WRITTEN BY ELLIOT HERMAN
DIALOGUE EDITOR, BOOM BOX POST
When it comes to vocal processing either for music or post production, engineers and producers have always needed an accessible way of augmenting their vocal tracks. iZotope’s VocalSynth ($199) is the new plugin that combines all the classic vocal sounds of the 80s and 90s. Whether you are trying to have your vocalist sound like Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Imogen Heap, or T-Pain, or if you want to sound like an alien robot from Planet X, now you can. VocalSynth gives you the tools to do just that.
Unlike Izotope’s Nectar 2 plugin, Vocal Synth has a stripped down interface that focuses on the creative side of vocal FX. Though VocalSynth doesn’t have the traditional EQ and pitch settings that Nectar does, it does allow you to create more unique sounds by layering effects. The way VocalSynth works processing chain-wise is first to take the dry vocal signal into it’s pitch correction/preset module (top section of plugin as seen below). Here the dry signal can be layered with numerous harmonics or set to the musical scale of your song. With this top section you have the ability to set your vocal harmonies, adjust the strength, set vocals to a customized or preset scale, and even set your harmonics to reflect the quality of vocalist you are using, i.e. soprano (high), tenor (mid), bass (low). It even has a wet/dry knob to the left that affects the overall balance of your processing.
The plugin then processes and blends the sound in the module section, which includes Polyvox, Vocoder, Compuvox, and Talkbox modules. Each has it’s own way of manipulating the sound.
If you want to layer your vocal track with harmonies, the Polyvox module utilizes the pitch or in this case formant, character, and humanize functions. Not only can you do vocal harmonies with this module but you can also use it for sound design applications, i.e. vocal effects such as low pitched voices or chipmunk voices. The character and humanize knobs add depth to your vocal harmonics. Used in tandem with the Voices section of the plugin, you can layer and stack different combinations of voices at different pitches or octaves.
By sending the vocal signal through the Vocoder you can achieve more of a sci-fi/resonator effect. The module incorporates several mode, shift, contour and scale functions that shape the form of the signal. Another cool function that iZotope has added to this, the Compuvox, and to the Talkbox modules is the Oscillator presets. For each module there are various presets to choose from that all shape the underlying oscillation within in the module.
Compuvox & Talkbox
The Compuvox and Talkbox modules incorporate more digital and synthesized mangling characteristics that either can give your vocals more of a robotic sound or a simulated guitar/bass amp. These are great for creating intercom or radio-esque vocal tracks.
After adjusting your settings for each module, the real fun begins. VocalSynth’s mix module at the center of the plugin gives the user the ability to mix and match all or individual modules together. You can even bring some of your dry vocal signal back, which will thicken your sound even more. There’s really no end to the amount of combinations and settings you can play around with in this plug in.
Finally when you have layered your modules and dry signal together, your vocals then get sent through to the output/post processing section of the plugin, where you can then add secondary effects such as distort, filter, transform, shred, and delay to thicken or enhance your sound even more.
Is great for filter sweeps
Adds a type of saturation quality effect through spectral processing
Mangles or glitches the sound either freely or synced to the tempo of your session
Adds stereo width or mono width delay effects
A lot of what makes this plugin unique is giving the engineer freedom to play around with the settings. It wants you to experiment and develop your own creations whether they be musical or cinematic. iZotope has created the next step in vocal processing with this plugin. VocalSynth is another tool to create customized vocals effects, add extra flavor to your mixes, and enhance your already existing mixed vocals. Engineers have the ability to hit the ground running with an assortment of presets, easily accessible control settings, and a well designed easy-to-use interface. If you’re wanting a plugin that will beef up your vocals and give them a very professionally sound, then this is the plugin to have.