• SpecTalk front panel
  • SpecTalk rear panel


(18 customer reviews)

6.00 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 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.)


18 reviews for SpecTalk

  1. Terry Burrows (verified owner)

    To be honest, I only really bought SpecTalk for my own amusement! I didn’t imagine that a year or so later it would’ve been used on several commercial releases. I’ve generally used it for texture rather than creating actual words. (The effect I was looking for was almost like machines trying to make themselves understood … and almost succeeding … but not quite.) Even if they are not heavily used, these single-job sample sets are so reasonably priced that they’re worth a punt. (The sister product, SpectTone, has also been unexpectedly useful.) It did make me think of my first Mac SE in the late 80s, which, in spite of all of its expense and sophistication, I spent most of the first few weeks making it swear!

  2. Martin Ouellette (verified owner)

    If you use vocal chops in your production (tech, trap, drill, psytrance etc.) you will love this little instrument. Send midi to it via your favorite arpeggiator and invent riffs galore live on the fly 😀

  3. Gordon Kennedy (verified owner)

    This plug-in really puts the “micRo” in RhythmicRobot.
    Has much more robotic charm than the various rather characterless modern computer voices.
    All in all, the ultimate $3 ZX Spectrum speech synthesis software.

  4. johnup12 (verified owner)

    Some pretty good synthesized voice sounds, particularly for such a low price.

  5. dannyhearnmusic (verified owner)

    Now this is cool; it can be a bit tricky to get the rhythm and velocity right when forming your own sentences, but just running through the preset phrases gives you a good feel for what this plugin can ultimately do, and has some great Easter eggs for sci-fi and pop culture fans! There are 4 banks of preset phrases mapped over 4 velocity levels across (I believe) 2 octaves, whilst the regular vowels are mapped to have stressed sounds on the higher velocity and unstressed on the lower. Once you get used to it, the options are limitless!

  6. michael.topic (verified owner)

    Getting musical sounding robotics into a track that needs them turns out to be surprisingly challenging. I’ve spent a lot of time trying and never quite being happy with the result. What I like about this library is that it is extremely lo-fi, which makes it the perfect counterpoint to today’s polished production standards. I need my robot utterances to be a hook, in my songs and these do the trick.

  7. Poesque (verified owner)

    Creepy eighties computing gone wild.

  8. 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!

  9. dstey24 (verified owner)

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

  10. 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.

  11. Takoda.Castillo.23 (verified owner)

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

  12. 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…

  13. scott (verified owner)

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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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