Setting Up Native Instruments' Razor to Vocode

NI's Razor is appreciated for its cutting-edge sonic capabilities. In this tutorial, G. W. Childs slices through the many layers of this complex synth with a mind to get vocoding.  

The Razor has become a beloved soft synth for many. No matter if you're still in the bedroom with headphones or killing it at a club, if you've used the Razor, you know it's a killer. But, sadly, the presets seem to be the main draw of the synth. Why is this sad? Because, if you allow your hands and imagination to go to work on the Razor, you can get some sounds that go way beyond what's presented. 

One function of the Razor that gets greatly overlooked, in my opinion, is the vocoder. This is indeed unfortunate because the vocoder really does sound incredible, and can add some evil to pretty much any track you add it to. 

In this quick tutorial, I'd like to show you how to set up the vocoder for your voice, as well how you'd start your own vocoder patch.

Step 1- Reaktor 5 FX

Before doing any vocoding, you'll need to apply Reaktor FX as an insert on your audio track. Remember, when using the Razor to vocode, it's acting as an effect first, and foremost. One thing important to note is that once Reaktor FX is initially applied, you'll get no sound until it's completely set up. With this in mind, don't worry if everything goes quiet. 

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Once Reaktor 5 FX is set up, you'll need to, of course, set up the Razor in Reaktor. Once this has been taken care of, proceed to the next step.

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Step 2- MIDI Input

Now that we have the Razor set up as an effect, we need a way to control it with our MIDI keyboard. In Ableton, I'm going to create a MIDI track with the Shift-Command-T keyboard shortcut. 

On my new MIDI track, I'll set the MIDI output to Audio 1 (which is my vocal track)...

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Then, I'll select Reaktor 5 FX, specifically, as the device on Audio 1(my vocal track).

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Now, for MIDI control, I just need to arm my MIDI track, and I can then trigger Reaktor on the other audio track... Now, we just need a vocoder patch.

Step 3- Vocoder Patches

Native Instruments supplied a decent amount of Vocoder patches along with the Razor. Additionally, Errorsmith (under the Errorsmith directory) has a small selection of vocoder patches to choose from as well. 

However, if you'd like to know how to begin your own vocoder patch, try this out. 

First, select the INIT patch. This is an initialized patch, with all knobs zeroed and all of the components of Razor turned off, with exception of oscillator 1.

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Now that you have a clear instance of the Razor going on, set Filter 1 to the Vocoder filter...

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Now, when the audio track starts playing, and hands start pressing keys on the MIDI controller (which is still assigned to the MIDI track), I should be able to hear a small amount of vocoding going on. From here, you just need to start tweaking your patch, and making it sound the way you want it to. This can be done by changing around oscillators, filters, effects, and more. Have fun!

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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