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How to use auto-tune

If you walk around on a street and ask people if they know what auto-tune is, their answer will probably be yes. Some people think that everyone can sing if you just add some Auto-Tune. Most of them don't even know that auto-tune is used in nearly all songs. As a producer, you probably know that auto-tune is a crazy important tool for absolute pro singers and beginners. It doesn't matter where you are in your career. But what matters is that you know how to use it.

Table of Contents


1 - How does Auto-Tune Work?

So in general the part of how plugins work aren't that important. But I thought it was kind of interesting, so I'll explain how auto-tune works first. So, the VST receives the input signal from your singer and detects the pitch. When the current pitch is detected, the algorithm automatically adjusts each note in the key you want it to be in. It will adjust each note to the closest pitch-based note on your key.

2 - The Parameters

Let's talk about the parameters and how to use them.


For this parameter you get a drop-down menu where you can select the key you're working in. If you're the producer, you probably know the key. If not, auto-tune plugins sometimes come to find a key detection tool or you can play the instrumental and use a phone to determine the key. Otherwise, you can just upload the instrumental to a key detection website.

Input Type

Some VSTs give you an input type parameter. In my autotune plugin, you can select between instruments and for now more importantly Low Male, Alto/Tenor, and soprano. Low Male basically says what it is for. Alto/Tenor works best on middle register vocals and Soprano for higher registers. The best way to go is most of the time Alto/Tenor but decide on your own for this one.

Retune Speed

This knob is the most important one! It controls how fast the plugin reacts to a missed note. At 0, you get the robotic voice effect because the correction works immediately. If you bring the retune speed "up", you will achieve a way more natural sound. Play around with it until you get the sound you're looking for. The effect you want to achieve depends on the genre. If you work in a more pop genre, for example an Adele-like song, you should go for a slow return speed and try to make the voice as natural as possible. You can also automate the retune speed if certain sections of the recording need more or less tuning. When talking about nature, we have to talk about the humanized parameter.


To be honest, I'm not completely sure if this or a similar parameter exists in all auto-tune VSTs. In Antares, it exists so I decided to cover it up here. The Humanize parameter helps you cover even short notes that are usually hard to cover with a slow retune speed. Find a good mix with this one and the Retune Speed.

3 - Final notes

As you can see, it's super easy to use an auto-tune plugin. You can't do something wrong (besides using the wrong key). Oh, and don't forget, auto-tune just corrects the pitch and won't turn a bad performance into a good one. Make sure you still get the best vocal performance possible. If you want to learn more about vocal production, you can check the vocal production blog section over HERE.

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