Autotune techniques/software

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himynameisbuddy
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Autotune techniques/software

Post by himynameisbuddy » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:23 am

I'm a singer-songwriter - I usually record my songs with just guitar and vocals. I am very happy with my lyrical and songwriting ability but would KILL for a better voice! Who wouldn't though, right :roll: ? Anyway, my TAXI submissions are all coming back the same: real high marks in the lyric and musicianship categories, but I'm constantly reading "pitchy" and "singing lessons" in my reviews.

I have autotune software but I try to stay away from it when I'm mixing my songs. Recently though, I've been hearing that you can do autotune "tastefully," just to help with a few notes here and there. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do this without it sounding like I hired T-Pain to sing backups. I use Antares Autotune but am open to suggestions.

Also, do you put autotune on the entire track? Or just the spots that need help?

Any tips, hints, and ideas very welcome! Thanks in advance.

~Buddy~

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kitchensinkmusic
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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by kitchensinkmusic » Fri Jan 21, 2011 9:59 am

Hi Buddy...I am a poor vocalist but have had some luck creating decent recordings. I have done a few tunes in a pro-tools environment using Melodyne which is very good stuff but I now have my own DAW with Cubase which comes with a feature called Variaudio. It works very well. You can straighten pitch (used it once to flatten vibrato on a flute part) as well as tune it (they call this quantizing pitch). There is a function to do either of these by percentage and you can apply it to a whole track or just a note or two. Best results are gotten by manually dragging the syllable towards the correct pitch. Realistic results are not difficult to acheive with either program but there is no substitute for a well sung part even if it is a bit pitchy. Another cool thing about Variaudio is that you can convert single line audio tracks into MIDI data.
Best of luck,

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by mazz » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:16 am

I have autotune but don't use it much. But that being said, Autotune has two modes, automatic and manual. Automatic is pretty good at catching stuff that's slightly off but it takes some serious tweaking to get it to work across the entire track, and chances are it won't work great on every out of tune note. The odds of getting some Cher or T-Pain results on at least a few notes are much higher with this method.

The trick is to use the manual mode to tune only small sections of a track at a time, a note here or there, and then bounce that result to another track. This way you'll end up with the original track and a track with short snippets of tuned stuff. Then you can switch back and forth between tracks with automation or just drag the tuned stuff over the original (make sure it goes in the exact same place, obviously), or whatever method works best.

I can't go into further detail because I don't use it much, as I said, and I don't have the latest version, but that's the basic idea, the manual and probably You Tube will help you with the rest.

Either way, to get it right, you'll be spending some serious time because it takes effort to get the tuning right without sounding robotic. I prefer Melodyne.

HTH,

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by JohnJ » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:51 am

I would highly recommend Melodyne...you can use it tastefully, just fix a few notes here and there. It can also help you as a singer because it will be easy to see just where you are off, either sharp or flat and how you approach notes, sliding into them or hitting them dead on. I think it's helped me be a better singer. Good luck.

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by kevinmathie » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:25 pm

I'd also advise you to use AutoTune in manual mode when doing vocals. I'm not sure why, but I can use the automatic function with great results on instruments like trumpets and trombones, but not on vocals. For some reason, the automatic mode either doesn't catch all the pitchiness, or, when you crank it up high enough to catch all the pitchiness, it turns into an "effect" like you hear with Cher, et al. However, if you take the time and pitch-correct vocals manually, you can get some really great results and still have it sound completely natural and un-Cher-like.

As far as Melodyne goes, I've heard great things but have never used it, so I can't speak to its auto mode.

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by Casey H » Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:55 pm

I use Autotune at home for my rough demos. The auto mode is tough to use for vocals. It might fix some spots and mess up others.

I have Autotune VST version 5 and Cubase LE. In Cubase LE (not sure about other DAWs but this probably isn't the case), you can't apply a VST to part of a track. It's all or nothing.

One trick that helps is to set up Auto Mode, then go to graphical mode and use "Import Auto". That way you can leave alone auto corrections that are OK for you and graphically fix others.

