#17: Vocal Tuning Isn’t Just For T-Pain

Vocal Tuning Isn't Just For T-Pain

What comes to mind when you think of Auto-Tune?

​Probably not organic sounding, "real" rock music, right? The word screams "FAKE!" The truth is, though, that on most modern, professional records, even the very natural sounding ones, you'll hear some sort of pitch correction or tuning that happened in post-production or even in real-time during recording.

It's not at all about creating funny, robotic sounding effects (although you can do that if you want) and it's also not about making bad singers appear as if they could actually sing (although you can definitely do that to an extent).

It's mostly about taking an already great performance, that has the perfect feel and energy and getting the intonation just right, so that the vocal sits beautifully in the mix and connects with the listener.

Sometimes that means it needs to be just a little off, sometimes it means it needs to be 100% accurate. And sometimes nothing at all is needed. It totally depends, but if it could really help the song and make a greater impact on the listener, would you still refuse to do it? Let's discuss!

More...


Indian Runner Ducks:

Vocal Tuning Software Mentioned In This Episode:

John Mclucas' Videos Mentioned In This Episode:

Related Episode:


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 017 - Vocal Tuning Isn't Just For T-Pain

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] Whenever people think of attitude, they have this funny thing that they hear in their heads, but that's not what it is actually. And that's what they want to show you. 

Malcom: [00:00:10] This, this app can be if you want. It doesn't have to be that. 

Benedikt: [00:00:16] This is the self recording band podcast, the show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are.

DIY style.

Hello and welcome. To the self recording band podcast. I am your host then at the time. And I'm here with my cohost mastering engineer from still mastering.com. Malcolm Owen flood. How are you? Malcolm? 

Malcom: [00:00:41] I'm great, man. I'm good. It's been a wild week. We had a, some baby pigs arrive at the farm today, by the way, my studio is on a farm where I live as well.

And, uh, there's like chickens, horses, and pigs at this moment. Um, But the pigs escaped as soon as we got them. And it was like an all day [00:01:00] ordeal, trying to track down these three baby pigs who had just like vanished into the woods and other farms. And they even ended up on the highway at one point, which was just terrified.

So there was like cars honking and baby pigs running all over the place. It was very close to being like a huge disaster. You don't want to be the farm. That's responsible for three baby pigs getting hit by cars, but we actually managed to get them and catch them and bring them back to our farm. And they're now lazing it up in their pen.

Totally happy. So that's good. But it was like, Oh God, I've got like a video. My, my girlfriend, Beth actually tracks them down in like on an, a neighbor's farm. She found them. Which was a miracle. And, uh, they were gone for like two hours or something, by the way. So it was like two hours without even seeing them.

I was like, Oh my God, they're gone. They could be anywhere. Uh, but she found them and then we managed to catch them, which is too long of a story for this podcast. But I've got a video of us carrying them back, which they, we had to carry them like. I dunno, like [00:02:00] 10 acres or something. It was, it was like a long way to carry a big heavy, but yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:02:09] that's so amazing.

I didn't know about the farm thing at all. Uh, I mean, yeah, you were, you were talking about, um, like you were not like directly in the city, and so I imagined some, some, like you were mentioning a Lake or whatever, I think, uh, when we were 

Malcom: [00:02:23] talking about yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. There's like surround and you know, we're on an Island, so yeah.

Um, But, uh, yeah, I live on a farm. It's mostly in a question from like my mum, um, who owns the property is an equestrian coach. Um, so it's mostly horse stuff, but, uh, chickens and pigs as well. 

Benedikt: [00:02:41] That's awesome. I didn't tell you about this. I think, but I live on a horse farm as well. It's not ours, but like the people who, who like own this building.

They do have a farmer like that. And we have chickens and ducks and horses here as well, 

Malcom: [00:02:57] but no pigs, 

Benedikt: [00:02:58] but, uh, yeah, [00:03:00] so like right next to, by this wall behind me, beside me, right behind this wall, there are, I think, six horses right now. So, yeah, 

Malcom: [00:03:10] crazy, well hot that you and I meet and talk every week for a long time now.

And like, well, before this podcast, by the way, um, cause this is episode 17 of the podcast, but we've been meeting weekly for a lot longer than that. And I had no idea that there was horses next to you. 

Benedikt: [00:03:27] Right. That's awesome. So, and the last weird thing to add to this, because I just have to say it is, do you.

