Auto-tune seems to be a bit like marmite, some vocalists can’t live without it and apply it to every recording, even if it is only by a small amount. Some vocalists hate the idea of their vocal performance needing to be smoothed and pitch-corrected and stay far far away.
For the lovers of auto-tune, there is plenty of equipment that now makes these clever effects accessible to all. By all, I mean live performers, studio performers, and post-production engineers.
The way technology has developed is fascinating and the ability to be able to connect your microphone to a vocal effects pedal and correct your vocal in real-time is amazing.
If you are new to vocal effects and particular auto-tune, we’ve got you covered. I will explain exactly what auto-tune is and how it can benefit your performance.
In this article, we will explain the multiple ways you can pair auto-tune to your vocal, both in-studio recording sessions and during a live performance in real-time. We will also explore which microphone is the best for pairing with auto-tune effects.
What Is an Autotune Microphone?
An auto-tune Mic may sound like a magical kind of microphone that can make you sound pitch-perfect at all times but unfortunately, that is not the case. You can add auto-tune to your recorded or live vocals using equipment that you can pair with a microphone. Choosing a microphone that will work well with auto-tune effects is key to making the vocal and added effect sound natural.
So, what is auto-tune exactly? Auto-tune is a kind of technology that can work on a range of voices and sounds. Auto-tune is used to make sure that the vocal sounds smooth and can even pitch correctly to make the singer or instrument sound more in tune with the music.
To get technical – auto-tune pitch correctors are able to correct pitch by shifting the incoming audio to the nearest true semitone. To apply auto-tube, you can change the notes manually or you can input the key and the scale you would like the audio to be within.
You can actually tune auto-tune effects and other pitch-correcting processors. This feature is a must especially if you are wanting to apply to auto-tune after the performance, in post-production. Being able to tune the auto-tune effect to the key of the song, no matter how out of tune the vocalist performs the auto-tune will be able to make it sound perfect and smoothly in pitch.
Although, if you use too much auto-tune effect on performance the vocal can start to sound robotic. This is because when auto-tune is overused it removes the vibrato between notes and therefore sounds quite false and overedited.
Auto-tune is such a popular effect that it is not only used by engineers and producers in post-production but there is even technology allowing live musicians to incorporate it into their performance.
How an Auto-Tuning Mic Works
The way you can add auto-tune onto a vocal performance is to either use a digital plug-in and effect in post-production or a processor in the form of a pedal and rack mounts.
There are no specially-made microphones on the market that have auto-tune processors and effects built inside them. This technology does not exist as it would be hard to control the pitch of the auto-tune when there is no musical reference or key input to base the effect on. The auto-tune microphone also is not a very versatile product idea.
Even though there technically may not be such a thing as an auto-tuned microphone, there are microphones that work very well capturing the audio which would pair with an auto-tune effect.
If you are playing live, there are also microphones that you can connect to your pedal to make sure that your vocal performance is auto-tuned in real-time.
The way auto-tune works with a microphone is that the microphone captures the audio which is then sent through the auto-tune processor and then sent back through to the speakers as the output. If you are using auto-tune in a studio recording session, then it works slightly differently.
The microphone will capture the audio of the vocalist which will then be sent through a DAW which will have auto-tune engaged.
Even though the microphone does not produce the auto-tune audio effects itself does not mean that it is not an important factor when choosing what equipment you will need. Auto-tune is commonly used in pop music and pop music traditionally uses crisp and clean sounds when recording the vocals.
Therefore, if you are wanting to record pop vocals then choosing a microphone that can produce a clean, crisp sound that is sensitive to picking up the details of the vocal will be key.
If you are wanting to use auto-tune live, it is important to choose the correct microphone to pair with your pedal. Mostly, you can use any kind of dynamic or condenser microphone with vocal effect pedals.
If you are recording a live acoustic home set with your auto-tune pedal then I would recommend that you choose a condenser microphone as a condenser microphone will be more sensitive and pick up lots of beautiful detail in the voice.
If you are wanting to auto-tune your vocal at a live event, it is best to use a dynamic mic and either connect the microphone to the pedal or use a rack mount.
Best Microphone For Autotune
There is a huge range of microphones and equipment that you can use to successfully use auto-tune your vocals. The best equipment that will pair well with auto-tune effects is durable and able to be used in live settings. It is easy to use a microphone and add auto-tune is post-production but finding a piece of equipment that will allow you to do it live is rare.
After reading reviews from customers and experts, here is a list of the top Auto-Tune microphones that are best sellers:
Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone:
The Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone is one of the best Neumann microphones when asked by experts and customers. The Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone is compact in design and will not blow your budget.
The TLM 102 MT will work best when used on quieter instruments as the condenser microphone is very sensitive and will be able to pick up both high frequencies and low frequencies details.
This microphone is often used as a live microphone. To make it a microphone with autotune, the processors for an auto-tune effect will be in a pedal. This pedal can be controlled externally while the singer is performing. While pairing this microphone with a pedal, the auto-tune technology will activate.
