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May 27, 2010

Auto-Tune, Under the Radar

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

The “Auto-Tune Effect,” also known as the “T-Pain Effect” (and formerly known as the “Cher Effect”) has blown up in recent years.  It’s everywhere, on tracks from hip-hop to country.  It’s become a household word; your aunt, who wouldn’t know a virtual instrument from a VCR, knows the term “Auto-Tune” even if she’s not exactly sure what it is.  As with any style that grows to the point of ubiquity, people become tired of it and start looking for the next “it” sound.  So, when the next effect becomes the “must have” sound and no one wants to hear the Auto-Tune Effect on new music, will Auto-Tune as a tool be thrown away?  Not a chance.  Because even when people don’t want to hear the Auto-Tune Effect, Auto-Tune will still be used on records, it just won’t be noticed.

Long before Auto-Tune was a sound, it was a tool used to subtly correct off-key vocal performances.  It’s actually the abuse of this tool that results in the iconic effect we find in so many current pop records.  Auto-Tune continues to be used for its originally intended purpose of rescuing great performances that suffer from pitch issues, and it does so without the listener ever knowing it’s been applied.  When the sound of the effect is no longer en vogue, this plugin will still be a vital tool in every audio engineer’s toolbox.

There are many tutorials online that will show you how to create the Auto-Tune Effect, and there are even presets you can use that instantly create this sound with a single click.  But using Auto-Tune to correct a vocal without causing that track to sound processed takes a bit more of a subtle approach customized to that particular recording.  Antares recently posted tips to help you use Auto-Tune for just the purpose of rescuing an otherwise great track from undesired vocal pitchiness, and to do so without revealing that any processing has been applied to the track at all.  Check it out on the Antares website here.  Happy tuning.

Next entry: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

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