Can I juryrig a vocoder with a MIDI keyboard and a laptop?


I have a Casio Privia 160 keyboard which can connect to computer via USB. I also have a Windows 10 laptop and a Macbook. Is there some software I can use to turn the keyboard into a vocoder, preferably using whichever laptop's built-in microphone?

I'm not too familiar with the terminology about this sort of thing, so just in case I messed something up, I mean the kind of vocoder this guy uses to harmonize with himself in this video:


Posted 2016-12-30T15:20:26.087

Reputation: 21



I agree with Jay (hi Jay!!), this should be fairly straightforward to do and like Mark says you might need a DAW which will help you load the Vocoder software and route your ins and outs.

Remember that for the vocoder to work you need two signals, a modulator (your voice) and a carrier (synth sound). You need to set the vocoder to receive your computer's microphone as the input and then the vocoder's out to your speakers or headphones. Plus your keyboard connected via MIDI, which will be how you control the plug-in's built in synthesizer.

If you want the straight synthesized sound you can use your laptop's mic and get a decent result, if you want to hear some unprocessed voice a better mic will be in order and you will need to be careful with feedback (that's why Jacob Collier is using headphones).

Depending on the DAW and plug-in you use there will be a blend/mix knob and everything will happen under the hood or you will have to set a separate track and more involved routing to get it working.

I know Audacity (free) has a Vocoder function but I don't think it works live. Logic Pro has one and NI's Reaktor has many ensembles that do this. Back in the day my favorite was NI's Vokator, sadly discontinued years ago.

One of my favorite uses of a Vocoder is Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek:


Posted 2016-12-30T15:20:26.087

Reputation: 41


No, there isn't. The connection to your computer is MIDI over USB. There is no audio connection whatsoever going between your keyboard and computer.

Your best bet is to use a DAW on the laptop with a vocoder plugin and feed pitch information to the plugin via MIDI from your keyboard.


Posted 2016-12-30T15:20:26.087

Reputation: 7 535


Every vocoder i've used takes MIDI information. You can just plug in to either computer, get to some vocoder and set the signal to be from your keyboard. I have a very similar setup, and it's basically plug n' play. It's plug, click source, play


Posted 2016-12-30T15:20:26.087