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You may be asking yourself why your voice is always out of tune when you sing, and you hate it because you are dreaming of becoming a band vocalist or a professional singer. Besides, you envy those who can sing on key, and given a chance, you would willingly exchange your vocal cords for someone who could sing on key.
Facts About Auto-Tune
Auto-Tune is a technology consisting of a vocal effect widely utilized by many singers, sound engineers, and producers to enhance vocal tracks and sounds. Andy Hildebrand, a research engineer, first conceptualized the Auto-Tune technology and implemented the necessary algorithm for such technology. Later, his idea translated into a vocal pitch correction device or technology that we now call Auto-Tune technology.
However, don’t be disheartened, for modern technology has already reached a point wherein it can tamper with your voice pitch. Yes, you heard it right. The pitch-altering technology is already right under your nose in the form of pitch correction and Auto-Tune technology. All you have to do is harness these technologies.
The rolling out of Auto-Tune technology was an instant hit. After all, not all of us can stay on the correct key all the time. Sometimes we end up slightly sharp or flat when we sing. Thus, if you are a professional singer who often records vocal tracks, you would find the use of Auto-Tune technology beneficial because it can save you from the hassles of having to do more takes to correct minor pitch issues.
At present, Auto-Tune is also available for live usage, allowing for the instantaneous correction of the pitch during live performance. This pitch correction happens in real-time using Auto-Tune Processors/Pedals for correcting vocal pitch.
But What is an Auto-Tune Microphone?
There is no standalone Auto-Tune microphone in the market today. Instead, the microphone still needs an Auto-Tune processor or pedal to process the vocal outputs that come from the microphone. This processor comes with the proper setting and key for fine-tuning the mic signals. Thus, the mic signals will be on the right key when they come out of the loudspeakers or monitors.
However, the Auto-Tune microphones come with functionalities for directly integrating with vocal effects processor or pedal. In this way, the vocal effects pedal or processor serves as your Auto-Tune effects unit. Using the pedal or processor, you can quickly turn on and off the Auto-Tune effects by simply clicking on a microphone button.
Autotune Microphone System Buying Guide
Many microphone processing systems have the ability to tune more than just your voice. If you play instruments, then you may want to consider a processor that reads guitar or piano notes. Many systems can read what you are playing on your instrument and tune your voice to make sure you are on key throughout your performance. Some systems even have the ability to add harmonies based on the note that you are playing. So, if you play an instrument and sing, then there are plenty of extra features to consider that can help you sound more clean and crisp when you perform.
Live or Recording
There are autotune systems that work better with live performances and others that are made to help edit your vocals after you record them. Depending on what you want from your system, be aware of what your system was intended to do. There are plenty of autotune systems that are great for live performances and have plenty of presets available to make sure your performance is perfect but don’t forget about recording options too. These systems often come with software that allows you to edit your recording. Some of the extra features include being able to add harmonies and layer your voice-over itself to create really cool effects.
Sound quality is a vital part of choosing an autotune system. You want the right amount of balance so that your vocals don’t sound distorted or unnatural. Cheaper systems that give you too many vocal editing options can often make your voice sound too robotic or fake. A good quality system will allow you to experiment without making your voice sound too robotic unless that’s your goal. Once you begin editing your voice, your goal should still be to sound like yourself, and good sound quality will allow you to correct your pitch without making you sound like a completely different person.
Many autotune systems feature more than just the ability to fix your pitch and add harmonies. Many have some other fun effects that can jumpstart your creativity, but if you’re paying more for these effects, then you may be wasting money. Your main focus for a quality autotune system, your main focus should be on sound quality, and sometimes, as there are more effects available to you, the quality can go down. So, get something you’re going to enjoy and help you be creative, but never sacrifice quality for effects.
Pedal or Processor
Autotune systems can be used with a pedal or a full-size processor. If you are doing live performances, a pedal may work best for you as it gives you immediate control while a processor would most likely be controlled behind the scenes. There are also systems that are able to be attached to a microphone stand so that you can have the system right in front of you as you’re performing. So, consider what you will be using the system for before purchasing and decide which system type works for you.
Some autotune systems have unique connectivity options available. If you want to connect your own music source to the system, make sure you find one that is compatible with whatever device you are using. If you are singing along with a song by another artist, there are systems that will wipe the vocals from the song so that you are singing alone on their track rather than singing a duet. Features like this are great for beginners who are just honing their singing ability. Doing your own vocal covers of popular songs can help you find your own voice and hear how it sounds over a song that is familiar to you.
