I’d like to be able to say that I was at London’s Dreamhouse Studios in 1998 when producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling from Metrophonic decided to use Antares’ blue riband plugin with it’s ‘retune speed’ jacked to oblivion (now known simply as ‘The Cher Effect’) on the 11 million selling single ‘Believe’. But I wasn’t.
I was there however a few weeks later when, to my surprise, Brian asked me to listen to a few of the songs from Cher’s new album and to suggest which one I would choose to be the new single. After not much deliberation at all I said “The one with the crazy voice-thing – 100 per cent, that’s it!”
At the time I had no idea of the impact that their production would have on the future-history of all recorded pop music. Nothing would ever be the same again.
This all happened less than a year after the introduction of Auto-Tune, the most infamous audio plugin of all time (created from a seismic algorithm by Exxon engineer Andy Hildebrand), cementing the Auto-Tune legend into an ageless pillar of notoriety. It’s so easy to forget that Auto-Tune was originally intended to retain the emotional impact of a performance – not turn it into a circus sideshow a la Li’l Wayne’s producers.
Here are some words from the original Auto-Tune patent: “When voices or instruments are out of tune, the emotional qualities of the performance are lost. Correcting intonation, that is, measuring the actual pitch of a note and changing the measured pitch to a standard, solves this problem and restores the performance.”
So what's new?
Antares have a few new tricks up their sleeve with Auto-Tune 8. The most notable of which is ‘Flex-Tune’, a function decided to preserve the detailed, filigree antics of more proficient vocalists, whilst retaining the general embodiment of the ‘pitch-correct-everything-all-the-time’ Auto-Tune ethos throughout the rest of the vocal track.
Next up is something dear to the hearts of many, many Nu School vocalists who like to sing through the plugin and hit their vocals to track, pre-tuned – ‘Ultra Low Latency’ mode. This mode is also something singers are using to ensure their pitch-conformity during live performances.
We decided to use the plugin on a rap track with an outro featuring talented vocalist Maya Williams. With a singer like this, transparency is the absolute key to preserving the vibe and credibility of the track. Vocalists like Maya do not necessarily need what Auto-Tune offers across an entire production
so it is important that the small amounts of pitch correction to be used facilitate a speedy workflow otherwise, more in-depth software like Waves Tune or Melodyne could be used for note by note correction.
With no ‘Mix’ control it seems that the best way to process particular areas of interest is by simply automating the plugin on/off in your DAW. This is easily achieved in most workstations. Ironically, the minute corrective behaviour with Flex-Tune, dialled in to around 2 O’Clock was so impressive, leaving the delicate runs and scooping, growly lows, that the plugin was best left on for the majority of the vocal.
I could never have done this on previous versions of Auto-Tune, as it would have been confused by these types of ‘characterizations’, over-tuning them and creating a mess. This plugin has always been very good at automatically tweaking minute imperfections no one even realizes are there and transforming them into a shiny, polished vocal. Version 8 is no exception.
At the part of the vocal where I would normally bring in Waves Tune to handle syllable-perfect surgery I decided to flip the plugin round using the Auto/Graph. mode button and try ‘Graphical Mode’. Once the plugin swaps GUI’s, you are presented with a rather confusing looking area, but all you really need to do is locate the Track/Pitch button in the bottom left corner.
Before slicing and dicing with the rest of the provided tools, twisting and shuffling the phrase into pitch with judicious use of the SHIFT key, which allows you to slide seamlessly through cents and not semitones. The results were surprisingly good and again, Auto-Tune stepped up by providing fast and accurate tuning, negating the need to bring any other correction software on deck.
Fast and accurate just like I always remember it, only now there is a lot more to keep you in the zone and not compromise the natural sound and vibe of your singer.
Compatible on Mac:
AAX, VST3 and AU
Compatible on Windows:
Not Compatible with the following on Windows:
Samplitude, Ableton Live, Mixcraft, Digital Performer, Audacity
- It does What it says
- There are a lot of features
- Industry standard pitch correction
- Cluttered GUI
- Steep learning curve
- No VST 2