One of the most popular vocal effects plug-ins used over the past couple of years has to be Auto-tune. Listen to T-Pain and Cher and a whole host of other contemporary musicians and you'll probably know what I'm referring to. Yes, it's that warbling pitched effect on vocals that you either love, hate, love to hate... or hate to love.
Auto-Tune was designed to correct intonation and pitch issues without introducing artifacts on solo instruments and vocals. However, like almost every "correction" based plug-in it's used in a creative way to subtly, or drastically, alter the vocalist's pitch and introduce a synthetic feel to the sound.
Rather than rush out and buy Auto-Tune (which you might like to do anyway), Logic has the tools built-in to emulate this effect. Read on to find out how...
For this tutorial I've chosen a couple of Apple Loops included with Logic Studio, Mikal Lyric 41 and Rachel Lyric 01, and placed them on an Audio Track. You can use your own vocal performance or any loop you wish.
Here's what they sound like in their dry unaltered states:
Bear in mind that whatever loop or audio file you use, it's a good idea to know the key it was created in. The Mikal Lyric doesn't have key information as it was designed to be a spoken word loop and the Rachel Lyric loop is sung in the key of C.
There's really only one plug-in you need to use in Logic to create the basic T-Pain effect. It's called Pitch Correction. Click on an empty Insert slot on the Audio track's channel strip and choose: Pitch > Pitch Correction > Stereo / Mono (depending on whether you are using a mono or stereo audio file).
The Pitch Correction plug-in can look a little daunting at first. We don't need to go in to tremendous depth here, but if you want to find out more about it check out videos 24 and 25 from the "Logic 7 202" tutorial. The plug-in GUI hasn't changed since Logic 7, so it definitely worth a look!
Back to our T-Pain effect... Here is what the default settings on the interface look like:
Like most of Logic's plug-ins it has an input, a middle/filter section and an output area. Focus the left area if the interface (Use Global Tuning). This area determines whether we'll use the current project settings to apply any pitch correction to. We'll leave that unaltered in this tutorial.
Notice how the audio signal passes from left to right in this plug-in? This is fairly standard across most of Logic's plug-ins and is a good way to figure out the basics of some of Logic's more intimidating plug-in interfaces.
Previously I mentioned knowing the key of your vocal loop/file. Well, in my case, at least with the Rachel Lyric loop, the key is in C.
Click on the Scale pop-up and choose "Major Scale". Next click on the Root pop-up and choose C or whatever key your vocal performance is in.
To get close to the T-Pain and Cher Auto-Tune effect pull the Response slider right down to 0.00ms. This will cause the pitch correction to kick in immediately.
Play around with the Detune setting. For the loops I'm working with, I found that somewhere between +10 and +20 produces the effect I'm looking for.
This is what the original loops sound like with the Pitch Correction applied:
In the first sample, you can hear a lot of pitch correction being applied to the word "rhymes". And the second sample's "feel it" has a distinct Auto-Tune style effect too. It might be a good idea to reduce the amount the signal that's being detuned and play around with the Root and the Keyboard's bypass notes to get a more impressive sounding result.
Try out these extra tips for more auto-tuning fun:
Be sure to check out the Logic tutorials here to learn even more.