The reason the Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone works so well with an autotune mic effect is that the microphone is able to suppress borne noise. Due to the extra features added to the Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone, it will create a clear, crisp sound even when paired with auto-tune technology.
Here are the Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone features:
- Easy handling for vocal and instrumental recordings
- Distortion-free sound even at extreme sound pressure levels
- Slight treble boost for silky vocals
- Built-in pop shield
When compared to other microphones, the Audio-Technica AT4050 Microphone is on the higher end when looking at the budget. This is a multi-pattern condenser microphone and therefore is super sensitive to sounds. The microphone can be used in many ways as you can change the polar pattern with three switchable options.
The Audio-Technica AT4050 Microphone will work fantastically in both studio and live settings and therefore is a versatile microphone. When paired with auto-tune technology, the Audio-Technica AT4050 Microphone works well as it has features like low-frequency distortion and super correlation effect which helps balance the effect.
To achieve an auto-tune mic effect the Audio-Technica AT4050 Microphone will have to be paired with an external auto-tune pedal or plug-in.
Here are the Audio-Technica AT4050 Microphone features:
- Clean, crisp, and accurate sound reproduction
- Ideal for both studio and live applications
- Versatile sounds with three switchable polar patterns
- Durable casing for reliable extended use
- Dual-diaphragm capsule maintains a precise polar pattern definition
- Supplied with AT8449a shock mount for superior sonic isolation
- Switchable 80 Hz hi-pass filter and 10dB pad
Pyle PRO PDMICR42SL Microphone
The Pyle PRO PDMICR42SL Microphone is an old-school-style microphone that has a cardioid polar pattern. Not only does this microphone have an old-school look, but it can also provide an old-school sound and will pair well with effects like auto-tune. The Pyle PRO PDMICR42SL Microphone has an ON/OFF switch unlike any of the other microphones on this list.
The Pyle PRO PDMICR42SL Microphone not only features a built-in pop shield but also a wide range of frequency responses that will not pick up noise from any areas around the mic making it perfect for a live performance setting.
Here are the Pyle PRO PDMICR42SL Microphone features:
- Classic & Iconic ‘Old School’ Style
- Built-in Pop Filter
- Ultra-Wide Frequency Response
- High Signal Output for Voice Clarity
- Internal Cartridge Shock Mount
- Integrated Low Noise Circuitry
- ON/OFF Switch for Stage Control
- Pickup/Polar Pattern: Uni-directional
MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is known as a multi-use microphone that is not only fantastic when used in vocal recording studio settings but is also a go-to for broadcasting, streaming, and podcasting audio recording.
The reason this microphone is an all-rounder is that it has a low-frequency response and clear high-end, making the audio results clear and crisp. When purchasing the MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone you can alter the middle, treble, and bass frequencies. This can be done by using preamps and altering the gain control and the electric tuner.
Here are the MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone features:
- Cardioid polar pattern
- High pass filter
- Low noise FET preamp with a balanced, transformerless output
- Low-frequency roll-off to reduce unwanted rumble
- Warm sound with extra clarity at the top end
Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone:
The Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone is another example of a great microphone that can be used for multiple purposes such as podcast, broadcast, studio recording, and live sound recording. The Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pickup making it durable and perfect for recording solo instruments in loud spaces.
Therefore, if you are to pair an auto-tune feature with the Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone, you can rely on the Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone to only add auto-tune to the voice rather than the extra external sound.
Here are the Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone features:
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Dynamic microphone for the podcast, broadcast, home and studio recording, and live sound applications
- Wide frequency response
Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor
Slightly different from the examples above, the Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor is not actually a microphone. The Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor is a piece of equipment that you can pair with any microphone to use as an auto-tune effect.
The Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor has a MIDI controller that can be used in real-time which makes it perfect for mixing auto-tune effects live. If you do not want to purchase a microphone, you do not have to as the Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor actually comes with a dynamic microphone, compression, and microphone preamp.
The Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor can be used for pitch correction using this rackmount, with the rackmount able to be set to any scale to be able to successfully pitch correctly.
Here are the Heil Sound PR40 Studio Microphone features:
- Auto-tune real-time pitch correction
- EVO voice processing technology for enhanced tracking and correction capabilities
- Correct the pitch of vocals (or solo instruments) in real-time
- Microphone modeling
- Analog tube modeling
- Variable knee compressor
- Downward expanding gate
- Variable-frequency de-esser
- Flexible parametric 2-band EQ
- Automatic mono or stereo double tracking
- MIDI control in realtime
Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer:
The Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer is a very similar piece of equipment to the Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor. The Roland VT-4 Vocal TransformerIs a portable device that has a battery life of up to 5 hours, making it perfect to transport to a live event.
The Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer can work with any condenser or dynamic microphone and comes with a variety of effects including auto-tune. As well as auto-tune, the Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer also has effects like harmonizing and hard tuning.
