How to add new vocabulary to Talko, the easy way

Previously, I had described here: how to do compress sound using a venerable Windows 3.1 tool: Qbox Pro. The process what quite long to setup and not always producing good results.

Today I discovered BlueWizard from this post.

BlueWizard runs on Mac and allows to tweak the process in real time to optimize the output!  The author has been kind enough to make some small tweaking just for the Arduino and Talko !

Simply open your file (which has to be recorded at 8 kHz with 16-bit depth ), click on the 2 tick boxes:
– “include hex prefix (0x)” to allow direct pasting into the Arduino IDE
– and “include explicit stop frame” to avoid the library producing gibberish noise a the end of the sound

then copy the resulting the data from the “Byte Stream” windows.


Open the Arduino IDE and paste the data stream into your code before uploading it to Talko.

Let’s make  a sound and process it:

say -v"alex" "We are charging our battery. And now we are full of energy. We are the robots." -r 100 -o roboter.wave

converting to 8 kHz with 16-bit depth using SoX

sox roboter.wave -r 8k -b16 roboter.wav

and the compressed version made with Talko :

the Arduino code:

New Talko firmware : VCO mode can play semi-tones

The rev 2 of Talko’s firmware can now play notes over 2 octaves.

It may seem obvious to have a 1V/octave CV to note in a VCO mode but this was quite challenging to achieve.  (I may explain the process in another post as it  could be also applied for  another of my speech synths)


Quite easy:  just feed a pitch signal into the Pitch entry. Tune the synth up and down with the Bend pot and trigger the note with the Gate.
Set it to Bank 16 and play with the Sound pot to choose among the 26 vowels sounds.

(*) Please note that the Microbrute’s gate out can’t trigger Talko directly (it’s a Microbrute know impedance issue): use a gate buffer in between.


The VCO sound very much like an organ and it’s quite fun to pass the audio through a guitar pedal like the Zoom 505:

The Microbrute can also send notes via its sequencer: this allows instant fun for the poor keyboard player like me!

#talko in VCO mode with the #arturia #microbrute as sequencer

Une publication partagée par Jean-Luc Deladrière (@polaxis) le


The code is available here:  Talko 1.2 rev2
Right click to save it as a .hex file and use Easy uploader to install it into Talko.

User Manual

The manual has been updated to reflect  this revision :

3 new sounds banks for Talko

Talko’s code has been updated with 3 new sounds banks :

Bank 15 : French Vowels Male (5)

Talko new bank N°15

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Bank 16 : English voiced allophones (72)

Bank 17 : VCO friendly voiced allophones (25)

This bank is a selection of allophones from bank 16 that produces nice looping sounds in VCO mode (great for mouth drumming for example)

The new code is available here
and can be uploaded with Easy uploader as described on the downloads page.

The updated manual is to be found here.

Have fun !

Talko as Ginkosynthese Grains

Both Talko 1.1 & 1.2 share some hardware with the Ginkosynthese Grains.

The Grains is also an Arduino module (based on the famous Audino code from Peter Knight) with the 3 first analogues port being used to manipulate the sound

Talko grains

Talko can also do this and the Grains code need just to be tweaked a bit to get the output on pin 3 (very easy to do)

I tested a few examples found here:

I uploaded some example on the Github and also posted their compiled firmware here so can be uploaded directly using EasyUploader :


TALKO 1.1 control
Sound : sample offset
Pitch : loop length
Speed : pitch

TALKO 1.2 control
Pitch : sample offset
Speed : loop length
Bend : pitch

Talko running Grains Fresh #arduino #eurorack #modularsynth

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TALKO 1.1 control
Sound : sample start
Pitch : grain size
Speed : pitch

TALKO 1.2 control
Pitch : sample start
Speed : grain size
Bend : pitch


TALKO 1.1 control
Gate : clock in
Sound : select pattern
Pitch : select bank for patterns
Speed : stop/reset and then pattern rotate (to be able to make it fit better to other parts of your music)

TALKO 1.2 control
Gate : clock in
Pitch : select pattern
Speed : select bank for patterns
Bend : stop/reset and then pattern rotate (to be able to make it fit better to other parts of your music)


Talko running Grains Patternrain #arduino #eurorack #modularsynth

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TALKO 1.1 control
Sound : Pitch CV 0-5 V
Pitch : Play on / off. Set it to max for normal function
Speed : SAMPLE_SELECT between two wavetables 0-5 V

TALKO 1.2 control
Pitch : Pitch CV 0-5 V
Speed : Play on / off. Set it to max for normal function
Bend : SAMPLE_SELECT between two wavetables 0-5 V

If you would like to adapt other Grains code, just let me know so I can post there here too.

