How Talkbox works

Japanese Version is here(日本語版はこちらへ).

In this article, I explain how talkbox works.

What is the Talkbox

Talkbox is the device that makes a robot-like voice.
You feel as if a man/woman is really singing when you listen to the sound.
It is also called 'Talking Modulator'.

Let's listen to the sound of Talkbox. Seeing is believing!

Zapp is the disco band and Roger Troutman is the most famous legendary talkboxer in this world.

How Talkbox works

As you can see, he plays keyboard synth and he bites a vinyl tube.
The sound color is changed by moving his mouth.

Difference from other instruments

Take a look at the difference in sound transmission from general playing style.


  • Only instrument
    The sound from the instrument reaches the speaker via amplifier.
  • Only vocal
    The voice from a mouth is picked up by a microphone.
  • Talkbox
    The sound from the instrument reaches a mouth and the voice from a mouth picked up by a microphone. Talkbox Unit is composed of amplifier and speaker driver.

In this way, the talkbox sound includes features both instrument and vocal.

How to put the sound into your mouth

You might be wondering how to put the sound into your mouth. Talkbox solution is using vinyl tube. The sound from a instrument pass the tube and reach your mouth.


The sound color is changed by moving his mouth.
For example, you will hear the voice of 'A' after you make the mouth shape of 'A'.

Please keep in your mind that talkboxer does NOT vocalize.


Talkbox is not the only way to convey the sound from instruments.
In the 1940s, SONOVOX device is used for getting voices like a robot.
This speaker-like device is placed on your throat.

Difference from other machine sound.

The Talkbox differ from the Vocoder and the Autotune.

In the Talkbox, sound source is musical instrument and players do not make his voice, whereas in the Vocoder and the Autotume, players need to make his own voice.

Simply put...

  • The Vocoder is the technology for synthesizing human voices with synth sound.
  • The Autotune is the technology to control the pitch of human voices.

Feel the differences in the tone by watching the video below.

Vocoder Video

Vocoder can create very beautiful sound.

Autotune Video

It is easy to understand the difference by comparison between the original singing voice and the using Autotune.

How about that. Did you get interested in the talk box?

See ya!