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New XILS X201 Plug-In Emulates the Holy Grail of Vocoders

Geary Yelton

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X201 re-creates the Sennheiser VSM 201 made famous by Kraftwerk and Daft Punk.

XILS Lab, the company that makes the Syn’X, XILS 3, and PolyKB III soft synths, just announced the release of X201 Vocoder, an effects plug-in inspired by the German-made Sennheiser VSM 201. Renowned for its clarity, the original rackmount vocoder is in so much demand that even if you can find one, you should expect to pay upwards of $18,000. Sennheiser’s vocoder gained its reputation in the late ’70s and beyond on records by Kraftwerk, Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, and Giorgio Moroder, among others.

Typically, you’d use the X201 plug-in to process its internal polysynth with a recorded vocal track. Whatever MIDI notes you play would make the synth sing—a striking effect you’ve no doubt heard many times before. In addition to its vocoding capabilities, you can use X201 as a multi-effects processor. It supplies chorus, phaser, reverb, and delay effects with a vintage vibe.

This video gives you a good overview of X201’s capabilities:

X201 shapes the carrier’s signal using a frequency-dependent multiband envelope follower. The plug-in has two filter banks, each with 20 frequency bands to improve intelligibility. (In comparison, the popular Roland VP-330 has just 10 frequency bands.) Each bank applies a modulator signal to process a sound source called the carrier. The modulator is usually a human voice, but it could be any audio source, including drums. X201’s carrier, the sound being processed, is its internal virtual analog synthesizer. 

Introductory Pricing

From now until the end of July, XILS X201 Vocoder is on sale at the reduced price of $89. On August 1 the price will increase to $149.

You can also purchase X201 with XILS’s other vocoder plug-in, a software model of the EMS 5000 called (what else?) XILS 5000. It normally sells for $149. Purchased as a bundle, both vocoder plug-ins are just $119. And if you already own XILS 5000, you can get X201 for just $39. Again, these prices expire on July 31.

For more information or to make a purchase, visit XILS Lab online

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