Pitch correction plug-ins have become key tools in today's modern music production workflows as they enable producers to be able to quickly fix pitch issues in recorded vocal performances. But that isn’t all they can do, many use these types of plug-ins to correct intonation problems in instrument tracks such as bass guitars and stringed instruments.
The two most common ways of using pitch correction plug-ins are to either produce the over processed T-Pain/Cher effect or to carefully sculpt melodies in extremely transparent ways that sound inaudible.
In this list, we highlight a number of powerful tuning and pitch correction plug-ins that you should consider trying in your next mix.
Celemony Melodyne 4
Melodyne is a very intuitive tuning plug-in to use in vocal production but that's not the whole story when it comes to pitch correction in Melodyne. It boasts a clever technology called DNA (Direct Note Access) that can fix a single string that's out of tune in an acoustic guitar recording. Melodyne’s DNA displays the voicing clearly on the pitch map in a similar way to how MIDI notes are displayed in a piano roll, which makes it easy to correct out-of-tune notes within a chord.
The most recent version, Melodyne 4, boasts some very cool new features that shouldn't be overlooked. In the top tier version, Melodyne Studio 4, users can work in a DAW-like-UI making it quick and easy to edit entire multitrack productions on the fly. A clever tempo feature called Edit Tempo enables users to adjust the global tempo by either snapping the entire tempo of a song to one fixed bpm or adjusting sections in which timing is a noticeable issue.
When used musically and tastefully the results from Melodyne sound almost invisible. We suggest that you try to avoid using the automatic pitch and timing features too much as you could end up hearing the occasional note land where it shouldn't. To get the most out of Melodyne's tuning powers develop a workflow that encourages you to use the main set of pitch tools that are accessible by right-clicking your mouse on the timeline in conjunction with your ears and musicianship.
Watch our video Review of Melodyne 4 Studio to see a selection of its powerful features in action.
Antares Auto-Tune Pro
The birth, or shall we say the genesis of real-time pitch correction plug-ins started back in 1997 with Antares Auto-Tune which, like Melodyne, has been regarded as a gold standard in pitch correction. Over the last 20+ years Antares have continued to develop Auto-Tune with many great tuning features introduced within a simple to use GUI. The current Auto-Tune Pro version is one of only a few pitch correction plug-ins featured in this list that can be hosted on DSP, in this case being on the UAD 2 platform.
The Auto-Tune Pro interface has been redesigned from the ground up for a more streamlined workflow compared to previous versions. A new separate Auto-Key plug-in was introduced providing users with a handy automatic key detection that listens to the mix. The headline feature of Auto-Tune Pro is that it now supports ARA in DAWs such as Logic Pro X and Studio One. ARA has proved time and again to be a very useful workflow as it speeds up workflows by deeply integrating the power of a plug-in into a DAW environment.
Read: What Is ARA?
Auto Mode now includes two unique screen views:
Basic: Gives you quick and easy access to the core features of Auto Mode.
Advanced: that unlocks the powerful MIDI, scale editing and vibrato features.
The graph mode interface was also redesigned from the ground up in Auto-Tune Pro. In addition to a much larger main graph, the new graph mode features greater zoom resolution, user assignable zoom presets and controls reconfigured to optimise workflow efficiency.
In this video we compare Auto-Tune Pro’s graph mode workflow against Melodyne. Watch to see what the differences are between these two plug-ins.
In this next video we show you a cool production technique that makes use of both Auto-Tune Pro and Melodyne. If you throw an instance of Auto-Tune Pro on a vocal and set a fast retune speed, key and scale you’ll get half way of achieving a hard and fast vocal tuning effect but in some cases the vocal performance you are applying this process to may not trigger the exact melodies that you hear in your head. This is where Melodyne comes into play. By inserting an instance of Melodyne before Antares Auto-Tune you are in effect telling Auto-Tune what to force it’s automatic tuning process to. This enables us to add extra notational interest and movement throughout the performance as well as helping us to achieve the exact melodic results that sound 100% intentional.
