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Review: Waldorf STVC - string machine and vocoder

Published 7:50 am on Wednesday 21st October 2020 by Beat Magazine

The name of this synthesizer consists of the abbreviations of Streichfett and vocoder. Streichfett is a compact desktop synthesizer from Waldorf, which combines the idea of early string synthesizers with new features, memory capacity and well thought-out operation. STVC (Checkout the Product in the Amazon shop) is essentially based on the same sound production, but has been packed into a rugged keyboard case with a very good keyboard and supplemented by a 256-band vocoder.

Very Good Keyboard

The sturdy metal case of the STVC is reminiscent of the Blofeld keyboard from the same company and is finished in elegant black. It looks extremely chic, and there is nothing to complain about the workmanship. The keyboard comes from proven manufacturer Fatar; it‘s a TPS9S. It has 49 keys, can handle both velocity and aftertouch and is pleasantly stiff, so it will please classic keyboarders and pianists. It‘s less suitable, however, for fast solos. Pitchbend and modulation wheel are located above the keyboard, so the STVC remains compact. The metal knobs also feel good. Unfortunately, they are not mounted to the case and are therefore a bit wobbly.

Microphone Connection

On the top side there‘s an XLR input for the supplied gooseneck microphone so you can use the vocoder directly without additional equipment. Alternately, the modulator signal can be looped in via the line input on the rear panel. STVC can be controlled via USB or MIDI. The USB port also provides the power supply when connected to a computer; no external power supply is required! Unlike the desktop Streichfett, we had no problems with noise.

Dual Sound Generation

The sound generation has been taken over from the Streichfett and consists of two elements. The basis is a pad sound, which you can fade smoothly between different string and choir sounds using the large registration control. For more movement in the sound, this parameter can also be modulated with the help of the Animator or via LFO; a Chorus/Ensemble effect provides a wider sound.

You can combine the strings with a solo sound, which adds accents in the initial phase of the sound and offers different variations from bass to clavi to a fat unison lead. Both sounds can be played together or separately with a selectable split point and can be adjusted via well-selected macro controls with direct access to all important parameters. You only have to dive into the menu if you want to use the new mod matrix with the help of the small OLED display. With 5 slots for all 25 sources and 41 targets, it expands the sonic possibilities of the STVC compared to Streichfett. The built- in reverb effect, which is available as a global effect, and the phaser, have also been improved.

Vocoder with Freeze

The highlight of the STVC is without question the vocoder. At the first test it impresses with high speech intelligibility and generally very transparent and classy sound. This rather modern sound also sets the STVC apart from its direct competitors, whether digital or analog. With the included microphone you get very nice results. From classic singing pads to power plant robots to great ambient drones, the Vocoder realizes everything very convincingly. The STVC is a real sweet-spot synthesizer, just like the Streichfett. Even beginners will quickly achieve inspiring results.

And it gets even better: STVC has a freeze function that allows you to record up to 23 seconds of the microphone signal. This vocoder sample can then be cut and played tonally via the keyboard, which is also polyphonic. This definitely invites you to experiment. Unfortunately, you cannot save the samples with the sound.

Verdict

Just like its predecessor, Streichfett, the STVC (Checkout STVC on Amazon) impresses with its special character, which combines the formative sound and direct operation of old string machines, but with modern sound possibilities. Waldorf has packed this concept into a high-quality finished keyboard and added additional features such as a mod matrix, more memory and improved effects. The highlight, however, is the excellent sounding vocoder with freeze function, which is currently almost unrivalled at this level of quality.


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