Similar to what we discussed above are presets. These are songs that are already loaded into your autotune system that allow you to sing songs that you already know while mastering your use of autotune. Again, this is going to be geared toward beginners who aren’t comfortable creating their own music yet but want to get started singing more professionally. These can help you get more comfortable with your own voice and define your own range. Presets can also help you use autotune successfully in order to help you finally reach that high note in the bridge. If you are just getting started and really want to find your own voice, then make sure your autotune system comes with presets.
The Best Auto-Tune Systems for Your Microphone
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Since the Auto-Tune microphone can only capture the vocals and deliver the vocal outputs to the Auto-Tune system for pitch correction, you would still need to purchase an Auto-Tune processor. Hence, it will be useful to be cognizant of the following most recommended Auto-Tune Systems for Microphone:
1) Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor
Tascam TA-1VP is a rack-mounted vocal producer processor that is developed by Tascam together with Antares Audio Technologies. This Auto-Tune system comes with a mic preamp, de-essing, compression, mic and tube modeling, Auto-Tune pitch correction.
It is perfect for your live performance. You can also use it for worship or studio recordings. It features a high-quality XLR microphone input on its front panel and provides phantom power for your condenser mics.
Moreover, it features balanced TRS outputs and inputs found on the rear panel. It also comes with double-track out for mimicking doubled vocals. You can set this Auto-Tune module at different pitch correction levels using different user-selectable scales.
- It provides you with superb presets with its 35 rewritable presets. It is easy to use with the processing laid out in simple blocks.
- It comes with a built-in Antares Autotune along with a microphone modeler. Many users find the Antares auto-tune working much more efficiently as compared to the TC Helicons Voice Correct. It is also preferable to Antares Software Auto-Tune being a rack-mounted and stand-alone one.
- It is only a mono unit, so you will need two of these autotuners to record stereo instruments or drums. Each should have the same presets.
- It is more expensive than other auto-tuners.
2) Peavey PV 14 AT 14 Channel Compact Mixer
Peavey PV 14 comes in the form of a mixer console that is of a rugged and slim design. It comes with an Antares Auto-Tune pitch correction. Thus, you can also use it to correct your pitch as you sing. This mixing console is used by sound engineers, producers, and artists during recording or live performances.
The good thing about the Peavey PV 14 is that it comes with Auto-Tune pitch correction, incorporated into this mixing console, letting the audience experience your perfectly tuned vocals.
The Peavey PV 14 features Bluetooth connectivity for seamless connection to any smart device. Its direct out on each channel lets you connect it to most DAW interfaces. This mixer can also stream audio signals directly to any PC. You can also use its MP3 playback via its USB A port.
It comes with a low and straightforward design that makes it perfect for use in small or mid-size venues. Its other features include eight channels of mic preamps, four channels (Antares Auto-Tune), and eight direct outputs (recording). It also comes with built-in digital effects along with an LCD.
- Provides pristine and clean sound, being equipped with Silencer microphone preamps.
- The most significant plus side in the use of Peavey PV14 is its Bluetooth connectivity. This connectivity makes it easy for you to connect it to any smart device, making everything easy for you.
- Provide you with a mixer console and autotuner at the same time—a combo that is hard to match.
- Some users of the PV14 have noticed a humming sound coming out of this mixing board. So, you must do a lot of editing to do away with this hum.
3) Peavey PV 10 AT 10 Channel Compact Mixer
The Peavey PV 10 AT is a mixer console that comes with the Antares Auto-Tune pitch correction. This technology corrects your pitch during recording or live performances. The good thing about Peavey PV 10 AT is that it comes with Auto-Tune technology already incorporated in this mixer console, ensuring that your audience will hear you in perfect pitch.
It features Bluetooth connectivity for seamless connection to any smart device. It also comes with multiple direct outs for each channel for easy connection to any DAW interface. Additionally, this mixing console can also stream audio to your PC. It also allows for MP3 playback via USBA port.
However, It also comes with a slim and low-profile design, perfect for any venue. It also comes with the following key features like those of the PV 14 AT.
- Its low setting for the microphone gain allows you to raise the main channel output instead of increasing the gain. Such a feature becomes handy when you combine it with the DBX Go Rack. In this way, you can easily do away with feedback when the gain is set low.
- Better than the other compact mixers rolled out by Peavey because it has more channels than the PV 6, PV 6BT, and PV 10BT, for it has Auto-Tune feature.
- I personally think that, the Peavy PV 10 is an entry-level mixer. You can use it to get the hang of mixing. Some users complain about not being able to utilize all its channels simultaneously.
- The other effects, aside from the excellent chromatic scale Auto-Tune, are not that great. The more effects you use and introduce into your sound chain, the more likely you will experience minor sound issues. Moreover, too much sound compression may lead to feedback loops.
4) Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer
If you are looking for an Auto-Tune system that is easy to use, you can always go for the Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer. The Roland VT-4 is a very useful voice transformer that features retro and modern vocal effects, including reverb, delay, formant, and vocoding.
