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REVIEW: iZotope VocalSynth

Daniel Gumble
REVIEW: iZotope VocalSynth

iZotope’s new VocalSynth combines four classic vocal FX in one user-friendly plugin.

Vocal processing is as popular today as it ever was, and with various plugins released almost on a weekly basis to help shape vocals into something unique and interesting, iZotope has once again pushed the boat out and gone for something a little more extreme with VocalSynth. It provides the producer with an array of processing options at the touch of a keyboard and flick of a mouse. Think along the lines of vocal processing by acts such as Daft Punk, Kraftwork, The Beastie Boys hit ‘Intergalatic’, Peter Frampton and Bon Jovi (yes - Bon Jovi - Richie Sambora used a Heil Talkbox effect at the beginning of one of their biggest hits ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’). Travel back two decades and vocal processing with a Vocoder or Talkbox was a mixture of wires, tubes, valves and complicated electronics, housed together in aluminium and weighing the equivalent of a modern sports coupe.

In its most basic format, VocalSynth is a multi FX plugin providing four processing engines: Polyvox, Vocoder, Compuvox and Talkbox, with the addition of being able to manipulate vocal harmonies within a Voices section. There is also a Pitch Correction setting that can be used subtly or as strongly as you wish (think Cher) and an effects section, which includes five other processors: Distort, Filter, Transform, Shred and Delay.

Starting with Polyvox, the effect offers great harmonies with the ability to manipulate the vocal to lower the pitch down, or send to extreme highs. You can create a really interesting and organic sounding group of backing singers, or freak out and go for a school of chipmunks. All the effects work in Auto, Sidechain or MIDI mode, which is a lovely touch. There are oodles of great presets to give you a starting point, and in Auto you can scroll through quickly, looking for something that suits before in-depth editing.
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Vocoder is probably the most sought after effect within VocalSynth, and iZotope has done a wonderful job of making it nice and easy to use, with three different modes to choose from (Vintage, Smooth and Hard) and three separate tonal controls (Shift, Contour and Scale). In Sidechain mode you also have the ability to play vocals back as you play through the keyboard, helping the vocals really stand out in the track.

Compuvox creates robotic textures reminiscent of the old Speak And Spell machines of the ‘80s, through to glitchy Radiohead-type vocal tracks and the unmistakable voice of Professor Stephen Hawking. There’s also a really interesting setting called Bats. When operated, iZotope claim this ‘increases vocal gravel for a winged-animal-man type effect’, which is probably the absolutely best way of describing it.

Talkbox was a popular effect during the ‘70s and ‘80s with many rock musicians including Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith and the aforementioned Bon Jovi, before making something of a renaissance in the dance world, thanks to French electro pioneers, Daft Punk. Again, iZotope has created a very simple layout with three controls and the ability to select three distinctive Voicebox settings.

Along with the four processing engines are five audio effects to give extra shape and tone to your tracks. Distort offers subtle to gritty distortions while Filter offers low pass, high pass, scream and combo settings. Transform emulates the sound through various devices, such as guitar cabinets and radio, while Shred creates stuttered repeats. Delay offers various delay settings, from mono, stereo to uber-stereo. Along with the processing engines, you can have great fun warping and morphing the vocal track by administering these different effects.

The overall GUI of VoiceBox is neat and very user-friendly, with a mixer facility in the middle of the display that allows all four processing engines to be combined together to create astonishing tonal textures (at the peril of CPU usage!). There’s also an XY pad for modulation of any two parameters from the four processing engines and five effects.

If you’re looking for a fun, user-friendly, great sounding vocal multi FX solution to take your tracks into space and beyond, there really isn’t another plugin currently on the market offering this level of processing that comes anywhere near.

Distributed by Time & Space

Tags: time+space , izotope , Software , Review , Reviews , izotope vocalsynth

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