Few things bring a score to life like a real, live vocal: a haunting lyric melody floating on a gossamer pad, or a fiery solo line embedded in a grooving juggernaut. But the realities of our producer/composer lives (i.e., time and money) often keep this wonderful instrument out of our work. While there are several excellent vocal libraries, no single virtual instrument has married convenient syllable selection with an authentic vocal performance—until Realitone’s aptly named Realivox family. Their first products under this product line, The Ladies and Blue, put real session singers at your fingertips, with surprising ease of use and affordability.
Like all Realitone offerings, The Ladies is a Kontakt-format VI (with the free Kontakt Player included) with an easy learning curve geared to tight deadlines. You select one of five sampled singers (Cheryl is breathy and new-agey, Toni is R&B, Theresa is the operatic diva, Patty is poppy, and Julie is girl-next-door) and play them as you would a sampled horn or woodwind. All the singers share 30 key-switched attack syllables. These include the usual “ahs” and “doos” plus some unusual “mees” “shoos” “yeahs,” and “bee-bop-bow-bahs”—the last with jazz fall-offs. You can play them polyphonically with the Legato mode off, but the real magic happens in the monophonic Legato mode. Phrases like “oo-bop-shoo-dah” or “mm-hey-la-ba” become surprisingly personal. After a while you begin to relate to the sampled singers as individuals.
You can dial in precise attacks, delays, releases, reverb amounts, and fine tuning for each singer. Also, every instance comes with a Voice selection, which lets you darken or lighten the tone significantly. That way you can stack a bunch of Julies, a few Cheryls, and a touch of Theresa (for the vibrato) and you’ve got killer and totally customizable choirs for anything from a thrilling tribal chant to luscious choral textures.
Due out at press time, Realivox Blue (not to be confused with Rob Papen’s soft synth of the same name) takes one singer and a massively enhanced 12,000-sample library and lets you type in consonants and vowels to create your own syllables, words, and short lyric lines. The wow factor is in all the invisible transition noises that happen between sung phonemes. So when you select a series of syllables amounting to “I love you baby,” you’re getting an additional stream of audio data that makes the sung line convincing. Yes, you can probably construct a 90-percent believable lead performance this way, but the real-world usage will still be mostly pop backup vocals and melodies in film and game scores.
In only two weeks, “The Ladies” have gone on two of my commercial scores that would not have otherwise featured vocals. Both products are now on my very short list of must-have virtual instruments for 21st-century composers doing business in the real world.
Uncannily realistic and intuitive virtual female vocal leads and ensembles. Six distinctive sampled session singers in several styles. Effortless learning curve. Irresistible bang for the buck.
Should Adele be worried? Not quite yet.
For literally the price of one vocal session you can now add session-quality backup vocals and solo lines to your songs and scores.
The Ladies: $295 street | Blue: $149 street