Have you ever listened to a song and in between you hear an ear-catching sound that is growly? Well, that is the work of the talk box. A talk box allows a singer to use his mouth to shape sounds in real-time. It is a creative and crazy way of making a signature sound that you will be identified with every time your music plays.
A talk box is an amazing vocal effect that lets a singer sound like a musical instrument attached to the vocals. It involves a tube that you place in your mouth and the shape of your mouth will define the tone of the keyboard. Let’s discuss here the Best Talkbox for Keyboard and also how it works.
How a Talk Box Works
A talk box has a straightforward working principle. It is an electronic sound that resembles the keyboard pedal but the technology used is different from the one used to make any musical instrument.
There is a small amplifier that put inside a box a tube which takes the sound out of the box into the mouth of the singer. Once the sound enters the mouth of the singer, it will take the sound of the singer and will be projected via the microphone.
In these cases, the singer/performer acts as the diaphragm and the tube as the throat. The keyboard effectively plays through your mouth. When a performer opens and closes the mouth in different shapes changes the sound produced by the instrument.
As weird as it might sound, it is a creative way of making a signature sound that identifies a singer whenever such a sound is heard by his fans. The most amazing thing about talk boxes is that, while they are associated with various musical instruments, they provide room for different expressions.
Any sound that can be sung by the performer and be amplified can be talk boxed. Here is how it works:
When you are playing the keyboard, you can insert the pipe into the pedal of the keyboard which will help to amplify the keyboard sound via a clear tube.
At the other end of the pipe, you will put in your mouth such that the sound resonates into your mouth and takes the characteristics of various consonants and vowels, phrases, and words.
The resulting sound is picked up by your vocal microphone in a similar way as when you sing normally with your voice. The end result is a strange sound that sounds like a talking keyboard or guitar.
How to get the best results from a talkbox
There are numerous talk boxes in the market today and each talk box will produce its unique sounds. Therefore, before you buy any talk box, ensure you have done some background search on the kind of sounds it makes. Equally important, the kind of keyboard that you have will affect the quality of sound the talk box will produce. So, ensure that the keyboard you are using is compatible with the talk box that you have.
If you want to get the best talkbox sound, go for a monophonic talk box – one that plays only one note at a time. Why? Because a talk box with many tones can cause the sound to distort. Also, whatever talk box you settle for, ensure that practice well with it so that you can master your signature sound.
When using a keyboard as your source of the sound, then ensure that you familiarize yourself with the modulation and synths of the keyboard. Mastering how to use the vibrato of the keyboard will help you to make good sounds as compared to getting the sound directly.
Another critical thing to getting a high-quality sound is choosing the right microphone. The microphone is the one that picks the sound that comes from your mouth. When you a good quality microphone, it will help to bring out the best layers and nuance in your sound. However, there are some incidents where you might not need a mic for your sound to be amplified. For instance, when you are singing in a small room, the sound from the pipe is loud enough to reach the whole room.
Another paramount thing is that you should not set the volume of your talkbox at its maximum. In some cases when the volume is too high, the talk box will start producing distortions. Therefore, find a level of volume that works well for you because beyond that level, the sound will start breaking.
When the sound is too loud, it will not only produce distortions but it will not be good for your health. When you have a pipe in your mouth at full blast, the vibrations can hurt your jaws and teeth. Especially when the vibrations continue for a long time, it can cause serious problems to your teeth and jaws. Therefore, find a level of volume that is audible enough for your musical requirements.
When playing a keyboard, for you to get the best results then you should use a saturated tone. Use a harmonious organ-like tone which will add some overtone to your sound. It is the overtone that will wrap your talkbox.
Besides that, you can directly plug in the keyboard into your PA or use a combo amp and you will get a better sound quality.
Best Talk Box for Keyboard
1. MXR M222 Talk Box
The MXR M222 Talk Box is built with its own amp and speaker driver. Therefore, it cuts the cost of buying an amp or speaker.
Besides that, it comes with volume control where you can control the volume at optimum level such that you will take care of your teeth and jaws. Also, there are tone and gain controls.
In terms of design, the MXR M222 Talk Box has a sturdy construction so it will not break down any time soon. The construction is road-ready which means it can withstand mishandling.
Most importantly, the MXR M222 Talk Box has a classic effect which allows you to hear some of the songs that you have recorded.
Better still, it is appropriately priced so it will not leave a dent in your pocket once you purchase it.
The MXR M222 Talk Box is lightweight and portable so you can carry it with you whenever you go. You can use it to record a wide variety of music genres including hard rock, funk, metal to mention but a few.
It uses 18 volts of power and it comes with a standalone 8 inch surgical tube and a microphone stand clip.
If you are looking for a modern talk box for gigging convenience and tone sculpting, then look no further than the MXR M222 Talk Box.
- Lightweight and portable
- Comes with a standalone surgical tube
- Ideal for wide range of music genres
- Has a classic effect
- Volume and gain controls
- Contains its own amp and speaker
- None to note
2. MXR M196 A/B Box
Are you looking for a talk box that allows you to record 2 separate sound outputs? The MXR M196 A/B Box is designed exactly for that purpose. There are two outputs labeled as A and B.
With the MXR M196 A/B Box, you can select which amp you would like to use or if you wish you can use both at the same time. However, when you use both, they will have different effects.
