The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Why do people hate overly tuned vocals? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Why do people hate overly tuned vocals?

A lot of people here, tend to dislike overly tuned vocals saying it adds artifacts, and makes the vocal sound emotionless, or fake. I get it, im not arguing that, but when thinking about it commercially, who cares. It just reinforces that your melody is just exactly on the note it should be for every moment in the song, and honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne. I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.

What are your thoughts on this vocal in the first 2 minutes of this? YouTube

Honestly the song did so well. Do you think the vocals are tuned too much? Or not that much. Either ways, whats so bad about over tuning that people get so hurt about when listening too, here? Its Not like people hearing it on the radio care, only producers will be able to pick it up.
Like i get it if the tuning transition between notes is insanely fast, and even the ordinary person picks up on the robotic effect, but really, whats wrong a vocal like what i linked? Also is it really even that big of a deal to over tune, seeing as this song was commercially produced by high end gear and pro producers?

NOT TRYNA argue with anyone here, im just tryna understand whats wrong? I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
NOT TRYNA argue with anyone here, im just tryna understand whats wrong? I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
If you do not feel that there's anything wrong with that, then nothing anybody, who does have a problem with it, says, will help you understand.

I for shure do not understand "not caring about a lifeless vocal", but hey, nobody is forcing me to listen; to each their own.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Sigma's Avatar
It's disrespectful to people who CAN sing...no matter what the program HF harmonics suffer...K.I.S.S.

And the whole T Payne crap is so over used but somehow ingrained in a generation of listeners
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
A lot of people here, tend to dislike overly tuned vocals...
People tend to dislike "overly" anything. Asked and answered, kinda.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
FreshProduce's Avatar
Frank Sinatra > Drake

Freddy Mercury > anyone with "lil" or "young" at the beginning of their name

Christina Agulera > Brittany Spears

Michael Jackson > (insert artist name here)

Amy Lee > Ashley Simpson

Whitney Houston > Beyonce

Talib Kweli > Kanye West

This list is only half serious obviously there are some matchups that make no sense in comparison. I do, however, enjoy listening to artists who can actually sing well without an experienced engineer masking their every flaw and imperfection.

Auto tune is a great tool. It was even cool the first couple times it was used artistically to help create a song. However, now.. It seems much more like: "people imitating the %#[email protected] out of eachother for popularity" (nothing new)

If you enjoy music that lacks a natural singing voice.. kudos. More power to You. I'm sure your future will be packed to the brim with lots of music that is barely touched by humans; what with their complex emotions and natural singing voices.

If you've never stood in the presence of someone who could actually sing, and had them bring a tear to your eye....

..well there'd be nothing more I could say for you to truly understand how I feel.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
This list is only half serious...
You make a good point. But Frank, as great as he was, never won any prizes for his pitch.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

From an aesthetic standpoint, I wouldn't want to make heavy use of the effect because it is so overused and already one of those standout dated cheesy effects. Some people just can't let it go. No one is going to listen to these songs in a few years. See also, dubstep. I don't care how cool everyone thought dubstep sounded in like 2009, any movie or trailer that uses a dubstep cue is ****ing gross and cheesy.

Anyone still doing autotune as an effect today are just saying "me too" because you couldn't come up with something of your own to stand out.

Further, vocals are sacred and to make your voice sound like everyone else's is to remove probably the most human part of your song. You may think that people just want to feel the beat but I want to connect to not only your words but your emotion.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Wyllys's Avatar
 

It's a big world:

YouTube

YouTube

YouTube

I think there's a place for "hi rez" and a place for "impressionism". I prefer warm and fuzzy...

Last edited by Wyllys; 3 weeks ago at 02:34 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
GearFiddler's Avatar
 

It's funny. Somebody gets caught having photoshopped their waistline or beefing up their pecs and it's 'news'. Robot your vocals and call it an artistic choice? No problem.

I don't like triage masquerading as artistic choice. Remember that Sheryl Crow/Kid Rock ballade? When it's Kid Rock's turn to sing an 'artistic' choice was made to give Kid the Cher treatment. Or was it possibly just that next to Ms. Crow Kid doesn't sing so good? Hmmm. Garish all the same. I guess someone just wanted him to be a part of it more than putting somebody there that was a good fit with Sheryl and who could do it without a crutch.

