The X201 Vocoder was modeled after an ultra rare, ultra pricey (even at the time of its release), Vocoder unit, whose intelligibility has never been surpassed.
It is the Vocoder that provided the magical sound for artists like Kraftwerk, Herbie Hancock, Frank Farian (Boney M, Milli Vanilli etc.), Cylon Robots or the unmistakeable sounds of the Droids in Battlestar Galactica droids in Star Wars and… Daft Punk (RAM).
Each of X201 Vocoder’s two Filter Banks offers 20 frequency bands. Each Filter Bank can process the incoming signal (Usually voice, but any other signal, including drums, can be processed), or use the internal CARRIER signal. Other vocorders such as the Roland VP-330 only had 10 frequency bands, it had a very musical sound, but because of the reduced number of frequency bands, it had much less clarity.
You can use the internal analog Synthesizer as a carrier to input into the vocoder, which immediately gives the X201 its characteristic and recognisable sound. Any other incoming signal at hand can also be used, like an external Synthesizer or another voice etc to drive the vocoder.
The X201 has an exclusive feature called Silence Bridging: It is a Multiband frequency dependent Envelope Follower engine, which will shapes the signal gain according to it’s harmonic content. It’s very useful for processing percussive or rhythmic sonic material, the Envelope Follower will add contour to the sound.
How does it work?
Usually you record your voice, You do not have to even actually sing, then use the internal synth as the Carrier. Then you send Midi notes to the Carrier to make your voice sing those notes being played (or chords, because the engine is polyphonic). Et voilà you are vocoding.
There is more. The X201 is full of additional internal parameters that were not included in the original unit. This makes it much more versatile, and powerful.
XILS also added some vintage analog effects emulations: Chorus, Phaser, Delay and an early ‘digital’ reverb unit are all in there. You can also configure and design custom effect routings and different order effect chains as well.
Or use the X201 as a Multi-FX on its own. You can also use as a simple Filter Bank/Chorus/Phaser/Delay/Reverb Multi-Effect. Try it on another instrument such as a Rhodes, Clavinet or String Machine patch, and rediscover these vintage organic sounds that require long chain of vintage effects to sound as authentic as possible.