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Do "all professional singers nowadays" use a pitch control device?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by kydave, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    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.

    Is it?
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    There is some truth to the hyperbole.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    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.
  4. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    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...)
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    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.
  6. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    Anybody here do live sound for primarily acoustic acts? AKUS type music? Or old school country singers? (as opposed to pretty face de jure)
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    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)

    Thanks again,

  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    @kydave - From what I've seen, in order to use pitch control effectively in live sound you really need your own sound people and probably your own equipment. (I'm sure you have heard of soundguy fantasies of sabotaging arrogant musos by unleashing a pitch control at the wrong time.) So that cuts out all of the acts that are traveling around in a single van or an old bus. That's a lot of the bluegrass/folk scene.
  12. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I think some pros use it who don't need it because of marketing concerns. Perfectly pitched vox is all the rage right now, so I suspect some talented singers are just catering to the trend. Hate to see it, though. I think it was Davedog who said "I'd rather hear a little grit in an honest performance" or something like that.
    Makzimia likes this.
  13. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    I can't imagine BB King going through one of those... Or Janice... Or George Jones... the list goes on.
  14. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    There once was some wanker on this board who said Joe Cocker needed to be autotuned. He got banned (for other similar observations).
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That wasn't why he got banned. It was an insight into the lack of musical perception he had though. He was just a plain old jackass.
  16. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

  17. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    I'd NEVER allow autotune on my voice! I need the minor imperfections to add some character to all three notes in my range! Kapt.Krunch
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member


    Spoken like a True Pro!

    Everyone on television uses a form of autotune. Except when they dont. And then its obvious. Even with the really good singers. The show The SingOff didnt have any autotune and they were all magnificent.

    Like Bob said, its much more prevalent than you might realize.

    I have a friend who is an electrical engineer. Lots of patents and inventions of various devices. He built a box which allows on-air streaming and editing as the signal hits the truck. Kind of an ability to sweeten something before it goes to broadcast. Theres always been that little delay in stuff on broadcast and now there's the ability to edit as it streams. Cool huh. You can get your instant replay instantly but doctored to show it was 'out-of-bounds'....No, not really....but it does lend itself to possibilities for live music broadcasts doesnt it.
  19. kydave

    kydave Active Member

    Thanks Gents! You are very kind to a newcomer's oddball question.
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Unfortunately, it is not actually an oddball question. I may despise the trend like I despise compressed audio passing for acceptable but it is a reality. Learning to use the tool appropriately is necessary for anyone entering the business as a sound engineer or non classical (the majority) musician. People like me already in a niche and just plain pig headed stubborn would still have to utilize these tools if we wanted to return to the mainstream.

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