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Re: [bbshop] Use of Autotune

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  • Jeffrey Reifsnyder
    Tim, A buzz isn t really a tell-tale of autotune s use. That probably means you were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It doesn t
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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      Tim,

      A "buzz" isn't really a tell-tale of autotune's use. That probably means you
      were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It doesn't
      really mess with the vocal quality too much, at least in small doses,
      although there is certainly a difference. I tend to notice that voices sound
      too perfect or too computerized with autotune. That's due to the inherent
      digital modification of the sound waves; in a graph of the sound waves, the
      autotuned voice will look more smooth than the raw recording. My biggest
      annoyance with autotune is that it's not Pythagorean tempering, it's equal
      tempering (in layman's terms, pure tuning versus the tuning of a piano's
      keys). Although, some of the new versions apparently let you get a more fine
      tuned control of the notes. The average listener won't notice the tiny
      tuning issues in an equal tempered tuning anyway.

      Bad autotuned tracks will have a very stepped sound to them; swipes will be
      broken down by the program to individual notes instead. However, skilled
      recording engineers can get around that.

      To answer your specific question, autotune speeds up the process. Or, in the
      case of not so hot singers, makes it possible at all.
      From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune):
      In 2009, *Time* magazine quoted an unnamed Grammy-winning recording engineer
      as saying, "Let's just say I've had Auto-Tune save vocals on everything from
      Britney Spears to Bollywood cast albums. And every singer now presumes that
      you'll just run their voice through the box." The same article expressed
      "hope that pop's fetish for uniform perfect pitch will fade", speculating
      that pop-music songs have become harder to differentiate from one another,
      as "track after track has perfect pitch."[18][19] Timothy Powell, a
      producer/engineer stated in 2003 that he is "even starting to see vocal
      tuning devices show up in concert settings"; he states that "That's more of
      an ethical dilemma�people pay a premium dollar to see artists and artists
      want people to see them at their
      best."<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune#cite_note-Tribune-10>

      Another quote taken from wikipedia:
      According to the *Boston Herald*, "Country stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
      have both confessed to using Auto-Tune in performance, claiming it is a
      safety net that guarantees a good performance.

      <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-Tune#cite_note-8>I hope that helps.


      Jeffrey Reifsnyder
      e-mail: jayreif@...
      cell: (713) 890 - 2530


      On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 3:45 PM, tpblead <tpbuell@...> wrote:

      >
      >
      > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I
      > really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant
      > use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to
      > tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but
      > my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I
      > heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of
      > Autotune.
      >
      > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to
      > staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of
      > this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the
      > performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right,
      > would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
      >
      > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude
      > going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on,
      > or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they
      > couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other)
      > show.
      >
      > Thoughts?
      >
      > Tim Buell
      > Autotune free.
      > And usually at least close to on key.
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Michael Moran
      When music is recorded today many affects are used. Some are for pitch and bend and others are used to enhance the sound. Sometimes they use them because they
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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        When music is recorded today many affects are used. Some are for pitch and bend and others are used to enhance the sound. Sometimes they use them because they can and the young folks today aren't in to real true audio. When producing a show, time is money and money is time. Many producers of programs such as the one you are talking about want to get it done and move on with no respect for talent and artistry. They are paying for studio time. The beautiful thing about Barbershop and some other forms of acapella music is that it is real, it has feeling and it touches our hearts and souls.

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: tpblead
        To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2010 4:45 PM
        Subject: [bbshop] Use of Autotune



        Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.

        I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.

        My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.

        Thoughts?

        Tim Buell
        Autotune free.
        And usually at least close to on key.





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • karenmaney
        To those who think Autotune just has equal temperament, it actually has 29 different tuning systems. Here s an experiment:
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 2010
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          To those who think Autotune just has equal temperament, it actually has 29 different tuning systems. Here's an experiment:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE8DvCx54v8

          I autotuned the same intro on several different systems. They are not in the order listed in the video screen. I want to see if barbershoppers actually prefer one over the rest. I included pythagorean, mean temperament, and just intonation since I've heard barbershoppers talk about all of these. Also included are two I've never heard of, "partch" and "valotti," and the dreaded equal temperament.

          Can you tell the difference?

          Karen Maney
          www.SingMyPart.com



          --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@...> wrote:
          >
          > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
          >
          > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
          >
          > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
          >
          > Thoughts?
          >
          > Tim Buell
          > Autotune free.
          > And usually at least close to on key.
          >
        • Ben McDaniel
          Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an effect. I don t like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because it sounds weird
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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            Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an
            effect. I don't like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because
            it sounds weird (hence its value as an effect). One problem is that
            the voice doesn't sound right when it is completely pitch-steady, and
            the other problem is that it screws up consonants. And when it fixes
            pitch, it changes the timbre, which affects the vowels and the tone
            color and individuality of the voice.

