Auto-Tune explained

With viewers up in arms at the use of Auto-Tune on the X Factor's auditions segment, we ask two experts to explain what Auto-Tune is and how it works.

Viewers have accused Simon Cowell of unfairness for using the Auto-Tune technology on the X Factor, making contestants sound better than they would normally do and even making some sound worse. The music mogul is reportedly mortified by what has happened and has vowed never to use it again on the X Factor.

We asked music producer Jason "Phats" Hayward and live backline technician Tom Clues to enlight us on the Auto-Tune.

What exactly is auto tuning and how does it work?
JH: Auto-Tune is an audio processor that corrects intonation problems in vocals or solo instruments by adjusting the pitch to the closest note in the user's specified scale. The speed and strength of its effectiveness can be adjusted allowing it to be used as a subtle correcting tool or a prominent digital effect.

Tom, you are a live instruments technician. Is Auto-Tune often used live?
TC: Yes it is often used live

What's the most famous example of Auto-Tune you can think of?
JPH: The best known example of auto tune has to be Cher's 1998 hit 'Believe'. Other great examples are Daft Punk - 'One More Time' and Kanye West’s 'Love Lockdown' taken from the 2008 album '808s & Heartbreak' which uses Auto-Tune throughout. Jay-Z hit back at the Auto-Tune craze with his single titled 'D.O.A. (Death of Auto Tune)' in 2009.

Do you think it's OK to use Auto-Tune on a talent show like The X Factor?
JPH: It doesn’t make sense. I watched this with my daughter and we both questioned the use of Auto-Tune. I was surprised to find that they were using it in a singing competition.It’s created a huge talking point in the first week of X-Factor though

What are the pros and cons of using auto-tune?
TC: Auto-tune is not just for vocals and is a great tool for tidying up a studio performance that has a great vibe but also has mistakes. It is also used as a creative tool and in the right place can bring it's own quality to a song. In my opinion it is silly to view Autotune as cheating.

Do many musicians use it?
TC: Yes, loads. It's not just the preserve of R&B or Hip Hop. It's used across the board in many genres. A lot of so called genuine musicians use it as a safety net to guarantee a quality live performance.
JPH: I do know of a few very well known artists who apply a slight 'bed' of Auto-Tune to their vocals. You would never know through just listening. They use it as a creative tool & to add further warmth and character to their performance.


What do you think? Should Auto Tune be allowed on The X Factor?