Uh, you just had chicks and chickens and, uh, horses and 

Malcom: [00:03:39] pigs and pigs dogs, and cats, 

Benedikt: [00:03:43] cats as well here. Do you know about the, those, uh, walking? I don't know the English word for it. There's walking ducks. Like they cannot fly, but they walk like pretty, like they, they, they look pretty funny because they walk like upright and, uh, they are, they only walk and they are pretty fast and they eat snails.

[00:04:00] Yeah, there's a, there's a there's ducks. They are called, um, I don't know the English word for it. I think it's, yeah, it's just walking ducks that are, um, that eats nails all day and can't fly. And, uh, we used to have, uh, or our neighbors used to have those. And now my wife thinks about getting. Some of those for us as well, because we have a little like water pond next to our garden where they could live.

And, uh, like we have no other neighbors and stuff, so they can just run around freely. And we have a lot of vegetables and stuff in the garden, so they could protect us from the snails, eating our salad and, uh, I was just curious if you know about these and if you have some of these as well, maybe because a lot of 

Malcom: [00:04:41] people have here think so everything, all the birds around here can fly.

I guess, other than the chickens, they can't really fly very well. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:04:50] I will see if I remember I will post a picture of a deck like that and the show notes, just in case people are wondering what the fuck I'm talking about

[00:05:00] anyway. 

Malcom: [00:05:02] So producing front 

Benedikt: [00:05:03] of creatures. Yeah. Is that for choosing band? Uh, we are on topic here. Uh, today's episode is about vocal tuning and why vocal tuning is not only for, uh, pop music where it is used as a Candice sometimes cheesy effect. It is something that is done on basically every single professional production almost.

And, um, we're going to talk about that today. 

Malcom: [00:05:24] Well, I think the first kind of myth we need to dispel. That'll a lot of people don't understand is that, uh, well, I guess the most prevalent tuner is called autotune. That's the one that most people know of, at least over here and in the name auto tune, there's kind of a misconception because everybody assumes it's just this automatic thing you slap on and it just makes your voice sound like T-Pain or, you know, insert any other famous kind of pop singer who has that tune vocal effect going on.

Benedikt: [00:05:56] Uh, 

Malcom: [00:05:57] and it can do that, [00:06:00] but when the stuff was actually kind of invented and, and what it was made to do was to manually tune stuff, um, to, to tune vocals so that we could actually go and grab a single word in a vocal performance and change the pitch of it a little bit to get it a little bit more in tune, a little more.

Perfect. Uh, so the misconception that I run into most is that people don't understand that this is like an intentional process. We're going in to change something on purpose and how, as much as we want to, um, just like drum editing or guitar editing, like it's the same as any other editing in that it's very intentional and we're doing it to achieve a certain result.

So it's called tune, but it's actually manual tune. And then there's a bunch of different brands that do the same kind of thing. Um, like, so there's, there's Melodyne and wave students, stuff like that as well. But what we're talking about for the most part is actually manually vocal tuning. Yeah. [00:07:00] And there's a huge difference in that because manual vocal tuning.

If done, right. You can't even tell it was done. That's the, that's the goal. It should be totally transparent in most cases. 

Benedikt: [00:07:11] Absolutely. That's the goal. And I think there is an automatic part to it with, to be honest, I don't even use autotune that much. I use the built in tuning thing in Cubase most of the time.

And they used Melodyne a lot. So there is very much manual tuning, but with attitude, I mean, you can give it like the, um, Certain parameters and then let it do its thing automatically. And there's also this real time auto tune thing. So there is an automatic part to it, but you still have to give it, do you have to feed it some information and make sure it does it correctly?

And, um, yeah, it's not an, uh, it's not that you push, just push one button and then it spits out this weirdly, uh, sounding thing with a lot of artifacts and then this effect sounding yeah. Stuff that we know and when we think of [00:08:00] attitude, so, right, right. Um, it should sound totally natural if done. Right. And it does.

And actually a friend of ours, uh, child McLucas. Shout out to him. He does great content as well. And he, I think he just launched or is about to launch a vocal production course, by the way. Um, I might link to that in the show notes, but, um, in, he did an AB test, I think. So if I remember correctly, he has a video out very, he did.

