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Vocoder

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Vocoder

Postby nickle15 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:28 pm

I'm interested in picking up a hardware vocoder hopefully this year sometime. I was wondering if anyone would mind to share what they recommend. It will be a low budget item unfortunately so keep that in mind. I've had my eye on the Waldorf STVC and probably should have picked it up when they were marked down last year. Anyway, what is everyone using?
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Re: Vocoder

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:37 pm

Not sure of your budget but I have an old Akai Miniak which includes a vocoder. It was not very expensive (<£300 used off ebay), has a decent three octave keyboard and some good sounds, it just lacks USB midi (due to it's age).
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Re: Vocoder

Postby nickle15 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:14 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Not sure of your budget but I have an old Akai Miniak which includes a vocoder. It was not very expensive (<£300 used off ebay), has a decent three octave keyboard and some good sounds, it just lacks USB midi (due to it's age).

Thanks! Those are the kind of leads I'm looking for. I wasn't aware of this keyboard at all. I know Korg has the R3 which can be had for a decent price, and the microKorg line. The Roland VP-03 is interesting to me also. But this Akai just moved way up the list because as I mentioned, I didn't know it was out there - and at a decent price. Thank you!
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Re: Vocoder

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:26 pm

You're welcome, there aren't loads of them out there but they turn up every so often. I bought it as much for the 37 note full sized keys as anything but it does what I need. I've just glanced back and I paid £250 in June 2019 and it's in excellent condition.
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Re: Vocoder

Postby DGL. » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:27 pm

I don't think the Vocoder is all that good on the MINIAK unfortunately, and gets majorly let down due to it's 12V AC PSU, which is not so easy to replace if it goes wrong (I squeezed one inside somehow).

The Behringer VC340 is available for £373, a basic vocoder in some ways but it just sounds right, has strings and human voice available too, and is built like a tank! You can even use your own carrier wave if you don't want to use what's inside.
If you didn't know it's a hardware clone of the Roland VP330 Vocoder/Strings minus one octave of keyboard (which is available either with the octave select switch or via MIDI).
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Re: Vocoder

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:37 pm

The vocoder on the old Roland JP-8080 is very good. The one on the System-8 is even better.

But...

I'd take the Roland VP-330 (or the Behringer VC340 recreation) every time for its immediacy and the on-board choir and strings.

(TBH I don't have any time for the typical 'robot voice'/'Mr Blue Sky', but for rhythmic stuff they're still one of those 'how did they do that?' elements.)
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Re: Vocoder

Postby nickle15 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:38 pm

DGL. wrote:I don't think the Vocoder is all that good on the MINIAK unfortunately, and gets majorly let down due to it's 12V AC PSU, which is not so easy to replace if it goes wrong (I squeezed one inside somehow).

The Behringer VC340 is available for £373, a basic vocoder in some ways but it just sounds right, has strings and human voice available too, and is built like a tank! You can even use your own carrier wave if you don't want to use what's inside.
If you didn't know it's a hardware clone of the Roland VP330 Vocoder/Strings minus one octave of keyboard (which is available either with the octave select switch or via MIDI).

This is another unit I've been keeping an eye on. I saw it used on a live performance by Arthur Moon and was really impressed with it. I loved the way she stacked the vocoder with the "normal" vocals. This is such a good performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iEgxnmXkUU
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Re: Vocoder

Postby Stratman57 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:45 pm

If you're after something relatively cheap this might be worth a look.

https://www.boss.info/uk/products/vo-1/

Although it's supposed to be for guitar you could just as easily feed the output from a keyboard through it.

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Re: Vocoder

Postby BJG145 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:56 pm

nickle15 wrote:I'm interested in picking up a hardware vocoder hopefully this year sometime.

Wait a minute, what about that bag of Polysix parts? I need to see proof of life before I commit to anything else.
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Re: Vocoder

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 25, 2021 5:58 pm

That pedal is a reasonable suggestion, but guitar pedals can get a bit sniffy about keyboard levels. It's also mono, which may, or may not be a big deal, depending on what you may be doing with the rest of the signal chain.
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Re: Vocoder

Postby Zukan » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:05 pm

Loads of vocoders available both new and second hand. Roland SVC350, VP330, Boss SE70 (2 vocoders, poor man's vocoder), Quasimidi Sirius (keyboard based), Korg VC10, EMS 1000/2000/3000 etc...

Loads of new offerings as well but I'll leave the young 'uns like Elf to recommend them.
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Re: Vocoder

Postby nickle15 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:11 pm

BJG145 wrote:
nickle15 wrote:I'm interested in picking up a hardware vocoder hopefully this year sometime.

Wait a minute, what about that bag of Polysix parts? I need to see proof of life before I commit to anything else.

It's funny - I've been waiting to get called out on that! :lol:

Update coming soon hopefully!
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Re: Vocoder

Postby nickle15 » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:16 pm

Thanks to everyone for chiming in here. This gives me plenty of options to sift through!
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Re: Vocoder

Postby DGL. » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:31 pm

The Roland vp550 also looks interesting as it does more than just vocoder vocal wise, I remember the demos sounding quite good, they also did a more expensive one (the 770?) with a few more features. I believe they were essentially the VC card for the V-Synth
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Re: Vocoder

Postby Dave B » Fri Feb 26, 2021 10:56 am

When it comes to vocoders, they don't have to be all-in-one keyboard units...

I use the EHX V256 and that is very flexible and offers a lot of options. Crucially for me, it has a midi input and an inbuilt tone generator which works really well. It does a number of tricks with vocoding (drones, gender change, etc) so well worth looking into.

I also had the Roland VP-7 which had 3 different 'styles' of vocoding. To me, it seemed slightly more 'modern' sounding (the EHX can dial the number of bands back down to get very 70s sounds as well). It was basically the sound engine from the Roland VP-550/770 in a small box. Again, controllable via midi and a very capable unit that can sometimes still be picked up cheap s/h.
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