Roland VP-03 Vocoder Makes Classic Synth Voice Sounds Affordable

Roland today introduced three new items in its Boutique line: the TR-09 Rhythm Composer, TB-03 Bass Line synthesizer and VP-03 Vocoder.

Each is designed to recreate the sound, interface, and operation of a classic Roland product. Powered by Roland’s advanced ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) technology, they also extend on the originals’ capabilities, adding enhanced features and modern connectivity.

The new VP-03 ($349) takes cues from the classic VP-330 Vocoder Plus, using ACB tech to emulate the original’s fusion of synthesized sound and the human voice.

True to the VP-330, the VP-03 has vocoder, human voice, and string sound sources on board. It also includes a gooseneck XLR microphone, and can be paired with the optional K-25m Keyboard Unit.

New features include 16 Chord Memory setups for one-finger chord playback, plus a new Voice Step Sequencer for dynamic rhythmic effects.

Alongside line and headphones outs, the VP-03 also includes MIDI I/O for connecting with other devices and 24-bit DAW audio interface capability via a Micro USB connector


All three new Roland Boutique units run on 4 x AA batteries or USB bus power. Each module also includes a powered mini-speaker.

See the Roland site for details.


33 thoughts on “Roland VP-03 Vocoder Makes Classic Synth Voice Sounds Affordable

    1. For those unsure …. A vocoder is a synth where you use an external Input as the carrier waveform which is then modulated…. You can use it however your imagination pleases tho loads of electronic music (particularly electro) still uses vocded vocals….

    2. When have you ever seen an ad for gear with music you actually wanted to listed to? I actually think they did a pretty good job with this one.

    1. Good catch.

      A really decent vocoder would sit great in the market now. And make decent use of the crappy K-25m that I bought with the jp-8

      But no line in seems like a really unprofessional choice. I suppose you could use the xlr to plug other lines in but levels could be an issue.

  1. Comments above say “no line in… “.

    I agree, that vocoders do no always have to take a voice from a microphone input.
    Think of drum-tracks, sequenced melodies etc.
    And the modulator /or carrier side being modulated by another sequencer or melody… = Ear Candy !

  2. I really hope Nick Batt does a comparison between this and the original VP330. Love to hear how close this has come to the original. If it’s 90% there it’ll be worth getting.

  3. The real omission here is not only no line input, but not having separate carrier and modulator inputs like the VP 330 or any real vocoder. I’m still waiting for an affordable vocoder with carrier and modulator inputs in a small footprint. Does anybody know of a true eurorack format vocoder? In the meantime, I’d suggest checking out Xlis Labs excellent VP 330 plug in and their EMS vocoder plug in, both of which can not only do traditional (Daft Punk, Kanye) vocal effects, but true carrier modulator vocoding so you can ‘vocode’ a piano track with a drum kit for instance. Any vocoder without both of these inputs is really just a digital recreation of one particular vocoder effect.

  4. I’ve had access to vocoders on a Boss VF-1, and their older SE-70, even my K2500RS can do vocoding.

    One spec of some significance is how many frequency bands does the vocoder have. (It might mention that in the video– I didn’t sit through it). The web blurb and specs don’t mention it. The vocoder in the VF-1 is 20 bands, I think. The one in the K2500RS is also 20.

    Another super-important feature is the ability to have two inputs– both for the “mic” and for the “synth”. I’ve used this many times for sound design and it is COOL! — and versatile.

    This seems like it is geared specifically toward making that talking synth thing and nothing more

  5. if the VP-03 has only 4 voice polyphony like other boutique synth and don’t has a 49 notes polifony, as it should be with vintage string machine (and as in Waldorf Streichfett), then it will NOT be an interesting tool. With a polyphony of 49 notes, then i immediately buy it. A vocal-string machine + vocoder would be interesting, but with 4-note polyphony would be an useless toy.

      1. You’ve written a great deal about why it’s a waste of your time explaining why 49 note polyphony is essential. Maybe you could have written half the length explaining the science behind why 49 polyphony is important, and given us a useful post, as right now you sound extremely pedantic and you’ve wasted everyone’s time.

        1. Internet is full of informations about the top octave divider technology. I don’t need to make lessons, I also learned not to give information in reply to comments needlessly ironic. I repeat: to emulate a string machine you need a polyphony of 49 notes to achieve the effect of the 12 top octave divider oscillators. Without this polyphony, an emulation is impossible and the disappointing sonic result, also because a polyphony of notes 6 generates a cut of the note release getting an unnatural and unnecessary effect.

  6. Long release times on strings is why you want large polyphony on string machines. Kinda lame for Roland to have a “specs” section and make it more of an overview section that glosses over the things we’re looking for.

    There is this, though, in the description of the sequencer…

    “The VP-03 includes a new Voice Step Sequencer not included in the original VP-330, which allows you to input a single note, chord, or your voice into each of the 16 steps, with each step comprising up to six notes. ”

    So, six note polyphony hopefully?

  7. I’ll stick with my second hand much beloved microkorg which sounds better and is a ton more versatile than this overpriced cereal box junk. Korg: miles ahead of Roland at this point, and a lot more affordable.

  8. Ok 4 voices is the aim of all boutique serie. When you know a sharc processor is about 50 cents nowadays, 4 voices are just hard to justify, even to cope with. I may not be Dave Stewart, but chordal work on a string machine (or voice machine here) with a polyphony of 4 makes no sense, and is pretty useless…

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