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Like it or hate it, autotune is either used sparingly or with more extreme settings in practically every top 40 hit. Are they hits because they use autotune? Perhaps not. Even so, for producing pitch and timing perfect mixes, vocal processing is par for the course.
Depending on the genre or style of music you produce autotune is an essential. The singers you’re working with is also a key factor, whether skilled or unskilled.
But regardless of intended use, there is a tool suited to your needs. In this guide, we look at the best autotune VST plugins.
Auto-Tune Unlimited by Antares – Best Overall
Sure, the market continues to change, new products keep emerging, and the trends of the day slowly evolve. But the gold standard by which every other pitch correction / auto-tune / vocal processing tool is measured against is doubtless Antares’ Auto-Tune.
In this case, Auto-Tune Unlimited promises to be your all-in-one vocal processor with options extending well beyond the classic auto-tune sound that practically made the career of T Pain and numerous other rappers.
Subtle pitch correction is of course possible and a little less grating to the ears of producers who prefer the rawness of unaltered performances. But of course, full on robo-voice is a few quick tweaks away, and a popular option for a variety of genres nowadays.
Beyond the obvious, and perhaps most critical aspect of auto-tune, Unlimited also comes with everything you would likely add to a vocal effects chain and more – effects, sampler, synthesizer, vocoder, EQ, harmony, mic mod, talk box, tube saturation, doubler, chorus, breath control, de-ssing, virtual vocal tract, enhancer, mutator, and more.
To that extend, Auto-Tune Unlimited isn’t the most affordable pitch correction solution available, and in fact requires an annual subscription.
But if you’re in need of a comprehensive vocal processing solution, investigating this VST plugin would be to your advantage.
Until something revolutionary comes along, Auto-Tune will always be our best overall pick in the category.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Revoice Pro 4 by Synchro Arts – Best Premium Option
Synchro Arts’ Revoice Pro 4 is a premium pitch and timing toolbox featuring their very own audio alignment technology, pitch adjustment tools, and a powerful doubler, all of which can be used for vocal, dialog, and instrument editing. This VST plugin also promises to be easy to use.
Revoice Pro 4’s primary functions include the Audio Performance Transfer (APT) process, Warp, and Doubler. We could be here all day talking about each (as the developer has opted to do in their product description), but as much as possible, we’ll offer a succinct overview of each:
The APT process lets you tighten the timing, pitch, and vibrato of stacked tracks, lip-sync dialog and vocals, change the inflection in dialog, and even fix bad sounding live vocal recordings (although this involves some manual work replacing and syncing the bad takes with good retakes).
The Warp process lets you align or alter the pitch or timing of tracks, a task you can also perform on harmonies. It’s also possible to modify signal levels using Warp.
The Doubler is relatively self-explanatory, especially for those who’ve delved into vocal processing. This function lets you double up vocal or instrument tracks and create various modulation effects.
While the feature set doesn’t sound groundbreaking, Revoice Pro 4 is incredibly efficient, making the task of pitch and timing correction a walk in the park. For those who don’t want to mess around with complicated workflows, Revoice Pro 4 is a great choice, and it’s our best premium pick.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Little Alterboy by Soundtoys – Best Budget Option
Little Alterboy might be one of Soundtoys’ most versatile yet affordable plugin modules available. This baby includes vocal formant and pitch shifting, hard tune FX, robot / vocoder mode, and even tube drive. It’s almost like a channel strip for vocal transformation.
Oh, the possibilities. Whether it’s formant shifting and changing the gender of a vocal, giving a voice a robotic quality, changing the pitch of a voice, harmonizing, playing with pitch-quantized effects, adding warmth to vocals (with the tube saturation models direct from Soundtoys’ Decapitator), monotonic robo-voice, or otherwise, with Little Alterboy you can perform singular functions or mix and match as you see fit.
Little Alterboy is uncomplicated, and compared to other solutions mentioned here, affordable. It’s not a “traditional” auto tune by any means, though it’s capable of producing similar robotic style effects. It’s not a thorough vocal processing unit, but what it does, it does well.
For fine-tuning vocals with more precise pitch and timing correction, there are better options on this list. But for the types of vocal effects you hear in the video below, Little Alterboy is a fun and worthwhile option.
Little Alterboy is our best budget pick.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Melodyne 5 Editor by Celemony
As with Antares’ Auto-Tune, Celemony’s Melodyne comes in a variety of packages suited to different needs and budgets. Melodyne 5 Editor, though, stands as one of the most popular and well-received packages of the bunch.