It's a crutch and leads to 'music' that up front lacks authenticity. And even though it may be used so well that the trained ear might not pick it up, it encourages would be 'musicians' to not work at that which makes for good musicians/singers, knowing that practically any fail on their part can be fixed easily. Why bother to work at singing in tune?

There are a lot of people happening in an already saturated music scene who would not be were it not for the many ways they are made somewhat listenable to the ever more dumbed down musical palette of the masses by the many tools of the modern studio. I for one think that music should be made by people who are musical, or who can carry a tune, or at least aren't tone deaf, and who can get around the bases so to speak, or please, at least to first base without a crutch.

While the ability to fix an intonation problem was around before autotune, it wasn't so much to put lipstick on a pig as it was to fix a weak moment by someone who for the most part could sing in tune. That doesn't rate as misrepresentation to me. What goes on now, commonly, does. Maybe I'll have my picture taken tomorrow. I'll tell the photographer I'd like to look taller, and lose about 15 lbs. - whiter teeth and lose the crow's feet too. Oh and put my hairline back where it was when I was younger...

Why not green screen this years production of the Nutcracker? All the turns will be tighter. Leaps will be higher than ever before, and the ballerinas will all be the prettier ones even though they don't dance as well as some of the others. Should anyone still be impressed with anything except maybe with what the technology can do?

Oh, and Michael Jackson's moon walk, and the lean? What if that was all made with bits of steel in the soles of his shoes and magnets under the stage. Would anyone, knowing that, still be impressed?

If it isn't about the human endeavor why should anyone even care anymore?

It should be about what people can do, not what machines can make it look like people can do. Superheroes not withstanding.

Last edited by GearFiddler; 3 weeks ago at 09:26 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
A lot of people here, tend to dislike overly tuned vocals saying it adds artifacts, and makes the vocal sound emotionless, or fake. I get it, im not arguing that, but when thinking about it commercially, who cares. It just reinforces that your melody is just exactly on the note it should be for every moment in the song, and honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne. I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.

What are your thoughts on this vocal in the first 2 minutes of this? YouTube

Honestly the song did so well. Do you think the vocals are tuned too much? Or not that much. Either ways, whats so bad about over tuning that people get so hurt about when listening too, here? Its Not like people hearing it on the radio care, only producers will be able to pick it up.
Like i get it if the tuning transition between notes is insanely fast, and even the ordinary person picks up on the robotic effect, but really, whats wrong a vocal like what i linked? Also is it really even that big of a deal to over tune, seeing as this song was commercially produced by high end gear and pro producers?

NOT TRYNA argue with anyone here, im just tryna understand whats wrong? I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
Because it sounds more like a synthesizer or talkbox than a person. Some people listen to the track and think they'd rather just hear something that sounds like a person there instead of a weird talk synth thing. Also the 'steppiness' takes a way from like the 'slides' that singers can do.

Another thing to note is that autotune is FAR from perfectly in tune. An equal tempered minor third is as much as 15 cents off from a real minor third (and a major third almost as much the other way). A singer without "autotuning" is likely to hit closer and it will sound better. Of course, you can probably set it or melodyne to some sort of just tuning or well temperament, especially pop songs without much chromaticism. Logic had a setting called 'hermode' tuning which would make sure everything was in tune regardless of what you play.

Music just isn't as blocky as you want it to be. You can make a whole bunch of great and interesting sounds just by using intonation artistically. In fact, I'd go as far to say as that artistic intonation is the difference between a good and great performance. Hanging a fifth low in a certain context to give it a bit of abrasion or hitting it spot on to get a bit of divinity can be a subconscious artistic choice.

Really, I think what you could take away from that song is that pop music is mostly followed by and marketed to young people and that they generally are going to like things that are "culturally relevant." Meaning that the songs match whatever is going on on the TV they're watching or at college. It really doesn't make all that much of a difference how it sounds so long as it doesn't sound 'old' or whatever. That song could probably be beat poetry and enjoy some degree of success.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
A lot of people here, tend to dislike overly tuned vocals . .

