#1
So, apparently you can easily tell if a song/album has been auto-tuned, but nobody can seem to give a straight answer as to HOW. I know most albums will have been auto-tuned, but I can't seem to spot the so-called, incredibly vague tell-tale signs that it has been used.

On the subject, what are your thoughts on it? Should anyone be able to "sing". Has it killed the human part of the music?

Me personally, I think it is a great tool to use in order to touch up the vocalsand get them to sound perfect for recording.

I don't really have a clue why you would bother for a live show since you pay to see the artists live and to hear THEM sing. Which if they can't pull something close to the record off, then they had too much auto-tune, in my opinion. But of course, if I don't know what I am listening out for then I don't know if it has been used live too.
#2
smart producers will often use it as little as possible and with great subtlety, unless it's meant to stand out, in which case it will often be paired with other effects.

most of the time it's just to save time and money in the studio. most musicians, especially in metal, often have to do several hours of tracking in a day without too many breaks to keep an efficient schedule, so the factor of the singer's stamina comes into play as well. if you have a damn near perfect take, and you're 2 cents flat on one of the jumps, do you retrack the whole thing, try and splice two takes together and hope it doesn't stand out, or just tweak that millisecond of audio a hair? usually the last answer is the best result in terms of efficiency and arguably sound.
modes are a social construct
#3
I don't think you can use autotune live. Well, you could use vocoder or something like that but it will make your voice sound like a robot. Autotune is most of the not meant to be heard so if it's done right, you shouldn't be able to hear it. Well, sometimes it is used as an effect and that's when it's easy to notice. It creates kind of a "robot sound" when it's used a lot. But yeah, most of the time it's used to correct notes that are slightly out of tune. That way the singer doesn't need to sing the same thing over and over again. Is that cheating? I don't think so. I think it's as much cheating as if you record something in parts or record 50 takes. Nobody records live in studio today (unless we are talking about jazz).

Usually when people say "it has too much autotune", they mean that the vocals are too processed and don't sound natural any more. It may not really be about autotune. But people just don't know any other effects so anything processed = autotune. Heavy processing shouldn't be hard to notice.

If a singer can't sing, they usually just lip synch (one of the most infamous "lip synchers" was Milli Vanilli - a duo that didn't even sing on their own album, and when they played live, they always used playback). In some live TV shows they even want the bands to use playback and not play live because that's way easier (requires less audio equipment) and most people won't notice anything. Even bands like RHCP have done this - not because they can't play but because otherwise they wouldn't have got the gig. They were required to use playback.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 28, 2016,
#4
It depends if you are using it to clean something up or as some effect in and of itself. If using it to clean up and apply subtle nuance, in my opinion it must be absolutely undetectable to the laypersons ears, and only a skilled knowledgeable engineer MIGHT pick it up upon casual listening. Those are my thresholds. I will initially do everything in my power to not have to use AT in anything that I do. I have zero interest in its use as an "effect".

Best,

Sean
#5
It's a tool, no more and no less. It's the vocal equivalent of anti-lock brakes or automatic crash detection. It can make those not blessed with a great set of pipes sound better even if no amount of training or practice can.

I'm not sure I see the problem, except perhaps in the jealousy of those who worry that it will diminish the value of a great singer's vocals. "The "it's too easy" crowd.

I don't see that happening. Anti-lock brakes are amazing, but a highly skilled professional driver can still outstop them more often than not. A skilled vocalist will always have the edge, even if it's only slight.

(Or maybe they won't, technology is advancing at a remarkable pace!)
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#7
Quote by Arby911
It's a tool, no more and no less. It's the vocal equivalent of anti-lock brakes or automatic crash detection. It can make those not blessed with a great set of pipes sound better even if no amount of training or practice can.


Disagree with that. Autotune is really more of a polish for vocals. It will make a performance that is just a bit off be dead on. If you don't sing well, at least in terms of pitch, autotune isn't going to make you sound good. It's like when you put spices on bland meat. You can make meat that is a little bland flavorful, but if the meat is just awful to begin with, no amount of spices can make it tolerable, unless isopropanol is considered to be an acceptable spice.
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#10
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
It's objectively a good thing and people who complain about it are dumb. When autotune is used to tune a vocal you typically can't notice it if the production is good.

