- May 21, 2017 I used Melodyne Essential for a long time, and got good results by doing general correction of the pitch center and drift, and then throwing Auto-Tune on it with more natural settings to get it where it needed to be.
- Oct 28, 2018 Hi guys. Is it possible to perform real time pitch correction on vocals using melodyne, or is a program like Waves autotune better suited for that.
- Autotalent by Oli Larkin is a great real-time pitch correction auto-tune Vst plugin. The Autotalent plugin ensures that only the specified notes are hit. Also, use this auto-tune Vst plugin to make Cher-like vocal effects, or use it as a simple pitch shifting / pitch correction audio effect.
Once Melodyne has completed its analysis of the audio, however, you can hear instantly all the changes you make to it; there’s no further waiting. You interact with the material, therefore, in real time but not in the same sense as with a real-time effect.
- Signal Processors >Pitch-shifters
Is it really possible to carry out studio-quality pitch-correction in real time? Waves think so..
Love it or loathe it, automated pitch-correction is here to stay. Antares’ Auto-Tune first made it possible, and has become so well-known that its name is often used generically to describe all such tools, but there are plenty of other software-based pitch-correction tools out there. However, most are primarily intended for studio use, where they will be applied as post-recording processes.
For live performance there have, of course, been a number of dedicated hardware devices that offer pitch-correction in real time, including the now-discontinued Antares ATR-1 and various TC-Helicon products. It’s easy enough to see two sides to the desirability of such a tool in a live setting and I’ll leave you to have that discussion amongst yourselves but, in a world where the computer sits centre stage in so many music-making environments, the user control and flexibility offered by software-only solutions could have obvious benefits in a live context too.
Well, Antares obviously think so, because they have a version of Auto-Tune called Auto-Tune Live targeted at precisely this role, and Waves have now joined the roll-call with their own take on the genre: Tune Real-Time. Providing the rest of your system doesn’t create a processing bottleneck somewhere along the line, Tune Real-Time is designed to operate with sufficiently low latency to be fast enough for even the most demanding live-performance situation. And, as I’ll get to in a minute, the plug-in can also be used as a standard post-recording pitch-correction tool.
Holding A Tune
Waves are not new to the business of pitch-correction. Indeed, SOS reviewed the original Waves Tune way back in the November 2006 issue. While Tune can carry out pitch-correction automatically as well as manually, like the Melodyne plug-in it requires your audio to be ‘tracked’ into the plug-in before this can take place. However, faster computer systems mean that, 10 years on, real-time pitch-correction with a plug-in is now a viable prospect.
Once installed via the slick Waves Central licence management system, how you configure Tune Real-Time will depend upon your type of use. For routine automatic pitch-correction of previously tracked vocals, you would, of course, simply insert the plug-in on your vocal track and get cracking with tweaking the control set to suit. However, if you are interested in live pitch-correction — whether that’s during tracking in the studio or for live performances — a different arrangement is going to be required.
While the specifics will undoubtedly depend upon your exact hardware/software configuration, Tune Real-Time is going to need to be inserted in your signal flow in a way that allows the engineer (studio or front-of-house) and the singer to monitor through it in real time. As when applying any software processing to a live audio signal, that means a return journey for the audio through your computer system and back out to your monitor setup, making low latency all round an obvious requirement.
Waves can’t do anything about latency introduced elsewhere within your system, but by reporting zero latency to the host, Tune Real-Time ensures that no delay compensation is applied on its account. Its actual latency varies between 0 and 4 ms depending on the frequency of the current note. Different performers have differing sensitivities to audio latency. In order to achieve a more comfortable monitoring experience, I found myself having to change the buffer sizes for my audio interface from 256 samples to 64 samples in my 44.1kHz/24-bit project. Smaller buffer sizes do, of course, mean a higher system load, but that may be a price you have to pay in order to prioritise the pitch-corrected vocal monitoring. (Alternatively, by running Tune Real-Time on one of Waves’ SoundGrid servers, you could eradicate the round trip through your computer and DAW.)
The control set allows you to select a voice type to focus the pitch-correction within a certain note range.
You can define your own scale using the keyboard display, and the plug-in includes a huge number of preset scale types.The user interface shares many common elements with that of the studio-orientated Waves Tune and, indeed, other pitch-correction tools. For example, the bottom third of the panel provides scale/key selection and a choice of voice types — which, in turn, set a default note range within which pitch-correction will be applied. The small MIDI Input/Keyboard panel allows you to give your singer a reference tone or use an external MIDI keyboard to set target notes. Other parameters in the control set can also be controlled via MIDI, including the Speed parameter, so you can, for instance, apply ‘robotic’ pitch-correction just to a few notes as a special effect.
