I’ve only just been made aware of the story circulating the British press at the moment, that the X-Factor bosses have admitted to using post production vocal processors to alter the pitch of the notes that contestants were singing. This process is called “auto-tuning”.
Auto-tuning has been around for years and is now a very common part of music production. Most high end vocal processors come equipped with an auto-tuning unit. Anyone who has used any kind of auto-tuner would tell you that whilst they are a useful tool, the job they do is extremely subtle and it’s not really possible for an auto-tuner to make a bad singer sound like a good singer.
If someone is very far off the notes that they are trying to hit, auto-tune will not make them all of a sudden sound amazing. It will make them sound like some kind of absurd robot, as the video below should show you.
I dare say that the show’s producers didn’t even deliberately use this effect and simply had it on as part of their standard vocal processing, as is practice in a lot of post production for vocal work.
The press reaction to this has been completely mental and ludicrously misguided. I’ve not seen one newspaper that has consulted an audio expert thus far, and I doubt that any willl.
If you have spouted some uninformed toss on this subject then please take a moment to watch the videos below. One is of a girl who can sing with a bit of auto-tune assistance, the other is of a man who can’t. You should soon understand how quickly a bad singer is exposed, even with the miracle of auto-tune.