In a collaboration with Herr Matthias Schuster, Hollow Sun brings an authentic sample library of the legendary Roland VP330 Vocoder Plus. Matthias still has his VP330 and although the case is a bit the worse for wear in places, electronically it is pristine and he has carefully multi-sampled it in his studio which is a treasure trove of vintage analogue electronics. With long, sumptuous stereo samples (as long as 15 seconds each) that really capture the essence of this unique instrument, this is arguably the most accurate representation of the instrument available today. Furthermore, the Kontakt version provides a scripted panel which brings much of the experience of the real thing (see below).
I am very grateful to Matthias for enabling this library to be created and you can find out more about Matthias and his Thereminist wife's varied and intriguing musical projects HERE
Roland brought out their Vocoder Plus keyboard in 1979. It was a variation on their earlier RS505 ‘Paraphonic' synth which was essentially a string synth with some filters for quasi polysynth sounds and big layers. The VP330 was much the same but featured a 10-band vocoder instead of the synth filters and thus was created a unique keyboard.
Apart from the vocoder, however, the VP330 had a totally unique ‘Human Voice' register.
As is well known, string synths use what are known as ‘divide down oscillators'. That is, they have a top octave master oscillator and all subsequent lower octaves are simply divisions of this top oscillator… hence the 'divide down' name. But that's not important here suffice to say that they allow for cheap polyphony. In string synths, these divide down oscillators produce a simple sawtooth-like wave which is passed through a simple envelope shaper and onto a complex chorus unit to provide a lush, rich, swirly string ensemble sound.
Well, some bright spark at Roland had the idea to also pass this waveform through some carefully set formant filters to create a very passable vocal ‘aaah' sound and with the chorus unit switched in, the VP330 produced a very pleasing choir sound. Two registers were available – an 8' male and a 4' female choir sound which could be layered for a more versatile range of vocal textures. Furthermore, these vocal/choir sounds could be mixed with the onboard string sound for a truly gorgeous synthetic orchestral sound. At times, with everything on full tilt and vibrato added (via the modwheel) it can sound almost ‘theatre organ-ish.
Two models were made – a MkI and MkII. Both identical, they only differed in the switches they used – the MkI used chunky rocker switches whereas the MkII used smaller, self-illuminated switches much like those found on the company's Jupiter 8.
Famous users of the VP330 include Tony Banks of Genesis (who used it to replace the choir sound from his Mellotron when playing live … but I gather it also saw some studio action), Japanese jazz-rock band ‘Casiopea', Japanese synthmeister Isao Tomita (although his album credits for the instrument often listed it as the ‘Vocoder Pulse'!!), Phil Collins (for the Vocoder), Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and many others.
In keeping with other Hollow Sun libraries, the Kontakt version comes with a custom scripted panel that gives access to layering the different sounds and setting tone and envelope much like the original.
In many respects, it provides some functions not possible on the original such as balancing the different layers (they could only be switched on or off on the real thing). The two other tabs at the bottom of the panel take you to pages where you can access parameters for velocity, pitch bend, etc., and also to add phase shift and reverb effects.
The User's Guide is available HERE.
|NOTE : It will work with the Kontakt Player but only in 'demo' mode and the session will be time limited.
Nothing can replace the original machine, but as far as I am concerned: As long as there is no dedicated VsT-emulation, this sample set is is the closest you'll get to a real VP-330.
Volker Effinger, Synthesizer Magazin, Germany
Yesterday I bought a license for your Hollow Sun VP330, and I am writing this just to say thank you.
I’ve spent much time looking for something like that, and I find your samples extremely pleasant to play.
It’s ALIVE!!! You captured the magic of the real instrument, to me.
I am going to use your VP330 on a soundtrack for an art documentary I am working on.
Luca Bimbi - Italy
Downloaded - and fell in love!
This is a wonderful instrument, though woefully underpriced. Better get your copy before Steve realises his mistake.
Seriously, it's pad heaven and the fact that you can cook your own mix from all the different layers of buzzy strings and evocative human voice emulations makes for almost endless variation.
Joachim - Sweden
instant Blade Runner ! Amazingly addictive instrument !!!
State - KVR
I've been having fun with this today. You can't beat the (sampled) real thing, that's for sure - and I've only just realised that the FX are not Kontakt based; that must have been a f*cker to get right - but they're bang on the money, and all the better for it.
Reid - Scotland
I just wanted to send you a quick note telling you just how AWESOME this sample set is. Warm and Fat only begins to describe the sound! Thanks for putting this together and offering it up at such a great price.
OMG! Just got this and have been playing it all evening. The sounds are incredible and the panel is just amazing and so easy to make different sounds.
I've always wanted one of these but the prices are rediculous. But I don't need one noe with this plug.
Thank you very much.
Charles - via email