Here are the Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer features:
- Compact size and five-hour battery life
- Retro vocal effects
- Vocoding effects
- Smooth, instant control over both pitch and format
- Auto-Pitch knob to dial in just the right amount of hard-tuned effect
What Is an Auto-Tune Machine?
An auto-tune machine refers to a piece of equipment that can effectively apply auto-tune effects to an instrument or vocal source. These auto-tune machines come in all sorts of different software and equipment to be used in different scenarios.
For example, the Roland VT-4 Vocal Transformer and the Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor are perfect examples of this type of equipment.
With every type of equipment, the user will need to set the auto-tune to a reference point or a scale of specific notes. This will allow the auto-tune to sound more natural and smooth.
Here is a full list of auto-tune hardware options/machines that are available on the market today:
- Pedals: An auto-tune pedal can come in either a vocal-only effects pedal or a pedal that requires a musical input like a guitar to judge the pitch from.
- Vocal Processors and Effects: Vocal Processors and effects can come inside equipment like pedals or you can add these effects post-production by using plugins.
- Live Tuning and Harmony Effects: Live tuning and harmony effects can either be added by the performer using on-stage equipment or a live engineer.
- Digital Mixing Console: Auto-tune and pitch correction can be added to a live performer or a recorded vocal using a digital mixing console. This can either be done during the performance or in post-production.
What Is an Autotune Headset?
An auto-tune headset is a piece of equipment that is based on a pair of high-quality headphones that also have a mini microphone attached. A classic example of an Autotune microphone headset is the PaMu Explore/Karaoke Over-Ear Headphones.
The PaMu Explore/Karaoke Over-Ear Headphones have a built-in microphone that captures the audio to be able to autotune it. The way the PaMu Explore/Karaoke Over-Ear Headphones works is it has to connect to a device via Bluetooth.
Once the vocalist starts to perform the noise-canceling feature is activated, meaning that the singer can only hear their own voice. Not only do the PaMu Explore/Karaoke Over-Ear Headphones provide an autotune effect, but it also provides other common studio effects such as echo and reverb. The way the headset is described to sound is that the vocalist is in a studio booth.
Here is a review of the PaMu Explore/Karaoke Over-Ear Headphones by Shevon Salmon:
How to Use an Autotune Microphone Live
If you are wanting to apply to auto-tune your voice live, it is easier than you think! Using auto-tune in liver performance requires extra equipment and a longer setup but can be worth it if the effects sound right. To achieve mic autotune then you will need an auto-tune focussed processor. This kind of processor can be purchased in the form of a vocal pedal or vocal/guitar pedal.
These kinds of pedals can be controlled by the performer live and in real-time. Auto-tune focussed processors also come in the form of rack mounts which are controlled by audio technicians while the vocalist is performing.
When the vocalist is performing live, the auto-tune is applied to the vocal signal that is being picked up from either the dynamic or condenser microphone before it is sent to the speakers.
As a performer, choosing the best kind of way to apply auto-tune depends on how you would like to control your performance. If you would like the flexibility of being able to control your own effects, obviously to the audience then a pedal may work for you.
After reading reviews from customers and experts, here is a list of the top Auto-Tune pedals that are best sellers:
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Technically, there is not a microphone that you can purchase on its own that will have an auto-tune feature.If you are looking for a professional microphone, then you will not find a high-quality audio recording microphone that is only designed to pitch correctly and apply to auto-tune. It is best to purchase a good microphone with a processor that is designed to pitch correctly and has a range of auto-tune effects. You can buy processors that come with dynamic microphones. The Tascam TA-1VP Rackmount Vocal Producer Processor comes with a dynamic mic and a range of high-quality auto-tune settings.
Auto-tuning your voice live is easier than you think with the right equipment. It depends on what you are wanting to do with the auto-tune. When playing live, you can use extreme auto-tune to create a vocal sound or you can use subtle auto-tune designed to pitch correctly. If you are wanting to control the auto-tune during a live performance, it is best to use a rack mount or a foot pedal. Both types of equipment will allow you to control when the auto-tune effect is on and when it is off. If you use auto-correct throughout the whole performance, it will likely sound odd and be obvious to the audience. The best ways to use auto-tune during a live performance are using a rack mount, auto-tune pedal or a digital mixing console.
Final Thoughts – Choose Which Microphone Is Best for Your Use and Your Voice, Then the Auto-Tune Can Follow
As we have established, there is no such thing as an auto-tuned microphone. Therefore, it is best to choose which microphone is best for your use and your voice and then pair it with a type of processor that can allow you to add the auto-tune effects in real-time.
If you are going to go down the auto-tune pedal route, that is probably the easiest bet for singer-songwriters and newbies to auto-tune. With a vocal effects pedal, you can apply to auto-tune in real-time and to the extent that you wish.
You will have full control over the sound of the effect when using a vocal effects pedal. The reason the auto-tune vocal effects pedals are so popular is that it gives the performer complete control over their output.
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