre, Le Guillard de la Clavier himself, has used this instrument to such great effect on so many of his songs - sometimes out front and bold, at others times far back in the mix adding that almost undetectable something without which the track would never work so well. For superb use of the vocoder check out JMJ's album "Chronologie" or the new album "Metamorphoses" where he uses a virtual vocoder within the Pro Tools suite of DAW software. For his unusual application of the EMS vocoder listen for what we think may be some vocoder trickery - the "blossoming" timbre within "Equinoxe Part 7".
A nd if you want to hear what we can do with our vocey then take a listen to a clip from our version of "Millions Of Stars" by clicking on the link below........
S o what exactly is a vocoder? Well............ split the vocal coming in from the microphone into a series of frequency specific bands of sound by use of several band pass filters. Copy what is happening in terms of the volume envelope from each frequency band onto a series of voltage controlled amplifiers which are modulating a corresponding set of frequencies filtered out of the pitches produced when you hit the keys. Now for timbral choice take either an onboard oscillator rich in harmonic content and a noise source to provide sibbilants, or use an external synth instead. For a bit more variety still add a basic string synth and a basic Vox Humanus to the package, assignable to either upper or lower octave ranges ,and fiddle about with variable attack and decay settings. Further modify the sound with variable portamento then detune the whole shebang up or down by roughly two full tones. Got all that...........? No, me either!
than me trying to do the hard sell on this delicious piece of retro kit why
don't I just let you listen to another sound byte instead? Here is a little
clip from a past
show when we played the great man's
. Don't listen to the way we played it - we know it's not the same as his
version - we didn't try to copy him, after all, who can come near the Maestro
himself!!! Rather, listen to the vocoder, at first out front and bold as
I accent the song title, then pushed deeper in the mix to give a warm burbling
timbre in the background.