He compared, uh, or he, if people listened to several audio files and some of them were tuned in some of them were not, I think. And they, he just wanted to know if people can spot tune vocals and I don't know how he exactly did it. I just saw the title and the caption. So I would be curious to watch it myself, but I think that the result was, I'm pretty sure that the result was that people and he used some, like, even pros, like with good developed hearing for it.

And they couldn't tell. Which, uh, off the [00:09:00] tracks were tuned in, which are not so correct me if I'm wrong, John, if you're listening to this, but I think I'm right. And I will post the link to that video because that shows, that goes to show that even people with experienced, um, ears can't tell the difference if it's done.

Right. So 

Malcom: [00:09:14] I also haven't seen that, but I'm sure it's great. John's videos are, are awesome. Yeah. Um, but I'm not surprised by that result at all. Uh, No, it's something I would do in almost all my productions. Like, so we get to mix in essentially. And I do like a prep session before mixing and in that I would tighten up vocals or, or my assistant would cause I, I actually like spend way too much time when I tune.

So I hire other people to do it instead. It's just, it's not economic for me to do it myself. Um, and, uh, they never, they never noticed. Like, are they, you know, they just like, Oh, it sounds great. It's like, well, yeah, it sounds better than it did before even. Um, so it's totally common. [00:10:00] Um, like more common than you could ever imagine.

I would say that most productions 

Benedikt: [00:10:04] have it. Absolutely. The thing about this is that it isn't about, and that's why people buy piece of afraid of it. It isn't about absolute perfection. It's about getting an already great performance to be. Like spot-on or to correct a little mistakes in an otherwise flawless performance, meaning that if you have a lot of emotion and I'm like vibe in a performance, which is great and the most important thing, but you might, you just missed one note or it's like the entire thing might be sharp, slightly or flat.

And now you could, you can use that emotionally awesome, like take with all the vibe and energy and just correct the tuning. And that's what this is all about. It's not about making everything sound the same or about absolute perfection. It doesn't need to be, sometimes it's even cool if it's something slightly flat or sharp or whatever.

It's sometimes that people like people use stuff like that. But most of the time we don't want that to be [00:11:00] audible and we want it to be. It at least in the ballpark of what we would consider a perfect note and, um, without destroying any of the vibe and energy so that I think that's, it's not only just cheesing, cheesy sounding effect.

It's also, people might be afraid of like a cookie cookie cutter approach where everything sounds the same. So it's not about that 

Malcom: [00:11:22] at all. No, no. The, that that's the greatest benefit actually. What you said right there, vocal tuning can take an emotional take. That is. Imperfect in a pitch perspective or from a pitch point of view, but it can salvage it.

So focal tuning can kind of save and emotional take and make it usable, uh, or make it a little bit better. Like sometimes you tune it a little bit to get it closer, but it's still out. And it just works because there's so much emotion in it. Um, it takes a lot of, a lot of pressure off of the vocalist actually.

Once they kind of can [00:12:00] grasp that. We're looking for passion more than we're looking for pitch really. Um, and then as a result, ironically, once they're not focusing about pitch on pitch so much, they start singing more in tune and, and just get a better vocal performance all around. So we've got to talk to with that in the past, I guess, on our vocal episode.

Benedikt: [00:12:15] Yeah, absolutely. And, um, one thing that comes to mind here is that, uh, there is a thing that you could use. It's a little advanced, but I heard a lot of people use it and I've tried it myself and I, I don't record as often anymore these days, but I think it's a, it's a great idea. There is this auto tune, realtime plugin that you can use wild tracking.

And if you don't want to risk anything, you could like. Put it on a separate track and just record the vocal on two tracks at the same time, one is the auto tune plugin, and another one has not that doesn't have it. And you can put that on the headphone mix of the singer so that they hear their corrected, um, performance, which can be cool.

Can also see sometimes it's not depending on how good the [00:13:00] singer actually is, but it can be cool because it makes them confident and, um, It also if done, right. And if this works amazingly, well, it saves a lot of work because most of the notes, or at least the most important stuff is already where it belongs.

So tracking through this auditorium plugin that is set up correctly, it's really surprisingly works. Surprisingly well, sound surprisingly natural. And, um, it's a great workflow enhancement. So if you have that or if you want to try that, um, give it a shot. It's really interesting. I haven't done it too much, but I, I, I've seen a lot of big, um, people use it and I've, I've tried it and I think it's a great idea.

