Electro-Harmonix Voice Box: $200, Fun Voice and Instrument Effects, Gender, Vocoder

Electro-Harmonix has made a quick-and-dirty vocal effects box. Usable parameters, good fun, and $200 – sure, it may not be the highest-fidelity vocal box ever, but what’s not to love? Our friend Collin Cunningham at MAKE gets the jump on this one. It’s got some surprisingly unique features: 256-band vocoder “designed by the same EMS genius who made vocoding famous,” they say It will harmonically match electric instruments as well as vocals. 2- to 4-part harmonization, at the 3rd and 5th (labeled “Low” and “High” in case you slept through Music Theory class) 9 programmable presets Gliss Gender bender male/female …

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Fight the Microsoft Songsmith Cheese with Samples, Styles

Okay, so you’ve seen the painful demo video for Microsoft Research’s Songsmith software – it was intended to me tongue-in-cheek, I think, but the self-parody didn’t quite work. But the idea of auto-accompaniment software that interprets your recorded singing remains impressive. And I’ve gotten some tips that it is possible to make Songsmith sound good. Naturally, the biggest variable will be the quality of your own singing. But to make the software side of the equation more interesting, it is possible to extend the tool. Garritan, maker of the samples in the tool, has two add-ons. There’s an orchestral pack …

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Microsoft Research’s Songsmith Will Sell for $30, Match Accompaniment to Your Singing

In a surprise announcement (well, surprising me, at least), the experimental MySong shown by Microsoft Research earlier this year will be available for sale. US$29.95 will buy you a downloadable auto-accompaniment tool. Windows-only, but it sounds as though a Mac release is in store (seriously). It’s a bit like Band-in-a-Box for singers: sing in a line, and the software will generate accompaniment to your singing with styles of your own choosing. There are thirty styles included, and apparently Microsoft focused on the content end in bringing this product to market: there’s a 1 GB space requirement and partnerships announced with …

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Shure SM58 Mic Torture Test Pt. II, After a Year Buried Underground

The SM58. Unless your gigs are in Hell – and it freezes over – your mic will probably have a much calmer life than Studio’s did. Photo (CC) Deseret N/detmusic [myspace]. Just how rugged is your microphone? Mats StÃ¥lbröst, editor of the Stockholm-based Studio, took testing to a new extreme last year. He did violence to the legendary Shure SM58 – the sub-$100, vocal dynamic mic. It was used to hammer nails. It was dropped several meters. It was frozen. It was dunked in water. It was driven over by a car. It had beer poured on it. It was …

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AutoTune: The Song, a $99 Version (Hide!), and Some History

AutoTune, easily the most famous software plug-in in history – one even the general public has heard of – continues to reach mainstream, viral audiences. But the surprise is, originally its number crunching powers were applied to geology, oil, and pipelines, not bad vocalists. (Sadly, the latter are a more renewable resource.) This week, the Web is buzzing over the music video of AutoTune, the (parody) song. Sadly, this video could have been so much more – not even so much as a Cher reference, really? (Cher’s producers: AutoTuning way before Kanye West, and then lying about it! Brilliant!) For …

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MySong: Your Own Virtual, Tone-Deaf Accompanist

Microsoft Research has done some amazing work; it doesn’t always move me to tears, but there’s some fantastic stuff that deserves real recognition. And MySong is … well, technologically impressive, if musically painful. It’s a sort of collision between AutoTune and Band-in-a-Box: it recognizes a melody as input, then harmonizes that melody. The vocal input goes well, and illustrates the number of different inputs beyond the mouse you can expect in The Future. Here’s the problem: harmony is extraordinarily difficult to model on a computer because of the number of variables, the amount that’s driven by instinct and art. And …

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Avant-Garde Sound Poet Henri Chopin Has Died, But Give Him a Listen

Musician, composer, and musique concrete artist Henri Chopin has died, writes Seth: he has been and remains a figure whose sound work is very important to me, so i thought i’d share it with you all. he was a sound poet who used reel-to-reel tape as his paper, performance instrument, and collaborator. Chopin is lesser-known than some artists even in the concrete world, so if you don’t know his work, there’s no time like the present to discover it — quite a lot is available online. Videos and comments at WFMU Beware of the Blog Lots and Lots of Sound …

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Stompboxes @ Messe: Roland Space Echo, TC Helicon Voice Processors

Stompboxes are back! Yes, software is great, but the gigging musician still loves something you can plug in and step on. The Messe show saw some traditionally rack-mounted gear reborn in stomp form. Sure to be a huge hit, Roland’s BOSS RE-20 takes the beloved RE-201 Roland Space Echo and recreates it as a stompbox. It emulates all the major features of the RE-201, down to placement presets and tape flutter and magnetic head sound saturation, and adds a longer delay time — plus the ability to tap in delays with your foot. No pricing or availability yet that I’ve …

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Online Tools for Music Lovers Recognize Your Singing, Find Concert Gigs

Music lovers, online tools are getting more useful. They can even recognize that song you can’t remember (boy, there are there some evenings of my life I’d like back), and keep you from missing your favorite artists’ gigs in your home town. Midomi lets you search for artists and songs the old-fashioned way, via text search. But it also lets you perform “voice search” by singing with a microphone. Here’s the extra hook for vocalists: you can put your own performances in here and get rated on your talent. It’s like Google meets American Idol meets artificial intelligence: Midomi, via …

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Line6’s KB37 Guitar/Vocal/Bass-Processing Keyboard

Multi-instrumentalists, Line6 must have you in mind. The equipment maker, known primarily for their guitar products, has plunked a keyboard on their multi-effects box / audio interface hybrid, TonePort. There are plenty of reasons to like the TonePort line: a broad approach to effects that caters to vocalists as well as guitarists, and cheaply-priced but good-sounding effects, in an interface with excellent low-latency performance. (Not to mention retro-looking VU meters, and they’re not just eye candy — they’re assignable.) Not everyone will need a keyboard in the same unit, but if you do, it’s nice to see a real mod …

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