It can layer multiple effects instantaneously and combine them. It also affords you smooth and instant control over your formant and pitch in real-time. Moreover, it comes with a compact design and is battery-operated with five hours of battery life.
The VT-4, as an effect processor, can fine-tune your vocal pitch. Its ease of usage makes it an ideal choice as an Auto-Tune system. With its help, you can shape and craft your vocal sounds via a subtle modification to a radical transformation of your vocal sounds. It’s a perfect choice if you’re a professional or aspiring artist.
- The first thing you would really love about VT is its ability to hook up via MIDI and harmonize your voice simultaneously. In my case, I got it hooked up to my SYSTEM-8 to use it to give information to my VT-4.
- Another thing about the VT-4 is that it doesn’t have menus, and everything is just very tactile, which means what you see is what you get. Thus, it is very intuitive and is perfect for live performance.
- With its multiple types of vocoder sounds, megaphones, and harmonies, you can customize every sound to your liking.
- One great advantage of the Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer is its portability. With its slim and compact form, you can carry it anywhere you would like to use it.
- Although it is easy to set up and wire with your mixer, you’ll get disappointed if you want to synchronize it with software and drivers.
- If you are looking for pristine and unprocessed sound quality, the VT-3 may not be the best equipment to use for when you let the sound pass through it, the VT-3 alters or literally murders the sound quality.
5) Zoom V3 Vocal Processor
The Zoom V3 Vocal Processor is a perfect Auto-Tune system if you are engaged in streaming, collaborating online, and recording. It features various harmonizing options, effects, and pitch correction that can make you sound impressive when you sing.
The Zoom V3 Vocal Processor offers around 16 creative voice effects along with reverb, compression, delay, and enhancement. It can add up two voices to produce three-part harmonies. It also comes with independent compression, delay controls, and reverbs.
It has a built-in enhancer to create incredible sound quality. Plus, it also provides 48V phantom power for your condenser microphones. Moreover, it is a USB 2.00 audio interface-ready and is perfect for recording.
It’s front panel features 16 pads for easy and fast effects selection. It also includes Talkbox, Harmony, Vocoder, Pitch Correction (key), Unison, Octave, Pitch Correction, Whistle, Telephone, Distortion, Beat Box, Child, Chorus, Deep, Robot, and Formant Character.
- Very compact unit, and if you value compactness and portability, this is the way to go.
- Despite its compact design, it comes with a significant number of effects that offer complex and fun features.
- With its use, you can customize your sounds.
- It works well with any other type of microphones.
- You can mount this to your mic stand, but it doesn’t come with a pedal.
- It doesn’t come with an anti-feedback feature.
- It is only capable of two harmonies.
The use of Auto-Tune microphones and Auto-Tune Technology garner mixed reactions from both supporters and critics of this technology. Yet, it seems that the use of this technology would persist, and at present, its use has become standard in most recording, music production, and even live performance.
Auto-Tune technology, of course, can expand your musical creativity, and its availability can facilitate the recording process for singers and professional artists who don’t want to overwork their vocal cords due to many takes during recording.
Thus, if you want to enhance and facilitate the recording process for you or even make your live performances almost perfect, you can always use this technology.
Can You Use Auto-Tune in Your Studio Recordings?
Auto-Tune technology has been initially utilized in studio recordings to correct the minor sharp and flat notes during the recording of vocals. Its use has become standard for most vocal recordings and in most pop music productions. Moreover, its use is very straightforward, allowing sound engineers and producers instantaneous correction of the vocal recording pitch. The use of Auto-Tune usually happens after the vocals have been recorded. With its use, you can diminish the number of takes during the vocal recording.
Furthermore, the vocal recording results become perfect with minimal distortion. The listeners will, likewise, not notice the alterations in the pitch. Even trained ears would barely notice the subtle modifications of vocal pitch.
Most studio recordings also utilize Auto-Tune effects. Its use usually happens during the recording process, wherein the processor is set up and engaged, allowing it to correct the pitch of the microphone output instantaneously. Moreover, during the vocal recording, the producer, sound engineer, and the artist hear the vocals as processed via the Auto-Tune, but it is not the microphone that does the fine-tuning of the vocal pitch, but the processor.
Can You Use Auto-Tune During Live Performance?
Auto-Tune has already evolved at a rapid clip, and now singers can use it during their live performances. Nevertheless, it is still not the microphone that corrects the pitch, but the pedals or the processor to which the mic is connected.
The singer can control the pedal’s settings to fine-tune his/her pitch. It also lets the singer control the level of pitch correction applied to his/her voice. Moreover, using the pedal, the artist can disengage the pitch correction control anytime.