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Creating the Auto-Tune Effect in Auto-Tune

There’s a lot that you can do with Auto-Tune. From subtle pitch correction to adding liveliness to a performance, it’s a power tool for vocal production. But sometimes, what you really want is the Auto-Tune Effect.

Far from subtle, the Auto-Tune Effect gives vocals those blocky, robotic vibes that sound like they’re coming from the future. In this article, we'll show you how to make "Auto-Tune: The Plug-in" sound like “Auto-Tune: The Cultural Phenomenon." {One quick note: the images in this piece feature Auto-Tune Pro, but most of these tips also apply to other versions of Auto-Tune.}

robot doing auto-tune effect

"I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords."

Setting the Scene

The most essential setting to getting the Auto-Tune Effect sound is a fast Retune Speed, which refers to how quickly the plug-in adjusts the pitch of an incoming note to correct it. The faster the Retune Speed, the more inhuman and apparent the effect. To start, set your Retune Speed to 0 (in Auto-Tune Pro/Artist/EFX+), or to Fast (in Auto-Tune Access).

image of Auto-Tune effect GUI

How all four 4 in Auto-Tune should look (in the Pro and Artist versions).

 

You’ll want to further De-Humanize Auto-Tune’s Effect by setting the other major parameters to 0. In Auto-Tune Pro and Auto-Tune Artist this means that Flex-Tune (which makes the retuning effect less aggressive) and Humanize (which slows down retuning during longer sustained notes) should be all the way off, fully to the left. We’re going to leave Natural Vibrato alone for now. You can experiment with it later, but for now leave it at its default setting of 0.0 (12 o’clock).

Moving at Scale

By default, Auto-Tune will correct to a chromatic scale, meaning that incoming audio will be corrected to any of the semitones. This doesn’t result in super-audible correction, so let’s adjust. In this example, the song is in G Major, so we’re going to set Auto-Tune’s scale to G Major.

 

image of auto tune pro

Customizing the scale in Auto-Tune Pro.

 

It’s possible to add and remove notes or create a custom scale with Auto-Tune. This can be helpful in making effects much more exaggerated by removing options, but be careful! (Unless you’re just making a meme.)

What about Input Type?

The Input Type feature helps optimize how Auto-Tune handles incoming audio by setting it to receive different pitched ranges of human voice or instruments. This parameter can really help you get the most out of Auto-Tune! Match the Input Type setting to the range of your vocal for best results.

Listen to the Auto-Tune Effect

Now let’s take a deeper dive into how to make Auto-Tune sound good—like, really good. But first, let’s step back in time to Kanye West’s classic Love Lockdown. Pay attention to the beginning of the track, when it’s just his voice and an 808.

Listen to these examples to hear how it works:

The thing about Auto-Tune’s retuning is that you’ll hear it the most during transitions between notes. This means that, if you’re looking for an “Auto-Tune” sound, you want to add more transitional flourishes between notes, and do a poor job of holding sustained notes. Think of the flourishes that singers like Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera add to their music, then do that terribly (like we did above). It’s worth it for the effect!

Graph Mode: For The Pros

The methods we’ve shown you here to Auto-Tune your voice all apply to the common mode available in all editions of Auto-Tune. In Auto-Tune Pro, this mode is known as Auto Mode. As you can see, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for getting that classic robotic vocal sound. If you’re an Auto-Tune Pro user, be sure to check out that application’s other mode, called Graph Mode, which provides a number of ways to get an even more pronounced effect. 

The Auto-Tune Effect is perhaps the most recognizable vocal treatment since reverb. Check out these artists who have mastered the creative use of the Auto-Tune Effect.

Spread the Robot Love

Now that you know how to create the Auto-Tune Effect, we’d love to hear how you’re using it on your tracks. Please share your tracks with the hashtag #AutoTune and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.