Firstly, find and record a vocalist who needs auto-tune: the best policy is to rather avoid correction – and rather work on vibe, if it’s out but has the desired effect my feeling these days is STUFF IT! But, there are times where, a subtle correction is all it needs to sound fantastic. Here is a pic of a vocal that tends slightly sharp of the correct note:
You can see the downward slur they make which doesn’t quite make it to the right note before shooting up. Before reaching for the “import auto” setting, I’d rather make a curve of this (a green line that copies the vocal slur) and pull this curve down to the correct note – this preserves the natural feeling of the passage. I also nudge the curve up on the right slightly to get it straighter:
Alternatively, you can “box” and auto-tune sections of vocal. When creating these “boxes”, you may need to play with their boundaries. Keeping the natural slur can preserve the vocal character better. In the pics below, I correct the box to keep the vocal slur:
Once you’ve done that to suit, you can then set your box to the desired retune speed. Here, the vocal is automatically sharpened to the closest note and the pitch retuned closer to that pitch. This vocal had a retune speed of 12, compare the red (original) and green (retuned) curves here:
You can also set the retune speed to 0, getting that characteristic auto-tune sound:
Using these boxes gives you best of both auto- and manual-tune. You can preserve characteristics of the voice while tuning only those sections that really need it. Getting that robotic vocal and making it sound really tight and good is very easy. It may take you longer, but getting that pro touch means you need to take control of the fine details – and being able to recognise the defects in those fine details!
Jonathan Shaw is a professional record producer who has worked with a multitude of artists and record labels in a freelance capacity. Outside this, he lectures music business at the University of the Witwatersrand and provides business consultation to the music industry. email@example.com
Written By : Jonathan G Shaw