Daft Punk Vocoder In Ableton Live
The vocal we will be aiming to emulate is the iconic repeating synthesized voice in 'Doin’ It Right' by Daft Punk.
Too help us visualize this recreation, I've added some of the drum & bass elements inside of Ableton already. All we have to do is choose our synths sounds, record our vocals & then add in the vocoder effect.
To achieve this specific synthesized vocal sound, I’ve done my best to parse out the harmonic elements of the vocal by creating Lows, Mids, Highs & Crisp tracks. All of these synth tracks will represent the different audio sources we will be using once we route them to the corresponding vocal tracks. Not all of the synths are using the same patch, nor are they using the same MIDI pattern.
Synth Lows = Ableton Operator Brassinski preset
// Voices = I’ve changed the voices to 1 to avoid any overlapping of low end frequencies
Synth Mids = Same Ableton Operator Brassinski preset
// Voices = Make sure this is set to more than 1 voice
// MIDI = Slightly different harmony MIDI pattern than the Lows
Synth Highs = Katsuhiro Chiba Retro Steam Lead default preset (Classic Synths Pack)
// MIDI = More melodic MIDI pattern
Synth Crisp = Katsuhiro Chiba Retro Steam Lead + kat.august (Classic Synths Pack)
// MIDI = Same MIDI pattern as Synth Highs, but an octave higher
I do want to emphasize that this specific synth selection is just an example. My goal for this tutorial is to show you that once you learn this vocoder technique, you can use Ableton’s Vocoder with any combination of sound sources that you please. So please do not think that this is the perfect synth combination, but rather my best attempt to recreate an iconic sound. Experimenting with different sound sources is where originality is found!
After settling on your vocoder sound sources, you’re going to want to record your raw vocals. For this tutorial, I’ve already recorded my self singing the repeating “Doin It Right” vocals. I’ve done my best to keep up with the robotic rhythm and timing of the song.
I used the same take for each the Lows, Mids, Highs & Crisp. You can see them repeating on each of the vocal tracks. In a more practical situation, you might want to record & use different takes depending on the vocal layer you are tending to & the type of frequency range you’re creating for.
Each vocal track has a Generic Compressor, a Vocoder & some EQ for layering purposes. For each respective vocal layer, I have set the vocoder carrier to External & audio from source to the corresponding synth layer (pre fx). Also, each vocoder dry/wet is set to 100%.
Vocal Lows = Bands set to 20, EQ that cuts everything above 700 Hz
Vocals Mids = Bands set to 32, Band pass from 200 Hz to 3 kHz
Vocals Highs = Bands set to 32, EQ emphasizing the 8 kHz area
Vocals Crisp = Bands set to 12, EQ that cuts everything below 900 Hz
I do want to emphasize that the number of bands and the filter band range for each of the vocoders will heavily impact the sound. For each vocal layer, I left the range at 100Hz to 15.6 kHz and have EQ’d each layer after the vocoder effect. Again, you can sculpt the sound however you please.
So we’ve selected our vocoder sound sources, we’ve recorded our vocals & applied the vocoder effect to each layer… the only remaining step is to simply tweak some knobs and mix each layer to our liking. I have already mixed the volumes to my liking and have sent all the layers to a submix track for some compression and EQ to help glue the layers together.
Again, this is where I encourage you to get creative with your own vocoded sounds. You can achieve some remarkable results by just experimenting with Ableton’s vocoder settings or even adding in completely new synth patches. Good luck!