I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.

What are your thoughts on this vocal in the first 2 minutes of this? YouTube

Honestly the song did so well. Do you think the vocals are tuned too much?

. . I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
Nothing wrong with it at all, just subjective opinions. Objectively, that song has 1.5 billions plays, the power of the sound on people speaks for itself: YouTube

Like what you like. If this kind of sound is your thing go for it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
and honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne.
That might be, however, they might get bored with it much faster, for reasons which they do not understand. Similarly, a synth performance with oscillators that slightly drift might sound more pleasing to the ears. Most importantly though, it should be the job of the singer to hit the notes right. If they can`t, there are plenty of Karaoke venues looking for singers. It`s also the job of the recording engineer calling them out on it and order retakes until they get it right.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
Maybe because people like the vocals (human voice) to sound naturally.
Too much Autotune is like an acoustic guitar with overdrive or a drummer quantized the life out.
As an effect it can work but for me a song with overdone vocals tuning is missing, well vocals.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
Its Not like people hearing it on the radio care, only producers will be able to pick it up.


NOT TRYNA argue with anyone here, im just tryna understand whats wrong? I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
The vocal you linked to sounds like crap. It has no emotion.


If your sole reason for judging the quality of a song, is how much it sells, I don't think you can be helped.

All this over-tuning really saddens me. Before autotune came out, I used to change the pitch of single notes that sounded out, leaving the rest intact. I continued doing that until Cubase came out with Vari Audio. I still tune the same way. Only slightly adjusting bits that are out, without making it sound like an effect. Auto-tune as an effect should have been one and done with Cher.

It's really amazing how, with all the advances in monitoring and software and hardware, that popular music sounds worse than ever.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
You make a good point. But Frank, as great as he was, never won any prizes for his pitch.
But his records are very listenable. Neil Young slides up a half step to just about every note and hopefully gets there, but his voice is much easier to listen to than just about anything coming out these days.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

During his "Columbia" years, Frank was an exceptional singer, with an incredible voice.

And in his Capitol/Reprise years (up to around 1967), he became an incredible singer, with an exceptional voice.

Winning an Oscar wasn't random, he BECAME the song. You know, just like Justin Beiber.

Can you tell I'm (generally) very anti-pitch correction?!

Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

I don't mind - if it's taken to the extreme as an effect (see the early mind.in.a.box albums) - where everyone KNOWS it's not someone trying to just pass off that they can sing. Otherwise it starts falling in that "uncanny valley" between robot and human. Like many things in life, and especially audio effects, a little bit can go a long way.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammiedodger666 View Post
But [Sinatra's] records are very listenable.
Yes, they are. In terms of pitch, "Call Me Irresponsible" is a really hard song to sing. But Frank's version on "Sinatra's Sinatra" is probably my favorite.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Jolson/Crosby/Sinatra/Ray Charles/Elvis, the five most important Popular Music male singers, of the 20th Century. Partly meant in terms of impact.

Of course Nat King Cole/Sam Cooke/Jackie Wilson/James Brown, were all great performers/singers too!
Chris
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
You make a good point. But Frank, as great as he was, never won any prizes for his pitch.
Actually, he did win a few Grammy's for best male vocal performance...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unitymusic View Post
Actually, he did win a few Grammy's for best male vocal performance...
Yes he did, in spite of his pitch issues. That's how great an artist he was.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Head
 

I deliberately sing a bit sharp/flat on selected notes if it brings the right emotion to the song. Often I find that it’s the carefully selected tension against perfect timing and pitch that makes the song special. I would really hate some autotune to correct that. But then again - I dont write my music to get 50 million youtube plays ;-)

Come to think of it - I actually once used pitch correction on a single note. Really high to my voice and couldn’t quite reach it. So the last 25 cents was with pitch correction:-)
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreshProduce View Post
Frank Sinatra > Drake

Freddy Mercury > anyone with "lil" or "young" at the beginning of their name

Christina Agulera > Brittany Spears

Michael Jackson > (insert artist name here)

Amy Lee > Ashley Simpson

Whitney Houston > Beyonce

Talib Kweli > Kanye West

This list is only half serious obviously there are some matchups that make no sense in comparison. I do, however, enjoy listening to artists who can actually sing well without an experienced engineer masking their every flaw and imperfection.

