This Auto-tune Vocoder Nonsense

Honestly, I don’t expect many people to actually know what the difference between a vocoder and auto-tune is. Not like Scratch Magazine didn’t do a whole article on the differences about a year ago, just saying. I think wikipedia is to blame.

Auto-tune is a plug-in made by Antares, which is used for pitch correction. While it’s best used sparingly, on parts where a vocalist like J. Lo, for example, might not be able to keep her pitch steady for an entire verse or what have you, rappers and singers these days just run their main line of vocals through it in excess and you get robot-like audio. I think people assume it’s the same thing as a vocoder because it uses a form of vocoding to achieve its process, but not it’s not actual vocoder itself, nor does it produce the same harmonic results.

A vocoder is something totally different than auto-tune, and it’s not a Roger Troutman talk box either, which is another mistake people seem to make. Without getting too deep into signal flow, a vocoder takes a signal- say you’ve got a microphone plugged into a synthesizer like the Roland V-Synth GT. The signal that comes through that microphone (you singing, rapping, chanting, whatever) is sent to the series of oscillators and filters which create the synthesizer’s sounds (now mixed with your vocals), which you can play through the keyboard or along with the keyboard. However you alter those filters and oscillators, that will change the resulting sound.

The best recent example of I’ve heard of a vocoder in action has been on will.i.am’s album, on a song called “Impatient.” Listen to this song all the way to the end to hear the vocoder in all its glory. Notice how it sounds NOTHING like the auto-tuned vocals that people have been confusing with vocoder for the past two years or so.


will.i.am- “Impatient”

Class dismissed.

  • http://www.therezidue.com Maurice Garland

    thanks for the clarification

    • http://x ss

      yall stupid roder

  • http://xxlmag.com eskay

    interesting.

  • ceedat

    Already thanks for clearing that up. The vocoder sounds closer to that g-funk than autotune-pain

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    I’m going with whatever Wikipedia says.

  • Kardee

    i love how will.i.am jus recycled this beat to estelle

  • KQ

    yeah, this pisses me off too.

    t-pain etc = autotune!
    roger troutman/zapp/peter frampton etc = talkbox
    ‘pretty tony’ butler/kraftwerk/jonzun crew etc = vocoder

  • http://www.cocaineblunts.com/ noz

    Yeah I can’t believe you made these poor folks listen to an entire Will I Am record when you could’ve just thrown up “The Robots” and called it a day.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXa9tXcMhXQ

  • http://ibeatthat.blogspot.com maestro

    WOW!! I JUST blogged about this after reading the ‘out of tune’ article…

    http://ibeatthat.blogspot.com/2008/05/set-record-straight-for-yall-re.html

  • http://haterplayer.blogspot.com/ fakerthanfake

    still confused. so autotune is something you just run your voice through, but a vocoder is something like an actual instrument that you can use to alter your voice in a bunch of different ways?

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    2pac & Dr. Dre “California Love” = Vocoder

    • Simple like ABC, 123

      I mean, Talkbox

    • Simple like ABC, 123

      sorry, is Talkbox

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    Sorry, I mean, Talkbox

  • Yayza

    My beef is that a lot of people don’t realize that auto-tune was never actually intended to make that robot-esque addition to vocals. It’s intended use is to make shitty singers that can’t stay in key sound good.

  • http://www.rockthedub.com khal

    i applaud your explanation. i am confused as to why you seem pissed, like people really want to do the research. most hip-hop heads only started following producers when they started really caking off – most niggas don’t know what an 808 sounds like, or what an sp12 does. just not the same audience, dog.

  • What’z Crackin

    Whatever you wanna call that shit vocoder, or auto tune rappers should stay far away from dat shit cause almost all the songs they make wit da auto tune is garbage

  • connor

    Imo the best example of vocoder use on record AND the best example of talkbox use on record occur on one song, which is of course Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” You are of course correct that they are fundamentally different, but peanut butter and chocolate, my friend, peanut butter and chocolate.

    Am I the only one who wants MORE autotune/vocode/talkbox? I can’t get enough of that shit. If rap music collectively puts out 5,635 robot records in 08, at least 10 of them have got to be hot, and for me, on account of personal preferences, those 10 are going to be all-timers.

  • BK Cyph

    Gooch one point again. Long live Scratch!

  • cocotaso

    talkbox>vocoder>autotune

    i want MORE talkbox/vocoder in my tracks, word to roger troutman/g-wize

  • Tyler

    Why are people so quick 2 4get that it was really Jodeci with the songs “Feenin” and the song “Freakin U” that put the voicebox back in the map in a good way? No hate on T-Pain but he was just dick riding them thus everyone else is doing the same even tho’ Roger is the King pin of that shit but the box had fallen off until Jodeci brought it back. Now it’s all the rage. Know your History.

  • Slo Mo

    Nice post – I’ve been trying to get up on all this shit. I don’t think I can listen to a song and tell the difference between a talkbox and a vocoder. Both are fly though.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Kano – “I’m Ready”………check it out

  • pete rocK

    you

  • pete rock

    regardless of what you claim to be a difference, auto tuning is simply a vocoder with some extra… shit (i dont think you are capable of comprehending the technical differences, so i wont get into it). in essence it is a vocoder, and a vocoder can do the same shit ‘autotuning’ can do, if not more. if you are aware of set theory (which you probably aren’t because of your article, and the research i have done about you shows that you really are a total retard w.r.t this), then consider the vocoder the super-set of the autotune world – it encompasses all that a A.T can do, and more. so making a distinction is like trying to make a distinction between you and an intellectual human – the intellect will always have more capabilities than the retard that claims its separation from the real human.

    go home ya homo… and stop perpetuating this lie.

    -p.r.
    4

    • jumblebee

      pete rock

      {regardless of what…}

      werd

  • pete rock

    regardless of what you claim to be a difference, auto tuning is simply a vocoder with some extra… shit (i dont think you are capable of comprehending the technical differences, so i wont get into it). in essence it is a vocoder, and a vocoder can do the same shit ‘autotuning’ can do, if not more. if you are aware of set theory (which you probably aren’t because of your article, and the research i have done about you shows that you really are a total retard w.r.t this), then consider the vocoder the super-set of the autotune world – it encompasses all that a A.T can do, and more. so making a distinction is like trying to make a distinction between you and an intellectual human – the intellect will always have more capabilities than the retard that claims its separation from the real human.

    go home ya homo… and stop perpetuating this lie.

    -p.r.
    5

  • pete rock

    god i hope you never make beats fagget

  • pete rock

    if ya do, ima rape your kids, then find you and make you watch while i fuckin kill them with my cock… then your wifey is next… ima make her eat my shit while my dicks all up in her dirty loose cunt… all infornt of your entire fam which i will kidnap and rape much like i did to your fag kids.

    i am god ya fuck. you have messed with powers you have no comprehensive of. i will make sure the reptilians rein supreme with all of the virgin fag blood i can!

    all hail obama, master supreme of the the earthling blood feeders from mars!

  • tjazzington

    A poor argument with very few facts to back up its claims. Sorry but this technique has been used for years and just because you say it’s different doesn’t make you right.

  • Warren

    Thanks for clarifying that. I hear people all the time using the term “vocoder” to describe extreme pitch manipulation. Auto tune is a brand name that Antares uses, but there are many good pitch-correction programs on the market.

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