Vocallective NATA Review (Alter/Ego Voice Bank)

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Last updated on February 23rd, 2017 at 04:33 pm

NATA is a female voice for the free Plogue Alter/Ego voice synthesizer. She sings and talks in English with an American accent.

The voice bank is priced at €47.72 (+VAT) and was developed by Vocallective Records.

Julie London Calling

As could be expected, screaming or very aggressive rock vocals are not possible, and NATA sounds most convincing at more laid-back styles of singing. She can actually get quite hoarse, and is great for lounge and indie rock vocals especially – unsurprisingly, most of the tracks that have used her so far have a 50s-60s retro vibe. Julie London is one name that comes to mind – smooth, laid back, low and warm. Though NATA’s natural range seems to be that of an alto, she will never sound like a classical alto singing loudly, either – though, curiously enough, higher notes sound more classical. Not quite like a Wagnerian opera soprano singing as loudly as possible, but perhaps like a soprano soloist from a pretty good church choir. Vocallective is based in Portugal, and I don’t know what nationality the voice provider is, but I don’t hear any European accent in the vocals.

Friends And Neighbors

The obvious point of comparison is Bones, the default Alter/Ego voice. They generally work in very similar ways, with the only functional difference being that Bones also has a separate Japanese voice. When singing “normal” lyrics, NATA is on the same level of quality and intelligibility as Bones, but sounds a little more human and seems more flexible. What I mean by that is that Bones can do various male voices, but is not very good at imitating a female vocal. With the right settings NATA makes a completely convincing male vocal across about a two-octave range, and can also do realistic female voices ranging from a hoarse heavy smoker (think Marge’s sisters on the Simpsons) to a cute slightly squeaky voice without getting obviously artificial.

At more extreme settings, she can even make a dubstep wobble bass that’s every bit as powerful and juicy as Bones. Bones does have an edge when it comes to using extremely slow wave rate and phoneme speed settings, though (useful for lead synths and more abstract pads), as he’s more consistent, especially when it comes to consonant loudness, which becomes obvious at those extreme settings. On the other hand, maybe this is one reason why NATA sounds a bit more human?

The two also make a good team – layering them together for backing vocals can be done without needing to separately tweak the phonetics and timing for each vocal, which is obviously a huge time-saver. NATA’s ability to convincingly emulate voices of various timbre including male ones comes in very handy for making backing vocals that sound like several different singers rather than one singer overdubbed. This is actually one of the most practical real-world uses of voice synths – when you need just a few words of backing vocals for a song, but bringing in four or five singers to record a three-word part just seems like it would waste everybody’s time.

Moving Forward

The difference between NATA and the retired Daisy voice (no longer available by the copyright owner’s request), on the other hand, is huge. NATA’s considerably more natural and smoother, and also sounds much stronger on lower notes or when imitating a male vocal. Daisy still has her awkwardly robotic charm which is difficult to imitate (and works out very well for robot-human duets), and a more naturally cute voice, but comparing the two or swapping them in a song, it’s obvious that Alter/Ego vocals have made major progress in the past year and a half.

NATA has the general Alter/Ego quality – her voice is occasionally choppy and clearly synthetic when singing words (though slightly less so than Bones, and a lot less so than Daisy). However, when it gets to a long vowel, and especially when vibrato kicks in, it suddenly becomes more natural. Also, the fact that she turns into a more powerful soprano on high notes, rather than straining like human singers do at the top of their range, is also very Alter/Ego.

Visuals

NATA is a voice bank and a character design without a ton of alternate outfits or a merchandise and marketing empire; she’s on the “basically a singing tool” side of the singing synth continuum. Her design is fairly simple, too, and has been called “H&M goth” by one of the developers. Her look is a little bit NASA, but not very NATO. And in case you’re thinking I put this paragraph in the review just to make a “NASA + NATO = NATA” joke, here’s something of more substance. There’s also a NATA illustration contest running until March 4, 2017, with the prize being a free NATA license. If you want to win, you probably shouldn’t make her wear pink.

Summary

NATA (priced at 47.72 EUR plus tax) feels like a good step forward for Alter/Ego vocals – a very versatile female counterpart to Bones and a big upgrade over Daisy.

Vocallective NATA Review

90%
90%
Brilliant

NATA feels like a good step forward for Alter/Ego vocals - a very versatile female counterpart to Bones and a big upgrade over

  • Features
    9
  • Workflow
    10
  • Performance
    10
  • Design
    9
  • Sound
    8
  • Pricing
    8
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About The Author

D Smolken is a musician, artist and a sampling expert. He creates freely downloadable SFZ libraries available on his website Karoryfer Samples.

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