Antares Auto-Tune Access
Auto-Tune Access delivers the core Auto-Tune technology that professional artists and producers rely on in Auto-Tune Pro. This lite version that costs a quarter of the price of Auto-Tune Pro doesn’t include the graph mode or any advanced settings, though what is available is the creative essence of Auto-Tune Pro. If you are looking for a simple to use tuning plug-in to get that hard and fast tuning effect then Auto-Tune Access is mostly likely all the plug-in you need.
Antares Auto-Tune EFX+
Auto-Tune EFX+ is a creative melody and tone shaping engine that sits neatly between both Auto-Tune Pro & Access in Antares tuning plug-in range. It’s a new versatile tuning tool by Antares designed specifically for modern vocal production that produces subtle enhancements through to extreme vocal mutations featuring Auto-Tune Pro’s main tuning engine along with a multi-effects rack and new Auto-Motion melodic pattern generator.
Over 100 expertly designed effects patches are bundled in of which many were created by industry leading producers including Mike Dean, Richard Devine and Jeff Rona. EFX+ low latency performance also enables artists to track directly through the plug-in.
The EFX multi-effects rack includes six different effects modules:
Pitch and Throat: for real-time pitch and formant shifting
Duet: for realistic doubling, with adjustable pitch and timing variation
Filter: a high-pass filter for EQ and special effects
Vocode: for vintage analog vocoder emulations
Tube Amp: for analog tube distortion modeling
Mutate: for ring modulated audio mutation
EFX+ also includes a cool XY Pad that enables you to have quick and easy real-time control of parameters in each of the effects modules.
A neat addition to EFX+ is The Auto-Motion melodic pattern generator which you can use to produce new melodic patterns and hooks by automatically pitch-shifting the original vocal or instrumental tracks using the provided patterns. Auto-Motion features an extensive library of melodic patterns that intelligently adapt to the key and tempo of the song.
If you are unsure of which Antares tuning plug-in to buy then you should check out the feature chart on the Antares website. This helpful “Which Auto-Tune is Right for You?” table will help you to compare the features and price of Auto-Tune Pro, Auto-Tune EFX+ and Auto-Tune Access.
Waves Tune Real-Time
Waves Tune Real-Time is a plug-in specifically designed for vocal pitch correction. It provides quick and instant results. If you have a vocal track that only requires minimal pitch correction then Waves Tune Real-Time will do a fantastic job. It's one of those plug-ins that demands a minimal learning curve from users, it's as intuitive as plug-ins get.
Waves Tune Real-Time really shines then used with an already great vocal performance. However, it does start to fail when you expect too much from it such as throwing a totally out of pitch vocal at it, expecting magic to happen. If you need to surgically retune a vocal then Waves Tune Real-Time may not provide you with the best results, instead, we suggest checking out Waves other tuning plug-ins, Waves Tune & Waves Tune LT.
PITCHMAP by Zynaptiq is a very different type of tuning plug-in compared to the others featured in this list. It's a tool that processes the pitch of individual sounds within mixed music, in real-time.
PITCHMAP in a league of its own, seriously there's no other plug-in like this on the market. You can use PITCHMAP to change melodies and harmonies of any song by simply playing on a MIDI keyboard and the tonality of the drums will stay pretty much untouched. PITCHMAP is a very useful tool in several applications such as pre-production in which PITCHMAP can be used to test different chord voicing ideas within demo recordings. It can also be used in remix workflows to change the entire melodic structure of a song.
Hearing is believing when it comes to PITCHMAP, watch our video review of PITCHMAP to hear it in action.
If you are on a budget and looking for a simple to use pitch correction plug-in then we recommend Waves Tune. Regular pricing for Waves Tune is $249 which is a fair price, however, if you keep a close eye on the Waves website you will most likely find this pop up in one of Waves regular promotions for $29, which is outstanding value for money. Waves Tune doesn't have all the bells and whistles other pitch correction plug-ins have such as polyphonic tuning but don't let that put you off. Waves Tune is a very capable real-time pitch correction plug-in which includes all the essential tools for getting vocals in tune fast. If you pick this up in one of Waves' promotions then you have grabbed yourself a very good deal indeed.