Furthermore, you can use the output to connect and device that you would like to receive the sound signal. Optionally, you can connect with the amp or tuner and it will work well.
One outstanding thing about the MXR M196 A/B Box is the pocket-friendly price. Considering you are getting a double output, it is like you are getting 2 talk boxes at the price of one.
What’s more, MXR M196 A/B Box is lightweight and portable. If you are a traveling musician, you can carry this talk box with you and you will not experience any inconvenience.
The MXR M196 A/B Box is powered by batteries. It requires 1.9v batteries for it to work. Also, it is multi-colored which makes it stand out from the crowd.
- Lightweight and portable
- Two outputs
- Both outputs have separate effects
- Selects which device to connect
- Pocket-friendly price
- None to note
3. Dunlop MXR M222 talk box w/4 Cables
The Dunlop MXR M222 talk box is a self-contained classic talk box. It comes with 4 different cables which you can use to connect to the keyboard depending on the sound effect you want to produce.
The Dunlop MXR M222 talk box is equipped with a gain and voice control. This gives you full control of the volume at which you would wish to play. Furthermore, it helps to add texture and shape to your voice.
When you purchase the Dunlop MXR M222 talk box you will get surgical tubing and a microphone clip. Moreover, it comes with an inbuilt amp and speaker driver; therefore, it cuts the cost of purchasing a separate amp.
The power source for the Dunlop MXR M222 talk box is 18v and it can use a DC current. In terms of weight, this talk box is lightweight and portable.
- Comes with 4 cables
- Volume and gain controls
- Surgical tubing provided
- Has an inbuilt amp and speaker drive
- Cost effective
- Ideal for gigging
- None to note
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4. Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box
The Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box is the most famous talkbox there is in the market today. It is made of a metal casing which makes it sturdy and long-lasting.
When you purchase the Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box, you will get an AC adaptor, 6mm woven, S6P48 R-angle patch cable, 48pc. and SC10W – 10feet instrument cable.
Besides that, it can be connected to an external speaker and by shaping your mouth differently, you can be able to achieve your signature sound.
The cables that come with this talk box are the top-selling in the talkbox industry. Being of high-quality means that your sound will be captured as nearly natural as possible. The out part of the cable is reinforced with a shrink-wrap sleeve which helps to prevent cable separation at the tip. The same principle is used with the 6mm woven cable.
In addition to that, there is an adaptor that you can use when connecting to a power source. What’s more, the Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box is lightweight at 9.66 pounds which means you can carry it with you wherever you go without any inconvenience.
Price-wise, the Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box is appropriately priced so you will not have to break a bank to own it. Overall, this talk box is a great value for your money.
- High-quality materials used
- Comes with patch cables
- Appropriately priced
- Shrink wrapped solder points
- Pedal connector
- None to note
5. MXR M222 Talk Box with Built-In Amplifier Bundle
We once again include in our list another talk box from Dunlop. The difference between the current product with the others that we have already listed above is the accessories that this product comes with.
When purchasing the MXR M222 Talk Box with Built-In Amplifier Bundle, you will get a blue coil with a pack of 2 10ft cables, double pedal patch cables, and a pack of 4 celluloid guitar picks.
This is an upgrades version of the MRX M222 talk box. The MXR M222 Talk Box with Built-In Amplifier Bundle comes with an inbuilt amp and speaker driver which helps to cut costs for buying a separate amp.
There is a gain control which helps to give amazing tomes with minimal distortion even at high volume. In addition to that, it also has a volume control which you can use to control the overall volume at which you play.
With the gain control, you can be able to create different vocal sounds either with a touch of distortion or dirt. When you add distortion to your sound, it helps to create a new vowel sound that will change the dimensions of your vocals.
The MXR M222 Talk Box with Built-In Amplifier Bundle is lightweight and portable. Therefore, if you are a traveling musician, you can carry it with you wherever you go. Moreover, it has a sturdy construction so it can withstand the mishandling of traveling around with it.
That’s not all; it comes with a microphone clip and a surgical tubing the surgical tubing plays a crucial role in transferring the processed keyboard sound to your mouth as you play.
Better still, it has an effect pedal which you can connect to the keyboard pedal. In addition to that, there are instrument cables, PVC shield, right-angled patch cables for effects pedal, and straight connectors among other accessories.
- Various accessories
- Versatile in is use
- Gain and volume controls
- Comes with an inbuilt amp and speaker drivers
- Appropriately priced
- Impressive sound
- Can change sound effects
- Comes with surgical tubing and mic clip
- Not suitable for amps with more than 1000w of power
One amazing thing about talk boxes is that they have unlimited applications. It is not only the keyboard sounds that can be amplified but rather anything that can be amplified can be passed through the talk box.
If you want to get the most satisfying and dramatic sounds, ensure you use saturated or overdriven sounds. The talk box being smaller than any musical instrument, it has a lower frequency range similar to that used in the speeches.
Therefore, when using a talk box on a keyboard, be sure to overdrive it. Of all the talk boxes we have listed above, they are all great for achieving satisfying results. But we would like to recommend the Dunlop HT1 Heil Talk Box because it is the easiest talk box to integrate.
Thanks to the unique sounds produced by the talk box, they give totally inimitable experiences. They have not reached their full potential yet, so we hope to see more and better applications in the near future. Overall, they are here to stay.