Perfect Pitch

I needed to rebuild some of my plugin collection after migrating away from Windows to Mac. I do a significant amount of recording and mixing work “in-the-box” these days and I have a wide array of software-based audio processors.

One plugin that I use, reluctantly, is Auto Tune. When recording finish vocals it is not unusual to create composite tracks. The singer puts down somewhere between 3 and 30 takes of a vocal and the best portions of each take are selected and then combined into a composite track. I prefer to catch a great vocal performance and deal with any minor issues through overdubs. Having said that, I still take between 4 and 6 runs of vocals.

And then, there is Auto Tune.

I upgraded my Windows version to version 4.0 on Mac OSX.

Auto Tune is a brilliant piece of technology that seeks out notes that are out of pitch and automatically corrects pitch. You can work on just the section that is out of pitch or you can apply the pitch correction widely across the entire track. Some producers have used Auto Tune as an effect. The most widely recognized Auto Tune effect is one that was used on Cher’s hit song “Believe”. Many engineers now call this the “Cher Effect”.

Is it possible for singers to be pitch perfect in the studio? I have worked with some very talented singers who can make an exceptional performance happen but they might be a tad under or over in a few areas. I will reluctantly use Auto Tune to pitch correct those minor flaws and save an otherwise strong performance.


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