The Avox plug-in is a set of five vocal tools from voice processing master Antares. Going by the names of Throat, Duo, Choir, Punch and Sybil, it’s hard not to be intrigued by them.
In order to authorise Avox, you need an iLok key. The retail Avox bundle comes with one of these in the box, but if you purchase the plug-ins individually you’ll have to buy one separately.
Throat is the most sophisticated tool in the bundle. It uses physical modelling techniques to replace the effect of a singer’s vocal tract with a new vocal tract that you can design yourself. The main control is the Model Throat Length slider.
The basic theory is that when you’re moving from a long vocal tract to a short one, the sound goes from masculine, to feminine, to childish, and then to baby-like. In practice such changes merely make the vocal sound like it has been sped up or slowed down. However, the sound is interesting nonetheless.
Other controls in Throat can affect the sound in dramatic ways. The graphical editing controls, for example, let you stretch the throat model into interesting - and physically impossible - new shapes. While such settings can certainly mangle a voice beyond recognition, it’s a great effect to try on other instruments, too.
It should be said that no matter how subtly you use the settings in Throat, the sonic quality of the vocal is badly affected. With some types of songs, this won’t be a problem - especially if you want to use Throat as a gimmick - but you really wouldn’t want to use this plug-in as a subtle correction tool on a highly-exposed vocal performance.
Duo and Choir
Avox’s Duo and Choir plug-ins enable you to thicken-up vocal parts by creating extra unison voices (there’s no harmony generation). By using a combination of pitch detection and modification, coupled with random timing and a degree of stereo spread, the idea is that the illusion of multiple voices can be created.
Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t actually work very well. The human ear is not that easily fooled, so you can immediately tell that this is just one single voice with some kind of digital effect on it.
Worse still, because the technology degrades vocal quality, when you double-up a lead vocal you create the illusion of poor sound quality on the original master vocal. You can get subjectively similar results - but with much better sound quality - if you use good old-fashioned modulated delay-based techniques.
Punch and Sybil
Next we have the Punch tool. This is a vocal compressor with a minimal number of controls. In most cases, Punch works extremely well and is a joy to use. It certainly adds a lot of impact to vocals, and is ideal for creating that up-front, ‘in ya face’ vocal sound that’s currently so popular.
You wouldn’t want Punch as your only vocal compressor though, and sometimes it seems to do some slightly odd things (such as slowly fading down the vocal over the course of each lyrical phrase, or snatching the vocal level sluggishly as if the attack time is set too slow).
It’s great to have an easy-to-use compressor, but it’s not so great when you feel that you can’t quite trust what it’s doing.
Finally, there is Sybil. This is a de-esser -- a tool to remove explosive sibilance (eg, ‘s’ and ‘t’ sounds) from vocal recordings. There’s not much to say about Sybil other than that it works extremely well.
Antares clearly has some extremely clever technology invested in the Avox package, but from a user’s perspective, this isn’t really the point. The main issue is whether these tools are genuinely useful and worth the asking price. Some of the results you get from Duo and Choir are disappointing, and Throat is clearly more of a special effect than an everyday vocal processing tool. Punch is good and Sybil’s excellent, but you wouldn’t want to buy the entire bundle on the strength of them.