            As an effect, it's just like any other cool solo vocal effect, whether
            it's narrow bandpass (like the Beastie Boys), talk box (like Peter
            Frampton), speeding up or slowing down the vocals (like Strawberry
            Fields Forever), backmasking (like "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC
            er'yehT"), intentionally analog-overdriven vocals, or any kind of
            phaser or delay. Most of those would might not work do much for
            ensemble singing, but they can sound really cool with solo vocals.

            Auto-Tune is only one of the problems with modern vocal recordings.
            Another is extreme compression and clipping. The audio is compressed
            (I'm not talking about data compression, but rather the audio effect)
            until everything is the same volume, and then it is turned up so high
            that all the waveforms are clipped and everything sounds loud. The
            overcompression results in obvious changes in tone (if you make a
            single note louder, it sounds more bassy; if you make it softer, it
            sounds more trebley -- overcompression results in the volume and tone
            changing constantly). The clipping results in lots of non-harmonic
            distortion (harmonic distortion is like a blues guitar; non-harmonic
            distortion is like a blown speaker).

            And, of course, data compression screws up audio as well. A high
            bit-rate mp3 doesn't sound bad, but audio data compression with a low
            bit rate or one that's been compressed multiple times gets a jangly
            sound that's just horrible. It's on television all the time now that
            the audio is digital and the data is compressed (it's most noticeable
            when an audience is applauding -- listen for that jangly sound during
            applause sometime), and it's really terrible on internet videos. It's
            even a problem in movies, where rather than using no data compression
            with standard 16-bit 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling per channel, which is all
            the human ear can hear, they use a higher bit rate and sampling and
            compress the audio data. So they're adding compression that make the
            sound worse -- you can actually hear it -- so that they can have
            dynamic precision that you can't hear and high frequencies that you
            can't hear. (Actually, now that I think about it, for movies 16-bit
            might not be enough precision -- it's so loud that you could hear when
            a sound dropped from one bit to zero bits, unless they added some
            one-bit noise, which might be audible on a big theatre sound system.
            But there's absolutely no reason to make the sampling rate higher than
            40-some kHz.)

            Anyway, I'm not sure why I felt the need to say all of that, but
            Auto-Tune, audio compression, clipping, and audio data compression
            really bother me. Give me a recording of a quartet (or any music) with
            a stereo pair any day (the audible difference between individual mics
            and a stereo pair is a rant for another day).

            Ben McDaniel
            Newton, Kansas
          • Paul Girard
            ... The smoothing may be taking the overtones out. ... The term pure tuning doesn t explain the idea. I would say rational tuning, as in Just Intonation
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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              On Dec 2, 2010, at 6:58 AM, bbshop@yahoogroups.com wrote:

              > Re: Use of Autotune
              > Posted by: "Jeffrey Reifsnyder" jayreif@... jay.reif
              > Wed Dec 1, 2010 7:21 pm (PST)
              >
              > Tim,
              >
              > A "buzz" isn't really a tell-tale of autotune's use. That probably
              > means you
              > were hearing a problem with the speakers you were listening with. It
              > doesn't
              > really mess with the vocal quality too much, at least in small doses,
              > although there is certainly a difference. I tend to notice that
              > voices sound
              > too perfect or too computerized with autotune. That's due to the
              > inherent
              > digital modification of the sound waves; in a graph of the sound
              > waves, the
              > autotuned voice will look more smooth than the raw recording.

              The smoothing may be taking the overtones out.

              > My biggest
              > annoyance with autotune is that it's not Pythagorean tempering, it's
              > equal
              > tempering (in layman's terms, pure tuning versus the tuning of a
              > piano's
              > keys).

              The term "pure" tuning doesn't explain the idea. I would say
              "rational" tuning, as in Just Intonation ratios or "harmonic" tuning.

              > <snip>

              > Jeffrey Reifsnyder
              > e-mail: jayreif@...
              > cell: (713) 890 - 2530



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bruce B
              Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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                Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20-ydkc094E&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1


                Bruce Baedke <><
                Bass - Pride of Iowa Chorus

                --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@...> wrote:
                >
                > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
                >
                > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
                >
                > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
                >
                > Thoughts?
                >
                > Tim Buell
                > Autotune free.
                > And usually at least close to on key.
                >
              • marty.lovick
                Great Gold medallists .. true champions, and ... oh never mind :-]
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 2, 2010
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                  Great Gold medallists .. true champions, and ... oh never mind :-]

