Remarkable singing synthesizer virtual voice thingy-ma-jig from Klevgrand that’s jaw-droppingly good, unique, different and perfect for a Christmas singalong.
I wasn’t expecting to be impressed, virtual voices are usually too strange to be useful for anything other than strangeness. But then this is Klevgrand who have the knack of producing stunning plugins and instruments that defy the norms and expectations of jaded plugin reviewers.
Just hit play on this video and tell me it doesn’t floor you.
Crikey! I know, right?
So, Pipa is a cross between a wavetable and granulating synthesizer. It morphs continuously between formants, dynamics and pitch. While it’s tempting to call Pipa a “she” it’s very much a “they” with sounds covering all available genders. There are envelopes and LFOs for all sorts of parameters and you can get in there with expressive MIDI control. A Legato Mode brings in glide over pitch and velocity, there’s voice spatialisation and a rather nice reverb.
The sounds are generated with wavetables extracted from vocal samples. This is what enables Pipa to morph and transition between formants, dynamics and pitch giving a very lifelike performance. The downside, apparently, is that it eats processing power for breakfast although my relatively powerful desktop computer didn’t so much as blink.
Once you download the demo and give it a go you discover that it has plenty of strangeness about it and that the video was brilliantly produced to make the best of what Pipa can do. Of course you’re not getting sung words or anything like that, this is about that vocal sound, of vowels and formants used to create an array of different sounds and textures. What shines through I think is a remarkably human quality. Some of the sounds are tremendous with a fascinating amount of movement and soul. What an interesting and surprising synth.
Pipa is available as a VST Instrument for macOS and Windows for a special price of $24.99 (usually $49.99) and for iPad for $9.99 (usually $19.99).