There will likely be a microphone with the capability of having instant autotune soon when it comes to performing live, but it does not exist yet.
Many people believe that live performances from celebrities and singing competition shows have some form of Autotune involved in the process, and they're actually correct. The thing is, it's just not the mic itself that has autotune in it.
"Autotune" is a product from the 90s that allowed audio engineers to pitch correct vocals and instruments. Today, professionals use several different pitch correction options, including Melodyne and WaveTune, from their DAWs (Digital Workstations).
Pitch correction is an effect that usually happens after vocals are already laid in the studio. There is a lot that would go into the process of pitch-correcting live vocals within a microphone.
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Pitch correction petals are often used in combination with mics for live performances from popular artists. These pedals allow you to use subtle pitch correction tricks for your sound, or you can go full T-pain with it and sound completely digital-voiced in a live setting.
Autotune pedals work by analyzing the incoming audio signal, identifying the pitch of the notes being played or sung, and then making adjustments to the pitch to bring it in tune.
This process is done using complex algorithms and digital signal processing.
The best way to fix your live pitch with this type of product is to set it to a specific key so that when you hit a note that's slightly off, it will put you back in the right key.
As you can imagine, this won't 100% fix your notes if you, for example, hit the wrong note that's still in the right key.
The TC-Helicon VoiceTone C1 Hardtune and Pitch Correction Pedal is a great example of a quality autotune pedal.
Autotune pedals can be used with a wide range of instruments, not just vocals.
Musicians often apply autotune to guitars, synthesizers, and other melodic instruments to achieve specific tonal characteristics or to create experimental soundscapes.
Also, Autotune pedals are not limited to correcting pitch; they can also be used creatively to produce unique vocal effects.
By manipulating the settings, artists can achieve robotic or robotic-like sounds, exaggerated pitch slides, and other stylistic effects commonly heard in contemporary pop, hip-hop, and electronic music.
Similar to Autotune pedals, vocal processors can also have built-in pitch correction effects for live performances.
These are considered higher quality than pedals since they have better features for higher accuracy and, more importantly, better control over the sound quality no matter what volume level the live singer is at.
Processors allow you to control EQ and vocal compression settings and have a built-in preamp.
The TASCAM TA-1VP Vocal Processor with Antares Auto-Tune Evo is a great example of a high-quality vocal processor.
Like autotune pedals, processors offer a wide range of effects and features to manipulate the vocal signal and achieve desired sounds.
The range of effects is a bit wider than with pedals, with harmonization, reverb, delay, modulation (such as chorus or flanger), distortion, compression, equalization, de-essing, and more.
It's important to note that vocal processors come in different forms, including hardware units and software plugins.
Each type offers its own unique set of features and flexibility, catering to different preferences and workflows of musicians and audio engineers.
While pitch correction is generally accepted by most for song releases, many people (myself included) don't like the idea of taking away from raw vocal capability in a live performance setting.
Yes, autotune can help you sound better when performing, especially when you're moving around and dancing during a performance. However, it can still take away from the authenticity of your sound.
Vocal processors and Autotune pedals allow you to control the intensity of the pitch correction for your performance.
Still, many people will be tempted to opt for a more digitalized sound instead of something that would sound more natural. This can take away from the emotional depth of a live performance.
As mentioned before, live pitch correction has not been perfected yet. You can set the pitch correction to a certain key to help your accuracy, but it won't fix everything.
Many songs feature key changes or purposely add pitches outside the standard keys in certain sections of a song, which can lessen the accuracy of the correctors for your voice and still show your wrong notes.
This definitely would not work for complicated songs in a genre like jazz.
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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