I’ve always wanted a vintage vocoder, like a Korg VC-10 or something, so I was fairly excited to see how a premium modern plug-in meets expectations. VocalSynth is iZotope’s new vocal processing plug-in featuring four re-synthesis engines, a pitch correction engine and five effects modules, designed to help you create everything from subtle harmonies to wild robotic growls.
Providing 3 extra voices for harmonies, the Polyvox engine is your ticket to thickening up vocals. I found the trick here is subtlety; pitching 2 voices 7 semitones up and down, with another voice set to unison, and having them play at about 50% volume alongside the dry signal. Things get emotional fast. The formant, character and humanize knobs let you really dial in your sound, or make it sound really whacky and alien-like. But if that’s your bag, then you’re gonna love the other 3 engines.
On these engines you’ve got 10 oscillator choices, 3 knobs and a chicken head knob with 3 settings to vary the darkness/ brightness. Vocoder does your wicked Beastie Boys Intergalactic sounds, Talkbox does the Peter Frampton sounds (that most of us don’t want to admit we rst discovered through his cameo on The Simpsons) and Compuvox is modelled after the lo-fi talking toys of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Pop culture references aside, it’s all there, every variant of a digital voice you could think of and it does it really well. The key difference between these 3 and Polyvox is that there are 2 extra modes aside from live that you can use them in – MIDI and sidechain.
With MIDI mode turned on, you can send MIDI information to VocalSynth. This disables the Polyvox engine, since you’re now manually telling the plug-in what notes and chords you’d like to play. This is a super cool feature; certainly what I had the most fun with. With a MIDI key- board connected you can have a vocal loop playing and tinker around with a melody, forcing your sample to your new melody. Map a knob on your controller to a midi parameter like formant on the Talkbox, record your melody and tweaks, and you’ve got yourself a dynamic little phrase.
This mode lets you send audio to the plug-in as the carrier signal. For example, play your guitar on a separate track in your DAW, send that audio to the VocalSynth track with a Talkbox setting active. Nothing will be audible until you sing or play a vocal sample, then you’ll get the famous talking guitar sound – minus the PVC piping and saliva.
Distort, filter and delay do what they say on the tin – but are still a really handy addition. We’ve got a couple more unique fx modules included though – transform and shred. Transform is a convolution speaker modeller, the most obvious use being those thin ‘down the telephone line’ type effects. Shred is something a little weirder, kind of a hybrid beat repeat/grain delay effect. If you’re into glitch music, you’re gonna love this – popping VocalSynth on your master track and toying with the shred is gonna get some wild results.
Guitar pedal purists may not dig this plug-in, but for people like myself who dabble in a few instruments and styles of music, it’s bloody terrific. Consider how much these effects would cost to achieve in hardware form – literally thousands of dollars. It is a little heavy on the CPU, but If you’ve got a high-ish spec computer I’d highly recommend at least giving the free trial a whirl, I can’t see how software of this kind can get much better.
For more details on the range of iZotope products, head to elfa.com.au.