I usually do it pieces by copying off sections-- verses, choruses, bridge to new tracks. Long sections are a total pain because you may have to go back to the beginning all the time to sync up. I tune one section at a time. After a section is tuned, I export the tuned vocal output and replace the untuned vocal with the tuned one by first lining them up graphically.

I'm no expert but those are the tricks I learned. Of course, I make very rough demos so a little Cher or Alvin and the Chipmunks effect doesn't bother me as much. I do know you've got to go easy on the tuning speed (avoid Cher effect) and, obviously, the more off pitch a note was before correction, the worse it will sound.

One more thing.... When you go graphical and Import Auto you can see places which might have the Cher flutter and fix them.

:) Casey

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by cardell » Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:33 pm

Check out Autotune EVO.

I find it's better for doing more subtle work but only if you take the time to learn how to use it in Graphical Mode. If you want to learn how to use it in Graphical Mode as the pros do, check out the training made by Lynda.com's Brian White. It's not free, but it's certainly worth it.

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by benjet » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:42 pm

Hi Buddy,
I have felt your pain (no T-Pun intended!). While Auto-Tune is not always intuitive, it has worked extremely well for me - once you learn a few techniques.

First of all, I'm a Pro Tools 8 LE user with AutoTune EVO, I have not used AutoTune in other environments, so if your results differ, my apologies.

When I use AutoTune for a natural sound I have learned to always use graphical mode because:

1 - It draws the pitch for you - (select the section of track to be changed, click audiosuite/pitch shift/autotune, click the Graph button on the top right, click track pitch at the bottom left center, and click preview) This gives you a visual of the pitch actually being sung, letting you know if/when you are "pitchy". This will help you become a better singer, if you pay attention.
2 - You have the ability to only affect the notes (or portion of a note) that you choose.
3 - You have the ability to change the retune speed (this is important - having this set too low will cause the T-Pain effect)

tips - when you hear artificial sounds either raise the retune speed, or, shorten the length of the correction at the beginning or end of the note - wherever you hear the problem.

In addition, I have learned to apply it via AudioSuite rather than using it as an insert. This is because AutoTune as an insert causes a noticeable amount of latency on the track, causing the need to adjust it by adding the time adjuster delay insert, or manually moving the track ever so slightly forward. If you don't make the adjustment, your vocal will sound slightly behind the beat. I understand this should be fixed in PT 9.

If you decide to try it and have problems, feel free to ask.

Good luck!

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by himynameisbuddy » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:28 am

Thanks for the responses! It sounded like Melodyne was a clear favorite, so I went ahead and picked it up. After playing around with it, I can see how user-friendly it's going to be - I was constantly thinking "Oooohhh, THAT'S cool." Also, ksm, I've been using Cubase 5 and didn't even realize I had Variaudio! That seems a bit trickier so far... lots of little boxes in my vocal track, all screaming "you suck!" I'll toy with it some more and see what I can do. I'm sure there are tutorials out there somewhere.

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Re: Autotune techniques/software

Post by allends » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:19 am

Hi Buddy,

I'm glad you bought Melodyne. I visited your website and I really liked what I heard! 8-) Man, you sing with feeling, understanding, and cool engaging expressiveness. By learning to tweak individual notes to taste, you'll remove individual obstacles to success one at a time. Each and every note that distracts the listener is a reason for them to write you off and you don't want that to happen, do you? ;)

I just started recording my own vocals after many years of disliking my own pitch problems. Pitch correction software not only saves my vocal tracks but my friends and fans actually have high praise for my singing voice. I can't tell you how happy that makes me after so many years of keeping my mouth shut! :oops: :mrgreen:

I use Roland V-Vocal (it comes free with Sonar). I listen to each and every note my vocal track and I manually drag individual notes to pitch and draw pitch curves that smoothly blend every note to its neighbor. I can also control vibrato with the available tools. It takes me a whole extra day of editing to make this happen but it's worth it!!!!

These days, vocals that aren't AWESOME are deal breakers. <period><period><period><period>

All I'm trying to say is: you have the tools to take your tracks to a new level without leaving behind any clues how you got there. You can do it! If it works for me it'll really-really work for you!

Good Luck!!

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