Auto tune is a great tool. It was even cool the first couple times it was used artistically to help create a song. However, now.. It seems much more like: "people imitating the %#[email protected] out of eachother for popularity" (nothing new)

If you enjoy music that lacks a natural singing voice.. kudos. More power to You. I'm sure your future will be packed to the brim with lots of music that is barely touched by humans; what with their complex emotions and natural singing voices.

If you've never stood in the presence of someone who could actually sing, and had them bring a tear to your eye....

..well there'd be nothing more I could say for you to truly understand how I feel.
.
To take it a little further I was co producing a vocal revording and before playback I say to the main guy.."I know he slid into and cracked the note but it felt so good"..lucily he was old school like me and said "yeah I felt it too"

Perfection isnt necessarily good music..so let's not get into grid locking tempo
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammiedodger666 View Post
If your sole reason for judging the quality of a song, is how much it sells, I don't think you can be helped.
The OP said that he himself likes the sound of it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.
Moving away from what you yourself like, to follow the Gearslutz opinion pack like a lemming, is just as bad.

What sales show is objectivity: do people in general hate the sound? Clearly. . . no.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
I get it, im not arguing that, but when thinking about it commercially, who cares. It just reinforces that your melody is just exactly on the note it should be for every moment in the song, and honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne. I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.
Some of us who started not just listening to music but playing music waaaay before autotune showed up just have a different frame of reference. To us a good singer was someone who would naturally balance perfection and emotion. They would use pitch deliberately and in a controlled way. If they wanted to be close to dead-no pitch they would be.

Now, I totally get that some don't care about this or think it is or sounds more "accurate" when something is tuned close to 100% accuracy, but I think what some of us who hate it are missing is what is literally lost by tuning, which is nuance.

A lot of music today doesn't just have a dynamic range that's squashed, but there are a million other little things that get "squashed" as well, and this is one of them. If every vocalist's performance was tuned to 100% then you eradicate one difference among several that set singers apart. And you get rid of nuance that actually gives you something of value.

I really think you can think of it in the sense of having a real, live orchestra, with a real human conductor, in a real space with a real audience.... and then you replace that with perfection manufactured in a computer. Perfection is "fine" for many, but what can you get out of it? How deep can you delve into that performance to find something valuable both emotionally and intellectually.

Some people love Whitney Houston. She was great, but I always preferred Chaka Khan. Why? I'm sure I could find out if I analyzed it all. One thing I can say with absolute conviction is that Khan sounded different on her albums before 1980 vs after, and my preference was just at that point - 1980 - and a large part of that was her phrasing where pitch played a large part.

To me that difference allows me the opportunity to explore great singers. Khan's development was a journey. I can hop along and join her on that. Imagine if she was autotuned throughout her career - how is that interesting?

We all get to choose. Do we want simplify something and make it shallow or do we want something with depth?....
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne.
If you had people listen to two versions of the same mix with tuning being the difference I'm sure many would hear some difference without knowing what it was.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 
O.F.F.'s Avatar
 

Autotune is the equivalent to doping in sport.

Also it removes frisson from music.

Always remember: Nothing is quite as boring as perfection.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by herzack View Post
A lot of people here, tend to dislike overly tuned vocals saying it adds artifacts, and makes the vocal sound emotionless, or fake. I get it, im not arguing that, but when thinking about it commercially, who cares. It just reinforces that your melody is just exactly on the note it should be for every moment in the song, and honestly normal people listening wont even realize the difference between very little autotuning, or something that was flattened to a straight pitch line on every note with melodyne. I cant help but love the fact that the vocals just melts like butter on a track when its almost overly tuned.

