The BV512 Vocoder is one of Reason’s top tools for vocal effects – here’s how it works…
The vocoder is one of the most distinctive effects in a producer’s sonic arsenal, and Reason’s BV512 Vocoder is one of the best ‘virtual’ examples around.
This effect can remain a bit of a mystery to many, however. Whether you intend to create Daft Punk style vocodered lead lines, or ethereal pads, it’s worth knowing how this effect works.
Here, we explain with Reason’s BV512…
You’ll have to carry it…
Put simply, a Vocoder takes two input signals: a carrier and a modulator. The modulator (which is often a vocal) is passed through a multi-band filter, and each band passes through an envelope follower.
The control signals from these are then sent to a decoder, which applies them to corresponding filters on the carrier signal (often a synthesizer sound.
Confused? Think of the modulator signal as the mouth, and the carrier signal as the vocal chords. The carrier generates the sound, and the modulator shapes it. Simple.
Here in Reason, we’ll set up a simple vocoder pad effect. We’ve set up a simple vocal hook with an NN-XT sampler.
1. Create a Thor Synth and create some nice chords that rhythmically coincide with the vocal part. Try to choose a sound that has is reasonably bright. This will make the vocal sounds more intelligible.
2. Right click the Thor, and add a BV512 Vocoder. Set the mode to FFT (512) – this dictates the number of filter bands.
3. Flip the rack around, and you’ll see that the Thor has plumbed itself into the carrier input of the BV512 Vocoder. Now, we just need a modulator…
4. Disconnect the output of your NN-XT, and re-connect it to the modulator input of the Vocoder.
5. Hit play, and you should now be able to here the synth sound vocodered by the vocal part. Tweaking the HF emphasis will make the ‘vocal’ shape more defined.
You can download the session file, and audio files below.
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Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.