Vocal Transformer

The Vocal Transformer can be used to transpose the pitch of a vocal line, to augment or diminish the range of the melody, or even to reduce it to a single note that mirrors the pitches of a melody. No matter how you change the pitches of the melody, the constituent parts of the signal (formants) remain the same.

You can shift the formants independently, which means that you can turn a vocal track into a Mickey Mouse voice, while maintaining the original pitch. Formants are characteristic emphases of certain frequency ranges. They are static and do not change with pitch. Formants are responsible for the specific timbre of a given human voice.

The Vocal Transformer is well suited to extreme vocal effects. The best results are achieved with monophonic signals, including monophonic instrument tracks. It is not designed for polyphonic voices—such as a choir on a single track—or other chordal tracks.

Vocal Transformer Parameters

The Vocal Transformer offers the following parameters.

Figure. Vocal Transformer window.
  • Pitch knob and field: Determines the amount of transposition applied to the input signal. See Setting Vocal Transformer Pitch and Formant Parameters.
  • Robotize button: Enables Robotize mode, which is used to augment, diminish, or mirror the melody. See Using Vocal Transformer’s Robotize Mode.
  • Pitch Base slider and field (available only in Robotize mode): Use to transpose the note that the Tracking parameter (see below) is following. See Using Vocal Transformer’s Robotize Mode.
  • Tracking slider, field, and buttons (available only in Robotize mode): Control how the melody is changed in Robotize mode. See Using Vocal Transformer’s Robotize Mode.
  • Mix slider and field: Defines the level ratio between the original (dry) and effect signals.
  • Formant knob and field: Shifts the formants of the input signal. See Setting Vocal Transformer Pitch and Formant Parameters.
  • Glide slider and field (Extended Parameters area): Determines the amount of time the vocal transformation takes, allowing sliding transitions to the set Pitch value.
  • Grain Size slider and field (Extended Parameters area): The Vocal Transformer effect algorithm is based on granular synthesis. The Grain Size parameter allows you to set the size of the grains, and thus affect the precision of the process. Experiment to find the best setting. Try Auto first.
  • Detune slider and field (Extended Parameters area): Detunes the input signal by the set value. This parameter is of particular benefit when automated.

Setting Vocal Transformer Pitch and Formant Parameters

Use the Vocal Transformer’s Pitch parameter to transpose the pitch of the signal upward or downward. Adjustments are made in semitone steps. Incoming pitches are indicated by a vertical line below the Pitch Base field. Transpositions of a fifth upward (Pitch = +7), a fourth downward (Pitch = −5), or by an octave (Pitch = ±12) are the most useful, harmonically.

Figure. Pitch and Formant parameters

As you alter the Pitch parameter, you might notice that the formants don’t change. Formants are characteristic emphases of certain frequency ranges. They are static and do not change with pitch. Formants are responsible for the specific timbre of a given human voice.

The Pitch parameter is expressly used to change the pitch of a voice, not its character. If you set negative Pitch values for a female soprano voice, you can turn it into an alto voice without changing the specific character of the singer’s voice.

The Formant parameter shifts the formants, while maintaining—or independently altering—the pitch. If you set this parameter to positive values, the singer sounds like Mickey Mouse. By altering the parameter downward, you can achieve vocals reminiscent of Darth Vader.

Tip: If you set Pitch to 0 semitones, Mix to 50%, and Formant to +1 (with Robotize turned off), you can effectively place a singer (with a smaller head) next to the original singer. Both will sing with the same voice, in a choir of two. This doubling of voices is quite effective, with levels easily controlled by the Mix parameter.

Using Vocal Transformer’s Robotize Mode

When Robotize is enabled, Vocal Transformer can augment or diminish the melody. You can control the intensity of this distortion with the Tracking parameter.

Figure. Robotize parameters

The Tracking slider and field feature is enhanced by four buttons which immediately set the slider to the most useful values, as follows:

  • −1 (sets the slider to −100%): All intervals are mirrored.
  • 0 (sets the slider to 0%): Delivers interesting results, with every syllable of the vocal track being sung at the same pitch. Low values turn sung lines into spoken language.
  • 1 (sets the slider to 100%): The range of the melody is maintained. Higher values augment, and lower values diminish, the melody.
  • 2 (sets the slider to 200%): The intervals are doubled.

The Pitch Base parameter is used to transpose the note that the Tracking parameter is following. As an example:  With Tracking set to 0%, the pitch of the (spoken) note will be transposed to the chosen base pitch value.