I am becoming a HUGE fan of the Roland VT-3. The reason is because it’s so simple to start up, integrate, and get groovin right away with. I currently use the TC-Helicon VoiceLive 2, TC-Helicon Synth Module, and the Roland V-Synth VC-2 Vocal Designer card.
I quickly did a video here to show you how fast and easy it is to get setup and running. I sequenced a groove on the Roland MC-909 which triggers the Roland SH-101 externally for the bass. I am also using the Korg Polysix and the Novation Bass Station 2. I setup two buttons on the VT-3 to toggle between the Vocoder sound and the Pitch 1 sound which makes my voice higher. I then sang the phrase “She’s got to move it! Move it up and down! throughout the song. I’m using my right hand to toggle between the VT-3 patches I setup, but should be able to do that also with a foot pedal once I get that setup.
The point here is that although there is no carrier and you’re not playing the keys like a traditional vocoder, that’s ok by me because I don’t have enough hands to play everything. The Vocoder I think sounds pretty good or at least good enough to replicate that old school 80’s electro sound that I like. The Pitch effect is also quite good at boosting your voice into the higher registers if you have a lower voice like I do. It’s not totally realistic, but it’s not crap either. In fact, it much better than my experience with the orange VT-1 I sold a while back.
Some of the other effects, such as synth, lead, and bass are a bit more difficult to both control and find a use for on the VT-3, BUT, it is very simple to try different things out. I’ll record future videos with those effects once I get a good idea for those.
Again, this entire video was shot in one take and it was totally improvised on top of the groove. The idea was to show how easy and fast it was to get setup and to start coming up with ideas to play with. I could literally spend hours singing various phrases over and over. It’s GREAT practice to work the different synths while you sing, even if you are not a singer. ANYONE can do the vocoder part.
It’s very surprising with all of the vocal effects available today, that I don’t see more people singing, rapping, talking, etc. over their music. It’s just so much fun to do and very rewarding to hear your own voice, even if it’s heavily processed at times.
For performance purposes, I highly recommend the Roland VT-3, especially if you are into the 80’s oriented synthpop, hiphop, and electro oriented type music. It’s fantastic for that sort of stuff. I’m not sure if I would recommend it for just plain singing as the VT-3 sound is very specific. I DEFINITELY recommend the VT-3 if you want to add some dimension to your music. Sure, you might think everybody has done the vocoder sound, but honestly I have yet to see a live local band here in Japan use it, so for that matter, I’d say nobody uses it.
Note that in the video my voice comes through a bit on the vocoder. I didn’t have the balance mixed correctly so it exposed my voice a tiny bit. I didn’t care too much about my pitch during the vocoder part, but next time I’ll have to ensure the balance is mixed correctly. Those who use a vocoder will no what I mean by this.