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Reason: Exploring BV‑X Multimode Vocoder

Reason Studios Reason Tips & Techniques By Simon Sherbourne
Published September 2022

This new Rack Extension could be all the vocoder you’ll ever need.

The latest premium Rack Extension from Reason Studios is the BV‑X Multimode Vocoder. So what, you may ask, does this bring to the Rack that we don’t get with the classic BV512 vocoder, which has been a standard feature in Reason for years? Well, lots...

Screen 1: BV‑X has a rich feature‑set but is simple to use compared to most vocoders: just plug and go.Screen 1: BV‑X has a rich feature‑set but is simple to use compared to most vocoders: just plug and go.There are two highlights that excited me about BV‑X. First, it makes vocoding easier by including a built‑in synth, so there’s no complicated setting up and routing or trying to remember the difference between a carrier and a modulator. (I will always have to look that up no matter how many times I learn it). Second, it has an ‘Auto Play’ mode, which pitch‑tracks the input signal so you have the option to apply vocoding without playing any notes. What I particularly liked about this is, when used with the Scale quantiser, you can get some uniquely flavoured variations of auto‑tune effects that could be massively useful in today’s pop, R&B and hip‑hop productions.

Vocoder Decode

Time for the obligatory vocoder recap... please skip ahead if you’re a vocoding champ. Simply put, a vocoder shapes one sound with another. More accurately, it analyses one signal, typically a voice, and applies its shifting spectral character to another signal, which is typically a synth tone. The result is that the synth sound seems to ‘speak’ or sing.

There’s huge room for variation within this basic formula. The results will depend on the tone and envelope of the ‘carrier’ (the sound that is being modulated) and the method and accuracy of tracking the harmonic character of the ‘modulator’ (voice). Vocoders often have ways to manipulate this sonic fingerprint to change the sound, and BV‑X has them in spades.

BV‑X Basics

Unlike the original Reason vocoder, BV‑X can simply be inserted onto a track or input channel, which for ease of explanation I’ll assume is a vocal. The veteran BV512 required two inputs to be connected up in the Rack: the vocal signal and another source to be modulated. (BV‑X can also operate like this, but in most cases you’ll probably use the simple self‑contained workflow).

With the default patch AutoVocode, you can simply hit play and, as if by magic, you’ll get a vocoded result. This is because this patch has Auto Play mode enabled. This detects the pitch of the source vocal, and plays the synth automatically, tracking the pitch.

Screen 2: If you’re using BV‑X in the Rack Extension plug‑in and want to play notes, you’ll need an extra MIDI track to route and record your keyboard.Screen 2: If you’re using BV‑X in the Rack Extension plug‑in and want to play notes, you’ll need an extra MIDI track to route and record your keyboard.If you want to play the synth yourself like...

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