                  --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "Bruce B" <kbaedke@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Saw a neat demo on Youtube using barbershop to show teh sound with and without autotune. Check out:
                  >
                  > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20-ydkc094E&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1
                  >
                  >
                  > Bruce Baedke <><
                  > Bass - Pride of Iowa Chorus
                  >
                  > --- In bbshop@yahoogroups.com, "tpblead" <tpbuell@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Here is a topic for discussion. I enjoy watching the TV show Glee, but I really dislike the use of Autotune. I have read others decrying the rampant use of Autotune on this show and others, but I had not really been able to tell on this show (maybe I really don't know what I am listening for), but my daughter showed me a clip from last night's show, and it seemed that I heard a slight buzz in the sound, that I am assuming is an artifact of Autotune.
                  > >
                  > > I can understand using Autotune when the performer is just not up to staying in tune, or perhaps to get a specific effect, but in the case of this show, it seems like the talent involved and the fact that the performances are pre-recorded and dubbed, allowing retakes to get it right, would mean that Autotune shouldn't be necessary.
                  > >
                  > > My question is this: Do they use Autotune because production costs preclude going back and "doing it right", so it is just easier to tweak it and go on, or is there something else at work here. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find someone that could carry a tune to be on this (or any other) show.
                  > >
                  > > Thoughts?
                  > >
                  > > Tim Buell
                  > > Autotune free.
                  > > And usually at least close to on key.
                  > >
                  >
                • Michael Moran
                  Ben that was a very well thought explanation. ... From: Ben McDaniel To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 11:24 AM Subject: [bbshop]
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 5, 2010
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                    Ben that was a very well thought explanation.

                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: Ben McDaniel
                    To: bbshop@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 11:24 AM
                    Subject: [bbshop] Re: Use of Autotune



                    Auto-Tune can give a really neat effect to the voice when used as an
                    effect. I don't like it when it is used to fix tuning, though, because
                    it sounds weird (hence its value as an effect). One problem is that
                    the voice doesn't sound right when it is completely pitch-steady, and
                    the other problem is that it screws up consonants. And when it fixes
                    pitch, it changes the timbre, which affects the vowels and the tone
                    color and individuality of the voice.

                    As an effect, it's just like any other cool solo vocal effect, whether
                    it's narrow bandpass (like the Beastie Boys), talk box (like Peter
                    Frampton), speeding up or slowing down the vocals (like Strawberry
                    Fields Forever), backmasking (like "!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC
                    er'yehT"), intentionally analog-overdriven vocals, or any kind of
                    phaser or delay. Most of those would might not work do much for
                    ensemble singing, but they can sound really cool with solo vocals.

                    Auto-Tune is only one of the problems with modern vocal recordings.
                    Another is extreme compression and clipping. The audio is compressed
                    (I'm not talking about data compression, but rather the audio effect)
                    until everything is the same volume, and then it is turned up so high
                    that all the waveforms are clipped and everything sounds loud. The
                    overcompression results in obvious changes in tone (if you make a
                    single note louder, it sounds more bassy; if you make it softer, it
                    sounds more trebley -- overcompression results in the volume and tone
                    changing constantly). The clipping results in lots of non-harmonic
                    distortion (harmonic distortion is like a blues guitar; non-harmonic
                    distortion is like a blown speaker).

                    And, of course, data compression screws up audio as well. A high
                    bit-rate mp3 doesn't sound bad, but audio data compression with a low
                    bit rate or one that's been compressed multiple times gets a jangly
                    sound that's just horrible. It's on television all the time now that
                    the audio is digital and the data is compressed (it's most noticeable
                    when an audience is applauding -- listen for that jangly sound during
                    applause sometime), and it's really terrible on internet videos. It's
                    even a problem in movies, where rather than using no data compression
                    with standard 16-bit 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling per channel, which is all
                    the human ear can hear, they use a higher bit rate and sampling and
                    compress the audio data. So they're adding compression that make the
                    sound worse -- you can actually hear it -- so that they can have
                    dynamic precision that you can't hear and high frequencies that you
                    can't hear. (Actually, now that I think about it, for movies 16-bit
                    might not be enough precision -- it's so loud that you could hear when
                    a sound dropped from one bit to zero bits, unless they added some
                    one-bit noise, which might be audible on a big theatre sound system.
                    But there's absolutely no reason to make the sampling rate higher than
                    40-some kHz.)

                    Anyway, I'm not sure why I felt the need to say all of that, but
                    Auto-Tune, audio compression, clipping, and audio data compression
                    really bother me. Give me a recording of a quartet (or any music) with
                    a stereo pair any day (the audible difference between individual mics
                    and a stereo pair is a rant for another day).

                    Ben McDaniel
                    Newton, Kansas




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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