PreSonus Blog

Mega-Modulate the Vocoder

I use vocoders all the time, but rarely for voice. One of my favorite techniques is using drums to “drumcode” synth pads or guitar power chords, and give instruments a drum part’s percussive qualities. This tip takes that concept to the next level.

For conventional applications, Version 6’s Vocoder inserts in the track that provides the vocoder’s modulation source (e.g., voice). Then, the audio you want to vocode comes into the Vocoder’s sidechain from a different track.

This tip’s goal is to use Impact XT’s individual drum outputs as separate modulation sources. For example, you could modulate the Vocoder with just the kick, or just the snare…or the snare and hi-hat…or all three, and vary the amounts in real time. The first audio example has only the “drumcoded” carrier, while the second audio example mixes in some of the original carrier sound. Both options are useful. (The carrier is Mai Tai, with the free CA Hard Sync.preset download from the 5 Mai Tai Tips & Tricks blog post.)

Mega-modulated drumcoded carrier.

Mega-modulated drumcoded carrier, with original carrier sound mixed in.

How It Works

Referring to fig. 1, the key to this technique is inserting the Vocoder in a Modulator Bus, not a Track. Then, send Impact’s individual outputs to the Modulator Bus. Because each output has its own fader, you can “mix” how much modulation you want each drum to contribute to the Vocoder.

Figure 1: Setup for the Mega-Modulation Vocoder.

Regarding the Carrier, to hear only the drumcoded sound, use a pre-fader send and turn down the carrier’s channel fader. Or, use a post-fader send, and mix in the desired amount of the original carrier with the channel fader.

Finally, for big-time, fader slammin’ fun, hook up a Faderport to control the Impact XT outputs. Now you can “play” the drumcoding in real time, and add some DJ-type thinking for a cool, live-performance vibe.

Version 1.3 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available as a free update to owners of previous versions ($19.95 to new buyers). Download this 637-page book with 230 innovative tips from your PreSonus or Sweetwater account, the same way you downloaded your previous version. For more information, check out the series of Studio One eBooks. Please note: version 1.3 does not cover the new features in version 6, although there will be a free update in the future. If you have questions about the tips, suggestions for future updates, or want news about the next version, please visit the dedicated support forum.