So yeah, a little advanced, but something to try out here. I think what you said about, um, Ken Olivia stress from the singer is, is actually a big one because it really can feel weird. And especially for people that are not used to tracking vocals a lot that are not used to the studio. Yeah. The reality [00:14:00] that even when they give it, like when they do their best performances, there's still always this one note or one part that it's not right there.

And even the best singers have, have, have issues with that. Even the best vocalists, sometimes miss a note. And if you're not used to the studio, and then you realize that this is just part of it and that your performances are not flawless. It can, it can be hard to handle. And if you can show the singer a quick, or like, if you're a bandmates, um, sayings and you recorded and you can show them a quickly corrected version of the performance and, and make, and just communicate that it's not a big deal and it can easily be corrected.

And that the tapes themselves are great because they are emotional enough energy and all that. Um, that's kind of a relief and yeah, I think it has to be communicated well. But if you can't get a quick workflow going and just show the person singing that it's not a big deal. If they miss a note, as long as they perform great, this can be awesome.

Malcom: [00:14:59] Yeah. But [00:15:00] that brings up the next big point. And that is that there's an experience factor in that you need to know what is possible and what is not possible to be tuned. Um, cause there is definitely such thing as too far out of tune to be salvage. Um, so if you learn how to tune a little bit, you'll quickly find that line of what can be corrected and still sound natural without it turning into a robot voice.

Um, and I think that's important too, to get that experience because if you don't. You might just kind of start assuming that everything's gonna work out, uh, or vice versa. I spend way too much time just like getting takes that are we're already good, you know, and just like over singing. Um, so I think there's a lot of benefit in learning how to tune a, at least a little bit.

But if, if you get one of these, uh, realtime tuners, that Benny was just mentioning, like there's a, Auto-Tune realtime and there's also waves tune in real time. Um, and both are great. I've actually got both [00:16:00] and. The cool thing about those is that because they're, they're auto, they're not manual. You have to put in some information, but more or less, they are making decisions based on their algorithm.

And if they are choosing the wrong note, chances are you are too far out of tune. Um, so they can kind of be this good little roadmap that if they're triggering the wrong way, um, or it sounds unnatural. It's like, okay, well, I could probably sing that a little bit better. And then this tuner wouldn't have to work as hard.

And then that would kind of help, you know, that your untuned version it's pretty close. So you can kind of use these as like roadmaps, which is something I actually haven't done a lot of, but I have seen, yeah, like some other, some other engineers making use of this technology in that way, which is a pretty new thing.

Um, real time tuners are like the last few years, I think, um, at least in software formats. 

Benedikt: [00:16:52] Absolutely it is. And that's a great idea that you were talking about here. And one similar thing to that [00:17:00] is also not only are people sometimes a little too far off. But in the, in, in the, the stuff that I get to mix a lot and that I use to track a lot of the heavier stuff.

Sometimes what people do is a mix of singing and screaming or like very, um, yeah. Uh, yeah, it's like a melodic type of screaming actually, and this stuff can be really hard to tune because some of those tuning softwares have a hard time detecting the actual note. If it's not clearly like song note and, um, If you have, if you're having trouble hitting certain notes, but you want them where they should be.

So, and you want to rely on tuning afterwards using a realtime tuner can. Yeah, it can also tell you if it's actually tuneable or if you need to sing a little cleaner maybe, or if you have to try to, to nail the note because auditorium cannot correct it. So I got that a lot, actually with punk rock bands and hardcore bands and stuff [00:18:00] where.

They thought I could easily tune it and then it turns out, uh, it's just too rough sounding too, to even tune it. And 

Malcom: [00:18:09] it's like, the distortion are like in their voice kind of creates artifacts and tuners sometimes and stuff like that, or just makes it really hard to track 

Benedikt: [00:18:17] yeah. Pitch. Exactly. So, yeah, that's a great idea.

So you should probably try using one of those or. Just, um, learn how to, how to use the standard auto-tune plug in or Melodyne or Cubase built in function or whatever, because there are some benefits to that. It can save you money because when you, um, if, if you get to the point where we can do vocal tuning completely on your own, you can do that before sending your stuff off to, to mixing and you kind of skip the, the otherwise necessary step of vocal editing and tuning, and it isn't necessary steps.

So every good mixing engineer. We'll just either do it, or we'll talk to you about it and suggested to you if you do, if you didn't do vocal tuning, because [00:19:00] that's just part of making a song sound great. And if you can do that on your own and deliver great vocal tracks that are already, um, yeah. Sounding amazing, sounding amazing, then you can save some money.