The central keyboard strip provides a visual guide to the notes being detected as the plug-in does its thing. As well as letting you drag the left/right boundaries of the active note range, this includes an interesting additional feature whereby clicking above each note allows you to toggle its behaviour in the pitch-correction process. This includes modes for ‘legal’ (grey), ‘illegal’ (pink with a ‘-‘ icon) or ‘bypass’ (grey with an ‘x’; the note is legal but no pitch-correction is applied); but there are also two other ‘illegal’ options, both with pink arrow icons that can point to notes above or below the current note. If the pitch-detection algorithm identifies such a note, it will force the correction in the direction indicated by the arrow. This is a useful feature, as it allows you to handle the correction of specific notes in a very particular fashion.
The keyboard section allows you to define how the pitch-correction behaves for individual notes.
For example, a singer might end up consistently flat with notes at the top of their range or sharp towards the bottom of it. Tune Real-Time can accommodate that and I could imagine that in a live setting, where an FOH engineer gets to know a specific singer’s strengths and weaknesses night after night, this could offer very precise control. You can set these five different correction states either on individual notes or, with the Group Octaves button engaged, for every octave.
House Of Correction
The topmost panel contains both familiar and less familiar elements. Familiar is the large arc-shaped pitch-correction display that shows the amount of correction being applied in real time. Also familiar is the Speed dial, which controls just how quickly pitch-correction is applied at the onset of a note. Values in the 40-60 ms range produce fairly aggressive correction, while slower speeds provide a more transparent result. And, yes, by setting it to zero you can get the ‘Cher effect’.
The Correction subpanel allows you to adjust just how tightly the pitch-correction is applied. Backing off from 100 percent here does help in terms of keeping the result transparent. If you want something more in the special effects category, you can also turn formant correction off; in conjunction with MIDI control of the notes, you can then move towards Micky Mouse or Darth Vader if you so wish.
The Note Transition controls provide interesting additional options for handling the pitch-correction process across note boundaries.
Perhaps more interesting are the Note Transition and Tolerance controls. While the Speed control deals with the first note of a legato phrase, in the Wave Tune algorithm (in both its real-time and non-real-time formats), the Note Transition control influences the speed of correction applied as one note transitions into another during a phrase. In addition, the Cents and Time controls provide further influence over note transitions, allowing you to tolerate wider pitch drift before correction kicks in. OK, so the pitch-correction is still automatic, but these additional options do seem to offer an extra level of control.
Rather neatly, you can also dampen or exaggerate any natural vibrato present in the vocal (although you can’t add artificial vibrato). This is actually well worth experimenting with as its on/off status, and the slider value, interacts with the pitch-correction process; if you find yourself with the occasional unwanted ‘pitch flutter’ on a sustained note, tweaking these settings can sometimes tame it.
The Real Thing?
If Waves Tune Real-Time is to be considered a success, it must be able to satisfy on two obvious points. First, is the processing actually fast enough for real-time use? Second, is the quality, flexibility and stability of the automatic pitch-correction processing up to the job?
While my own testing was studio-based, in terms of the first question, I think the answer is a very clear yes. OK, in a recording session, I’m not sure I’d generally want to track with pitch-correction in my signal chain but, if it is something you need — perhaps as a special effect or to provide a bit of a comfort blanket to an insecure singer — Tune Real-Time can do it. The trick, both in the studio and in a live performance context, is to ensure that the rest of your monitoring signal chain doesn’t scupper the plug-in’s efficient, low-latency operation. In a mission-critical live context, that might mean putting Tune Real-Time’s needs at the top of your performance priority list.
In terms of the second question, as an automatic pitch-correction tool, Tune Real-Time is most certainly competitive with the other leading contenders. I tested it alongside Antares Auto-Tune Live; both were capable of meeting the need for speed required for real-time use and, with the obvious qualification that I’ll get to next, both delivered very good results. What’s more, the Waves control set — and in particular the note transition features and ability to configure the direction of pitch-correction on individual notes — makes for a lot of flexibility. Yes, you are still in the hands of an automated correction process, but these controls give you useful ways to influence the operation of that process.
And that obvious qualification? Automatic pitch-correction will not turn a Friday night karaoke singer into a Christina Aguilera or a Michael Bublé; this technology is impressive, and in many ways remarkable, but is not a substitute for actual vocal skills. If you set Tune Real-Time to fast pitch-quantise, even a pub singer might get away with a few bars of ‘special Cher effect’ but, if it’s a more natural performance you are seeking, Tune Real-Time will not rescue someone who really can’t sing.
