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2HP Vowel

Eurorack Module By Rory Dow
Published February 2019

Size: 2HP. Current: +12V 78mA, -12V 2mA.Size: 2HP. Current: +12V 78mA, -12V 2mA.Admit it, you've always wanted to make your modular talk. But experimenting with sawtooth waveforms going into multiple band-pass filters at precise frequencies can be a finicky business and take up a lot of valuable modules. 2HP are here to save you all that messing about, with the Vowel.

Vowel is a digital oscillator module with all the gubbins you might need in order to get vowel sounds with just a trio of controls. Alongside the necessary Frequency control (and its accompanying 1V/oct CV input), there are Vowel and Formant pots with a CV input for each. The Vowel control sweeps through available vowels and Formant changes the timbre in a natural mouthy way. A switch selects one of two algorithms, giving you two distinct flavours of vocal synthesis to play with.

The two algorithms are described by 2HP as "speech synthesis" and "FOF synthesis". Speech synthesis could cover a multitude of synthesis types, but FOF synthesis caught my attention. It turns out it's not unlike granular synthesis. I could only find one other Eurorack module which employs it, the Ginko Synthese Grain. It involves grains of sound controlled by envelopes, but adheres to much stricter rules in order to achieve formant synthesis. All of this is academic of course, as the module is so simple that understanding the underlying synthesis algorithms is totally unnecessary. Just know this: both synthesis types sound great.

With the correct application of sequencing, slew, gating and so forth, one could probably fashion something approaching speech, but I don't think that's the point. Take what might be a vanilla patch using a more standard oscillator and swap in the Vowel. You'll be rewarded with monstrously anthropomorphic bass-lines, robot beatbox percussion and sinister throat-singing drones. The Vowel sounds fabulous and couldn't be easier to operate. In fact, it could be the most fun you'll ever have in 2hp.