Autotune for Live Performance

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2021)
A singer using autotune to sing in live performance.

When I was doing the vocals for our band’s first album, I remember that the sound engineer made use of Auto-Tuning software to correct some minor off-pitch notes I made. Of course, it saved him and me a lot of recording time, for instead of asking me to sing once again the parts with off-pitch notes, he made use of software to auto-tune my voice. 

However, the use of Auto-Tune software has already gone beyond the confines of studios. At present, singers can have their voices Auto-Tuned even during their live performances by using Auto-Tune Live. This software lets you instantly correct missed notes without the audience noticing them.   

How Does Auto-Tune Works in Live?

The auto-tune software works in real-time. They work subtly, setting accuracy and speed control that determines how fast the program can grab the voice and corrects its pitch. Once you got hold of this software or hardware, you can be very conservative with the Auto-Tune controls, for if you lock them hard, it may end up giving you that distinctive and peculiar Auto-Tune effect. 

At the onset, it is also critical that you set the software’s pitch correction to the right song key to allow it to jump any missed notes to their nearest chromatic notes. In this way, the singer will not look even more out of key and sounding terrible. So, you need to work out the specifications in advance, so that during the show, you will sound great. 

At present, you will find myriads of software and gear that make use of pitch-correction. Yet, the term Auto-Tune has become the more generic term for such a process of pitch correction.

The Auto-Tune software detects the note’s pitch as it is sung in real-time. Then, the software automatically shifts the wrong pitched notes to the nearest chromatic note or key. You can specify how fast the correction will be applied.

Different Aspects of Autotune Works in Live Performance

Auto-Tuning during recording may not be done in real-time. You can do it after completing the recording. On the other hand, you should do the Auto-Tuning for Live Performance in real-time and do it subtly without the audience noticing it. Here are some aspects you should consider about Auto-Tuning for Live Performance:

Pitch Corrections

To give you an inside look into the intricate workings of Auto-Tune software and hardware, let me note here two ways by which pitch correction software functions. One way is perfect for live performance, and the other is not. 

On the one hand, the pitch correction software, like the Antares Auto-Tune, detects the note’s pitch during singing in real-time. This software automatically shifts the missed notes to their nearest exact key or chromatic note. It lets you have primary control over your key and lets you set up the speed by which the auto-correction will happen. You can use this type of software in live settings.

You can also make use of plug-ins. You only feed the audio into your computer and let the program process the audio and produce outputs in few milliseconds. You can set different parameters in your computer, like setting the scale and the level of correction you would like to apply to the audio. Moreover, you can set the speed at which the program will correct the audio.

On the other hand, the second way makes use of products like Melodyne. These products analyze the song’s notes and then present the information to the sound engineer visually, allowing the sound engineer to figure out the pitch, drift, vibrato, timing, and volume of every note. 

Then, the sound engineer can adjust the notes and the different aspects of the notes accordingly. This second approach, of course, is the one we’ve used in our band recording, and it is more precise and powerful. Nevertheless, it is not suitable for live performance.

FX

Many people sneer at the idea of having live performances Auto-Tuned. They think that it is tantamount to cheating, and as such, Auto-tuning should not be done by performing artists. Nevertheless, the Auto-Tune software and hardware are here to stay, and it is better to make use of them than condemn them. Auto-Tuning takes more talent and skill to make it right, so in a way, it is a form of art likewise. 

Different genres definitely call for other FX and sounds. So, if you want to get a very tight and excellently made production, you should use Auto-Tune Software. You can produce highly polished sound using these Auto-Tune Software and Hardware. 

Auto-Tune software comes with many FX. You will have tons of FX that you can use to enhance your audio or vocals. So, it will be useful to consider the FX too when choosing Auto-Tune software or hardware.

Harmony

You can create harmony using Auto-Tune software. Harmony, of course, is one of the most remarkable effects that you can apply to your vocals. You can hire a massive choir to create that harmony in your track, but that is not a viable option. 

The second way is to record dozens of vocal tracks, all hitting the perfect notes. Then, mixing these vocals to create harmony. The third is to use Auto-Tune feature that lets you create harmony. With the Auto-Tune software at hand, you can create harmony within several seconds. 

Vocal harmony is a remarkable sound that you can use in any music genre. When used with vocals, you bring in a distinctively human element to your track. You can use harmony to create contrast and harmony to a lead line.

Additional Ideas About Auto-Tune in Real-time Singing

Auto-Tuned vocals are not appealing to some people, for they often think that Auto-Tuned Vocals seem to be having another vocal over the singer’s voice. They believe that Auto-Tuned voice is unnatural and that auto-tuned voice sounds weird. 

On the other hand, auto-tune works well with singers with great voices. Singing voices will become dense and can have better harmonies. Moreover, the singing becomes consistently on the mark, doing away with the subtle inconsistencies that usually happen when a singer is already tired or his vocal cords are already exhausted.

Nevertheless, Auto-Tune should never be an escapegoat for poor singing. It should never compensate for one’s inability to sing well. Moreover, as a singer, you should not rely heavily on Auto-Tune software for correcting your incorrect pitch. 

It should only be used to give your vocal rendition that consistency and extra push. Good vocal training and care should be the foundations of good performances.  

MIDI Options

For those singers with problematic notes, you can use the MIDI option instead of Auto-Tune software. Using MIDI, you can send only the required notes that you want to be corrected and program the MIDI to have those notes sung at the proper time. 

You can use 100% legato MIDI notes. You can also extend it on and offs to let the singer phrase how he wants the notes to be sung. With the use of MIDI, you can engage in gating to let you catch your breath between the lines. You can also drop in harmony lines as you wish.

Conclusion

There are gear and equipment that you might be needing to engage in Auto-Tuning of vocals. You may need, for example, a digital mixing console, Dante Expansion Card, and Auto-Tune plug-ins. You should also engage in proper routing of signals and route the audio signals to the stage box, which goes to the mixing console. 

The audio signals will go to the software for processing. Afterward, the processed signals go back to the mixing console. Once your channels and routing are right, you can then configure the Auto-Tuning preferences. Then, test the signal flow and wrap up and customize your configurations.

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