Xils-Lab X201 Emulates The Rare Sennheiser Vocoder Used By Kraftwerk

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Xils-Lab’s new plugin release X201 is an accurate emulation of the legendary Sennheiser VSM-201 from 1978 used by Kraftwerk, Herbie Hancock & more. 

After the big update for the Syn’x 2 Synthesizer, the French developers now published a new vocoder plugin. Not just any but an emulation of the famous Sennheiser VSM-201 used by many artists including Kraftwerk, Daft Punk (RAM), Herbie Hancock & more. The original unit was also used as a sound design tool in movies. For example, the robot voices from Star Wars come from this hardware vocoder.

Xils-Lab X201 is based on two filter banks, each offers 20 frequency bands and can process the incoming signal (voice, drums…), or the carrier signal. As a comparison, the Roland VP-330 only had 10 frequency bands, with a very musical sound, at the price of much less clarity. The plugin also includes the carrier that gives the X201 its characteristic and recognizable sound. It can be described as the internal synth of the unit.


Under this exotic name “the silence bridging”, you’ll find a (MultiBand) frequency dependant Enveloppe Follower engine, which will shape the signal gain according to its harmonic content and is very useful to process percussive or rhythmic sonic material for example, or give contour to the sound. The X201 also features parameters that were not available on the original unit, making it more versatile, and powerful.

On top, it comes with vintage modeled effects including chorus, phaser, delay, and an early digital reverb unit. The effect section offers custom effect routing and order what is handy. You can use this vocoder flexibly. It sounds good not only on the voice but also on keyboard sounds or drums.

So how does it work -in any Daw-?Usual scenario: You record your voice, even without actually singing, then choose the internal synth as the Carrier. Then you send Midi notes to the Carrier to make your voice sing these notes (or chords, because the engine is polyphonic). Et voilà.


  • A finely tweaked and emulated 20 bands filter vocoder.
  • Per band by pass, addition and bridging possibilities.
  • One internal sound carrier based on one oscillator and one noise generator.
  • Four effects: Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Phaser with their own input routing.
  • Automatic input Gain Control.
  • Analog like pitch tracker.
  • External carrier input for feeding the vocoder with your own sounds or synthesizer.
  • Access to a lot of parameters which were not accessible in the hardware version.
  • All parameters are MIDI controllable.

XILS Lab Xils-201 is available now for an introductory price of 89€ instead of 149€ and comes in VST, AU, AAX plugin formats for Windows & Mac. The plugin is protected via the E-Licenser or hardware/software iLok.

More information here: Xils Lab 

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