Two people who were extremely influential to my upbringing – Soundwave from the Transformers cartoon and Steve Albini from Big Black – achieve their distinctive vocal sounds using a 1930s-era signal processor called a vocoder. Originally invented to scramble human speech for intelligence transmission, it found a musical niche in the 1970s. Aside from Big Black it achieved fame with Kraftwerk and Robert Moog. If you are lucky enough to find a functioning, vintage analog vocoder these days you can expect to take out a (prime) mortgage to make it your own.

Of course today digital processors can imitate (but let's be honest, never completely replicate) most analog effects. Hell, you can now download plugins and applications which bring the magic of vocoding to your PC.

So feel free to take advantage of this opportunity to waste several hours record your voice saying "Autobot invaders! Autobot invaders!" like Soundwave or singing "The Power of Independent Trucking" off Songs About Fucking. Or, better yet, do Soundwave singing "The Power of Independent Trucking."

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