R-O-B-O-T V-O-I-C-E-S! Need we say more?
We can’t leave our Sinclair ZX Spectrum alone. Not only can it print rude messages about your mates on shiny thermal paper, it can also do RO-BOT VOI-CES!
That’s right, we got ourselves a Currah MicroSpeech attachment for the Speccie. This little black plastic box of tricks did for voice synthesis what the SpecDrum did for drum sampling: that is, slotted it right into the back of your home computer. Once the MicroSpeech was installed, every key press you made on the Spectrum’s boingy rubber keys was announced through your TV speaker in glorious, robotic monotone. RUN. EN-TER. SPACE. BREAK. B-B-B-B-BREAK. Being in charge of a talking Spectrum is the next best thing to piloting the Starship Enterprise. Probably.
SpecTalk gives you weird glitchy sounds, st-st-st-stuttering v-v-vocals, 8-bit nastiness and – most importantly of all – the ability to roll your own vocal phrases using its library of phonetic components. These are mapped out over the lower spread of the keyboard: there’s a handy chart of what note corresponds to what sound on the second pane of the SpecTalk. To make your very own talking computer, circa 1985, just slot these bits of sound together in your DAW’s pattern editor, nudging them up close to each other so that they form complete words. There you go – an endless selection of personalised ad-libs, shout-outs, vocal riffs and doom-laden robotic warnings of impending core breach, right at your fingertips, and all in the utterly unique 1980s tone of the Currah. As we say in SpecTalk world, “its (ee)z(ee) wuns y(ou) ge(tt) (dth)u ha(ng) ov it”. There are two velocity layers for the phonemes, so you can program unstressed sounds or stressed sounds (which are slightly higher in pitch). Combining the two will make your phrases a little less robotic. (But not much. Otherwise what would be the point?!)
In any case, you don’t have to string your own phonemes together to have fun with SpecTalk. We took the liberty of building in a whole library of useful words and phrases in the top octaves, so you can chop those up, splice them together and make stuff up out of them. There are two octaves’ worth of phrases, with higher velocity values granting access to three further banks, for a total of… lots. Lots of phrases. Some of them were suggested via a poll of Rhythmic Robot customers; some of them are, frankly, a bit odd. (The phrases, not the customers. Though possibly both.) But you can always slice them up and rearrange them to make them normal if you want. (Again, the phrases, not the… you get it.)
That was supposed to be the whole deal, but then Mongo went a bit mental with the coding and roped in an octave of “drum” sounds in the middle. These are, basically, the Spectrum “saying” drum noises: Buh. Tssh. Tsss. Kuk. They’re weird, they’re unusual, they certainly don’t grace any drum libraries that we’ve come across, and who knows? They might be just the thing to set your track apart. You could record them, pitch-shift them in your DAW, glitch them up, stick them through a granular synthesiser… they’re chock full of 8-bit character. You can get some frankly loopy percussion noises out of the raw phonemes themselves, come to that; think hi-hat patterns made up of t s t s t s t s…
The sound of SpecTalk is 80s sci-fi in a nutshell. MONO-TONE RO-BOT VOI-CES. THE COUNT-DOWN IS COMM-EN-CING. RUN EARTH-LINGS RUN. You know the drill. What’s cooler than that? Nothing, that’s what, which is why we made it for you.
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