How to make alien voices like in 50s/60s radio
November 18, 2017 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm curious how radio stations made voices like this and how I might do that today.
posted by tcv to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The second sounds like a vocal put through a Wah-Wah pedal.
posted by ROTFL at 9:40 AM on November 18, 2017

Talk boxes might have been one way.
posted by zaixfeep at 9:46 AM on November 18, 2017

I don't know specifically but you can download the open-source, cross-platform Audacity and start playing around with the built-in effects.
posted by glonous keming at 10:39 AM on November 18, 2017

Then? Talkboxes or plugging a mike to a wah wah pedal (or any other oscillating filter effect) or guitar amp. Some synthesizers are also able to apply their own filters to an external sound source .

These days, you'd either use the Audacity filters, or load audio files with some VST host, and use the appropriate effects (low/high pass filters, decimators and reverbs).
posted by lmfsilva at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2017

It's hard to tell in that example, but it sounds like it could be a vocoder.
posted by bongo_x at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2017


Link to New Yorker video featuring it.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2017

A vocoder electronically modulates a tone with another tone, usually voice. A talk box modulates a tone mechanically with the shape of the mouth. Any time you alter a tone with a moving filter similar to speech (wah pedal, etc.) it will seem pretty similar most people, but there are pretty basic differences.

That's a pretty simplified explanation, but you can get the idea.

There are vocoder plugins and hardware boxes. Vowel filters, wah pedals, talk boxes, ring modulators, are other effects you might want to check out.
posted by bongo_x at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2017

Just remembered; One of the simplest ways to use a vocoder is to get a keyboard with it built in, like the Novation MiniNova
posted by bongo_x at 3:25 PM on November 18, 2017

Almost positively a Sonovox, essentially the precursor to the talkbox and vocoder. The Who even referenced their use in radio IDs and jingles- their Sell Out album opens with the same sounds. That link has some movie clips which are really cool.

Vocoders came into real mainstream use a little later. The distinction there is a purely electronic means of achieving similar sounds.

A Microkorg is a very cheap way to get a decent vocoder that can do these kind of effects.
posted by tremspeed at 12:25 AM on November 19, 2017

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