Very much this^

Quote by tateandlyle
why would you spend your time trying to figure out if a recording has been autotuned?

and this^

Nothing wrong with autotune and it shouldn't be noticeable.
Si
#11
It's not too often that I can hear that something has been autotuned without that being the intention of the production, but sometimes I can, and I don't like that. There is a level of perfect that you can get with autotune or melodyne or whatever that does sound unnatural. When a singer signs with vibrato, it is going in and out of pitch. Autotune, can prevent that from happening, and you end up with really perfect straight pitch. You can have it create its own vibrato, and set a sort of threshold to let some natural vibrato slip through, but it can create artificially perfect pitch where that is undesirable, imo.

I don't think it can really make bad singers sound good though. To a point maybe, like I don't think Kanye could be much of a great signer, but it could let him out with some melodic hooks. But really, there is more to singing that being on perfect pitch. There's also all the timbre of the voice, vibrato, and character that autotune does not impart to a vocal take.

Autotune can be used live, and I'm sure sometimes is. I do believe it was originally designed for that purpose, so you don't have to go in and edit things piece by piece, but just sing into live, and it autocorrects, which is why it is called that, whereas melodyne appears to me a much more powerful tool for pitch correction, but was, at least, more of a editing tool than live correction.

I personally don't like the idea of autotune, and I would really prefer never to use it for any of my productions. I'd rather just punch in a new take. If it's not something I can sing reliably enough, I don't want it on my production. If I would be in some kind of bind, and its sort of my only option I would use it, but I really don't like the idea, and I would first seek out any other alternative.

It doesn't bother me if others want to use it, either for effect, or to fix a take. I do find the effect a little over used though I guess, but it is also a pretty cool effect, I'll give it that. And sometimes a production can annoy me if the singer is a bit off key, and in that case, I may have preferred the engineer would have just touched it up, but still, I like the idea of my performance and vocals being original and natural, so I will try to stick to that as much as possible. I haven't used autotune on any of my productions so far, and I would prefer it if I never did. I would be fine for using it if I producing a song for someone else, but if it's my performance, I would rather it be natural. I can appreciate any style of art others make for what it is though, and I'm fine with whatever any artist wants to do with the tools available. It's all good, to me.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Mar 28, 2016,
#12
i don't get people who don't like vocal effects when used correctly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYIAfiVGluk

Quote by jazz_rock_feel
It's objectively a good thing and people who complain about it are dumb. When autotune is used to tune a vocal you typically can't notice it if the production is good.


it's bad when used incorrectly and without the intention of effect, which happens typically when you've just got a shitty singer to deal with. the worse the source material, the more hacked and forced the performance will sound on a tape.

but it's less of a problem since i don't listen to myspace bands anymore
modes are a social construct
#14
Another issue is the difference between live and recording. A recording is designed to be listened to more than once, and needs to be more "perfect" - it's essentially a different artform to the live performance.

After all, autotune is hardly the first piece of audio fakery to be applied in a recording studio...
#15
Autotune is very noticeable once you've used it yourself - download a demo ( Melodyne, Atotune, Waves Tune etc) and play with it - you'll hear it very clearly after that. The more out of tune a vocal is, the more you hear the effect. Most pop releases make heavy use of it.

Some styles of music use the effect front and center rather than as a corrective tool , which I despise, such as many hip hop tunes ( T-Payne...) and Daft Punk's latest album, which would have sounded SO GOOD without it! I read that T-Payne actually purposefully sings slightly off pitch on purpose to trigger the effect with more intensity.

If your curious what it sounds like as a corrective tool, just listen to any Micheal Buble radio single - it's very apparent there- the effect is basically a synth-like smearing of the vocal which gets it in tune. I think it sounds terrible generally and it really takes away from the tone when you can hear it - but it's not always noticeable if you have a good singer and it's used with subtlety.

You can't really use it for mild correction live, but you can use it as an obvious effect live.
Last edited by reverb66 at Mar 29, 2016,
#16
Quote by reverb66
Autotune is very noticeable once you've used it yourself - download a demo ( Melodyne, Atotune, Waves Tune etc) and play with it - you'll hear it very clearly after that.


I'm very skeptical of anyone that says that it is easily noticeable unless it is really noticeable. This is pretty much always with a singer that can't sing at all really and most pop stars, contrary to popular belief, can sing well enough that an unnoticeably subtle amount will suffice. It's pretty much undetectable without some serious A/B testing. I think that goes for many things audio related though.
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Last edited by theogonia777 at Mar 29, 2016,
#17
Quote by theogonia777
Disagree with that. Autotune is really more of a polish for vocals. It will make a performance that is just a bit off be dead on. If you don't sing well, at least in terms of pitch, autotune isn't going to make you sound good. It's like when you put spices on bland meat. You can make meat that is a little bland flavorful, but if the meat is just awful to begin with, no amount of spices can make it tolerable, unless isopropanol is considered to be an acceptable spice.


