October 14, 2012

The Human Factor

I feel as though Roland had the human factor in mind from the very beginning. The idea that people would actually be using their instruments as tools to accomplish a task. But, of course you've probably just about heard enough of my Roland propaganda. I'll admit that I myself might be growing slightly weary of it. Anyway, the Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus is a really great instrument. A friend of mine has one and I've used it a little on some recordings. Now, I'll say right now: I think vocoders are ridiculous. I'm sure you could do great things with them, and great things have probably been done without my knowing, but I've never heard something that I knew was a vocoder and thought "that sounds great!", mostly upon hearing a recognizable vocoder I think "That sounds awful!".

[The Human Voice section of the Mk-II version of the VP-330] 

Mostly what's great about this instrument is it's human voice sounds (made famous by Vangelis), which can be used as a carrier signal or independently from the vocoder. I prefer to use them independently, but if ever a vocoder were to sound nice it would surely be with these sounds. They actually sound like human voices. Some how Roland made analog circuitry sound like believable human voices. No one knows how. It's a miracle!  There's not much else I can say about it, but do read Roland's original advertisement for it (above). Also note that, if you factor inflation, the current going price isn't that different than the original price. 


  1. I had to look this up on YouTube. One of the more interesting videos & uses of this machine is in this video:


    He uses the 808's output as the "voice." Someone asks in the comments about what he did exactly, but I think you will make more sense of it than me ;)

  2. do you know if gangway used the rs 09 on their album called "the twist"? Sure sounds like one to me on "violence, easter and xmas" and "everything we've ever had."

  3. I've always liked the idea of the vocoder plus. I thought it was just a basic version of the Paraphonic 505, but it can do some very individual things!

    Oh Jacob, I've found an old Roland System 100m in my University! I've managed to get it fully set up and working (took me a very long time) and some of the sounds are incredible. It's my first experience with a modular device. The patch cables can get confusing though, especially when I've only got 1 colour..


  4. Rogue, yes... I think hooking vocoders up to other things besides a human voice is infinitely more interesting.

    Sam, that is amazing! What university do you go to? Was it just covered in dust, forgotten in a closet? Magical.

  5. I go to a university in Bath in England, which is quite close to Bristol.

    Yeah the sliders and pots were very stiff and crunchy but it's all up and working fine now as far as I can tell.

    I've been having some fun with the 100m. Blending and incorporating my 101, RS-09 and MPC 1000 are a few things i've been testing.