How to make those small robot voices from the 80's


I put my question in Off-Topic Category but if there are Renoise answers (with working XRNS), it’s even better. So my question is about those small robot voices from the 80’s. I want to know how they were made with effects of that era. I know that it is not vocoders. But I’m not sure if it is octavers, pitch shifters, harmonizers, chorus, flangers…

Here are some examples. Can you help me? Thanks.

“Got it all together don’t 'cha baby”

"Ohhhh weee, you bugger. "

(here with a bit more effects but lyrics not found)

My internet connection is very reduced…I can’t verify your links

But I’m 99% sure that “wavosaur - VSTspeek” is what you want

sorry @Tall_TeQ but no, VSTspeek is a text to speech
my question is more about something like old Boss PS-2 effect pedals I think

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After listening to your examples I would say it’s a combination of pitch shift and comb filter.
You need an echo with a fast frequency (comb filter or else). You can also do this by editing your sample (or whatever) one behind each other in several tracks to generate an “echo” with a fast frequency without any effects (in this case you need high LPB, at least 16).

Just like this, but faster.

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I do not know if there are VST effects that simulate that thing…

But I am pretty sure this is the sound of guitar “harmonizer”/“pitch shifter”/“whammy” effect pedals, that probably were around already in the 80s.

Also some examples might also be the pitch shift effect in the early samplers, I think akai had such an effect built in.

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Recording the voices to tape, at slow speeds, so when they played back they’d be pitched up.

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Try Roland VT-3 or 4. So you got everything for that in one box, except from the talk box. The one from Hithouse (RIP) is simple. Transpose any sample one octave up and add a robotic flanger to it.

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You could also try this industry secret!


First of all, thank you all for those first answers. Feel free to carry on. Even if some of them are a bit off-topic, I like all that can generate and/or transform the human voice. Including vocoders, pitch shifters, talk boxes, autotunes, and so on. I also know that there are some advanced hardware or VST effects that can make awesome things nowadays. Even online tools. Even applications for Smartphone that can do that realtime during a call. Helium is another way to do it, true.

But my question is more about old 80’s techniques. Of course it can be done with old samplers. Of course it can be done recording and replaying at different speed. And perhaps that’s the case for the video shared as examples. But in the 80’s, on FM radios, speakers were talking with the little robot voice in realtime. So I suppose they were using something based on picth shifters and perhaps other effects too. I’m still interested with all your very good ideas, tips, tricks.


@sokoban You are right,just use old effects chains

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Here I think I found the little bugger the people might have been using:

Is an example for guitar, now imagine somebody routing a voice through it (is no problem from the mixer).

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I’m sure I tried the Boss PS-2 with a microphone when I was a teenager in the 80’s in a music shop. Yes, I was that kind of annoying teenager that tries every single synth and effect without purchasing anything because no money. :rofl:

Old skool sampling for chipmink effect , and harmonizer for doubling
Eventide harmonizer was used heavily back then

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robotvoices.xrns (854.3 KB)

maybe this will help ya…
used renoise’ own pitchshifter …


Thanks @teis !

If I understand, you apply chorus + delay on the sample.
Then you put the time-stretching mode to texture.
And to finish you play a 3-notes chord.
I don’t know if I forget something but the result is really cool.

I tested myself a combo of pitch shifter + flanger + detune, and it’s cool too.

@gentleclockdivider : I will take a look to harmonizers


this part is where the magic comes from. take a vocal, check beatsync, use texture.
after that use a bpm lower or higher than the vocal itself. then adjust the beatsync value until it fits to the
bpm or to your likings.

now you’re set. whatever note you play, whatever speed you use… you can freak around with the robotvoice :wink:

the flanger, delay and the played chords were just to show-off the cool vocals (american dad, klaus (the fish)) :slight_smile:


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sounds like oldschool timestretching effects to me, at least in a couple of the examples you’ve provided. I would try the AKAIZER tool.
also, bitspeek vst would get you close! Sonic Charge - Bitspeek

edit: meant to reply to the thread, not TNT, oops

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You even can do this with a little trick just with Renoise and without any tools. You can do it with the Sxx commands. I do such things often that way by using the phrase editor. If you set it up right, you will get that special oldschool timestretching effect like in the old jungle tunes.

Just set a suitable phrase length, set a note on every line (grey column)
then shorten all the notes a bit by using the C command on the volume column (green)
finally place the S00 command on the first line and the SFF command on the last line of the FX column. Then place the cursor on that Sxx FX column, right click and go to “Column” and there select "Interpolate Linear).
Now the Sxx column will raise up from S00 to SFF. That’s it, play a note and hear the result. This little trick is also called “granular timestretching” and is similar to the Josh Wink example. You also can play around with the LPB settings of the phrase to raise or lower the sample playback speed. Also try to play different notes to pitch it up or down. This trick was used in a lot of jungle tunes on vocals and also on the drums. Mostly made with the timestretch feature of the old AKAI samplers (also a kind of granular timestretching algorithm). But some people also did this with Trackers in a similar way to my example.

here the original sample:

here the “timestretched” result:

and here the Renoise project (v.3.3.2). Just load a sample into the prepared instrument slot.
Granular Timestreching Trick.xrns (195.5 KB)

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I know, you showed exactly what I meant. with this:

But I’m not that familiar with the pattern effect commands in Renoise anymore, because usually I don’t need to use them. And as far as I know the commands also had changed compared to Renoise 2.7 and earlier versions… But you showed one example why a tracker is superior over the piano roll programs. :wink: