There are several manufacturers who develop time and pitch shifting algorithms. A small, berlin-based company, called zplane, is involved in this game since 2000. I got to know their algorithm, called elastique, as they implemented it in Studio One.
They recently released a plugin called reTune. It’s a small tool which seemed to be a for real-time pitch and scale modification. So I had a look at this plugin for you.
The first thing which had my attention was the clean design. There are knobs in the middle and on the right – that’s it. You can switch between three different views to keep the display even cleaner. So you just need to display the amount of controls that are necessary for your specific task.
So you’ve got a song, or different tonal elements. If you already know the key, great. Just tell the plugin in the upper end of the plugin, where the input section is found.
If you don’t know the key yet, the plugin has a learn function. Certainly, this function does not always work properly. I figured out, that the results are better, when analyzing more complex material. By just using riffs or acapellas, the learn function has problems finding the right key. Seems as if the plugin needs low frequency information to figure out the root key.
A big advantage of reTune compared to other software like Pitch&Time is that it splits up the material to single notes and tonal elements. This gives you the possibility to change whole songs from minor to major f.e or just single notes. But you don’t have to do this by hand. After setting up the input key, you choose the output key in the lower end of the plugin. Here you can find several presets. But you can also transpose in semi notes and the plugin tells you the resulting key. Great! This function perfectly works for beatmixes.
After setting up the target key, you want to fine tune your material. Due to the transposing process, your audio might sound strange. reTune offers some parameters to improve your material:
- Sensitivity: High sensitivity will shift a large number of pitches whereas a low sensitivity will only shift the most predominant pitches. So this parameter says how strong the materials is being processed, so if delays or reverbs are processed to for example.
- Transient: A value of 100% leaves the transients unchanged, while larger or lower values will push, or attenuate the transients. With this parameter you can backup lost transients.
- Smoothing: Longer notes might have a soft variation of a pitch. This might result in gaps or strange sound while processing. This function smoothes this aspect and slows down the pitching process for single notes.
- Pitch correction: in case you use material which is not perfectly in key, sung by a singer f.e., you can use the pitch correction. With this function, each pitch will be set to the nearest semitone, which means that large pitch variations will be removed. I had the feeling that even on a perfect pop song, turning on the pitch correction just a little bit, makes it sound even better.
reTune can also be used as a creative effect. When fully extended, the main part of the plugin is the transpose box. This box gives you the possibility to transpose single notes. Here’s a simple example:
Do all necessary steps from above and choose the right key. Now select single notes and drop them down to the root key. Used on acapellas, this will sound like a roboter- or vocoder-effect, as all the notes will be pitched down to a single note without any variation. If you want to, can now pitch single notes which creates interesting effects.
Another option is to add harmonic voices. This works great on riffs or acapellas. Set up the root key and pitch it down 5 semitones. Now use the dry/wet knob and turn it down to around 20%. This adds depth and drama when being automated.
So for radio imaging this tool works great. With the possibility to change the scales, you can easily mix songs and various tonal elements. But don’t overdo it. By pitching around 2 semitones, the plugin sounds great, but there is definitely a range of good and bad.
Another way is to use reTune as a creative effect. By using the transpose box, you can change the overall tonal character of vocals or riffs and create nice effects.
At the other hand I’ missing an option to change the formants. This would be a great feature and would help when being used as a creative effect. Another point is, that the learn function does not work properly with material like riffs or acapellas. I also missed the feature of switching single notes by MIDI. It’s great that the plugin itself works in realtime, but it adds some latency though. Could become a problem in complex sessions.
But all in all, reTune makes it easy to tune your songs which really helps in your daily production life. Give it a try, it worth checking out the demo!