That is, of course, a very good thing and, in one sense, it means the whole argument about pitch-correction in a live-performance context is still a bit moot. If your singer has his or her skills down, yes, software like Waves Tune Real-Time can support and enhance their performance, and perhaps help compensate for situations where poor monitoring or tiredness can make even a good singer’s pitch a little off. In the studio, it is perhaps possible to do more to overcome a singer’s limitations, but this would really require the offline processing options provided by the likes of Melodyne or the full version of Auto-Tune. However, it is worth emphasising that Tune Real-Time is also a great option in the studio providing all you need is automatic pitch-correction. Don’t expect miracles of this or any automatic pitch-correction tool, but if you are starting with a solid singer, Waves Tune Real-Time is more than capable of tidying up any loose edges that might occur.
From a software perspective, the obvious competition is Antares’ Auto-Tune Live, currently costing about the same as Tune Real-Time at its full price.
There are also hardware alternatives, and in particular, TC-Helicon have developed a number of products aimed at live performance that include some pitch-correction options. A current example is the Mic Mechanic footpedal: this includes chromatic pitch-correction and is competitively priced, but does not provide the flexibility or level of user control offered by Tune Real-Time.
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- Latency of the plug-in is low enough for live use, providing the rest of the system configuration is up to the task.
- For an automated process, it offers plenty of user control.
- The quality of the automated pitch-correction processing is certainly a match for the obvious competition.
- Requires a low-latency computer/audio system for ‘live’ real-time use.
If you don’t need the option of manual pitch editing, Waves Tune Real-Time is a very capable automatic pitch-correction tool for studio use and, given the low latency of the plug-in itself, a viable option for use in a live performance context — providing you are dealing with a competent singer in the first place.
information£195 including VAT.
Fuse Distribution Ltd +44 (0)845 500 2 500$199.
Waves +1 865 909 9200
- Waves Tune Real-Time v184.108.40.206 Build 87243.
- Apple iMac with 3.5GHz Intel Core i7 CPU and 32GB RAM, running Mac OS 10.10.5, with Soundcraft Signature 12MTK mixer/interface.
- Tested with Steinberg Cubase Pro 8.5.
What I find most fascinating about Antares Auto-Tune is that everyone and their mother knows what it is, despite the fact that it's just another digital audio plugin used in bedroom and professional studios alike. Even people who have no clue what an EQ or compressor does somehow at least know of the word 'Auto-Tune' and even the general effect it has on the human voice.
But even though Auto-Tune has evolved to become this cultural phenomenon, very few artists or producers truly understand how to get it to sound like the way it sounds on major records.
In case you don't know what it is, Auto-Tune, in a nutshell, is a pitch correction software that allows the user to set the key signature of the song so that the pitch of the incoming signal will be corrected to the closest note in that key (and does so in real time). There are other pitch correction programs out there that do similar functions: Waves Tune, Waves Tune Real-Time, and Melodyne (which is pitch correction, but not in real time), but Auto-Tune seems to have won the standard for real-time pitch correction.
Auto-Tune traditionally is used on vocals, although in some cases can be used on certain instruments. For the sake of this article we will be discussing Auto-Tune and its effect on the human voice. Listen to this early example from the 'King of Auto-Tune,' the one artist who did more to popularize its effect than any other, T-Pain.
Working as a full-time engineer here at Studio 11 in Chicago, we deal with Auto-Tune on a daily basis. Whether it's people requesting that we put it on their voice, something we do naturally to correct pitch, or even for a specific creative effect. It's just a part of our arsenal that we use everyday, so over the years we have really gotten to know the ins and outs of the program—from its benefits to limitations.
So let's delve further into what this software really is and can do, and in the process debunk certain myths around what the public or people who are new to Auto-Tune may think. If you were ever wondering why your Auto-Tune at home doesn't sound like the Auto-Tune you hear from your favorite artists, this is the article for you.
To set the record straight, as I do get asked this a lot of times from clients and inquiring home producers, there really are no different 'types' of Auto-Tune. Antares makes many different versions of Auto-Tune—Auto-Tune EFX, Auto-Tune Live, and Auto-Tune Pro—that have various options and different interfaces, but any of those can give you the effect you're after. Auto-Tune Pro does have a lot of cool features and updates, but you don't need 'Pro' to sound pro.
I wanted to debunk this first, as some people come to me asking about the 'the Lil Durk Auto-Tune,' or perhaps that classic 'T-Pain Auto-Tune.' That effect is made from the same plugin—the outcome of the sound that you hear depends on how you set the settings within the program and the pitch of the incoming signal.
