Vochlea Music, a U.K. startup and alumni of Abbey Road Red, the music tech incubator from Abbey Road Studios, is launching a crowdfunding campaign today for “Dubler Studio Kit,” a new device and app that turns your voice into a MIDI controller for synths, drum machines, DAWs and other music gear.
Described as a “vocal MIDI controller,” the Dubler Studio Kit consists of a bespoke USB microphone and a desktop application for Mac and Windows. It claims to be able to listen to you sing or beatbox and turn those sounds into MIDI notes and other MIDI control messages in real time.
Designed to be responsive enough to use live or for use in a recording studio, with a bit of practice, its makers say you’ll be able to hum a synth pattern (depending on your ability to sing in relative tune), beatbox to trigger a virtual drum kit or manipulate effects and filters vocally.
Vochlea Music demoed an early version of the technology at SXSW last year and won the festival’s pitch competition for its live vocal recognition for music making. While in pre-launch beta testing, Dubler Studio Kit has been used by Mercury Prize-nominated grime MC and producer Novelist, alongside other musicians and producers.
In a call with Vochlea Music founder and CEO George Wright, he explained that the Dubler Studio Kit was created in part to lower the barriers to generating and recording musical ideas, especially for those who are unable to play an instrument.
It’s common for artists, such as singers, to make a vocal note of their melody ideas using the iPhone’s voice memo app or similar mobile recording apps. However, being able to create MIDI notes and other MIDI data using your voice, instead of raw and often badly recorded audio, has the advantage of being able to edit and manipulate those ideas later within MIDI, including patching the resulting MIDI data to different sounds and effects.
Perhaps even more exciting is the way Dubler Studio Kit can be used in addition to playing an instrument, such as a synth or other keyboard, to control various parameters and effects. Traditionally, you have to lift one hand off the keyboard to make tweaks to the sound, or use a foot pedal. Dubler Studio Kit adds a fifth limb, so to speak.
Furthermore, Dubler Studio Kit doesn’t use the VST or Audio Unit plugin format for integration with a DAW. Rather cleverly, once the software is installed, the Dubler Studio Kit is recognised by your Mac or Windows machine as a standard MIDI controller so that it can be used by any software that accepts MIDI, including Logic or Ableton or the hundreds of virtual instruments on the market.
Related to this out of the box experience is the choice to couple the Dubler Studio Kit software with a Dubler-branded low-latency USB microphone. Wright says he wanted to avoid the user needing to have to conduct lengthy calibration with the Dubler machine-learning powered software, which would be the case if third-party microphones were supported.
In the future, that doesn’t prohibit Vochlea Music developing a version of Dubler Studio Kit for iPhone — where device specs are well-known — but will make supporting Android more tricky.
Live on Kickstarter, Vochlea Music wants to raise £40,000 for the Dubler Studio Kit over the next 35 days. During the campaign, backers have the opportunity to pledge to be amongst the first owners of Dubler Studio Kit at what promises to be an early-bird price starting from £175.