How to Run an Autotune Through a Live Microphone


For better or worse, auto-tune has become a common feature in pop music production. Auto-tune corrects and alters the pitch of vocals and other instruments, and is available as a plug-in for sound engineering programs such as Pro Tools or as rack-mounted hardware for studios and live settings. To be useful in a live setting, auto-tune must be able to process a signal in real-time. The Antares ATR-1a auto-tune intonation processor is one piece of hardware capable of real-time pitch correction.

Things You'll Need

  • Microphone
  • Microphone cables
  • Antares ATR-1a
  • Set up the Antares ATR-1a. Connect your microphone to the ATR-1a input, connect the processor to a power source, and use a cable to line-out to a DI box or directly to the sound desk.

  • Set the scale by entering Program Mode, which is the default mode you operate in when you first turn on the ATR-1a. Use the data entry knob and cursor buttons to switch to the scale page. Choose a scale or design a custom scale by setting notes to "Tune" (which tunes off-notes), "Bypass" (which bypasses certain notes), or "Blank" (which omits notes from the scale).

  • Switch to Song Mode using the data entry knob. Antares recommends using Song Mode in live settings because it enables more intelligent navigational controls compared to Program Mode.

  • Set the correction speed, which is the speed at which an off-note is corrected. The speed scale ranges from 0, which is the slowest speed, to 25, which is the fastest. Set the notes to a slow speed if you are singing or playing a song with long notes, or to a fast correction speed for short duration notes.

  • Edit the vibrato speed. Alter the vibrato shape, depth, rate and delay time. Experiment with vibrato settings to determine which settings best suit particular songs.

  • Edit pitch sensitivity, which determines how strict pitch correction is. A high correction speed corrects notes that are only slightly off, while a low correction speed is more lenient with off-notes. A high correction speed is most suitable for noisy live-setting environments.

  • Sound-check the auto-tune processor, both solo and with other instruments. Make any necessary adjustments to the auto-tune settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the bypass button to stop pitch correction.
  • Use stage or in-ear monitors to send the original signal, rather than the pitch-corrected signal, to the musician on stage. This ensures the musician stays in tune better and does not become confused between the sounds he is producing and the pitch-corrected signal.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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