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Re: Use of Autotune

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  • 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 1 of 12 , Dec 2 8:24 AM
      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 2 of 12 , Dec 2 8:39 AM
        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 3 of 12 , Dec 2 10:43 AM
          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 4 of 12 , Dec 2 3:08 PM
            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 5 of 12 , Dec 5 1:35 PM
              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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