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What is autotune and how to use it: A Comprehensive guide

what is autotune

Autotune, also known as pitch correction. It is a popular audio processing software used to correct and fine-tune the pitch of vocals or other musical instruments. It has become a staple in modern music production, especially in the pop and hip-hop genres, whose aim is to produce a unique and polished sound. Understanding the basics of autotune and how to use it can significantly enhance your music-making skills. 

This article will dive into the world of autotune, exploring what it is and how it works. We will also provide a step-by-step guide on how to use it in your music productions.

What is Autotune?

So, what is Autotune? Autotune is a digital audio processing tool that helps musicians and producers perfect the pitch of their recordings. Whether you are recording a vocal track or an instrument, autotune can analyze the sound and adjust it to match a target pitch that you set. This can help to achieve a polished, professional sound, especially in genres like pop and hip-hop where it has become a widely-used tool. With advancements in technology, autotune now includes more advanced features such as formant correction and real-time pitch correction, making it easier than ever to create the perfect pitch for your music.

How does Autotune works

Autotune works by analyzing the pitch of a vocal or instrumental recording and adjusting it to match a predefined scale or key. It uses pitch detection and correction algorithms to determine the correct pitch for each note in the recording.

The software then adjusts the pitch of each note to match the desired key, either by shifting the pitch to the nearest correct frequency or smoothing out any variations in pitch.

The amount of pitch correction applied can be adjusted using sensitivity and retune speed settings, allowing the user to achieve the desired correction level or creative effect. The corrected audio can then be output as a new recording or blended with the original signal for a more natural sound.

How to use Autotune in 5 steps

1. Choose your input type:


In the first step, you will need to choose your input type. It refers to how the software will process the sound of your voice and make pitch adjustments. The most common input types are “Monophonic” and “Polyphonic”.

Monophonic input

Monophonic input is best suited for a single melodic instrument or a single voice. In this mode, the software will make pitch corrections only to the main melody line, ignoring any harmony or backing parts. This is a good option if you want to correct the pitch of a solo vocal performance.

Polyphonic input

Polyphonic input is better suited for recordings with multiple voices or instruments. The software will make pitch corrections to each voice or instrument in this mode. Doing this can be especially useful if you want to correct the pitch of a complex arrangement.

The input type you choose will depend on the specific recording you are working with. If you need more time, you can try both and see which gives you the best results.


2. Fine-tune the pitch:


Once your vocal recording is imported into the autotune software, it’s time to start customizing the settings to your liking. This is where you can start to shape the sound of your vocals and make them shine.

There are a lot of different settings you can adjust, so it can be overwhelming at first. But don’t worry. You don’t need to understand every single setting to get started. The most important settings you will want to play around with include the pitch correction strength, the correction speed, and the scale you want to use.

The pitch: The pitch correction strength controls how much the software will adjust the pitch of your vocals. If you set this too high, your vocals might sound unnatural and robotic. If you set it too low, the autotune effect may not be noticeable.

The correction: The correction speed controls how quickly the autotune software makes pitch adjustments. If you set this too high, the changes will be made too quickly, and your vocals might sound jagged and unnatural. If you set it too low, the changes will be made too slowly, and the autotune effect may not be noticeable.

The scale: The scale you choose determines the notes to which the software will try to correct your vocals. You can choose from various scales, depending on the type of music you are making.

Feel free to experiment with these settings and find the best values for your specific recording. The beauty of autotune is that it is a highly customizable tool, so you can make it your own.

3. Choose between Auto and Graph modes:


When using autotune, you often choose between “Auto Mode” and “Graph Mode”. These two modes refer to how the software processes and adjusts your vocals.

Auto Mode

Auto Mode is the most straightforward way to use autotune. The software automatically analyzes your recording in this mode and makes the necessary pitch adjustments. This is an excellent option if you want to quickly correct your vocals without manually making any adjustments.

Graph Mode

Graph Mode is a more advanced and flexible way to use autotune. In this mode, you can see a graphical representation of the pitch in your recording, and you can manually adjust the pitch by moving points on the graph. This is a great option if you want more control over the pitch correction process and want to make more precise adjustments.

Which one should you use?

Auto Mode and Graph Mode have advantages and disadvantages, so the best option for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. If you start with autotune, you should try Auto Mode first and then move on to Graph Mode as you become more comfortable with the software.

4. Set the retune speed:


This setting is essential because it can affect your vocals’ overall sound and feel. The retune speed is a setting in autotune that controls how quickly the software makes pitch adjustments.

If you set the retune speed too high, the software will make pitch adjustments too quickly, resulting in a rigid, machine-like sound. On the other hand, if you set the retune speed too low, the pitch adjustments will be made too slowly, resulting in a noticeable lag or delay in pitch correction.

