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I am a horrible bad vocalist and don't have the time to set up a real band, but still want to get some vocals on my hobbyist music project. I am open to anything (and yes, I know nothing can replace a good singer - but still I want to go such a way)

I was wondering if plugins like the "EastWest Choir", which simulates a choir does sound. Is it so good I could use it as "front end" vocals? Is there anything similar?

The other alternative is a Robot Voice plugin, but I don't know if there are any good ones.

What I don't want is "only samples". I would like to express my own lyrics.

Any recommendations? I am amateur but willing to pay a few bucks. Of course, I would like to save money if possible. A good mix between cost and quality would be perfect.

My environment is Mac OSX, Logic Pro 8 and AU. I own the latest MBP so speed should be no problem, in most cases.

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3 Answers 3

I haven't tried this with Logic-Pro (so feel free to vote down if its not appropriate!) ... but you could take a look at the VST based Vocaloid (and more background on wikipedia), that allows you to specify lyrics phonetically, as well as pitch, of a vocal "instrument".

I haven't looked at this since the early versions, which I didn't find particularly useful. I seem to recall reviews saying it may be ok for backing vocals, or guide tracks, rather than the lead you're looking for.

If they could improve it they'd certainly get my money. Like you, recording vocals is the weak link in my songs. The quality of the singing and recording is not good, and trying to craft the rest of the song without the vocal laid down, or with a replacement instrument instead, is not ideal either.

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I know Vocaloid and installed it on my mac with Wine. but it doesn't show up the buttons and is not really comfortable to use. I own no Windows box, so this is not an option, even when I really would have enjoyed it. Thanks for the tipp anyway - and I feel your pain on vocals –  Christian Jun 1 '11 at 17:10

If you absolutely refuse to just sing it, and have no friends you can coerce into doing it, you can use some sort of pitch-correction software, more commonly called "Auto-tune". This will sound more natural than a robot voice, unless you have really extreme settings.

You could also use a Vocoder (which I suspect the robot voice effect is). This takes an instrument (like a synthesizer) that plays the melody, and shapes it's sound according to the sound of your singing. This is an awesome effect popularized by early synthpop such as Kraftwerk, and also used to great effect by ELO (sample) and something you hear WAY to seldom nowadays. A similar effect to the vocoder is talk box, as used in Bon Jovis "Livin on a Prayer" intro.

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I will try the Vocoder option. Kraftwerk is actually on my fave list. I already failed with Autotune :-) –  Christian Jun 1 '11 at 17:08

You have three options:

  1. Sing it yourself. You may think you are a "horrible bad vocalist" but you might be surprised how much you can improve with a little practice. Especially considering that you can do tricks like using an auto-tune effect, or recording at a pitch more suited to your vocal range, or using comping to select the best phrases from several takes. I'm not a good singer, but with a bit of perseverance, I can usually get something tolerable.

  2. Ask a friend to sing. It's worth asking a few friends if they would be willing to do your vocals for you. Also, on a lot of DAW recording forums there is a section for "collaboration" requests - you might be able to send someone a backing track and ask them to sing it for you.

  3. Use a software instrument. There have been several attempts to create virtual singers, like Yamaha's "Leon" and "Lola". However, creating realistic sounding parts is incredibly difficult and a lot more research and development is needed before this becomes a genuinely viable option if realism matters to you.

If you're willing to spend money, I'd be more inclined to offer to buy a friend a beer for singing a track instead of purchasing a virtual singer instrument which would be time consuming and frustrating to use.

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1. yeah practice. I really was thinking i could manage it now - but after all it was not good. I will go with the vocoder tipp below. 2. No friends around, were I live. Its really outside of every city you can imagine 3. Leon/Lola is Vocaloid based and would have been interesting, but they do not run on a Mac so far. Probably I will go on with practice then and try the Vocoder –  Christian Jun 1 '11 at 17:10

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