Autotune is a pitch correction tool that can help with missed flat or sharp notes in a recording session, allowing you to manipulate your vocal samples key and pitch drift, and even in some cases, affect the timing and volume. When it comes to being pitch-perfect, the producer can always make edits. On the other hand, bad performance cannot be fixed, even with the most avant-garde tools. It is therefore important to get the best performance with all the emotions, nuances and energy fully captured before you get started with autotune.
If you are unfamiliar with installation, you can check out this article that goes over the process. I have previously covered plug-ins for vocals, guitars, drums, and synths. In this article I will go over the best autotune plug-ins I have used with Ableton. So let’s get to it!
Auto-Tune Pro X by Antares
This is the most popular and advanced autotune plug-in among professional producers. It is very powerful and highly accurate when it comes to pitching correction. Before I talk about the features, here are other alternatives Antares provides you with to substitute the relatively expensive Pro X.
- Auto-Tune artist – This provides you with fewer controls for your production needs compared to Pro X but you will not be compromising quality and accuracy
- Auto-Tune Access – this is Antares’ entry-level autotune plug-in. its minimalist approach makes it easy to use and good for live performances and less CPU usage
Auto-Tune Pro X now comes with a crisp and high-definition GUI that is scalable for a cleaner mixing window with light and dark. With Pro X, you get an undo and redo toggle for changes you have made in the plug-in, and a new ‘mix’ know that helps you blend the dry and wet signals. Several 3rd parties and artists have contributed to creating presets for this plug-in, and also allows you to create your custom presets and save your favourites in your favourites folder.
You can choose how Pro X treats your vocals by selecting your vocal type, or with the new AI learning algorithm, you can let Pro X listen to your vocals and select the appropriate voicing. If you have Auto-Key installed you will also bypass choosing the exact key and scale type. In the graph mode, you can print your audio into Antares, and pitch correct every single phrase accurately.
Tracking helps Pro X adjust to signal noise that might affect its effectiveness, Retune Speed determines how fast Pro X adjusts to note changes in ms. Flex Tune and Humanize control the pitch drift algorithms for more natural sounding results. The Modern and Classic modes for cleaner natural sounds for modern and classic for the classic autotune sounds.
The list of the new effects for Pro X is limitless and this powerful tool is available here for a $459.00 one-time payment available only as a VST 3.0 for Ableton.
Waves Tune Real-Time
As the name suggests, Real-Time is fast, sharp and dynamic. Perfect for playback during recording and performance, and if you set your parameters tightly, blissfully transparent. It also happens to be my favourite autotune plug-in on this list.
The GUI up front has all your options on the main page, with no wasted space at all. In terms of utility, you will get your general speed and not transition controls, whereas, in Real-Time, you can link these two parameters, and also control how the auto-tune behaves during note transitions using the tolerance controls. The correction knob, when activated behaves as the wet and dry signal controls.
You will get your vocal range toggle just above the piano roll to prepare Real-Time’s tuning range, from Bass to Soprano. The coolest feature to prep your artist for performance is the reference tone. With this function active, you can play the root note or any note of the scale in Real-Time so they can get in key and the target pitch feature has your audio input to always lock your sample to a specific note that it will slide down to after every phrase.
Real-Time runs very efficiently in your DAW, taking up little CPU power depending on how hard you are pushing this plug-in. It is very affordable at $199 but Wave almost always has this plug-in on sale as at the time of writing, it is currently $29.99 here available in both 64-bit, VST 2.0 and 3.0 formats.
Meta Tune by Slate Digital
When it comes to ease of use, Meta Tune has no competition. Compares to Antares’ autotune plug-in variations, it falls somewhere between Auto-Tune Pro X and Artist in functionality, with the simple design of Auto-Tune Access.
The user interface has 3 main controls: speed where your sound will be robotic if fast, natural if slow, sustain controlling the note transitions, and the dry-wet toggle in amount. You can choose your skill and scale types, and also create a custom scale. Above the piano roll, you can see what the artist is signing, and what Meta Tune is aiming for, allowing you to identify more complex tuning to create your custom scales.
You can group Meta Tune when opened on 2 or more audio tracks, linking all the control parameters for fluid control. Meta Tune also comes with a vocal doubler which comes with width control and dry-wet control sliders to make your artist’s vocals sound bigger and lush. Note stabilizer eliminates the need for a graphic view like the one in Antares’ Pro X. It controls your pitch and pitch drift for a more transparent or robotic vocal effect depending on what you are going for.
For £174, you can get this plug-in here supported in the 64-bit VST 2.0 and 3.0 for Ableton.
In the introduction, you will see that autotune plug-ins are effectively pitch correction tools. With this in mind, here is my honourable mention.
Melodyne by Celemony
Melodyne is not a real-time pitch correction tool. It requires quite a bit of work but its editing and pitch correction capabilities are unmatched. This is my predominant pitch correction tool when working with singers. It is incredibly transparent and exclusively in the graphic view.
Melodyne requires you to import your vocals by recording your sample into Melodyne (this preserves your original recording) and once you are done editing, you can play back your vocals through the plug-in or print the edited vocals into a new audio track.
Other features include amplitude, note length, pitch drift controls and a cutting tool that you can use to manually remove breaths, silence and artefacts. You can get this plug-in only in the 64-bit VST 3.0 here.
In the old way of analogue music production, artists and producers did not have the help of autotune to help them with pitch correction. But in this modern era of music production, autotune has become a staple even among your favourite, gifted artists. It is not uncommon to use autotune as a creative or repair tool. It does not mean that they are bad or should be criticized, it is just like any tool in modernity that pushes you to improvise, adapt and overcome. Remember, garbage in garbage out. Have fun!