Melodyne 5 Editor gives you control over your vocals, instruments, and samples, and it can even handle polyphonic audio.
It comes with DNA Direct Note Access technology, multiple algorithms (Melodic with Sibilant Detection, Percussive, Universal, Polyphonic), macros, Chord Track and Chord Grid, tempo detection and editing, scale editing, tuning systems and temperaments, quick access to all parameters, and polyphonic audio-to-MIDI export.
The latest version (5) also comes with the ability to edit pitched and noise-like components, Chord Track and Chord Grid for pitch editing, chord recognition, Fade tool, Leveling Macro, Percussive Pitched algorithm, as well as search functions.
Melodyne 5 Editor is powerful and fun and is certainly worth a try.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Nectar 3 Plus by iZotope
iZotope’s Nectar 3 Plus, like some of the other solutions mentioned here, begs to be your complete vocal chain solutions. And based on ratings, it seems as though it’s well-suited to the job!
There’s just so much to cover here, where do we even begin?
Nectar 3 Plus features intelligent assistive vocal mixing functionality, Vocal Assistant: Unmask (talks with other iZotope plugins and identifies clashing frequencies in your mix), and pitch module with key detection.
Auto tune fans will probably be thrilled to know that Nectar 3 Plus comes with Molodyne 5 Essential, for surgical precision in your pitch editing efforts.
The 12-module vocal chain includes two 24-band EQs with Dynamic and Follow modes, pitch, dimension (modulation effects – chorus, flanger, phaser), harmony (up to four additional voices), compressor, reverb, de-esser, and more.
In many ways, Nectar 3 Plus is a comparable option to Auto-Tune. Which to get is still up to you but watching the videos couldn’t hurt if you’re comparison shopping.
Learn more: Plugin Boutique
Waves Tune Real-Time by Waves
Just as its name would suggest, Waves Tune Real-Time offers instant and automatic vocal pitch correction. This makes it a perfect fit for live performance, tracking and mixing, and even postproduction.
While it offers subtle pitch correction out of the box, it even has a built-in pitch quantization effect that can be used in real time, creatively.
Thanks to built-in customization options, you can program Waves Tune Real-Time based on a singer’s articulation, or on a per song basis. You can control range, scales, notes to fix or avoid, the plugin’s sensitivity, and a singer’s vibrato. There are advanced formant correction options too.
Waves Tune Real-Time also boasts compatibility with Waves SoundGrid applications, eMotion mixers, and any live console via MultiRack.
Waves Tune Real-Time is a fun solution for all types of applications, but likely it will appeal most to those who want a competent auto tune module for live performance.
Learn more: Waves
OVox Vocal ReSynthesis by Waves
More than a mere auto-tune, Waves’ OVox Vocal ReSynthesis is an all-in-one vocal processor and voice-controlled synth. From the basics of tuning, vocoder, and talkbox effects all the way over to harmonizing and vocal morphing, this is a flexible vocal plugin with a simple and intuitive user interface.
OVox Vocal ReSynthesis promises to put an end to boring vocals, with reshaping and synthesis options plentiful and flexible enough to deliver sounds heard on popular recordings, all the way over to the surprising and unconventional.
Waves Organic ReSynthesis (ORS) powers OVox. This technology takes the vocal signal and breaks it down into its key elements – amplitude, pitch, and formant.
OVox offers instant gratification, as it does not require any routing. The plugin can be used with a keyboard, MIDI controller, or any instrument. With the MIDI Out function, you can even play virtual instruments with your voice in real time.
In case you’re worried about timing, you can take advantage of Note Mapper to quantize your MIDI to scale, and even generate chord progressions.
OVox also comes with hundreds of presets, so you’re never starting from scratch.
To summarize, Ovox is a voice-controlled synth and vocal FX processor powered by Waves Organic ReSynthesis technology, with pitch / tune, harmonizer, arpeggiation FX, vocoder and talkbox FX, hundreds of presets, automatable Note Mapper, and built-in eight-voice synth with dual high-resolution engines.
There are also nine customizable LFOs / sequencer, ADSR, ORS modulators, six modulatable FX (autopan, chorus, comp, delay, distortion, reverb), modulatable four-band EQ, MIDI OUT in real time, SoundGrid compatibility, and NKS support.
