Article by Katie Tarrant
Edited by Sam Hughes
WHAT IS IT?
Voxpat 2 is the second rendition of the real-time voice generator from Digital Brain Instruments. Currently a small company making a big impact, Digital Brain Instruments specialise in crafting interactive audio tools targeted at sound designers, musicians, developers and the like.
Visually, Voxpat 2 has only undergone mild changes, maintaining a more or less identical layout but with a slightly sleeker aesthetic design. It presents itself like a DAW set-up with faders representing your inputs and 14 readily available effects. The top left also offers a basic EQ and the right holds most of the program’s features, including access to the audio file loader, recording arm, preset manager, master rack, output and much more.
The software allows 4 inputs, of which 2 are mics inputs, and can all be used simultaneously. You can also process up to 4 audio files at once, use it in correlation with a VST instrument and record your own live input with as little as two clicks of a button.
HOW IT WORKS
The main appeal of Voxpat is its principal function. As aforementioned, it comes with 14 effects that can all be individually customised. When a file is recorded, created or loaded, you can alter your audio by simply mixing in any of the 14 effects faders. The effects available are: FEAR, BEAST, ROAR, BURST, NOISER, MAMMAL, SHIFTER, SCONV, SPLAYER, PMORPH, SPECTRA, DPITCH, RING, and PLUGS, with a 15th fader for your DRY signal.
The software comes loaded with a collection of presets to demonstrate the diversity that can be achieved with the effects that you create. This is coupled with many pre-created audio files such as basic growls, hisses and roars that you can use as a basis for your own sounds or simply to give the software a test run.
When it comes to creating your own content, besides recording your own live input, you can load your own individual audio files and experiment with running them through the multitude of effects at your command. This is great for when you want to post-process pre-existing audio rather than having to record it all on the spot. Voxpat 2 offers the ability to batch process effects. Rather than loading a single file, you can load an entire folder and process all the audio files contained within which is ideal if you have multiple files you need to process through one preset.
THE EFFECTS EXPLAINED
The 14 effects available to use are explained below:
FEAR, BEAST, ROAR and BURST are standard pre-designed effects for adding some grit and low-end to your sound, making for a solid starting point.
NOISER processes input through 2 noise signal convolution sections are the same time.
MAMMAL generates procedural mammal sounds depending on the parameters that are selected. The parameters can be set individually or randomised, and a copy of the processed output can also be created and used with a delay for some interesting effects.
SHIFTER processes input through 6 varying pitch-shifters simultaneously so can be used as a harmoniser and each pitch-shift has an independent volume control. You can also integrate this with input depending mode so certain pitches are activated depending on the input level. Once again, SHIFTER can also be used with a delay.
SCONV (sample convolution) is another convolution preset in which up to 4 samples can be loaded and modulated simultaneously by the input signal. The pitch, playback speed, reverse, volume, ADRS envelope and much more can all be influenced with an overall morph fader to allow you to blend the samples together.
SPLAYER (sample player) is another multi-sample processer in which up to 4 samples can be loaded and mixed simultaneously. Samples can be triggered either by the detection of an audio input or by your computer keyboard, and can be adjusted by the same settings that are available for SCONV.
PMORPH (plug-in morphing) allows any vst or au instrument to be used as a convolution carrier signal. It has 3 modes, a ‘keyboard mode’ in which a keyboard can be used to play the instrument, an ‘auto key mode’ where a key can be selected and will generate sound all the while an input signal is detected, and finally a ‘pre-listen mode’ that allows you to play and preview the selected Instrument plug-in before convolution is applied.
SPECTRA processes audio through 2 spectral pitch-shifters at the same time. Input can be split into 2 bands, an inner band for the selected frequency range and an outer band for the frequency ranges above and below the inner band. These bands can be pitch-shifted independently. You can also select an Amplitude Range so that only the audio in the selected amplitude level will be pitch-shifted and the rest will be unaffected.
DPITCH offers both a Delay Pitch Shifter and a Dynamic Time-Based Pitch Shifter. The Delay Pitch Shifter loops the incoming audio signal and creates an endless pitch-shifting effect. You can influence the decay and also high pass, low pass and peak filters to alter the sound. Dynamic Time-Based Pitching automatically pitch-shifts the input signal and a user-defined number of semitones are raised or lowered after the user-defined length of time.
RING processes signal through 2 single side-band ring modulators at the time same. It allows control of the central frequency, activation of negative side-bands and volume.
Finally, PLUGS processes input through to 2 vst or au plug-ins. This chain can be used in serial or parallel processing mode and any of the users preferred plug-ins, such as chorus, reverb, distortion and so on can be loaded.
As well as the diverse range of sounds that can be created simply with effective manipulation of the 14 effects and their settings, Voxpat 2 also offers additional settings that can be altered to further develop your final sound.
With a single click, any of the 14 effects can be directed to 1 of 2 sends and separated or blended using the horizontal Voice Morphing fader, and your original sound can also be blended with your processed sound using the Output Morphing’s wet to dry fader. Multi Player is your go-to feature for processing up to 4 audio files at once. Additionally, the Input Spectral Mix allows you to mix specific spectral content from 2 audio sources prior to sending them to your effects, meaning you can target and process specific frequency bands.
Moreover, Voxpat 2 offers two different matrixes. The Input Depending Matrix allows the user to set specific thresholds for each effect so they will only be triggered at certain input levels. An example could be setting the thresholds so effects are gradually activated at the input signal increases. Secondly, the Delays Matrix will allow you to place an individual delay on each processing effect to create an interesting and changeable layer of audio.
I had some minor snags with the actual use and installation of Voxpat 2. For some reason, the software is not detectable by my computer so I found myself having to navigate through to the original installation folder to actually open the program until I stuck a shortcut on my desktop. Other little quirks were the software manual not being accessible through the drop down menu, and diversely having to exit the program through a drop down menu rather than just hitting the X were pedantic dislikes but dislikes all the same. Overall, Digital Brain Instruments have done well to compact a terrific number of features in to one short and swift window. Whilst Voxpat 2 takes some getting used to, a fluid workflow can be achieved and its efficiency with dealing with batch files make it easy to slot in to your working process.
In terms of the audio itself, I would personally use Voxpat 2 on more of an experimental basis rather than to rely on it as my primary vocal processing software. Whilst it carries a solid bang for its buck in terms of features, I found few of the presets appealed to me and I had to tweak and fiddle more than I liked to achieve a result I was keen on. That being said, I have only dipped a foot in the water in terms of what Voxpat 2 is capable of when its ins and outs are explored. It has more than proven itself in terms of being worth its money and will soon become a valuable tool in my arsenal!
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The Sound Architect