I'll concede there's probably a level at which it can't help, but I suspect the number of people at that level are as rare as the number at the other end of the curve.

For the rest of us, it's pretty cool.


Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Plus it's like take a moment to appreciate the marvel that is real time selective pitch shifting. Like autotune should be impossible but it actually exists and that's amazing.


Very much this!
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#18
Quote by fingrpikingood
When a singer signs with vibrato, it is going in and out of pitch. Autotune, can prevent that from happening, and you end up with really perfect straight pitch.
It can prevent that from happening - if you want it to. But it won't do it if you don't want it to. You can use pitch correction and retain the full original vibrato and little nuances of the vocal performance.

Quote by fingrpikingood
You can have it create its own vibrato,
I haven't created vibrato with it but imagine you can in fact do that if you want.

Quote by fingrpikingood
and set a sort of threshold to let some natural vibrato slip through, but it can create artificially perfect pitch where that is undesirable, imo.
There's nothing "sort of" about it, it is a straight up threshold that can be set.
You can eliminate all vibrato, retain all vibrato, or reign the vibrato in a bit. Nothing "slips" through unless you aren't paying attention or set your controls incorrectly. You determine how much vibrato or note drift is tolerable and can use pitch correction without affecting note drift or vibrato if you wish. You can change this note by note if you're using it in post production.

I kind of feel like you were a little disingenuous with the loaded language "sort of" "some" "slip through" etc.

However, I agree that it is a tool use it as necessary. If you don't want to then that's you prerogative. I used with taste it can enhance and polish a vocal track, if overdone then things can start to sound a bit too perfect. A bit like quantization and time flex etc. Timing and pitch can both have all the humanity removed by over correcting every little imperfection. That's just a part of learning how to use it well.
Si
#19
I asssume we are talking about general pitch correction here, not using it to get that "T-Pain sound".

90% of modern music will be tuned to some degree, even if the vocalists are fantastic. Once you start adding doubles and harmonies in there it only becomes more prevalent.

If you can hear it, then the editor or mixing engineer has not done his job. Either that or the vocalist was so bad that the only way to tune him was to turn him into a synthesiser.

Autotune is not used live. The software doesn't work that way. I am not particularly knowledgeable on live sound but as far as I know there is no such thing as a real-time pitch correction software. If you can hear pitch correction during a live performance then either it is on a backing track for harmonies, or the vocalist is lip-syncing.

Like many tools in audio production, it can make a great performance better. What it can't do is make a bad performance good.
#20
Quote by 20Tigers
It can prevent that from happening - if you want it to. But it won't do it if you don't want it to. You can use pitch correction and retain the full original vibrato and little nuances of the vocal performance.

I haven't created vibrato with it but imagine you can in fact do that if you want.

There's nothing "sort of" about it, it is a straight up threshold that can be set.
You can eliminate all vibrato, retain all vibrato, or reign the vibrato in a bit. Nothing "slips" through unless you aren't paying attention or set your controls incorrectly. You determine how much vibrato or note drift is tolerable and can use pitch correction without affecting note drift or vibrato if you wish. You can change this note by note if you're using it in post production.

I kind of feel like you were a little disingenuous with the loaded language "sort of" "some" "slip through" etc.

However, I agree that it is a tool use it as necessary. If you don't want to then that's you prerogative. I used with taste it can enhance and polish a vocal track, if overdone then things can start to sound a bit too perfect. A bit like quantization and time flex etc. Timing and pitch can both have all the humanity removed by over correcting every little imperfection. That's just a part of learning how to use it well.
Sort also means "type". " slip through" is deliberate and doesnt necessarily mean by accident, but just allowing some pitch variation to slip through the signal chain without being pitch corrected. I was also a bit wary of being too assertive about the specifics of all the functions, because it has been a while since I fired it up. For instance, it might call the knob I was referring to "threshold" or maybe "sensitivity", idk, I don't remember. I played around with it a little bit and explored its functions, but its not something i ever use on my productions. But I remember that you can basically set how strict you want it to be, which notes you want it to play and how fast it corrects, as well as other things. You can hear autotune, if the voice sounds too perfect, or if a character change occurs that would normally affect pitch, but doesn't. The software cant differentiate between vibrato, and going slightly off pitch. You could manually edit it, but I find that melodyne is much better for all that sort of stuff. I find it is a better tool for manual correction, when you want invisibility. The most recent iteration is actually pretty insane.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Mar 30, 2016,
#21
Quote by Random3
I asssume we are talking about general pitch correction here, not using it to get that "T-Pain sound".