Learn more: Waves
What Should I Look For In An Autotune VST Plugin?
Picking out an autotune VST plugin can be a bit of a challenge, if only because many competitors to Auto-Tune are trying to be exactly like them. And in instances where they aren’t trying to be like Auto-Tune, they may appear so completely different that they don’t even seem like viable options.
Don’t worry, though. The autotune VST plugins featured here are all high quality, and it’s unlikely you will be disappointed with any of them, so long as you put some time into research and pick the one that’s right for you.
There are, however, a few factors we think are worth considering when hunting for a VST plugin. They are:
- Sound quality
- Features / parameters
Here’s what we have to say on each.
Extreme settings with auto-tune VST plugins result in formant shift, robotic monotone effects, T pain style wobble, and more. While preserving authenticity isn’t really the object when pushing autotune to the edge, different auto-tune plugins can have different processes for achieving these styles of effects and can therefore sound different from one another.
Subtler pitch correction is meant to sound as authentic as possible, giving you more of an organic feel, and preserving the realness of your vocal performance.
Both extremes and all shades in between are quite important with autotune, because chances are you will be using the effect in a variety of ways in your projects.
So, a close examination of sound quality is recommended. Take a close look at the plugins you’re comparing. Watch video demos and reviews and listen to audio samples. This will give you a better idea of which plugin is going to work best for your projects.
And that’s an important lens to view things through, because at the end of the day, you’re the one that’s going to be using the tool, and you’ve got to be able to please yourself first before you can please anyone else.
Vocal Processing Features
There is no one size fits all in this regard. Every producer has their own process. Some set up vocal chains from scratch. Others have pre-saved templates they build on. Still others load up a channel strip and utilize presets to gradually dial in to perfection.
So, the main thing to think about here is the included effects. How do you like to go about processing vocals?
Depending on your answer to that question, you will either require more tools or fewer.
If you like to use standalone plugins for each function (e.g., separate EQ, compression, and reverb plugins), then you don’t necessarily need an auto-tune that has all the other goodies built in.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have many vocal processing plugins, and you would like to be able to handle most of it from a centralized workstation, a plugin like Auto-Tune Unlimited or Nectar 3 Plus might be more to your liking.
There are times, of course, when even if you do have all the other effects (and you’re happy with how they sound), having a comprehensive solution can be complementary to your workflow. The point is it’s worth thinking about because the addition of an auto-tune VST plugin is sure to change your approach.
In most cases, you will pay more for a solution that comes with more tools too. Which brings us to…
You can pay as little as $100 for the plugins in this guide, and as much as $600 depending on what you need. Auto-tune plugins aren’t available in abundance, and that means you’ve got to be willing to invest if you want the best of the best.
Take some time and consider your budget. How much are you prepared to spend right now? Will you need to save up for the plugin you want?
We caution against going into debt for musical purchases, so please spend responsibly.
Also, don’t forget to shop around for sales! Regardless of provider – Plugin Boutique, Waves, Slice, or otherwise, you can often buy VST plugins at a discounted price if you do some looking around, especially if you are a first-time buyer.
Whether it’s a seasonal deal (it’s always worth checking for Black Friday or Christmas sales), a three in one deal, or a discounted bundle, you can often get several plugins in one go for less if you do it right.
Is My DAW’s Auto-Tune Module Any Good?
Does your DAW already have a built-in auto-tune module? It’s possible it does. And, depending on the developer – Steinberg, Native Instruments, Apple, Ableton Live, or otherwise – it’s possible you have a reasonably capable auto-tune VST plugin already.
For practice and experimentation, stock plugins will do fine. But they generally do not possess the power the above options do, and a serious producer always invests in their gear.
If you want to edit with greater precision, get better quality results, and get pro grade vocals locked in your mixes, you shouldn’t rely on your DAW’s built-in autotune. Invest in a quality plugin.
Top Autotune VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
From pitch and timing correction to robotic vocal effects, autotune can do a lot to enhance your vocal tracks. Knowing when and how to use it will certainly help avoid abuse and overuse, but the pursuit of perfection has led us to a point in music production where most insist on polishing to the furthest extent possible.
As a producer, it’s more likely that you will need an autotune than not. And while you don’t need to rush the purchase, you will want to upgrade from your DAW’s stock autotune module as soon as possible (if it even has one).
We wish you Godspeed with your vocal tuning efforts. Until next time!