Ableton Tutorial: Vocoder to Change Pitch of Vocals… or anything!

This is how to route an external instrument & MIDI sequence into the Vocoder on an Acapella track to change its melodic structure!

I’m sure you have heard this Vocoder effect in action. Daft Punk’s Around the World for instance uses this vocoder effect!

It’s quite easy to do right inside Ableton Live. Let me show you how in this video tutorial.

The Acapella Used in this VideoVocals

The MIDI used in this VideoMIDI

Watch the Video Tutorial

*written tutorial below

Written Tutorial


At minimum, you are going to need two tracks.

The first track is a MIDI track with a VSTi on it. Rename the channel “carrier”. That will make things less confusing later. You will want that instrument to have a long sustain for the best results on vocals. Though, feel free to play around. If you don’t have a keyboard, you will want to have a MIDI sequence loaded as well. Chords work great on vocals, but single notes can work too. Depends on what you are going for. Another thing to do is make sure the chord or note changes are flush, meaning no gaps, to avoid any nasty audio glitches and drops. The only other thing to do is deactivate the channel so the audio can’t be heard.

MIDI Channel

  • MIDI Channel named “carrier”
  • VSTi with long sustain
  • MIDI sequence with no gaps between notes or chords
  • Deactivate the channel’s output (no audio should be hear)

The second channel you will want your acapella and the Vocoder device. For the Vocoder I used the preset called “Formant +5”. I kept it on MONO output, but you might want to check out the other options to see what fits best with your project. I then added some reverb and a limiter, just in case 😉

Audio Channel

  • Acapella (or any sound source)
  • Vocoder device
    • Carrier – External
    • Audio From – carrier (or whatever you MIDI track is called)
    • Post or Pre FX (post mixer won’t work because the channel has no output to the mixer)

NOTE: Play both clips at the same time and you should hear your vocal being manipulate in tune with the MIDI sequence creating that robot sound! Now, go forth and be like Daft Punk… or whomever!

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Author: Joshua Casper

Joshua Casper is an Artist, Musician, and Blogger.

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