The Dubler Studio Kit was funded in 46 minutes on Kickstarter this morning. It takes your voice, or another monophonic audio source, and turns it into MIDI notes. They call it a real-time vocal recognition MIDI controller and people seem quite excited about it.
I confess that this has me scratching my head a little bit. Back in 1996 I built a little box that converted audio into MIDI in real-time for my final year Music Technology degree project. It enabled me to wire a flute up to a Korg M1 and play synth sounds. Later that year when I started working in a music shop we used to sell MusicTime notation software from Passport that had a bundle that came with a microphone and pitch-to-MIDI software which would notate your voice in real-time. This was over 20 years ago and the technology has found its way into various DAWs, guitar pickups, Eurorack envelope followers and bits of software, perhaps most recently in the MIDI extraction from Melodyne.
Vochlea Music talk about Dubler Studio Kit like it’s something we’ve never seen before. So what is it that’s got people excited?
Dubler Studio Kit
Maybe it’s all in the approach. Pitch-to-MIDI has usually required a fair bit of editing or adjusting after the event, maybe these guys have gotten it to a level of flawlessness that elevates it above anything we’ve seen before. The software is certainly interesting. It does more than you’d expect. It’s able to detect different vocal sounds allowing you to map your voice to different things or parameters. Using perhaps an “ooo” sound to trigger notes and an “ahh” sound to control a filter. You can trigger up to 8 samples using different sounds – they often give the example of beat-boxing but you can use taps, stomps, clicks and claps and the software learns which sound triggers what. It does this over multiple MIDI channels so that you can vocalise synths while clapping out a beat.
The other part of the kit is the USB microphone. This has been specially designed to work with Dubler at a “very low latency”. It does bypass the need for an audio interface and all the messing about with routing. However, the reported latency is 10ms which is just on the edge of playable and I wonder when it comes to percussion whether that’s going to drag. They do mention that they are planning to do their own driver to get the latency down further as they are currently using ASIO4ALL and generic drivers. That would be a good idea I think.
The software and microphone stand apart from your other gear. The software is standalone and uses a virtual MIDI driver to send the MIDI to your DAW or software synthesizer. In some ways that’s pretty limiting because it’s possible you might like to use the technology on previously recorded material, or in post-production, or to simply have the versatility of multiple microphones or multiple sources. But being separate means that they can better control the environment it’s working in and the sort of audio it’s receiving.
Watching the videos and seeing it in use they’ve certainly polished the technology and found a really clear way of implementing it. Although it still has that slightly dodgy quality of wavering pitch and envelope because our voices are just not very precise. It’s very interesting and surprisingly good but I don’t think it’s a revolution. It could be enormously helpful for people who just want to sing their ideas into software to control synths and drum machines – although learning to program patterns and sequences with hardware or a mouse isn’t a bad use of your time either.
With the Early Bird offers already gone the Dupler Studio Kit will cost you a pledge of £195. Delivery is expected in October.
- Dupler Studio Kit Kickstarter page.