Vocoding With Reason 6's BV512

Vocoding seems to capture the imagination of every musical genre whether it's used on the voice or other instruments. G.W. Childs exercises his vocal chords and synthetic sensibilities in Reason 6.  

Reason's relationship with its BV512 vocoder has always been something of an estranged one. This would be largely due to the fact that Reason, up until now, was never really an audio application. It was a selection of instruments and FX with a sequencer. In the past, this always saddened me because the BV512 Vocoder has always been my favorite. It just has that sound!! But, sadly, if you wanted to use it, you had to record your audio, bring it into Reason, run it in to a sampler... Blah, blah, blah... It really took more time that in was worth... Well, no, I still spent the time doing it anyway...

Now that Reason has audio, the game has greatly changed with the BV512 vocoder. No longer are you limited to running recordings into a sampler, and then setting the vocoder up. You can now run the vocoder in real-time...while you sing!

This really changes the game, because you can now use the BV512 live if you want to, or, you can add vocoding to a recording after the fact. It's a much more fluid relationship with Reason, and you! In this article, I'd like to show you how to set up the vocoder and how to set it up for live performance.


Step 1 - Create an Audio Track!

In a brand new Reason session, with nothing in it, I'm going to create an audio track. This will be my conduit in to the virtual world of Reason for my real life voice!

create an audio track


Step 2 - Create a Vocoder

Next up, we're going to create a BV512 vocoder from the elaborate list of devices available within Reason.

You'll notice that after it's created, you will suddenly lose signal. This is because the BV512 actually auto-routes itself when you create it. If you press Tab, you'll see what I'm talking about. The output from the Audio Track device goes in to the Carrier input, which is completely wrong for classic vocoding. It should actually go in to the Modulator input.

Audio track output should go to the Modulator


Let's switch it!

Now it does


Now, if you speak in to the mic, you'll notice input going in to the BV512 Vocoder!


Step 3 - Create a Carrier 

In order for a vocoder to work, you have to have both a Modulator (taken care of in the last step) and a carrier. The modulator does what it says it will do, it modulates the tone of the carrier, which is usually supplied by a synthesizer. Let's go ahead and supply one now!

I'll right-click on the BV512 vocoder and create a subtractor. And, you'll notice that when it's created, it does not auto-route itself at all! 

A Subtractor


I'll route the output of the Subtractor to the Carrier input of the BV512 vocoder now. 

Routing the subtractor


Tip: Just so you know, the way that you can always tell if you are routing things correctly with the vocoder is by looking at the little pictures on the back. The modulator input has a small microphone next to it. 

The mic icon next to the Modulator input


The Carrier input has a small keyboard next to it.

Keyboard icon next to the Carrier input


Step 4 - Create an Instrument Track

Okay, here's where things get a little tricky: A vocoder will never work until both the carrier and the modulator inputs are firing at the same time. To make this happen, let's right-click on the subtractor and select '

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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