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Vochlea Dubler 2 Review (Gimmick Or Actually Useful?)
An incredibly valuable tool for anyone who struggles to write melodies, chord progressions and drum beats in a more 'conventional' way, Dubler is here to help you convert the ideas in your head into a song in a very unique and effective fashion.
Ease of Use
Value For Money
Holds an abundance of incredibly useful features
Both a unique and seriously effective tool for performance based producers
As music producers, it is our job to convert musical ideas in our head into a digital audio workstation in order to create a song!
This notion is something that seems so easy, but for anyone who has made music before it is much easier said than done- especially for someone like me who isn’t musically ‘trained’.
How many times have you had an insane melody in your head, only for it to prove to be an arduous task to re-create the idea through programming MIDI notation on a piano roll.
Or, how often have you had a really cool bass sound in mind that you can emulate with your voice, only to struggle to create it with a synthesizer? Well, Dubler by Vochlea offers a really great tool and system to overcome these challenges.
Vochlea Dubler is essentially a MIDI controller, but what this MIDI controller offers is its unique ability to use your voice as the modulation source!
Dubler comes in two essential parts – the software and the microphone.
You may wonder whether you can use your own microphone – however, the one that comes with the kit is finely tuned and produced to get the best reaction and response from the software.
The good news is that Dubler 2.0- the new version is software-only, this means that you can use any mic as the input (as well as a bunch of other features!).
The Dubler website is an awesome place to get inspiration on how to use the kit, there are many great examples where you can discover how other producers are putting it to use! There are also many tutorials to help you to grips with the kit.
Dubler can seem daunting to set up at first, however- by going on the website there is a lot of information on how to do this with every DAW.
This is fairly essential to familiarise yourself with how Dubler will react to the DAW you are using. Generally, it is very straightforward, however, there are some MIDI settings that you might not be aware of that must be set up correctly.
After getting your kit, the first thing you must do is download the Dubler software! This is a standalone application that when open, reacts to the DAW you are using.
The Dubler GUI is clean, pleasant to look at due to its soft colours, and is very easy to navigate.
When you open up the software you are greeted with a ‘profile’ window. This is where you will create and locate you different builds for different use cases.
Initially, Dubler will be blank and you can click the ‘create new profile’ button to start developing your builds. Once you have opened up a profile, you can then navigate between five tabs found at the top of the window.
Here is my version you can note that I have created three different profiles. ‘Melodies’ is a profile that I have created to dictate melodies with Dubler- this is locked to a specific scale.
The ‘Basic Drum’ profile is used for beatboxing drum patterns. And finally the ‘WAHWAH’ profile is for sound design, this profile is used to control synth parameters- used for synthesis and sound design.
Train & Triggers
In order for a successful MIDI controller to function seamlessly, there must be impeccable triggering efficiency and almost minimal latency.
Vochlea have succeeded in fine tuning the Dubler microphone to work perfectly with the software. Using your own microphone is possible however you may find yourself having latency issues.
The trigger system is very simple to work and it is mostly used for the setup of drum profiles.
Drums – Beatboxing
While setting up a drum profile, Dubler will need to be assigned with vocal ‘triggers’. This is essentially a dictated vocal sound that will initialise a correlating MIDI response.
By recording ‘takes’ you can lay down up to 12 takes in order to settle on the correct trigger sound, this also has a velocity response function.
You can then assign a specific MIDI note for the output of that trigger. If you are having trouble with Dubler detecting the sound correctly, you can use the ‘sensitivity’ slider to improve the response.
So for the first ‘Bass Drum’ trigger, one must use their voice assign a sound that will trigger the kick drum.
For me, I did this by emulating a low ‘thumping’ bass drum sound. I found this fairly easy as I have some mild experience in beat-boxing, however for some people this might not be so easy.
As it records the vocal response- the triggers can be assigned with any sound that can be vocalised in the most convenient way when attempting to recreate a drum beat using the voice.
