Whenever I get the chance, I like to cruise through toy stores to see what kind of oddball noise makers or noise manipulators I can find. During a recent hunt, I ran across what looked like a clear-blue plastic megaphone. It said Voice Changer on the box and had settings for "Spaceman," "Alien," and "Robot." At $12.99, I couldn't say no. When you pull the trigger and talk into the smaller end, your voice comes out amplified and messed-up (or processed, if you prefer) from the larger end. The "Spaceman" setting is a sort of fast random pitch-change effect and is pretty useless for anything you want to be intelligible. The "Alien" setting is a little more fun. It's a pitch-shift with a bit of distortion, up an octave plus a few real pretty intervals like minor-ninths and tri-tones. The "Robot" setting is especially cool and ominous. It's a little more intelligible, but down an octave and distorted. Apparently, there are other color schemes available, as the box has a picture of a solid grey unit, but I'm thankful that my local retailer chose to stock translucent blue. Perhaps one day I will buy another, take it apart, disengage the trigger, and modify the speaker output to line level so I can put it in front of a drum kit.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More