How to Connect a Vocoder in Garageband

By Chris Anzalone

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Stereo cables

  • RCA cables

  • Stereo USB adapter

A vocoder is a device that processes and allows you to manipulate vocal input. To put it more simply, you can record your voice and simultaneously alter it by assigning specific notes or effects, thereby turning a speaking voice into a singing voice or just making the voice sound more robotic. Some vocoders are self-contained, while some are attached to music keyboards. If you own a vocoder and want to record with it, you can do so using Apple's GarageBand software for Mac OS X, which specifically enables you to record and edit audio.

Connect your vocoder to your computer. Depending on the type of vocoder, you may have 1/4-inch stereo connectors or red and white RCA connectors. Music supply stores sell USB adapters for both of these connector types, so find out what kind of connector your vocoder uses and attach the appropriate adapter. Then attach the USB plug to your computer.

Click the "System Preferences" icon on your Apple dock and click the "Sound" tab. On the "Input" panel, select your USB device and click "OK." This will enable you to record seamlessly from your vocoder to your computer. Depending on your configuration, you can find your Apple dock along the left side or bottom of your screen.

Open Garageband. By default, you should also see GarageBand on your Apple dock, but if not, you can access it from your "Applications" folder. Just open "Macintosh HD" on your desktop and select "Applications."

Click the "GarageBand" menu. It appears on the far left side of the menu bar, to the left of the "File menu. When the drop down menu appears, click "Preferences" and select the tab that reads "Audio/MIDI."

Click "Audio/Input" and select your USB device from the drop-down list. Note that the available device will read as the name of the USB adapter, and not the vocoder. Click "OK" to save your changes and enable recording.


If you do not own a vocoder, you can still create a vocoder effect digitally. Just record your voice onto any blank track and open the "Track Info" pane on the left side of your screen. The icon looks like a lowercase letter "i." Click the "Edit" tab, select any blank "Effects" tab and choose the "Vocal Transformer" options. You can then use the list of presets to manipulate your voice in different ways.