Of course each of these triggers can be customised and assigned to different drum sounds for whatever drum kit you are using!
Using Dubler to create melodies is where it can be at its most effective. This is where the majority of people will find this software most useful.
The ‘select notes’ function works like an auto-scale to help you find and restrict the notes of the specific scale you are working in.
If you don’t actually know the scale, Dubler will suggest the closest scale it detects and allow you to set a restriction.
This really helps prevent any unwanted notes being detected, so if you are a little flat when dictating the melody it will not trigger those incorrect notes.
This function really reassures any user that they do not have perfect pitch dictation when using this plugin, after all, we cannot all be Beyonce or Billie Eilish.
The key restriction menu allows you to set a specific scale- restricted in any key, this can be in ‘full’ or ‘subset’.
Another handy little feature here is that you can click on the keyboard symbol next to every scale to get an audio playback example. I found this to be very helpful for anyone who is having trouble identifying the scale they have in mind.
The chords tab is really fun to play with. Firstly, you must click the ‘chords’ button in the top left hand corner of the window, now any note you dictate will be played back by Dubler as a chord. The presets for the chords come in three different versions- triads, pop simple & pop advanced.
You can then use the ‘chord mapping’ tab to map a specific chord to each note. This allows you to essentially pre-program your chord progression, then all you must do is dictate the root notes to play your progression!
This can be done by using the ‘swap individual chords’ drop down menu. There is also a ‘suggested chords’ panel which will essentially suggested chords for you to add to the progression.
I found this to be a really helpful feature to get inspiration with the progression you are working on. There are also 2 different playback algorithms in the form of ‘cluster’ and ‘spread’, I found the latter to be a perceivably more stereo sounding playback when ‘cluster’ sounds more central.
When ‘root note bassline’ is enabled- Dubler plays back the root note only, this is good to quickly determine what note you should be vocalizing if things get confusing.
The whole playback of Dubler can be transposed with the ‘pitch shift function’, this allows the software to playback chords in higher or lower octaves for if you struggle to hit those notes with your voice.
‘Assign’ – Sound Design
Not only is Dubler great for playback of synthesizers and drums, it can also be used to modulate parameters within plugins or audio effects. This is done by the software detecting the vowel movements in the voice & using them to assign to a parameter.
Firstly, you can use the ‘MIDI output channels’ section to assign MIDI channels, this must then be suitably assigned within your DAW in order for the modulation source to take effect. This can be slightly different for each DAW so I suggest using Dublers website to get information on how the software works with different DAWs.
Dubler uses 3 different natural vowel sounds as mappable sources. AAA uses the ‘ahh’ vowel, EEE with ‘ee’ & OOO with ‘Oh or oo’. There is also and ENV function which uses the elongation of the voice to detect is ADSR response.
I applied this function in my WAHWAH profile, here I used the vowel response to modulate filters and various other parameters within Xfer’s Serum. I found it very fun and inspiring to play with.
This tab also allows you to switch between inbuilt playback presets, as well as enabling the ability to add pitch bend to both mono and chord responses.
The ‘play’ tab is essentially a combination section- compiling triggers, keys, chords & the ‘assign’ modulation sources into one performance machine.
This is where you can use all of the tabs you have created within the profile to really jam out & have fun using the software- to its full creative potential.
One can use the ‘stickiness’ slider to fine tune the response of the detection, synth presets for inbuilt audio playback can also be changed using the drop down menu at the bottom.
With Dubler, Vochlea has created a really valuable tool for anyone who struggles to write melodies, chord progressions and drum beats in a more ‘conventional’ way. It can really help you convert the ideas in your head into a song in a very unique and effective fashion.
The extra functions can open up a world of inspirational possibilities as it really maintains the ability to not only help you record your musical ideas, but also to help you think of them in the first place!
For any performance based producer, this piece of kit is a must have. And for anyone who is looking for that extra inspiration and generally who likes having fun getting hands on in the studio, this is definitely a tool worth having in your arsenal.