If you are a bit strapped for cash but require a tuning plug-in then get yourself the free copy of MAutoPitch by MeldaProductions. The MAutoPitch plug-in is part of a large free plug-in bundle available from the MedlaProductions' website.
MAutoPitch is similar to Waves Tune Real-Time. It is a simple yet great sounding automatic pitch correction plugin designed specifically for vocals and other monophonic instruments. Setting MAutoPitch up couldn't be simpler... Set the key (scale) of the song at the bottom of the GUI, dial in the strength (depth) and you've got automatic pitch correction on your tracks. If you get the occasional peak from your audio within MAutoPitch a useful built-in limiter can be engaged to avoid clipping your tracks.
Synchro Arts Revoice Pro 4
ReVoice Pro is a software package that allows you to synchronize two or more vocal performances to a master reference. This can be ADR, alternative production takes, music vocals, or even instrument recordings. It can sync both time and pitch but what you may not be aware of is that its manual pitch correction is very well respected and that is why it earns a place in this article. Revoice Pro is used worldwide by top audio professionals for alignment of vocals, instruments and ADR as well as double track generation
Major new features include a simple yet powerful toolset for manually adjusting audio timing and pitch. Synchro Arts have also been working hard to provide the most natural and transparent-sounding processing available.
At the heart of ReVoice Pro is the unique Audio Performance Transfer (APT) process, that can give the user the ability to take the timing, pitch, vibrato and level features of one audio track and use it on another, which allows you to match or correct timing and tuning. You can choose to work fast with automatic workflows or use the manual Warp process for pitch and timing.
A while back we posted a shootout of three popular audio pitch correction software applications; with Antares AutoTune, Celemony Melodyne 4 and Synchro Arts Revoice Pro 3. We also included the untreated original vocal recording. We asked which one you preferred, and Revoice Pro from Synchro Arts came out on top with 36% of the vote. You can read more about this in our article Pitch Correction Shoot Out - The Results.
Whilst the results are of some interest the most interesting one is how few preferred the original performance. The performance was chosen because of the note drift on some notes and whilst not perfect it was not in the realm of bad singing by any stretch.
This seems to indicate that despite all the negative rhetoric often seen written in forums and on social media about tuning software it seems 9 in 10 preferred a tuned vocal in this case.
Earlier in 2019 Revoice Pro 4.1 was released boasting a raft of new features shown in the video below.
Revoice Pro is known for, among other things, its unique ability to automatically transfer pitch and timing characteristics from one audio file to another. It’s easy to overlook how great a tool it is for basic vocal tuning as well. It’s not only accurate and pristine sounding, but it’s also intuitive and straightforward to use. You can fly through a file in no time, and now, with the release of Revoice Pro v. 4.1, it's easier to use than ever.
Amongst all the new features are some useful key commands that make Warp editing quicker than it has ever been. The Warp process is used for manual time and pitch editing. The addition of several new Warp based key commands in the 4.1 update makes it simple to get your vocal in tune with significantly fewer keystrokes.
Converting to Warp, selecting and correcting all notes (or selected notes), and smooth joining are now each executed with a single keystroke. In this free video tutorial, made with the support of Synchro Arts, I tune a short vocal phrase in a just few minutes using some of the new key commands.
vielklang Instant Harmony by zplane is another one of those useful tuning plug-ins that can automatically generate harmonies. The plug-in can add up to 4 very natural sounding harmonies based on the lead vocal line and key of a song.
Vielklang is available in two tiers, LE and Full. The Full version includes advanced pitch editing controls similar to other piano roll based pitch correction plug-ins featured in this list. give you fast and easy access to pitch, timing, vibrato control, formant shift, and to many more editing options.
There are our top 10 tuning and pitch correction plug-ins. Which ones do you use? Let us know in the comments below...