To set the retune speed, look for a setting within your autotune software that allows you to adjust the retune speed value.

Note: A slower retune speed may work best for experienced singers with accurate pitch. On the other hand, faster retuning work best for less practised Singers. As a starting point, it’s a good idea to set the retune speed to 20 and then adjust from there.

5. Set other effects:


You can add other effects to your song when using autotune. Two popular effects are “Natural Vibrato” and “Humanize”.

Natural Vibrado

“Natural Vibrato” is an effect that mimics the slight variation in pitch that singers naturally produce when they perform. This can add a touch of realism to your vocals and make them sound less robotic.


“Humanize” is another effect that can help make your vocals sound more natural. This effect makes minor random adjustments to the pitch correction, which can help eliminate any rigid, machine-like sound that might result from excessive use of autotune.

To add these effects, look for options within your autotune software to adjust the amount of vibrato or humanization you want to apply. You can experiment with different values until you find the right balance for your specific recording.

Read more about: How to mix Vocal


What are some other ways to use Autotune?

Here are some different ways to use Autotune in music production:


Melody Creation


producers use autotune also as a creative tool for creating melodic lines. In this scenario, instead of just using Autotune to correct pitch errors in vocal performance, it is being used as an instrument to create new melodic ideas. For example, this can be achieved by playing a keyboard or guitar and having Autotune correct the pitch of the performance to fit within a desired scale or key. This opens up a new realm of possibilities for music production and can be a fun and exciting way to incorporate Autotune into your workflow.


Vocal Doubling

here , a recording of the original vocal performance is pitch-shifted using Autotune to create a second, harmonizing vocal part. This can add thickness and depth to the vocal sound, making it sound bigger and more layered. 
This can further customize the effect by adjusting the retune speed, formant correction, and other settings in Autotune. This technique can be particularly useful in pop and electronic music, where a doubled vocal effect is a typical production technique.



Time Correction


This can be useful for fixing timing issues in vocal or instrumental performance, making the final recording sound more tight and polished. Autotune’s time correction feature can be adjusted to match the desired tempo and timing of the song, ensuring that the corrected performance fits seamlessly into the final mix. This can be especially useful for live recordings or performances where timing issues occur.


Tips for using Autotune

Here are some unique tips for using Autotune:

  • Try different retune speeds and input types to see what works best for your particular vocal performance.
  • Don’t just use Autotune for pitch correction. Try using it to add unique vocal effects to your music.
  • Overusing Autotune can lead to a homogenized sound, so try using it only when necessary.
  • Use the “Humanize” set to perform a more natural feel, even if the pitch correction is being applied.
  • Combine Autotune with other effects, such as reverb, delay, and compression, to create a more dynamic and exciting sound.
  • Make sure to set Autotune to the correct key and scale of your song to avoid unnatural or out-of-key pitch correction.

How Autotune affected the music industry?

Autotune has had a profound effect on the music industry. It has changed the sound of popular music by becoming a staple in genres like pop, hip-hop, and electronic dance music. Pitch correction has become more accessible for singers thanks to Autotune, leading to a more polished and in-tune performance. 

The use of Autotune has also contributed to the popularity of autotuned vocals, making it a widely recognized and sought-after sound in many genres of music.

FAQs about Auto Tune and pitch correction

Q: Can  I use autotune in live?
A: Yes, autotune can be used live through hardware processors or real-time plug-ins in a digital audio workstation.

Q: Is autotune only for vocals?
A: No, autotune can be used on any instrument that produces a monophonic signal, such as a guitar or synthesizer.

Q: What are the different types of autotune algorithms available?
A: There are two main types of autotune algorithms: graphical and mathematical. Graphical algorithms allow for visual editing of pitch, while mathematical algorithms are designed for real-time processing.

Q: Can autotune make a bad singer sound good?
A: Autotune can be used to correct pitch, but it cannot improve the quality of a bad performance. A good singer with proper pitch and rhythm will still sound better than a bad singer with autotune.

Q: Is Autotune suitable for all genres?
A: Autotune can be used in any musical genre, from pop to hip-hop to country.

Q:  robotic or artificial-sounding vocals created by autotune?

A: Yes, by adjusting the sensitivity and retune speed settings, autotune can be used to create a variety of vocal effects, including a robotic or artificial sound.


Autotune is a popular software tool used in music production to correct and manipulate the pitch of vocal and instrumental recordings. It allows for the correction of out-of-tune notes and the creation of unique vocal effects. To use autotune, one must first select the appropriate key and scale for their song, then adjust the sensitivity and retune speed settings to achieve their desired sound. 

Autotune has become an essential tool for many music producers and artists, whether used for correction or creative effect. With a little practice and experimentation, anyone can master the art of autotuning and add a professional touch to their music.
We’ve covered everything you need to know in this guide, it’s your turn to start experimenting.

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