Ever heard of vocoder or vocoding? If not, basically, vocoding is a process where you use the frequency spectrum of sound A (Modulator) to modulate the frequency spectrum of sound B (Carrier). For example, you can use human voice to modulate a synth pad or lead and it’ll sound like the synth is talking. It’s the way to make those classic sci-fi robot sounds for example, but can be used for various other means as well.
In FL Studio there’s a very good vocoder effect called Vocodex and in this tutorial I will show you how you can use it to create melodic grooves out of drum loops using any synth.
Here’s an example sound:
First thing to do is to pick a drum loop from your sample collection and drop it to the Playlist. Assign it to a free mixer track and rename the track to something like ‘Modulation sound’ or similar as the drum loop is going to be the Modulator sound.
Load your favourite synth (I’ll use Fruity DX10 in this example) and choose a pad or lead preset (or program a one) that is ‘thick’ and ‘lush’ and covers the whole frequency range. Those kind of sounds usually make good Carrier sounds. I’ll be using one of the presets in DX10, ‘Reed1’.
Assign the synth to a free mixer track. Rename the track to something like ‘Carrier sound’ and drop a Vocodex to it’s effect slot.
Now, in the Mixer, select the ‘Modulation sound’ mixer track and while on that track, right-click on the ‘Carrier sound’ mixer track send switch (that little up arrow icon) and select ‘Sidechain to this track only’. Choosing ‘Sidechain to this track only’ is important because this will deselect the send to master switch and prevent the ‘Modulation sound’ audio signal going to the Master mixer track. This is essential to make the vocoding sound right because, otherwise the dry signal of the ‘Modulation sound’ will be sent to the Master track as well and we don’t want that as we want it to go there through the Vocodex.
Now to the Vocodex settings. Remember that the following settings works well with the kind of Carrier sound I’m using (at least to my taste). You may need to tweak them quite differently depending on the Modulation/Carrier sounds you’re using. Also, refer to the FL Studio help (F1 button) for a detailed explanation what each parameter does or check the video at the bottom of this post to hear how they affect to the sound.
So. Open the Vocodex and set the ‘Modulator sidechain input number’ to 1 and ‘Carrier sidechain input number’ to 0.
Turn the ‘Wet level’ all the way to right (18.1dB) and ‘Soundgoodizing Level’ to 100%:
For some sharpness and better ‘articulation’, set the ‘Hold’ to 0.0ms, ‘Attack’ to o.oms, ‘Release’ to 0.0ms. Also, try adjusting ‘Bandwidth’ to about 230%.
Now, go to the Playlist, add an empty pattern there and open the Piano Roll -view of your synth and compose some chords.
Listen the results:
Here’s a nice trick for building a little tension: open the Vocodex and create automation clip for the ‘Release’ parameter.
Head to the Playlist and make the Release -envelope rise like this:
That’s it 🙂 Experiment with different kind of Carrier and Modulator sounds and don’t be afraid to go extreme with the Vocodex settings as well.
Check the video below: