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Fun with Auto-Tune

Some of you may not be aware, but Auto-Tune in an integral part of internet culture and pop history. What started off as an automated pitch-correction and audio-processing software created by Antares Audio Technologies to help out lazy, tone deaf singers, soon became a tool for internet comedians and trolls. People started Auto-Tuning stuff all over the place - from news videos to campaign speeches to even Martin Luther King, thus placing Auto-Tune firmly in the hallowed cyber halls of internet memes! Auto-Tune garnered its share of controversy in the entertainment industry too, with some artists (the untalented ones) taking to it like fish to water and some (the more skilled ones we suppose) renouncing it, saying singers should be able to sing without artificial tuning aids. Anyway whatever the stories and back stories, we're only interested in the kind of fun you can have while playing around with Auto-Tune.

Setting up Auto-Tune

Auto-Tune is a plugin that installs itself with many sound editing and recording software. In this workshop we're going to be looking at using it with Audacity.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have Audacity version 1.3.12 (Beta). You can download it from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/. The way that Auto-Tune is going to work is through VST effects supported by Audacity. Go to http://www.antarestech.com/down-load/update.shtml and download the VTS plugin for Auto-Tune Evo. Once you have the plugin you need to unzip and install it into the Audacity's plugins folder (default is c:\Program Files\Audacity 1.3 Beta (Unicode)\Plug- Ins). The latest version of Audacity is capable of detecting plugins on its own, but for this you need to go into Edit> Preferences> Effects and check the box for "Rescan VST Effects next time Audacity is started". Now before you restart Audacity it's recommended that you restart your system since the plugin needs to make some changes to it. Now, when you start Audacity your trial for Auto-Tune should commence and you will have Auto-Tune in your effects dropdown list.

How to Auto-Tune

Now that you have everything set up you can get down to Auto-Tuning stuff. To begin, select a sound sample that you wish to Auto-Tune, or you can simply record your voice by clicking the red button. Make a selection of the part you wish to Auto-Tune and go to Effect>Antares Audio: Auto-Tune Evo VTS. This will bring up the Auto-Tune interface.

Auto-Tune Interface

Tweaking the Auto-Tune settings

Remember, Auto-Tune's intended use is to correct pitch and key errors i.e. automagically nudging out of tune notes to the right track. Bu t what we're using it for is to create comical effects in our recordings. This sound signature which has now been unofficially dubbed as the Auto-Tuned sound can be achieved by playing around with some of the settings in the interface. The important settings are:

Humanize which should be kept at 0, Tracking also at 0 i.e. fully relaxed so that it makes changes often, and Scale. If you have a little knowledge of music you can achieve spectacular results. These are the settings you need to tweak to make yourself sound like a Musical robot, Akon, or T-pain (of ''I'm on a Boat" fame):

Key: C
Scale: Major
Retune Speed: 0

Scale detune: 4 cents, 441.0 hertz

Humanize: 0

Vibrato Settings: All 0

You can also find a preset settings file on the internet which you can apply by clicking on Load at the top.

Once you're done playing around with the settings click ok and the effect will be applied to your sample within a few moments.

So that's it on how to Auto-Tune recorded samples. If you have a studio level sound editing software, you can set Auto-Tune to be a part of the effects chain thereby getting live effects as you speak/ sing into the microphone.