Zoë Blade's notebook

Roland VP-330

VP-330 tech specs

  • Released: 1979-1980[1]
  • Company: Roland
  • Type: String machine; choir machine; vocoder
  • Polyphony: Paraphonic

Released in 1979 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.

Originally released in 1979,[2] it was slightly redesigned the next year[3], replacing the oldfashioned, organ style rocker switches with modern, colourful alternatives sporting LEDs, bringing it inline with some less interesting models, along with upcoming classics the Jupiter-8 and TR-808.

Quotes

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[4]

Notable users

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):[12]

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

References

  1. The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers, Part Two: N-Z Peter Forrest, 2003, ISBN 0-952437-73-2
  2. Roland catalogue volume 5 Roland, 1979
  3. Roland catalogue Roland, 1980
  4. "Tim Souster - Electronic Music Composer" Electronics & Music Maker, May 1981
  5. "Brian 'BT' Transeau" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, Dec 2001
  6. "Fact File" Tony Bacon, Electronics & Music Maker, Mar 1982
  7. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991
  8. "Liam Howlett: The Prodigy & Firestarter" Paul Nagle, Sound On Sound, Sep 1996
  9. "Isao Tomita" Mike Beecher, Electronics & Music Maker, Feb 1983
  10. "Underworld: The Making of 'Everything, Everything'" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Dec 2000
  11. "Vangelis: Recording at Nemo Studios" Richard Clewes, Sound On Sound, Nov 1997
  12. VP-330 service notes Roland, Sep 1979

Retrospectives

Downloads

Documentation

String machines: Roland VP-330

Vocoders: Roland VP-330