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. 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.
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.
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 helping 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, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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