What are your thoughts on this vocal in the first 2 minutes of this? YouTube

Honestly the song did so well. Do you think the vocals are tuned too much? Or not that much. Either ways, whats so bad about over tuning that people get so hurt about when listening too, here? Its Not like people hearing it on the radio care, only producers will be able to pick it up.
Like i get it if the tuning transition between notes is insanely fast, and even the ordinary person picks up on the robotic effect, but really, whats wrong a vocal like what i linked? Also is it really even that big of a deal to over tune, seeing as this song was commercially produced by high end gear and pro producers?

NOT TRYNA argue with anyone here, im just tryna understand whats wrong? I am genuinely curious, cause the ordinary person isnt going to pick up on artifacts or care about a "lifeless vocal".
If I have a vocal performance that is awesome EXCEPT for one word and I can’t fix it with comping, I won’t hesitate to pull melodyne out... but I use it very very subtlety... I’m not trying to transform the note from crap to perfection, rather from crap to “interesting”.

I say this only because it’s in the Newbie section... you will discover pretty soon what a lifeless vocal is and you will learn to hate it as much as we old farts cannot stand the t Payne sound. I think I actually hate lifeless more than I do the t Payne sound

Also, this may be helpful or not.. but, if I find myself messing around with vocal tuning for more than a minute or so I just hit delete and re-track it... also, you must listen to these tuning changes in context with the full mix and listen from a couple of bars before and after the repair... ain’t nothing sticks out more than a suddenly perfectly tuned vocal in the middle of a vocal that has a bunch of beautiful imperfections
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by O.F.F. View Post
Autotune is the equivalent to doping in sport.

Also it removes frisson from music.

Always remember: Nothing is quite as boring as perfection.
Our frame of reference has changed, though. We've grown very accustomed to hearing artfully-tuned vocals now -- ones where you can't tell it's been done.

It's like back in the 80's when I had just moved to LA. I used to see a lot of goofy looking nose jobs. Noses in LA generally look a lot more normal now, but that doesn't mean nobody's getting nose jobs. It means that plastic surgeons have gotten better at it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
GearFiddler's Avatar
 

These days If I can plainly hear it, if it's set to stun, or kill, I immediately assume that it's because whatever it's on was so atrocious there was no other alternative - because as an effect it is so tired. This is music I do my best to ignore or get away from. If I can just barely detect it once or maybe twice, I figure it was a nip and tuck and while I may not approve, it's also not nearly as onerous, not outright anyway. I'd just never be able to listen to something like that again without being zeroed in on it.

But I zero in on bad intonation too. We recently got the DVD box set of Starsky and Hutch and I'm checking out that theme song for the first time in ages. There's a spot in the break in the middle where a trombone or two go really under. So under that it's nothing my ears will ever be able to get used to or appreciate as some sort of aesthetic. I was a bit dismayed that as far as I can recall it didn't seem to register when I was 13. But anyway, there it was, prime time tv, every week and the rest of the song is definitely happenin.

There was a commercial that Cher was in around this time last year with some rapper, and it sounded just like regular Cher till a high note at the end. There was something about the uniformity of the slope and rate at which she made it up to note that sounded automated. Busted.

If I don't know it's there at all then it would probably be best if I stay in the dark.
And I can't help but feel that we've wound up somewhere rather sad.

Autotune is damned if it does and if it doesn't at this point.

Having said all that I'll fess up to having a device that does pitch correction. The TC Helicon VoiceOne which I purchased about 10 years ago. I have a bad neck and can't go over things quite so much as I used to, so I thought that gave me license to cheat a little here and there as necessary. I tried fixing an off note or two and got it dialed in quite well, and I just couldn't bring myself to print the mix that way. I felt all kinda creepy and junk.

So, I came to the conclusion that I'm a violinist. Intonation is the game. And if I couldn't do it the way I always have, without a crutch, then I may as well go out in the garden and paint. As others have stated, it's how you play with the pitch and pull it one way or another that is so important and is a big part of what makes a player/singer unique.

And yes @untitled73 it can be set to practically any scale or tuning system imaginable.

BTW, fortunately the VoiceOne also has a lot of cool effects apart from pitch correction, so it wasn't a total waste. And it's stuck in the rack and I can't seem to get it loose anyway.

Last edited by GearFiddler; 3 weeks ago at 02:56 AM..
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump