Rated 4.92 out of 5 based on 12 customer ratings
(12 customer reviews)

6.00 3.00 plus VAT

1980s 8-bit computerised speech synthesiser


R-O-B-O-T   V-O-I-C-E-S! Need we say more?

Spectrum 2We can’t leave our Sinclair ZX Spectrum alone. Not only can it do awesome drums (see SpecDrum 2000) and 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?!)

SpecTalk rear panelIn 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.

(All our Kontakt instruments require a full copy of Native Instruments Kontakt v4.2.3 or higher (including all versions of Kontakt 5). Kontakt Player is not supported: instruments will load, but will time out after 15 minutes. See the FAQ for further information.)


12 reviews for SpecTalk

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    Poesque (verified owner)

    Creepy eighties computing gone wild.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    pbrmei (verified owner)

    I got this one as part of the Sweet Freak oddities pack, and I must say it’s fun to use. Try to modulate the Tune parameter of its Kontakt instrument to make it sing!

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    dstey24 (verified owner)

    Great deal, perfect for intros and outros in your music.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Stefano (verified owner)

    SpecTalk is very versatile because you can easly build every word that you have in mind! And the vocal timbre of spectrum is more 80s than the classic Speak n Spell and fit very well with E-Mu and other 8 bit samplers.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Takoda.Castillo.23 (verified owner)

    Great for intros/outros, as well as layering under vocals.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    al (verified owner)

    This thing is killer. I did a tune years ago that used the Emulator phoneme disk. This nailed it. Great job guyz…

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    scott (verified owner)

    love this bit of retro goodness, an absolute steal at the price

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Simon (verified owner)

    An absolute bargain at the price, and surprisingly easy to get something that sounds at least a little bit like words out of it. A real lo-fi treat, Sh*tty is pretty!
    I’m reliving my mispent youth thanks to Rhythmic Robot!

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Brent (verified owner)

    You can do some amazing things with SpecTalk, and as you can hear in the demo above, it sounds awesome over a Bad Bad Bass bassline.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    joe (verified owner)

    The reference chart of phonics makes it so easy to program anything you want it to say. This is perfectly made speek-n-spell 80s s**t. Programming words reminds me of the old Vocalwriter. 10 out of 10 best vst ever!

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    Robert (verified owner)

    If you’ve got time on your hands you can make it say curse words, and if you don’t you can make it sound like someone overdosing on animal tranquilizer.

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    Patrick (verified owner)

    What can I say about SpecTalk other than it brings me back to the good old decade of the 1980’s!! It’s sort of a speak n spell on steroids. I have been using this instrument for a musical composition I’m composing along with samples from NASA space missions and it fits right in! If you’re looking for a way to ‘capture’ a specific sound from a bygone era, then SpecTalk should fit the bill!!

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