90% of modern music will be tuned to some degree, even if the vocalists are fantastic. Once you start adding doubles and harmonies in there it only becomes more prevalent.

If you can hear it, then the editor or mixing engineer has not done his job. Either that or the vocalist was so bad that the only way to tune him was to turn him into a synthesiser.

Autotune is not used live. The software doesn't work that way. I am not particularly knowledgeable on live sound but as far as I know there is no such thing as a real-time pitch correction software. If you can hear pitch correction during a live performance then either it is on a backing track for harmonies, or the vocalist is lip-syncing.

Like many tools in audio production, it can make a great performance better. What it can't do is make a bad performance good.



That's not true, that was the primary motivation of autotune. That's why they call it AUTOtune, it does do live voice correction. It's not perfect foolproof technology that makes any poor singer sound perfect, but it does have live corrective function. you set the parameters, and let it do its thing. That's what you'd want for the T-pain effect also, because that way you can monitor the voice effect. In fact, that's probably how T-pain discovered it.
#22
Quote by fingrpikingood
That's not true, that was the primary motivation of autotune. That's why they call it AUTOtune, it does do live voice correction. It's not perfect foolproof technology that makes any poor singer sound perfect, but it does have live corrective function. you set the parameters, and let it do its thing. That's what you'd want for the T-pain effect also, because that way you can monitor the voice effect. In fact, that's probably how T-pain discovered it.


Interesting, wasn't aware of that.
#24
Quote by fchfgvsabgf1
On the subject, (of Autotune), what are your thoughts on it? Should anyone be able to "sing". Has it killed the human part of the music?

Of course not. Thus far in this thread, people seem to be unable to come to grips with the fact, (in large part), that an on pitch singer is not necessarily a "good singer", and a, (slightly), off pitch singer is not automatically a bad singer.

The native sound of one's voice is a combination of favorable physical attributes, which work together to make one's singing voice "pleasant to others".

OTOH, another person without those, "god given gifts", can hit every note dead on, yet still hear the sound of people getting up and leaving the venue in droves.

Quote by fchfgvsabgf1
Me personally, I think it is a great tool to use in order to touch up the vocalsand get them to sound perfect for recording.
Another point is that as one gets closer to the highest note(s) in their range, the more they tend to flat them. So, if Autotune give them a few cents boost on that high C, I say no harm, no foul.

Quote by fchfgvsabgf1
I don't really have a clue why you would bother for a live show since you pay to see the artists live and to hear THEM sing. Which if they can't pull something close to the record off, then they had too much auto-tune, in my opinion. But of course, if I don't know what I am listening out for then I don't know if it has been used live too.
I haven't a clue why you WOULDN'T use it live. In a live performance you're working in much more difficult conditions than you would be in a studio. Inadequate track isolation, poor monitoring conditions, extremely loud ambient noise, and even a stray out of tune instrument , all contribute to throwing off one's pitch accuracy.

When you think about it, doesn't pretty much every singer's voice (good or bad), usually have a ton of reverb, EQ, and maybe some delay thrown in, even if they're not using Autotune? There simply aren't that many "purists" out there, who are willing to rely on room ambiance alone, with which to garner or gamble their reputations.

Add-en-dumb: The technique off singing off pitch, in order to greatly exaggerate Autotune's effect might be an "art" in and of itself. After all, you would have to sing a specific amount off key, to get a consistent wah-wah effect from the software.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Apr 4, 2016,
#25
Quote by Captaincranky
Of course not. Thus far in this thread, people seem to be unable to come to grips with the fact, (in large part), that an on pitch singer is not necessarily a "good singer", and a, (slightly), off pitch singer is not automatically a bad singer.

OTOH, another person without those, "god given gifts", can hit every note dead on, yet still hear the sound of people getting up and leaving the venue in droves.


Thank you. I'd like to add though, that even if you don't have a naturally good singing voice, you can train it and become better. It's not only a "god given gift".

But I agree, perfect pitch =/= good singer. Of course staying in tune is a part of being a good singer, but it doesn't mean that you don't qualify if you can't stay in perfect tune. There's a difference between editing a bad performance to make it sound good, and editing a good performance in order to make it sound great.

Are there songs out there that use autotune too much and in order to mask a horrid performance? Sure, but does that make autotune literally the devil? Nah, it's just a tool among others that you can use to polish up a track.
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