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Vocal Tuning and Correction Tools

There are many different ways to process vocal tracks for tuning and timing. Each method has pros and cons and varying degrees of effectiveness.

Celemony Melodyne: Melodyne is incredibly power software. It analyzes audio and splits it up into blobs you can freely move up and down in pitch and left and right timestretching. It’s processing is not in realtime however. Melodyne makes creating harmony parts extremely easy. Melodyne is a great tool, but I don’t feel that the sound quality is quite good enough yet.

Antares Auto-tune: Antares Auto-tune is one of the most hated and abused effects of modern recording. It is available in both hardware and software versions and can automatically correct monophonic audio in real time. Used gently it can be pretty transparent (especially in Graphical mode), pushed to its limits results in some unique effects that very obvious. Think Cher’s robotic vocals on ‘Believe’ and T-Pain’s whole gimmick.

Roland V-Vocal: Included with Cakewalk Sonar Producer Edition, V-Vocal has the best integration within the DAW of them all. It works very much like Graphical mode in Auto-Tune, but with some additional features like pitch to MIDI conversion. I can’t comment on the sound of this one yet as I haven’t used it.

Digidesign Elastic Audio: While it doesn’t correct pitch (yet), it’s become an essential part of my vocal editing. I use it for adjusting the phrasing of a lead vocal, then on any doubled and harmony tracks to get them uber tight. I essentially use it as one would use Vocalign.

Synchro Arts VocALign Project: Very simple to use Pro Tools Audiosuite (non-realtime) plugin. You select a region and set that as the guide track, now select the track you want to conform and set that as the dub track, process. Its very easy, once again though, this is not pitch correction, just timing.

These powerful tools, as intuitive as they may be, take some time to get professional results. When you haven’t got the time, or the tools, its nice to know there is now an online service for this sort of thing.

VocalTuning.com: For $39 per file your vocals are professionally re-tuned and ready for mixing. The vocals can make or break a song, you don’t want the vocal tracks ruined by careless Auto-tune artifacts. For a very reasonable price you get engineers with years of vocal correction experience on your side. If T-Pain is your thing, well they can do that too!

What are your favorite tools for fixing up vocal tracks?


10 Comments

  1. Matt
    Matt May 14, 2008

    I would have to say my favourite thing for fixing up a bad vocalist is a baseballbat.

  2. stiff
    stiff May 14, 2008

    If you want to get pitch shifting vari-speed style with Elastic audio it’s possible. It’s not EASY, but it’s FUN ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. J
    J May 14, 2008

    My favorite is Melodyne, but X-form (pitch shift) does just fine, too.

  4. She-Rah
    She-Rah May 14, 2008

    My favorite tool for fixing up vocal tracks is a re-take ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am not a fan of any re-tuning processors. I have used TC Helicon’s Voice One, Voice Prism & Digitech’s Studio Vocalist for quick and dirty harmonies in demo/karaoke style tracks. Those are all hardware outboard processors. On a shoestring budget they’re a useful tool to generate ghost harmony intervals easy peasy and mixed wayyyyy back.

    In a serious production though I’d rather live with the imperfections as expressions of the instrument or just get a new singer ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S. Marry me Matt lol

  5. Ryan Canestro
    Ryan Canestro May 15, 2008

    I have been reading your posts for a couple weeks now and I really like what you are doing. I am doing similar articles on my site. I putting together a podcast and am looking for a few like minds. Let me know if you are interested and would like to talk more about it.

  6. ericdano
    ericdano May 18, 2008

    I would disagree on Melodyne. It is an amazing tool, I just finished touching up vocals with it on a project, and it was easy, and the quality was excellent. It also works well on horns. It is simple to use, and works great in ProTools and other DAWs (Digital Performer/Logic and others).

  7. Jon
    Jon May 19, 2008

    Eric, the problem I hear with Melodyne is the hard sustained formant sound. The big problem with all of them is when the engineer for whatever reason just puts them in full auto mode and you get tons of artifacts, sudden jumps in pitch in the middle of words etc.

    Here’s another good example of BAD vocal correction:

  8. Sky
    Sky June 10, 2008

    TC Intonator hardware is tops On the software side, I’ve had good results from SoundToys (Wave Mechanics) Pitch Doctor TDM. On the native side, Waves Tune LT does a decent job tightening pitch lightly without serious artifacts.

  9. Simon
    Simon August 17, 2009

    Waves Tune is pretty good but, as with all the above mentioned tools, it helps to use your ears to get the best results!

  10. Todd S. Marshall
    Todd S. Marshall June 5, 2010

    I like both hardware and software but there is an advantage to using the graphical mode in software DAW with good monitoring levels rested ears and a great comped track with very few imperfections

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