XILS-lab is a music software company based in Grenoble, France, and they are well known for their software synthesisers like XILS, PolyKB II and Syn’X. Today, I will have a look at their XILS Vocoder 5000, inspired by the EMS Flagship Vocoder EMS 5000 – probably the most complex and powerful analog vocoder ever built. XILS-lab used their knowledge acquired during the emulation of both the VCS3 synthesizer and the VP300 Vocoder Plus to develop the XILS Vocoder 5000 model.
- A Matrix Patch Area (22×22 or 20×20)
- Two Synthesizer cores
- Two oscillators per core, modelled from the EMS VCS3 oscillator
- One noise per core
- Two LFOs per core
- One VCA-ADSR per core
- One 22 band filter vocoder.
- One 20 band filter vocoder
- Stereo analysis and synthesis available
- Side chain for adding external audio sources to the carrier
- A virtual keyboard that can be saved within your presets
- A finely tweakable analog-like pitch tracker
- An input gate for reducing the noise
- A Voice/unVoice detector
- A full output mixer applied to any of the internal audio paths
- A huge Frequency shifter effect
- All parameters are MIDI controllable
- Presets for quickly using the XILS 5000 in all is glory
- Price Tag: 149,00 Euro
Download and Installation
One important thing to note is that, during purchase, you need to decide on which copy protection method you want. XILS 5000 can be protected via eLicencser or iLok (hard and soft). Both codes will be sent by email, and after having downloaded the installer itself, the installation process can be started, and it’s painless. The plugin is available as VST2.4, VST3, RTAS, AAX and AU in 32/64bits.
Usability & Sound
XILS-lab is very exemplary when it comes to tutorials and help for their customers to setup the plugins correctly. Also, in the case of the XILS 5000, the have set up an extra “Getting Started” website, with written and video tutorials on how to get the most out of the vocoder. With their help, it is very easy to get used to it and to understand the GUI full of knobs, buttons, and parameters (that might, on first look, seem slightly overloaded).
I began by inserting the plugin on a vocal track, and immediately came up with some very good sounding results, not to mention one of the best sounding vocoders I’ve ever heard. It was very clean, very robotic, and exactly what I like. The patches are very useful and can be used nearly every time without any additional tweaks. From clear robotic voices to fast distorted noises – everything is available here.
But XILS 5000 doesn’t only work well on vocal tracks and not only as an insert effect. You can use it on almost any soundsource you like in a variety of different modes. The vocoder and its pitch can also be controlled via MIDI. To achieve this, you would create a MIDI track in your DAW, whose output will be routed to the input of the V5000. In today’s DAWs, this should work without any problems, as it did when I tried it in Ableton Live.
The XILS 5000 can alse be used as an internal synthesizer (Optional + Vocoder Signal + Pitch Shifter, etc ) to play along with a pitched instrument (VSTi), while changing the character of the instrument. This is really an exciting feature! The way to do this is (thanks to the tutorials of XILS-lab) is very easy:
- Insert the Vocoder 5000 on the VSTi MIDI track (Keys, Pads, Guitar, Pads etc)
- Create a MIDI track in your DAW and assign its output to the V5000
- Enable both VSTi and V5000 MIDI tracks to receive midi data simultaneously
- Play or Record a melody/Chords on the 2 MIDI tracks while your DAW is in play mode
Lots of fun to play with! Three additional tutorial videos feature the Filter bank, Matrix Patch Area and Slew Rate, Audio Process and Frequency Shifter, and the Synthetizer Engine Control. They also show in several tutorials how to use a side chain signal for the XILS 5000. Perfect! The presets are also very useful and available for nearly every instrument, like drums, vocals, chorus, fx, and so on.
XILS Vocoder 5000 is really one of the best sounding vocoders I have heard so far. The learning curve is a little bit steep in the beginning, but with help of the very well produced tutorials and manual, you will quickly be able to dig into it. It is definetly worth it! With XILS Vocoder 5000, you won’t need any other vocoder – promised!