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Dual-ing Vocoders

18/11/2022

What's better than one vocoder? Two vocoders, of course . This tip is more about a technique than an application, although we'll cover an application to illustrate the technique. But the main goal is to inspire you to try stereo vocoding and come up with your own applications, so there are additional tips at the end.

Long-time blog readers may have noticed my fascination with fusing melodic and percussive components. The easiest way to do this is to have a drum track (or reverb, pink noise, hand percussion, whatever) follow the Chord Track via Harmonic Editing. Although this tip takes that concept further, it's about more than just percussion. Inserting a Splitter in an FX Chain, and following it with two vocoders, opens sonic options you can't obtain any other way.

The FX Chain and Track Layout

Fig. 1 shows the stereo vocoder FX Chain. This technique will also work with Artist. However, it requires three tracks:

One with the modulator signal

Two tracks whose inputs are set to the modulator track output. The vocoders go into these tracks.

Figure 1: FX Chain for dual, stereo vocoding.

This application uses stereo drums, so the Splitter mode is Channel Split. The Dual Pan modules at the vocoder outputs provide stereo imaging. I typically pan one vocoder full left and the other full right, but sometimes I'll weight them more to center, or to one side of the stereo field.

Fig. 2 shows the track layout. Each Mai Tai instrument track has a Send. These feed the sidechains for the two vocoders to provide the carrier audio. Although the Mai Tai faders are at minimum, mixing in some instrument sound provides yet another character.

Figure 2: Track layout for the stereo vocoders.

Applications

This brief audio example adds a melodic component to drums. The two Mai Tai MIDI tracks are offset by an octave.

Fig. 3 shows the vocoder patch matrices. These particular settings are of no real consequence, they just emphasize that using different patch matrix settings for the left and right channel vocoders can have a major impact on the sound.

Figure 3: Patch Matrix settings for the two vocoders.

As to other applications:

Depending on the source, using the Splitter's Normal and Frequency Splits can work well.

With anything percussive, try a Send from the Modulator track to a bus with Analog Delay, set to a rhythmic value.

The vocoder Mix controls are the best way to introduce some of the modulator signal in with the vocoded signal.

Adding Noise for Unvoiced Replacement fills out the sound in interesting ways. Turning up the modulator Attack and Release allows effects that are somewhat like mixing in a shaker or other hand percussion instrument.

Try using audio as a carrier for one vocoder, the internal carrier for the other vocoder, and pan both vocoders to center.

Using drums to modulate bass, and adding this as an almost subliminal effect to the main bass instrument sound, locks the bass tightly to a sense of rhythm.
LINK: https://blog.presonus.com/2022/11/18/dual-ing-vocoders/...
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