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So if your Auto-Tune at home sounds different from what you hear on the radio, it's because of these factors, not because they have a magic version of Auto-Tune that works better than yours at home. You can achieve the exact same results.
In modern music Auto-Tune is really used with two different intentions. The first is to use it as a tool in a transparent manner, to correct someone's pitch. In this situation, the artist doesn't want to hear the effect work, they just want to hit the right notes. The second intent is to use it as an audible effect for the robotic vocals you can now hear all over the pop and rap charts.
But regardless of the intent, in order for Auto-Tune to sound its best, there are three main things that need to be set correctly.
The correct key of the song. This is the most important part of the process and honestly where most people fail. Bedroom producers, and even some engineers at professional studios who might lack certain music theory fundamentals, have all fallen into the trap of setting Auto-Tune in the wrong key. If a song is in C major, it will not work in D major, E major, etc.—though it will work in C major's relative minor, A minor. No other key will work correctly. It helps to educate yourself a bit about music theory, and how to find the key of a song.
The input type. You have the option to choose from Bass Instrument, Instrument, Low Male, Alto/Tenor, and Soprano. Bass Instrument and Instrument are, of course, for instruments, so ignore them if you're going for a vocal effect. Low Male would be selected if the singer is singing in a very low octave (think Barry White). Alto/Tenor will be for the most common vocal ranges, and soprano is for very high-pitched vocalists. Setting the input type correctly helps Auto-Tune narrow down which octaves it will focus on—and you'll get a more accurate result.
Retune speed. This knob, while important, is really all dependent on the pitch of the input source, which I will discuss next. Generally speaking, the higher the knob, the faster it will tune each note. A lower speed will have the effect be a bit more relaxed, letting some natural vibrato through without affecting a vocalist's pitch as quickly. Some view it as a 'amount of Auto-Tune knob,' which isn't technically true. The amount of correction you hear is based off the original pitch, but you will hear more effects of the Auto-Tune the faster it's set.
So let's say you have all of these set correctly. You have the right key, you choose the right range for the singer, and the retune speed is at its medium default of 20ms. You apply it on the singer expecting it to come out just like the pros. And while their voice does seem to be somewhat corrected, it's still not quite corrected to the right pitch.
Here's why your Auto-Tune doesn't sound like the pros:
The pitch of the vocalist prior to Auto-Tune processing must be close enough to a note in the scale of the key of the song for Auto-Tune to work its best. In other words, the singer has to be at least near the right note for it to sound pleasing to the ears.
Whether you're going for a natural correction or the T-Pain warble, this point still stands. If the note the singer originally sings is nowhere near the correct note in the key, Auto-Tune will try to calculate as best it can and round up or down, depending on what note is closest. And that's when you get undesirable artifacts and hear notes you weren't expecting to hear. (Here is an example of how it sounds when the incoming pitch isn't close enough to the scale, resulting in an oddly corrected pitch.)
So if you put Auto-Tune on a voice and some areas sound good, some sound too robotic and a bit off, those are the areas that the singer needs to work on. Sometimes it can be difficult for non-singers to hear slight sharp or flat notes, or notes that aren't in the scale of the song, so Auto-Tune in many cases can actually help point out the problem areas.
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This is why major artists who use Auto-Tune sound really good, because chances are they can sing pretty well before Auto-Tune is even applied. The Weeknd is a great example of this—he is obviously a very talented singer that has no problem hitting notes—and yet his go-to mixer, Illangelo, has said before that he always uses at least a little bit of Auto-Tune on the vocals.
If you or the singer in your studio is no Weeknd, you can correct the pitch manually beforehand with a program like Melodyne, or even with built-in pitch correction tools in your DAW, where you can actually go in and change the pitch of each syllable manually. So if you find yourself in a situation where you or an artist you are working with really want Auto-Tune on their vocals, but it's not sounding right after following all the steps, look into correcting the pitch before you run it through Auto-Tune.
If you get the notes closer to the scale, you'll find the tuning of Auto-Tune to be much more pleasing to the ears. For good reason, T-Pain is brought up a lot when discussing Auto-Tune. Do you want to know why he sounds so good? It's not a special Auto-Tune they are using, its because he can really sing without it. Check it out:
Hopefully this helps further assist you in your understanding and use of Antares Auto-Tune, and debunk some of the myths around it. Spend some time learning some basic music theory to help train the ear to identity keys of songs, find which notes are flat and which notes are sharp. Once you do, you'll find you'll want to use Auto-Tune on every song, because let's face it—nearly a decade after Jay-Z declared the death of Auto-Tune on 'D.O.A.'—it still sounds cool.
Real Time Auto Tune Melodyne Software