And, uh, as we said, it helps you learn something about yourself and helps you become a better singer because you learn where you, where you're lacking. And maybe some people are like people, some people tend to be constantly a little flat or a little sharp sometimes. So using a plugin like that or tuning your, your vocals manually tells you something about how you sing or your singer sings.

It's also a big one, I think. And at the same time it develops your hearing or it helps develop your hearing because I found one when the more I edited vocals or tune vocals, the more I actually noticed when something was off. And when I remember when I started out, I didn't know about this at all. I D I, and I, I thought that.

Takes, we were like awesome and flawless. And when I listened to [00:20:00] those, they could have needed editing and tuning, but I kinda needed to develop my hearing first to even notice that really. And so that definitely helps. And 

Malcom: [00:20:12] I'm really glad. Just, sorry, go ahead. I just can't believe that we, uh, I can't believe we haven't brought that up before.

That like what you get from doing these things from even recording drums or recording guitars, and then kind of zooming in to see how your performance wasn't trying to fix it in editing is like the quickest way to get better at stuff you're like, okay, well, I'm always behind. Like, you can take that information to the bank, right.

And act on it. Um, same with singing, especially with singing. You're like, you can. And like, and especially with vocal tuning, because it literally shows you what you sang and you can visually see that you're flat or sharp, or that maybe when you attack a note, you always start high and swoop down. That's a common one.

Um, there's really, [00:21:00] yeah. You know, you can see your vibrato, how wide your vibrato is going. There's tons of information you can learn from looking at a vocal tuning plugin. So great point, Benny. I love that. 

Benedikt: [00:21:10] Yeah, absolutely. I think there's just so much to learn. I can tell that. I, I can say that I learned a lot from doing that as well.

Things that I didn't know I needed to learn, but definitely, uh, definitely did. So, uh, yeah. Same as what you were talking about. I, now I outsource vocal editing and tuning now as well, but I'm so glad I did it for a long time myself, because I learned a lot from it. So yeah. And then there another thing, and I'm curious to hear if you ever used it for that.

Uh, did you ever use the tuning plugin or Melodyne or whatever to come up with harmonies or show harmonies to a singer? Come up with ideas. 

Malcom: [00:21:48] Yes, definitely. Um, not for a while, but, uh, yeah, I, I totally have, um, and it like, mainly it's kind of like an easy way to experiment, you know, you can just gang [00:22:00] stuff around and see how it sounds.

Um, it saves you from having to sing it yourself to like, make an example track or anything like that. Uh, yeah. I, I tried to push the bands to like come up with their own harmonies as much as possible, but when you absolutely need to, this is a really cool way to go. Um, Ironically, my favorite plugin for this is, uh, sound toys, little alter boy, which is not like a good sounding tuner at all.

Like it's purposely kind of like fake sounding and you can only do like a semitone at a time. Right? But it's just so quick for me to, to make stuff happen and get ideas kind of just like sweep around until I'm like, Oh, that sounds cool. And then I automated it. So, or at least it gets us to the first note and we can figure it out from there.

Benedikt: [00:22:43] Yeah, absolutely love that. I used the Cubase built in function. Um, sometimes I just duplicate the track and then. And I only do it. I mean, it's always best when the bands come up with that stuff themselves. But in case like your, your band records and your singer [00:23:00] has like, or whoever is in charge, the songwriter, whoever has a hard time with coming up with harmonies or, um, or you are the songwriter and you have an idea and you want to show it to the rest of the band without having to sing it yourself.

You can just duplicate the track. That's what I was did. And then, uh, just pull, like, grab the notes and pull them wherever you think they should be, and then played back with your original. And it will sound pretty good. I mean, I even, there are even productions where I cheated like that and I put a voice like in harmony, in there in the final mix that wasn't there before.

So you could even do that or an octave up or down or something if it's very subtle. So you can even do stuff like that. And it works surprisingly well. And, um, yeah, that's just a cool little trick because sometimes the people who have the best ideas are not necessarily the ones who can sing it right away.

So if you have a great idea, that might be, that might be it. 

Malcom: [00:23:53] Yeah, I, uh, I've definitely snuck in the occasional Octa or fifth down, out of, you [00:24:00] know, to it's tricky. Cause normally when you are using like a pitch shifter achieve a harmony like that, you have to keep it pretty low in volume, but it can still work.

