Autotune is an effect that was released and invented by Andy Hildebrand at Antares Audio Technologies in 1997. After the hit of Cher in 1998, several producer and artists started applying the effect. It was developed to make small adjustments to the voice of a singer to correct false notes.
If you sing or say a word that has a particular pitch, they can be high or low depending on the way you pronounce it.
Autotune is a pitch correction program that corrects this depending on the settings you use (massive correction or minimal correction). When you sing through a microphone, you can set the program so that you get the note that you usually cannot reach. So you can post a voice in another desired key afterwards and make changes.
It is the Photoshop for the vocalists.
The new generation or the old generation?
There has been a very long time and sometimes still a big taboo on autotune. Artists in the pop, in particular, did not seem to use autotune in their productions. There was also a new generation with artists such as T-Pain (now the old generation) who openly express themselves. It is part of the style, and they clearly show this and are part of the persona.
In traditional pop and rock music, fans attach a lot of value to the originality of the songs and the quality of the artist. The ability to sing, play the guitar and the connection of, for example, a band - makes them very popular. Although from a lot of artists you don't expect that they are also using autotune. but very fine.
It seems that it has become a standard in the music industry, in more and more genres.
It also looks as if the taboo surrounding autotune continues to decrease. Dutch artists, mainly hip-hop artists, speak openly about it and even pop artists.
There is a lot of criticism of autotune mainly by fans and media who do not find it fair to use. It is fake and reduces the quality of artists. Want to know more about the history of autotune and artists who apply it? Read this Dutch article from De Volkskrant.
Hardware or software
Autotune can simply be used in two variants.
To also get autotune live on stage, hardware is often used. For autotune, they use a physical box with which the effect is created. You can always take this with you and place it between the microphone and speakers without a computer, and you're all set!
Software is perhaps the most popular variant of autotune. It is a digital effect (plug-in) that you can place on a channel where the audio track comes in. Producers use this in the studio when they work together with an artist so that they can digitally create the desired effect and mix it.
Best autotune plug-in
Medolyne Studio 4
Price: different pricing (from €99)
The original developer of the effect and for professional use.
Price: different pricing depending on the version (from €399)
Free autotune plug-ins
Tascam TA-1VP vocal processor
In terms of hardware, there is simply a great module from Tascam in collaboration with Antares. This is for example used by Ronnie Flex in the Netherlands.