There is some truth to the hyperbole.
A guy on a guitar forum threw out a statement that "all pro singers live with their own guy on the board" and "all pro singers in pro studios use" pitch control devices now.
As a pro singer for much of my life that makes me sad if true.
There is some truth to the hyperbole.
But not all true. The amount of pitch correction required by a proper singer is neglible and only in the studio. Timing is generally what is being tightened and maybe one pitch here or there. On most of the crap that passes for singing these days a full time Autotune or similar is used because they couldn't actually sing a tune if you held a gun to their head. That is why they have to lip sync when they are "live." Is it proper? Not in my opinion but no one asked me. Similarly, there is the legal system and actual justice.
Computers and DAW Pro Audio Forums Moderator
Pro Horn player & Piano Technician
Kranking out Kopprasch since 1977
I've sung all my life and many years of my life that was what I did for a living. Never big time, but a working local musician for years at a time... I had friends and acquaintances in the big time and opened shows for many in the big time who weren't friends. This is primarily in County music and Bluegrass music. I suspect most of them would have been or would be insulted by someone in the sound booth saying they were going to use a pitch control device - for what ever reason - during their live show.
The comment the guy made struck me as so weird (in the context that most people on that forum are older and lean toward bluegrass, folk, Celtic types of music rather than hip hop) that I did a quick search and joined this forum in hope of getting some input from professionals in the sound booths.
I appreciate your feedback and comments.
(Kentucky Dave is the handle, although I'm in Northern California for many years now...)
I will add, some, if not many use autotune as an effect. If you put it on a pop song and feed it to the MP3 generation, they instantly think you sound great opposed to not being there. Much like playing an electric guitar opposed to acoustic in the 60,'s 70's, and 80's. You can play the same notes on both instruments but the electric through a Marshall will instantly impress the Rock Generation. Autotune is the same thing now. Its definitely a crutch and I echo all said above, and I would bet many people singing these days could not hold a note without it but its also part of the MP3 culture.
The next trend... Robotic vocals are next I bet. 100% synthetic vocals. It will evenually become 100% ITB, no mics, just virtual. And its not far away.
Anybody here do live sound for primarily acoustic acts? AKUS type music? Or old school country singers? (as opposed to pretty face de jure)
I did live sound for primarily anyone who would cough up the necessary cash. That includes solo and small group folky acoustic stuff, blugrass groups, ridiculous chaotic acoustic jams, Balkan-Middle Eastern stuff etc. interspersed with classic rock, jam band, reggae, metal, punk and jazz.
Did you work for any big name shows, and if so, were they using pitch correction devices?
Again, I'm basically looking for someone with the credentials and experience to say that most "professional singers" (and I'm limiting it pretty much to bluegrass, country, folk, americana - excluding pop, hiphop, c-rap)
do or do not
want and/or expect pitch correction devices as part of their normal sound reinforcement systems, both live and studio. (separating the categories, though. i.e., want/demand in studio, but not live; vice versa; both; neither)
I don't pretend to have any basis for knowing what "all pro singers in pro studios" do. But my guess is that it gets used more than people think - even by very good singers. One big reason is the trend toward "comping" vocals - taking several takes of a song and piecing an A track together word-by-word, even syllable-by-syllable. Tightening the pitch a bit - even for someone who is quite accurate - can help unify a comped vocal. Also, my experience with Melodyne is that it really shines on vocals (and horns and strings) that "don't need" it. Tighten up the pitch - bring it 2-3 cents closer to center - and you can make a trak soooo much easier to eq. I was doing a violin playing whole notes in the background of a song. Loaded her track into Melodyne and she was pretty dead on pitch the entire song. Figured it wouldn't really make any difference, and when I set it to correct the pitch to 85% the note blobs hardly moved (unlike, say the massive shifts when I correct my vocals). But it made a big difference with my perception of the need for eq and the way the track sat in the mix.
Alto Dog Studios, Blacksburg, VA
My range covered coffeehouse open mic first timers to regional acts and the occasional former national act on the way back down. Pitch correction was never considered.
Once or twice in the studio working with mostly local acts we tried pitch correction for minor fixes when the performer is not available to come back and do it right. That seemed like a reasonable use of the tool.