Um, for sure. Yeah. But ideally somebody sinks it. Of course, 

Benedikt: [00:24:13] of course. Yeah. Right. So, um, yeah, try to learn it. Try to learn some vocals unit at least. And if you're, if you enjoy it and if you get great results, maybe you can get to a point where we can do it completely on your own and deliver great results.

And then, um, that can save you money as well. And you already know what your final take is going to sound like. So definitely worth trying it. Um, I mean, that's, I really want to say that again, that, because that's also something that people might not be aware of. If you take your song to mixing, I think most mixing engineers.

Uh, we'll ask for tune vocals or we'll tune them themselves or talk to you about this. So I get, I get it a lot. When people send me [00:25:00] stuff that is not tuned. And then I ask if they want, like, if I Fisher tune them because they are not, they didn't, they don't sound tuned or they don't sound in tune. And then often people will respond with, no, we don't want to and vocals, just leave them as they are.

And. I understand where they come from, but it is, it can be a problem. And, um, it usually people who mix a lot of stuff, they know when it would, when the song would benefit from tune vocals, and when it would not. So it's worth trusting those people and it's worth knowing about all this and it's worth trying it yourself to find out that you don't need to be afraid of.

Because whenever someone asks you to send to and vocals, they don't want them to sound like a robotic or whatever. They just want to help the song. And if the song needs it and somebody with experience tells you, you shouldn't maybe tune your vocals, you should give it a shot. And I don't think that's too many people are aware of that.

That is just [00:26:00] such a common thing. 

Malcom: [00:26:01] Yeah. Back on episode 14, we had an episode about why you need to get a producer, even if it's you. And it's always the projects where there's no producer when they're like, Oh no, leave the vocals. It's like, well, okay, nobody's taking responsibility for the quality of this vocal performance.

And that's why nobody's willing to. Kind of step up and fix it. Um, and just so everybody understands it is the industry standard to have your vocal production tuned before it goes to Mexican. That is the usual thing. That is what if you send it to a pro mixer, they're going to expect the files be to be prepared as they are intended for mixing.

Um, so tuning is part of editing, not mixing, and some mixers will offer that service and some might even just do it for you, but. As a rule assume that you need to get it done before mixing or assume that you need to hire your [00:27:00] mixer to also do that. 

Benedikt: [00:27:01] Yes, totally. That being said I could be, and I know that I'm going to get messages like that.

So I'm addressing it right away. I know that there are certain genres and I love those types of music as well. And that's where I come from. I know there are certain things like punk rock and, and other stuff that, um, can't, we can't get away with a vocal performance that is not quite in tune sometimes, but still.

Really be careful here and have a close, like Evan, an honest, like look on it and listen to it and like, decide if it really makes the song better to be off on that note. Or if it's just because you want it on principle, because it can have vibe and it can be okay in those, those genres. But I think, yeah, it totally depends.

And it's, it's risky at least. So, um, if you're sure what you're doing and if you think that's part of the aesthetic and sometimes it really is. Then it's okay to go without tuning, but it's always worth trying it and really thinking [00:28:00] it through because sometimes you think it should be tuned, but it should.

Malcom: [00:28:04] Yeah. I've put out tons of songs that have no tuning on it, but it's something that I've considered every time. So before I mix it, I decide if it needs to have this, don't do it. And, uh, that's kind of the main takeaway, right? Is it's something that's used to improve performance and if the performance sounds great, you're, you're good.

But, uh, it definitely could use it sometimes. And, and often does most of the time there's some tuning to be done. 

Benedikt: [00:28:34] And also, like I said, the best singers. We'll need some tuning. Sometimes it's not, it is not a sign of a bad performance or a bad performer. It, um, it's, it's completely normal and you will, you will be surprised when you look in the tuning plugin.

You look at, uh, at a great performance how far sometimes some notes are and when you then [00:29:00] tune it and you listen to, to do an AB test. You will find out how much better it works just now. Like it, it can be subtle things and you might not notice it before you tune it, but once you tune it and you listen to the whole song, it just sits better in there.

It collects, it goes together with the guitars and everything better. And so even really good singers can benefit from tuning a little bit. And sometimes those subtle corrections can, yeah. Can, can make or break it 

Malcom: [00:29:29] actually. Yeah, it's something we've talked about. Uh, a lot is guitar tuning, um, because it's a really hard thing to get done.

