Types of Live Autotune Hardware & Equipment

(Last Updated On: April 6, 2021)
Different types of autotune equipment and gear for real-time pitch correction.

Because there’s no such thing as perfect pitch, and everything is just an approximation when singing notes, Andy Hilderbrand, a Ph.D. engineer, invented the Auto-Tune effect in 1997. He utilized the autocorrelation method for detecting pitch, and this method was far superior to other early attempts for detecting pitch. Soon after, many artists and producers started using this effect. The Auto-Tune effect has evolved since then at a rapid clip, and at present, you can use Auto-Tune Live for live performance. 

You can use hardware or software to utilize Auto-Tune effect. One such hardware comes in the form of a box wherein you can create the effect. Such a autotune hardware is easy to carry around and use in any live performance events.. You only need to position this box in-between the mic and the speakers sans a computer, and you’re ready to Auto-Tune.

You can also use Auto-Tune software to get your pitch corrected during live performance. Auto-Tune software is a digital effect (plug-in) to which you channel the audio track. Producers and music engineers use this software to produce the desired effect and the right mix digitally.

Auto-Tune Hardware Options You Can Use Live Events

Gone were those days when, in order to become a singer, you must have an almost perfect pitch. Nowadays, you can use Auto-Tune Live for pitch correction purposes. Moreover, the availability of live vocal processing effects can enable a singer to sound great during live performance. 

Of course, the vocal processing effects had a lowly start in the past, beginning with a handful of vocal harmony processors. At present, however, you will find a wide range of processors and effects that let you bring onstage the magic of vocal editing done in studios. 

Below is a short discussion of the different types of vocal processing equipments you can use for real-time auto-tuning, pitch correction and vocal processing for singers.

1) Vocal Processors and Effects

Most sophisticated gear and equipment incorporate vocal processors and effects. You can find, for example, pedals that you can use to create vocal harmony and loops. The TC-Helicon Voice Tone D1 comes to mind at this point. This pedal lets you do a doubling of vocals and detune effects with ease. 

The BOSS VE-1 Vocal Echo also comes to mind because it has adjustable delay effects as well as pitch correction and doubling effect. Other vocal pedals also come with distortion, reverb, and many other vocal effects. You can also use them for de-essing and compression while adding harmonic warmth to your vocal rendition.

2) Live Tuning and Harmony Effects

These two effects are two of the most desired vocal processors by singers and engineers. While the early types of live tuning and harmony effects sounded a bit robotic, the present-day generation of these effects seems to have improved significantly. 

You can consider using the Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer or the Harmonix V256 Vocoder if you want classic electronic-sounding vocal effects. You can also include a chromatic pitch correction feature in your microphone if you want to have a clean and pitch-perfect vocal rendition. 

You can also find standalone harmony processors like the DigiTech Vocalist Live Harmony if you want to add backing vocals to your vocal performances. The only limitation of these additional effects is the preset configurations you have set for your live performance. 

When shopping around for these effects, you will find that pitch and harmony effects are usually bundled together. You will see these bundled effects in the TC-Helicon’s VoiceLive series. The VoiceLive 3, for example, allows you to trigger harmonies and limit your tuning parameters.

3) Voice Loopers

You can tinker with vocal loopers if you want to explore your other options regarding vocal enhancements during live performances. The loopers were first incorporated in guitar pedals, but soon after, the loopers transitioned to vocal pedals as well. 

Nowadays, you can find hands-on vocal multi-effects such as those you will find in TC-Helicon VoiceLive Touch 2. You can also build DJ-style gigs and performances via the use of BOSS RC-505 Loop Station. 

With this loop station, you can loop your voice and add other samples and effects to your input sources. These vocal loopers offer limitless possibilities for creative artists who thrive in tinkering with innovative gadgets like the vocal loopers.


Additional Hardware That You Might Be Needing

Aside from the abovementioned hardware and software that you will need to engage in live Auto-Tuning, you can likewise check out the following additional hardware, for these additional pieces of hardware can come in handy when auto-tuning:

4) Digital Mixing Console

You will indeed need a digital mixing console like the M32R when auto-tuning, and your options are myriads when it comes to digital mixing consoles. Before zeroing in on a particular digital mixing console, it will help to consider some essential features.

First, it should be able to connect to your computer through Dante or USB connection. Second, it should have many outputs and inputs. Third, it must be able to send raw audio data to your PC and receive these data back again. 

Most digital mixing consoles come with these features and capabilities, but it will be useful to have your options checked for these features and compatibility.

5) Dante Expansion Card

The Dante Expansion Card may not be necessary. But it will come in handy to get your Auto-Tune system running. With the Dante expansion card, you can easily manage your outputs and inputs, allowing you an easy setup. However, this extension card is not a necessity for you to get by even with a USB connection. Nevertheless, it can significantly improve your management of signal flow. 

With the use of the Dante expansion card, you are sure that your gear and equipment will communicate well with each other. Thus, you can enhance the signal flow from one gear or equipment to another.


Tips When Setting Up Your Auto-Tune Hardware and Software

Now that you are cognizant of the essential hardware and software when setting up your Auto-Tune system, you can also learn the following succinct tips on setting up your Auto-Tune hardware and software:

Safety Net

You can create a safety net as a backup plan for your auto-tune system. This step, however, may not be necessary; nevertheless, it is a great practice. You can create two channels to make a safety net: one for tuned vocals and the other for raw vocals.

This setup can come in handy if the Ableton goes awry. In this way, you can quickly mute the Auto-tuned vocals and let the raw signal go on.

Routing

You should configure the right routing to accomplish a workable Auto-Tune system for your live performance. First, you should route the signal to your stage box. The mic’s audio signals go to the XLR cable onto the stage box. The stage box is then connected to the mixing console.

Send the Audio Signal to Ableton!

Using the Dante Extension Card, you can send the audio signals from the available mixing console via the Dante Network. This network will pick up the signals and have them pass through the Dante Sound Card. Then, the signals go to Ableton Live. With Ableton Live’s help, you can look at the audio signals’ properties and modify the signals on your channels.

Then, Send Back the Signals to the Mixing Console!

The Dante Sound Card is plugged in the Ableton. Once plugged-in, you can gain access to every input and output while allowing you to modify any channel you want to modify. Once you’ve made your preferred alterations and modifications of the signals, then you can channel back the modified signals to the mixing console via the Dante Network.


Conclusion

As someone who has recorded several tracks and albums, I can vouch that recording is not easy. After recording several vocal tracks, you will feel that your vocal cords would begin to tire, and singing becomes effortful. With tired vocal cords, you might end up missing the notes. 

Similarly, successively singing songs during live performances is not easy likewise. Moreover, often after a set or two, you end with sore vocal cords, and there’s a big chance that you will miss some notes while singing. Hence, Auto-Tune Live’s availability is a welcome relief for singers who work themselves singing in successive gigs.  

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