Zoë Blade\'s notebook

Roland VP-330

Produced in the late 1970s by Roland, the VP-330 was basically three machines in one: a string machine, a choir machine, and a vocoder. It's great at all three tasks, though perhaps the electronic choir sound is its most interesting, as it seems to be unique in this regard.


There's the Roland JP-4, and Vocoder Plus VP-330, which I find fantastically useful — especially the vocoder, for treating other instruments. I'm not just interested in singing and playing into it, but like to feed in another synthesiser as the program source whilst putting pre-recorded voices from tape into the mic input. This enables me to build up multi-channel voices in advance — I did this in my vocal piece for Phoenix. First I recorded the singers on to the 4-track Teac and then fed the composite signal through a D.I. box into the mic input of the Vocoder. The keyboard is bypassed with an external source such as a noise output or complex wave shape from the Serge synthesiser, and you can get the most incredible sound colour mixes. It's something that I want to investigate further.

— Tim Souster, 1981[1]

Technical notes

The following frequencies are used by the device's 17 bandpass filters (10 for the vocoder, and a separate 7 for the choirs, with some overlap in frequencies):[2]

Frequency Vocoder Upper female 4' Upper male 8' Lower male 4' Lower male 8'
200 Hz 1 F1
230 Hz F2 F2
280 Hz 2
400 Hz 3
600 Hz 4 F3 F3 F3 F3
900 Hz 5 F4 F4 F4 F4
1,300 Hz 6 F5
2,000 Hz 7
2,800 Hz 8 F6 F6 F6
3,300 Hz F7
4,000 Hz 9
6,000 Hz 10


  1. Tim Souster - Electronic Music Composer Electronics & Music Maker, May 1981
  2. VP-330 service notes Roland, Sep 1979



String machines: Roland VP-330

Vocoders: Roland VP-330