Right. And I think episode five was all about guitar tone and we definitely talked about this in depth on that episode. Um, but we, yeah, the there's this idea of like compounded tuning or relative tuning and essentially. The deer, a guitar like your left and your right guitar and your bass are all going to be micro sense off of each other.

In the [00:30:00] end, it's, it's really pretty much impossible to get them spot on, but we spent a lot of time getting them as close as we can. So they sound in tune to us and that applies to vocals as well. So your lead vocal might go down. And it sounds really good, but once you start adding like a double or triple or harmonies, low Okta have all these different layers of vocals, they're all just this little bit out from each other.

So, you know, you're, your double might be a little sharper. Your harmony might be a little flat. And then once you combine these things, which all sound good on their own. This sounds like a mess because the tuning gets more and more Corsi and more and more loose. So that's where vocal correction, uh, can really save the day is just like kind of finding, uh, a common middle ground between all of these different takes and moving them all to be relatively closer to each other.

Benedikt: [00:30:50] Sure. So maybe we should give you some of the tools or, um, talk about some of the tools you can use. If you want to try that. Just a quick overview of [00:31:00] what is out there. I think the most popular ones are, um, Melodyne probably and autotune like the G um, 

Malcom: [00:31:08] and both are pretty expensive. Yeah. Um, just as a heads up, but they're really good tools.

Benedikt: [00:31:14] Yeah. Is there a, like a light or cheaper version of it? That is, that is enough to start with. Uh, 

Malcom: [00:31:22] Melodyne I believe has like a kind of lower tier that does most of it. Um, that's probably worth checking out and I think, uh, hopefully I don't get this wrong, but sorry. I, you know, I'll Google it. Uh, isotope has something as well.

Um, pitch correction. That is, I haven't used this, so this gamer, um, but it is called nectar and, uh, it has pitch correction in it and it's pretty affordable as well, I believe. Um, so there's, there's those options for affordable ones. I would probably steer towards Melodyne cause they're really a leader in the field.

Um, and then [00:32:00] Auto-Tune my personal favorite is just bloody expensive. Uh, so only for the very serious there. Um, but once we move on to the needing manual tuning, and if you're just looking to get an automatic tuner that, uh, you've just used for like referencing and singing into and stuff like that, it becomes much more affordable.

Um, and you've got, uh, Auto-Tune realtime, which is made by the same company out of tune, but it doesn't have the manual graph mode and then there's waves to in real time as well. Um, and that one's great. I think I got it for like 29 bucks on sale. So you can't really go wrong with something like that. Uh, that does bring up one more manual tuner, which is made by waves as well.

It's called waves tune. Have you used that? Benny? 

Benedikt: [00:32:46] I have, but I, to be honest, um, I, I mean, I'm awful. Yeah. It's awful. Exactly. 

Malcom: [00:32:52] It's a piece of shit. I'm gonna swear. 

Benedikt: [00:32:56] It's absolutely right. So, I mean, I, I don't want to say [00:33:00] things like that. If I don't have, if I didn't spend enough time. With it and that I didn't really spend a lot of time with it, but my thoughts were exactly the same.

It's awful. 

Malcom: [00:33:07] I spent a lot of time with it. That's why I hate it so much. 

Benedikt: [00:33:10] Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So same here. Like, no, I don't, I don't use it ever. And, um, I also think it sucks, but maybe I'm sure there are some people out there who get great results with it, but I don't. So I don't like the gooey and everything. So.

Malcom: [00:33:24] Yeah. I almost feel like that's worth mentioning is that almost all of these tuners seem to have weird glitches. Like there it's really complicated, complicated software and processing, so there's kind of things that just go wrong randomly. Like Auto-Tune even still, well, sometimes it's jumping Okta. So all of a sudden you've got a chipmunk voice and you just, you figure out these ways to.

Quickly correct. The problem, um, that shouldn't have happened in the first place, but you just learn these tricks to make your, make the software work, but waves too is just unconquerable it's so time consuming and, uh, I'm currently [00:34:00] helping a friend, uh, kind of. Thank you sending me stuff that he's recording on his own, and he's asking for advice and he's using waves too.

And to tune his vocal and I warned him and he's just having the biggest nightmare. 

