Roland VP9000 Variphrase Processor

Roland VP9000 Variphrase Processor

It's a 6 voice (yeah only 6!) polyphonic sampler with 136MB RAM and a 250MB Zip drive. But - after you record a sample - you then "encode" it. Once encoded you can, in real time, affect the pitch, duration, formant and groove all in real time. I can stretch say a spoken phrase down to single wave and up to double speed without affecting the pitch. I can move the formant frequency around (male to female and vice versa) and on drum loops affect the swing and groove.

It can make samples become vocoder like and can do 6 part harmonies. It can fix my wobbly (in pitch) singing to a fixed pitch like a vocoder does. You can then add portamento, random panning, looping etc.

One good feature is that you can "solo" the sample in such a way that if you play one note - the sample starts, then as you add more notes to make a chord, the new notes don't retrigger the sample but are in step with the first note held down. So if I sampled myself saying "1,2,3,4,5" - I can play one note and get "1,2,3.." and if I now play a chord the chord comes in "..4,5".

Also playing in a solo legato manner doesn't retrigger the sample and I can move the pitch about whilst the sample plays itself out. I can correct whole verses of singing this way but in a more interesting way than a DAW plugin etc. I haven't mastered it yet but I've got it doing what I want it to do.

Of course it can do the usual sampler things with sample retriggering. Also the pitch transposition is done using formants\time strech so If I play an octave down - the sample is still the same length as an octave up. It does get a bit robotoized but it is a nice effect. You don't need to multisample so often across the keyboard.

It's a source of funky whacked out speech/singing samples. But it's good for basslines and drums too where I can change the pitch in certain places and change the groove and feel but I probably won't use it for that.


This first demo features a sample of myself speaking a well known lyric (answers on a postcard to......). I then proceed to mangle this in various ways.

This second and better demo features a sample of a female soul singer singing a vocal line. I start with the encoded but unadulterated sample in the correct key. Keeping the correct key I then alter the pitch knob in real-time, then I tweek the formant knob to alter the harmonic balance. I then adjust the time knob until it is frozen and then double speeded.

I then set the VP9000 to solo (monophonic) playing with legato. In this mode I can keep the sample playing forwards but change the pitch via the keyboard (playing in a legato manner) for that Cher effect.

Now I change into poly mode and I can then play harmonies.

Then I put the VP9000 in to Robotize mode which leaves only fundamental pitch information. This leads to fantastic vocoder effects.


Below are links to various PDF documents for the VP9000.

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