LPC encoding for the Arduino’s Talkie library

Adding new sounds or vocabulary for the Talkie library is not straightforward and I needed a checklist to smoothen the process.
Here are the main steps :

Recording audio with Audacity

  • The recording has to be made at 8 kHz with 16-bit depth
  • Export to Wav signed 16-bit PCM(note that you can also use Audacity to re-sample the audio to 8000 kHz via the [track/re-sample] menu)

Converting sounds using SoX

Alternatively, you can also convert various audio format to 16 bits 8 kHz with SoX, using the following command:

sox audiodump.wav -r8000 -b16 audio-8k.wav

Coding with QBOX pro

QboxPro was made to code sounds for the venerable TMS5220 chip that Talkie library is emulating.

It runs only on an ancient system like Window XP or older

Note: it seems that QBOX doesn’t like when the audio starts immediately. In that case the compressed audio is totally inaudible, so adding a little pause before the sound starts helps a lot


Get the software here :

Don’t forget to install QBOX at the root of the disk : c:\QBOX and to move the QBOXPRO.ini file to c:\WINDOWS


The process of coding has already been described in detail here :

The process goes like this:

  • Create a new project using the following project parameters : Byte / 8 Khz / 5220 coding table
  • Goto Project and add the audio file
  • Choose process using : medium bit rate and pressing OK
  • Edit concatenation : insert concatenation after by adding a name; then insert phrase and press ok
  • Format it by choosing the first line in the format menu : LPC 10V, 4UV

Arduino code

Recuperate the .bin file that Qboxpro has generated This file contains the LPC stream and need to be translated into C++

I use this small Python script to convert the .bin

Simply paste the script’s outputs at their respective places into the Arduino code and upload

Here is an example I generated with the Mac’s say command (note the 0.3-second silent before the speech starts)[edit : it’s fine with 0.1 too]

say -v"Yannick" "[[slnc 300]] Wir sind die Roboter" -r 100 -o roboter.wave

then I converted to the appropriate format using SoX

sox roboter.wave -r 8k -b16 roboter.wav

After the QBOXpro coding and the Python converting, I copied these lines into the Arduino IDE

and here is how it sounds:

Talkie Eurorack Module – Part 2 : Schematic & Pcb


Here is the schematic. Nothing really special : A simple RC filter I have used before with the Talkie library and a few pots to fiddle with the various functions. All the entries (cv and gate) are now protected with diodes to allow connections with modulars synths modules using higher voltages. A simple 7 segment to show the current playing mode. I plan to use the dot as the clock led

Talko1 0


I am ordering 8 Pcb from Beta Layout.
Here is the preview I got by uploading the file to their web site

20141228 0832 bot gold with mask with silk


Added female voice used in the talking clock

New sound demo

Here is the setup : a clock with variable pulse width is triggering the sound and stepping a sequencer feeding cv to the module. A bit of reverb is sometimes added just for fun

More demo on my Soundcloud


You can find all the files (hardware & software) on my Github


  • To share the Mouser cart
  • Module assembly
  • Eurorack Panel design

Talkie Eurorack Module – Part 1 : Concept


This arduino based module works thanks to a clever library : Talkie from 

I have already used this library to build a Talking clock

It is so simple to use that building a sound module requires only 5 pots and a button to get going.


I have slightly modified the original library to allow hacking it with various pots. The code is hosted on my github I edit the code and library directly from my favorite IDE : UECIDE




For the moment I have added 4 modes or sound banks :

  • digits
  • voltmeter (reading the CV voltage)
  • frequencemeter (fake mode just saying “Hertz” instead of “Volts”)
  • alphabet
  • nato alphabet

I plan to add a 5th mode with a large vocabulary and a 6th mode with weird sounds


CV signal change the words or phrase to be said


Pressing the button start the complete sound in trigger mode. (regardless of it’s length)
If the trigger switch is off, the gate will start the sound and hold it as long as the gate level stays up. Very useful to create crazy rhythms.

If the cable is plugged in, the gate is triggered via an external signal


Choose between trigger mode or gated mode


If bend is on, the bend pot … distords the sound.


Change the speed


Change the pitch


First test of the differents functions. Manual gate via a button

Looping a sequence in Ableton Live to trigger gate & cv while I play with the mode /speed /pitch / bend knobs


I am now working on a PCB and a panel.
I will upload these details and the schematics in a next post.