Benedikt: [00:34:12] Yeah, no, don't use that. And, uh, or maybe, I don't know if you're getting cheap or whatever, try it, but I wouldn't recommend getting it if it's, uh, if you. Shopping for the first software, but, um, there is an interesting feature in many doors, uh, nowadays.

So I use Cubase and Cubase has actually a great tuning thing built into it. And I use it a lot. I use it all the time actually, because it's just so, so yeah, the workflow is just great and intuitive and it can do a lot of things. So that is great. I think logic has a similar one. Um, I don't know if that is great, but I know it's there.

Uh, and. Or I think it's there. Am I wrong here? I don't, I don't know, but I think 

Malcom: [00:34:50] lots of logic, I think does have one, I think you're right. Um, yeah, I'm not really sure. ProTools definitely doesn't 

Benedikt: [00:34:55] proposals doesn't know. And, um, I don't know about Reaper or other [00:35:00] software. You might have to look it up, but there are dos that incorporate that.

And I think one day pro tools will as well, because it kind of is the standard for a couple of years now. And hubris and logic and stuff. So, but so in about 

Malcom: [00:35:12] 10 years, ProTools might have it. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:35:15] exactly. So, yeah, but you can even start with that. You can use that and, uh, to the state even, um, although I own a Melodyne audit tool and I still use Cubase joining, it's just great.

So, yeah. Um, that's basically it, I mean, I think. The main takeaway here is just that you don't need to be afraid of it. And that it's just a completely normal thing and that it's there to help your song. And even if you make organic sounding real sounding music, um, it's worth thinking about tuning and probably most of your favorite records, um, the vocal, the vocals have been tuned.

So yeah, that, that's just the, the main, the main takeaway here, I think. And when, whenever people think of and they have this [00:36:00] funny. Thing that they hear in their heads, but that that's not what it is actually. And that's what we want to 

Malcom: [00:36:05] show you with this that can be, if you want it doesn't have to be that.

Um, I just want to mention this there's one more kind of tuning that's probably worth mentioning and it's like just pitch shifting plugins. Um, which I, I believe every door would have one of those at least where, and, uh, what they do is just change all the audio. Up or down however many sensors semitones or tones do you want?

Um, so not really, very useful in a pitch correction, uh, vocal pitch correction situation. Um, I've seen it used well on screams and stuff like that. Yeah. Or you just take everything up and down, but it's, it's kind of tricky and you have to use your ear cause there's no visual kind of feedback to what what's happening.

Um, 

Benedikt: [00:36:48] yeah, 

Malcom: [00:36:49] but worth mentioning, 

Benedikt: [00:36:50] where's mentioning and especially because. If you don't have any of these, um, more expensive tuning softwares and your dad doesn't have a function like that, [00:37:00] but you still want to start, um, trying, trying to tune your vocals. You can actually grab like a single note that is off, or you can grab the worst parts of a performance quote, unquote, worst parts.

And then, um, Isolate them make them on another track or another file or whatever, and then just use a plugin like that and correct them that way and just move them up or down a bit. And that could be a start. So you can experiment with, with vocal tuning and sometimes, um, most of the performance is okay, but then there might be this long note that is just.

Slightly like slightly flat or sharp. And then you can just wrap that one isolated and then move it up or down. And that could be a great start and most doors have some function like that built into 

Malcom: [00:37:43] it. Totally. Totally. 

Benedikt: [00:37:47] Okay. Um, if you are interested in learning more about recording yourself and meant, uh, Malcolm mentioned it a couple of times that the last episodes were pretty like the big picture episodes with the order of [00:38:00] things, uh, pre production, what a producer actually does, stuff like that.

So if you listen to those. And you, you want to do you want to learn more about like the actual process? And if you want to like, get like a start to finish system for recording your own band, you can go to the self recording band.com/ten step guide, and you can download a free PDF. That's a 10 step guide to successful DIY recording.

It's like a mini ebook thing that walks you through the entire process. From writing, arranging, producing, editing, mixing all that. And, um, you can see how records are made basically and how you would go about it if you wanted to record your own band. So if you enjoy this podcast and want to go deeper, go download that.

It's the self recording band.com/ten step guide. All right. I think that is it for today's episode soon. 

Malcom: [00:38:53] Hope you enjoyed it, guys. 

Benedikt: [00:38:55] See you next week. Bye. Thank you for listening. [00:39:00] .

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