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serious vocoder

N-band ZDF vocoder for serious vocoding

(18 Votes)
1.2 (Updated 1 month ago)
February 25, 2021
Reaktor 6
Effect Filter


"we have daft punk at home"

UPDATE - 1.2

So Serious. Wow

we have improved two stage envelope detectors, (decoupled in the attack and release feedback paths) as graciously provided and suggested by laureano lopez and have also fixed cutoff issues to do with the 2x oversampling of the detectors. not to toot my own horn but this might be one of the best dang sounding digital vocoders i have personally heard

UPDATE - 1.1

Now Even More Serious

this vocoder has been updated to include a basic built-in carrier synth (sawtooth + impulse oscillator AKA spiky sawtooth) so it can be used with midi input and a single audio input as modulator. the display has been updated from an event table to a poly display, so now it will work correctly when changing the number of voices/bands. the voiced/unvoiced detection has been reworked to behave more like a gate instead of simply adding in noise at variable volume, (yuck!) and—more importantly— in the B panel there are now extended controls for this to dial in the detection threshold and hold time.

all envelope detectors now use 2x oversampling for improved level detection —especially for higher bands— because, as a wise man once said, 'squaring doubles the bandwidth'. what else... oh, and the tanh saturators in the nonlinear filters for the modulator's envelope detectors were upgraded to the fancy taylor series version because, ya know, what the heck. finally, the resonance for the modulator filterbank is adjustable in the B panel as well, all the way up to .99 which, somewhat surprisingly, seems to give the best intelligibility, even while bordering on ringing/resonance


old words:

this came about because i've never been terribly floored by the sound of many software vocoders, and suspected that using the computationally expensive SOTA ZDF reaktor filters might go some of the way closer to getting a 'classic vocoder' sound. after some experimentation, the curious combination of the 4p NLB ladder --> to 2p bandpass breakout for the modulator, and 4p butterworth bandpass for the carrier, seemed to give a surprisingly good result. OK, next thing to do was figure out a heuristic approximation of the voiced/unvoiced detection that nicer vocoders have, with a burst of noise exciting the carrier for fricatives and plosives, but inaudible at all other times: check! this has a side effect of also working nicely for transients when vocoding things like drums. this noise channel is gated also by the carrier

the number of voices corresponds to the number of bands. it is set to 24, but it can be set to fewer (if you're going for a more 'authentic' sound), or more (if you're a dork)

for maximum effect, the carrier signal should be driven with something like an unfiltered saw wave, a pro tip is to mix in some unfiltered impulse train (to taste) as well, since the best thing to have for a carrier signal is something with a flat frequency response or close to it, to avoid a 'hat on a hat' or 'transfer function on a transfer function' effect on the sound. conversely, some filtering of this carrier signal could also be desirable, if the unvoiced-envelope gated noise is exciting the high frequencies on its own, providing separation between the lower vowels driven by an oscillator and higher frequency speech components driven by noise. this could be argued a more realistic approximation of human speech


nikita konstantinov
2 days ago
how to add an external synth? I use Ableton live 9 You?
1 month ago
Hey Andrew! I'm having some fun putting a new skin on your vocoder. It's for personal use and it's quite abstract (sort of in the style of Hungry Robot guitar pedals or Moffenzeef Modular) but if you want i can send you the file when i'm done.
1 year ago
really great
andrew aronson
1 year ago
i don't know anything about logic im afraid, but it needs to be loaded in a way so as to use reaktor as an effect that processes audio input, audio and carrier as L/R audio channels. from what i gather mfx is something to do with midi input, this ensemble has no instrument included to necessitate midi, though i've considered including one
Michael Moran
1 year ago
Noob type question I'm afraid. I'm new to Reaktor. I've been loading instruments and effects as AU plugins in Logic. When I try do do the same here I was guessing it's under Reaktor MFX? I can't seem to make it load at all there – loads fine if I load the Vocoder direct into Reaktor, but then I'm quite limited as to what I can do with it!
Brian Flanagan
1 year ago
Thanks. I use it as a VST in FL studio. I figured it out as I have to set it as an effect in the mixer and then route the carrier and modulator to that channel. Sounds great!
_ bitquisite
1 year ago
@andrew sounds pretty good, thank you! @Brian e.g. in Cubase, you can put it on a group channel, which is fed by two audio channels, one panned left (carrier) and one panned right (mod)
andrew aronson
1 year ago
as it is, if you are using reaktor as a vst (vsti is no good because it will pass input audio) and inputs 1 and 2 are both getting distinct audio it should just work. did you load it as an ensemble, and do you see in reaktors input meter on top that both channels are active and recieving signal? if one both are not active it will stay silent. even plugging one sound into both inputs should get an output
Brian Flanagan
1 year ago
How do I assign the carrier and modulator? I've tried routing the audio as well as side chaining and can't seem to get it to pick them up.
1 year ago
Yes, since Daft Punk is gone home - we've daft punk @ home.
Catman Dude
1 year ago
Thanks, Andrew! Impressive work (as always).