Roland SP-808 Groovesampler with Vocoder effect

Vocoder fun with the SP-808

SP-808? A vocoder?

Yep….you don’t have to clear your eyes. You are reading it well. The Roland SP-808 Groovesampler contains a vocoder effect. Well…only if you have e-MIX Studio OS installed. Check this post about upgrading to that OS.

Anyway, due to this OS you get access to a 10-band vocoder effect which you can control by a MIDI keyboard. Just connect a microphone, a MIDI cable and some incoming sounds and you’re good to go. In this video I give you an impression about how it is done and how it sounds.

SP-808 Vocoder effect-25
SP-808 Vocoder effect-25

What do you need

  • Roland SP-808 Groovesampler with the e-MIX Studio OS.
  • MIDI keyboard
  • 5-din MIDI cable
  • Microphone
  • Audio cable

The connection

  • Connect the MIDI keyboard with the MIDI cable to the SP-808. MIDI Keyboard OUT and SP-808 IN.
  • Connect the microphone to the SP-808
  • Connect the audio cable from the keyboard to the Right Line input. Yeah! Not Left but Right!

MIDI Channel

As the vocoder is an effect you need to set the ‘FX Ctrl Ch.’ on the same MIDI channel as your MIDI Keyboard.

Let the games begin

Open the input volume knobs of your SP-808 (MIC and Line). Press the On/Off-button of the Realtime Effects on your SP-808. Select the Vocoder effect by clicking together Shift + FX/INFO and search for effect number 25 (Vocoder). If the volume on your keyboard is also open, you will now be able to play the vocoder effect.

Tips

Try different sounds on your keyboard. You will notice that strings sounds different then organs. A smooth clarinette or a wild sync lead makes a world of difference.

Parameters

On the SP-808 you have access to 6 realtime changeable parameters. (3 knobs + SELECT ROW = 6). The parameters are adjustable in the FX EDIT section. Go to CTL to adjust for example the envelope or the pan of the vocoder. Or change the bandwidth of the vocoder because after all it’s a 10-band vocoder. And of course you can edit the built-in delay and/or chorus.

SP-808 Vocoder parameters
SP-808 Vocoder parameters

Conclusion

This vocoder surprised me a lot. We know it’s an underrated machine and therefore it should receive the respect it deserves.

So, keep on grooving!

Roger Mooze

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