Zoë Blade's notebook


VP-330 tech specs

Roland VP-330
Roland VP-330

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 choir machines are very rare.

Originally released in 1979,[3] it was slightly redesigned the next year,[4] 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.


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[5]

I like to use it as a vocal effect that's hardly perceptible as a vocoder. I love the way it interacts with Karl's voice.

— Rick Smith, Underworld[6]

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):[16]

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. The A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers, Part Two: N-Z Peter Forrest, 2003, ISBN 0-952437-73-2, pp. 144—145
  2. "Future Music" Future Music (Vendor), Electronics & Music Maker, Mar 1982, p. 67
  3. "Roland catalogue volume 5" Roland, 1979
  4. "Roland catalogue" Roland, 1980
  5. "Tim Souster - Electronic Music Composer" Electronics & Music Maker, May 1981, pp. 62—64
  6. "Underworld Interview" Roland
  7. "Emotional Impact" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, Dec 2001
  8. "Fact File" Tony Bacon, Electronics & Music Maker, Mar 1982, p. 21
  9. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991, pp. 56—62
  10. "Home Electro-Musician" Rudiger Lorenz, Electronics & Music Maker, Aug 1983, p. 69
  11. "Liam Howlett: The Prodigy & Firestarter" Paul Nagle, Sound On Sound, Sep 1996
  12. "Playing With Fire!" Robin Green, The Mix, Mar 1997
  13. "Isao Tomita" Mike Beecher, Electronics & Music Maker, Feb 1983, pp. 50—52
  14. "Underworld: The Making of 'Everything, Everything'" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Dec 2000
  15. "Vangelis: Recording at Nemo Studios" Richard Clewes, Sound On Sound, Nov 1997
  16. "VP-330 service notes" Roland, Sep 1979, pp. 7—12




Hardwired synthesisers: CZ-101 | Juno-6 | Juno-106 | MS-1 | Model D | Polivoks | RS-101 | RS-202 | SH-101 | TB-303 | VC340 | VP-330

Paraphonic synthesisers: RS-101 | RS-202 | VC340 | VP-330

Roland: DCB | JV-1080 | Juno-6 | Juno-106 | MC-4 | MC-8 | MPU-101 | R-8 | RS-101 | RS-202 | SH-101 | SN-R8 series | SN-U110 series | SO-PCM1 series | SR-JV80 series | System-100 | System-100M | TB-303 | TR-606 | TR-808 | TR-909 | U-110 | VP-330 | W-30

String machines: RS-101 | RS-202 | VC340 | VP-330

Vocoders: VC340 | VP-330