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Luxury vocoding with a price tag to match


Vocoders aren’t hard to come by in modern studios. Many synths these days come with vocoders built in, and, of course, there are countless plugins out there that’ll do the job too. But if you want the ultimate in vocoder luxury, and a price tag to match, Moog may have the answer.

After 40 years, the company is resuming production of the classic Moog 16 Channel Vocoder. Introduced in 1978 – and as heard on Giorgio Moroder’s E=MC2 – this enabled musicians to create not only the famous vocoded vocal effect, but also to process synths and other instrument­s.

The new version is cut from the same cloth; in fact, it’s based on the original schematic and features hand-soldered analogue voice circuits to ensure the sound is as authentic as possible. There are some improvemen­ts too though, including updated mechanical connectors and a modern power supply.

Moog’s vocoder features 16 patchable bands, each with a range of 50 to 5,080Hz. Plus, a Direct mode passes an additional high-frequency channel (above 5,080Hz) for greater vocal intelligib­ility. The response time is described as ‘ultra-fast’, which Moog claim makes the 16 a great tool for processing percussive sounds.

There’s also a sample/hold function for creating sustained phrases, which can be controlled via a footswitch.

The vocoder’s patchable design allows for extensive integratio­n with other hardware instrument­s or modular systems, as well as the ability to cross patch between frequency bands in order to create weird and unusual effects. The 16 packs selectable Hiss (sibilance), Buzz (plosive), and Balance controls too, for deep control over the qualities of the carrier voice.

The Moog 16 Channel Vocoder is available for pre-order now, though with a price tag of $5,000, you’re going to need deep pockets if you’re going to buy one.

Promising to provide everything that was good about the original rack model, Black Corporatio­n’s Deckard’s Dream Mk2 is an updated version of the Yamaha CS-80inspired synth that’s designed to sit on your desktop.

Said to come in a “thin and light tabletop format,” this new revision ships with both wooden end panels and rack ears, also offering additional control over the sustain modes and timing. Otherwise, things look pretty similar to its predecesso­r: you get eight voices, each with two identical parts comprising an analogue voltage-controller oscillator, low-pass and high-pass filters, noise generator, filter envelope and VCA plus ADSR envelope.

There’s also a performanc­e section that gives you additional global controls, plus support for MPE-based control of certain features. There’s full MIDI control and the option to store 128 presets in each of the three available banks.

Deckard’s Dream Mk2 costs $3,749, although it looks like pre-orders have already sold out for the built version. The kit version is still available at the time of writing, though.

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