July 23, 2018 by DJ Pangburn

Using VocalSynth 2 on Different Instruments

Although it was designed for vocalists and producers, sometimes it’s fun to experiment. In this walkthrough we use VocalSynth 2 on three different instruments: bass, guitar, and drums.

We designed VocalSynth 2 with vocalists and producers in mind, but these folks aren’t the only people who can have some fun experimenting with VocalSynth 2. The plug-in’s five different modules, each with different tweakable parameters, can be put to good use with other instruments, or samples of particular instruments.

To get you thinking of possible approaches of using VocalSynth 2 on other instruments, we used the plug-in on percussion, guitar, and bass. The idea being to see what can be done with VocalSynth 2 as a signal processor—one that can be used in place of or in conjunction with other hardware or software effects.

VocalSynth 2 on guitars

If you’re a guitarist, or even an electronic and hip-hop musician who dabbles with guitar, at some point you’re going to want to change the sonic character of the guitar notes. Maybe you want to even make it sound synthesized, as Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker does with Fender Squire Jazzmaster guitar that is modified with a Roland GK-3 synth pickup. Instead of installing that pickup, turn to VocalSynth 2, which will come in handy in giving you a wide palette of synthesized sounds.  

The cool thing here is that most guitarists are familiar with how certain effects pedals, whether it’s a tremolo or multi-effects pedal, work. But running a guitar through VocalSynth 2 upends everything because the five modules aren’t designed with the guitarist in mind. One simply has to begin experimenting, finding their way through strange sonic vistas.

The Polyvox module activated on VocalSynth 2, along with distortion, filter, and delay

The Polyvox module activated on VocalSynth 2, along with distortion, filter, and delay

In the sample below, we’ve got two detuned and strummed guitar chords. And in the interest of completely mangling it, we used Polyvox to process the guitar sound. First, we used Polyvox to formant shift the guitar to 1, then set the character to 16. This alone gave it a slightly off-kilter but still melodic vibe. To add some other tonalities and textures to the sound, we dropped some distortion, a filter, and delay into the mix.

Keep in mind that these chords were strummed, as we wanted to know how VocalSynth 2 responded to chords instead of isolated notes of sequences of individual notes. But if you play a lead guitar track and then process it with VocalSynth 2’s modules, it’s bound to give it a more synthesizer-like sound.  

Detuned Guitar without VocalSynth 2

Detuned Guitar with VocalSynth 2

VocalSynth 2 on drums

Typically, when designing the sound of drums, effects processing is necessary. It could be delay, reverb, a filter—anything that alters the original source. But, what if you don’t want to lean on traditional effects, whether they be hardware or software-based?

To add some sonic variety to your percussion, experiment with VocalSynth 2.

The Polyvox and Compuvox modules engaged on VocalSynth 2

The Polyvox and Compuvox modules engaged on VocalSynth 2

As with a few of our other VocalSynth 2 tutorials, for this sample we used multiple modules. First, we formant shifted the percussion with Polyvox up to 8, while adding a filter to sculpt the sound a bit more. To give it a computerized touch, we activated the Compuvox module, setting it to Basic Syntax, then turning the Bits setting up to 70, and Bytes up to 80.

The combination of the two modules gives the overall sound a sort of strange bitcrushed effect, like the drum machine is malfunctioning, but in an interesting way. It also has a slight industrial vibe, which was completely unexpected but absolutely interesting on a sonic textural level. Using VocalSynth 2, one could process drums for any number of electronic genres, from industrial to techno and beyond. And the results can range from the subtle to extreme.

Beat without VocalSynth2

Beat with VocalSynth2

VocalSynth 2 on bass

Processing a bassline with VocalSynth 2 is a bit more familiar to the ears. In the sample below, we started with a sample of a fairly simple soul bassline with a clean tone, then processed it with Biovox set to Classic Bahns, which gives Osc 1 a Saws waveform. 

The Biovox module activated, along with distortion, filter, and chorus

The Biovox module activated, along with distortion, filter, and chorus

Within the Biovox module, we turned the Clarity all the way up to 100, while leaving the other three main settings at their default positions. From there we opened up the module and set the vowel to “A,” which gave it some added synthesized character.  

On the effects side, we added distortion, chorus, and a filter with a frequency pegged to 3282. All of these features worked together to completely warp that simple soul bassline.

Beyond using VocalSynth 2 as a place to experiment with pure textures, it allows bassists to make their bass sound like a synthesizer. It allows the bassist to achieve this effect without it sounding sequenced.

Bassline without VocalSynth 2

Bassline with VocalSynth 2