May 30, 2018 by Geoff Manchester

How to Use VocalSynth 2 in a Hip-Hop Session

Learn two ways to use VocalSynth 2 in a hip-hop song, "GLD II" by STL GLD. Learn several modes and modules, including Biovox, Vocoder, and Compuvox.

In this video, I share two ways to use  product-popover-icons-vocalsynth.png VocalSynth 2  in a hip-hop session. The song I use is "GLD II" by STL GLD.

Setup VocalSynth 2 for your hip-hop session

First, I used VocalSynth 2 in MIDI mode, which we can get to by going to the Mode tab and choosing MIDI, and following the step-by-step instructions. To connect these tracks, I decided I wanted to play the Moe Vox 1 track, which is just the dry rap vocal. I set up a software instrument track, threw VocalSynth 2 on it, went to the sidechain source in Vocalsynth 2 and chose the Moe Vox 1 to be the track that I sidechained to.

I got this sound by starting with a preset called Rex Luthor. You can find it in the Global Preset menu. I made a few tweaks and eventually landed a different sound.

It’s a super robotic, metallic sound made up of Biovox, Vocoder, and Compuvox. What makes this sound really cool is using the Glide function, which you can manipulate from the voicing menu. Glide, when pushed to higher values, affects the portamento speed when switching between notes. Essentially, it will delay the amount of time it takes from one note to get to the other if I turn it down. 

I also turned the pitch down so we don’t hear the dry vocal bleeding through. You can hear that we have very quick transitions between notes.

We can increase the Glide knob all the way, but the danger with that is that it might take too much time for one note to go to the other, and we might lose some of the pitch. It’s important to experiment with Glide to create fun, woozy transitions between notes, specifically in this section here where there’s actually a lot of activity in the MIDI.

In previous tutorials we’ve done for VocalSynth 2, we’ve seen a few ways to add harmonies either by using VocalSynth 2 in Auto Mode, or by going to MIDI mode and adding harmonies with a keyboard. In this video's example, I went a different route, by activating VocalSynth 2’s Sidechain Mode.

Use VocalSynth 2 in Sidechain mode

To set up Sidechain mode, go into the Mode screen and then choose sidechain. You’ll notice that we have steps 1, 2, 3, 4 to help guide us through the routing process and also if you noticed they’re specific to Logic, which is the DAW I’m working in. VocalSynth 2 can actually automatically recognize the DAW that you’re working in FL Studio, Pro Tools, Cubase, BitWig and give you DAW specific instructions for routing the various modes. This means no more rummaging through a manual to figure out how to route stuff and get started quickly.

I followed the steps in VocalSynth 2 from the Mode screen, and I decided to make the sidechain input the Pad Synth. Make sure you go to the input menu and find it. Make sure that it’s checkmarked and now you press accept. And when I mute the pad synth, we can see that its sidechained to the vocal hook.

Now we have the pad’s sound informing the melody of the vocal hook, and we’re coloring that sound effect further by using the modules here in VocalSynth 2.

Have fun with the vocoder!

The first thing I tweaked was the Vocoder. I decided to bring down the Shift knob to about 60 or so.

I also decided to get kind of tricky with my advanced options here, so we get access to more parameters that we can tweak. I panned the Vocoder to the right at about 2 o’clock or so, and I also restricted the frequency content, so I decided to perform a low pass to make sure that Vocoder was only outputting low frequencies from the effect.

Don't forget Compuvox and Talkbox

Next I turned on Compuvox, just to add a robotic kind of grittiness to this vocal. And if you notice, I go into the Advanced menu and decided to pan this guy right up the middle, not restricting its frequency content. But, if I go to Talkbox, you’ll see that I decided to go a different direction in the Advanced menu by panning this one to the left and performing the opposite of what I did on Vocoder.

You’ll see in the video that I performed a low pass and on Talkbox I did the opposite, a high pass. I’m giving the lows to Vocoder, and the highs to Talkbox and I’m also sending it to the left in the stereo field.

I also bring up the level knob to introduce some of the dry signal so that we fill out the sound. The next thing I did was I decided to play around with some of the effects, which by the way are totally rearrangeable, so we can move those to our liking and customize the signal chain. I turned on distort because it’s just a great way to add a bit of spikyness and really help the vocal pop.

Now for the chorus effect

The Chorus effect adds a kind of creaminess and smoothness to the vocal chain. We can always increase and make the effect more pronounced by the mix slider. I decided I wanted the chorus but I wanted it to be more subtle so I turned it down a little bit.

Finally add some delay

Delay gives a bit of air to the vocal. I have it mixed down pretty low, but again, it just lifts things up a little bit and helps the vocal breathe. Next I increased the width, as I wanted this vocal to be nice and epic in the global options

If you’d like to make a custom blend of the modules you’ve engaged, you can do it right from the animation. I should also mention that if you want to make a custom blend of the modules you’ve engaged, you can do it right from the animation.