All of the popular music that we listen to on the radio, YouTube, or Spotify, have had the vocals treated with some sort of pitch-correction.
Pitch-correction plugins such as Auto-Tune and Melodyne are an integral part of what makes today’s pop music so, well… popular, and every single studio uses them.
You can use them to adjust the pitch slightly to make it sound perfect, or even as a whole new effect.
In this post I will give you a list of the best pitch-correction plugins out there, both free and paid, as well as my opinion on which one you should go for right at the end.
Why use pitch-correction?
The average listener pays more attention to the vocals than anything else when listening to a song, and this means that they should sound as close to perfection as possible if you want them to really enjoy it.
Auto-Tune/pitch-correction software can help you achieve this by correcting some of the subtle intonation mistakes that a vocalist may end up making during the recording process.
Almost 100% of the most popular songs you hear on the radio, Spotify, etc., have some sort of pitch-correction applied to the vocals.
So, if you want your music to fit within today’s pop standards, then you probably should consider using it.
Another reason to use Auto-Tune is for the effect that it can create, like those blocky, robotic vibes that sound like they’re from the future.
Some people consider using Auto-Tune cheating, and this could be true to some extent if the result is that you don’t end up caring as much if the vocals were recorded well or if the vocalist performed at their best simply because you know that it can be fixed later on.
I believe that it should only be used to correct extremely subtle issues, but if you think otherwise and just want to get an awesome idea you had for a song out there without having to worry too much about the vocal performance, then that’s also a good way to go about it.
Some Pitch-Correction plugins like Melodyne, for example, can even help you control the sibilance and the breath noises in a much easier way than what we are used to, which is another reason to consider using them.
Now, without further ado, here are the best Pitch-correction plugins:
Best Auto-Tune VST Plugins
Antares Auto-Tune ($99 up to $399)
Antares Auto-Tune is one of the most used pitch-correction tools and it comes in various different formats; The Pro-, Artist and Access versions as well as the EFX+ version, which is a combination of Auto-Tune’s core functions plus some extra effects.
What makes Antares Auto-Tune stand out is its ease of use, since the interface is extremely clean and easy to understand.
Now, let’s take a quick look at each of the versions available;
Auto-Tune Pro comes with the highest number of features and it includes “Auto Mode”, for real-time correction and effects, “Graph Mode”, for detailed pitch and time editing, and the “Auto-Key” plug-in for automatic key and scale detection.
Auto-Tune Artist is, essentially, a stripped-down version of Auto-Tune Pro that comes with the same core functionality and that is designed to also be used live or for recording in the studio, but it doesn’t come with the “Auto Key”, “Auto Mode” and “Graph Mode” features.
Auto-Tune Access is the most affordable one and only features a handful of controls, such as; letting you choose the key and the scale of the song, selecting the tuning speed, and the “Humanizing” control.
If you are new to pitch-correction and want a simple and fast way of learning, then the Access version is probably the way to go.
Lastly, Auto-Tune EFX+ is extremely similar to the “Access” version of the software, but if also includes an Auto-EFX multi-effects rack and an Auto-Motion melodic pattern generator.
Auto-Tune EFX+ Included effects
- Pitch and Throat: for real-time pitch shifting and throat modeling
- Duet: for realistic doubling, with adjustable pitch and timing variation
- Vocode: for vintage analog vocoder emulations
- Tube Amp: for analog tube distortion modeling
- Mutate: for ring modulated audio mutation
- Filter: a high-pass filter for EQ and special effects
As far as pricing goes, they vary quite a lot; from $99 for the Access version all the way up to $399 for the Pro version of the software.
You can find each version here;
Celemony Melodyne ($99 to $699)
Melodyne is probably just as popular as Antares Auto-Tune, or even more, and it’s an industry standard as far as vocal processing and pitch-correction goes.
What sets Melodyne apart from the rest of the plugins on this list is its ability to not only correct the pitch, both manually or automatically, which is something that all the other plugins are capable as well, but to also process the sibilance and breath sounds with extreme ease and accuracy.
It will automatically detect both and let you reduce how much of either of them can actually get through and be heard.
What’s interesting is that when you stretch a note or change its pitch, the sibilance will not be affected by this; it won’t change the pitch because humans can’t do that, and when stretching a note, it will only stretch the vowels.
You can however, stretch breathing sounds, but not change their pitch.
Melodyne was designed with the intention of being able to process vocals without affecting the human side of things.
In other words, it’s able to change the pitch and correct other important things that might be going on in the track without de-humanizing it or making it sound unnatural.
Melodyne not only works as a pitch-correction tool, but it’s probably the best De-esser currently available since it will automatically detect sibilance and allow you to lower it, remove it completely, and even boost it in specific parts of the song, which also adds creative possibilities to the mixing process.
As far as pricing goes, they do vary quite a lot depending on which version of Melodyne you want to purchase, ranging from $99 all the way up to $699.
If I had to choose a pitch-correction plugin on this list, it would definitely be Melodyne.
You can find each version here;
Waves Tune Real-Time ($47.99)
Tune Real-Time by Waves, as the name implies, was designed to be used both in the studio as well as during live real-time performance to make the vocalist sound as good as possible by applying pitch correction to the performance instantly, be it drastic or subtle.
You can use it during the recording phase as well, and this is especially useful to keep the vocalist confident since they will hear themselves singing better, and this will ultimately end up giving better results.
Like all pitch-correction software out there, it lets you control the speed at which the plugin will snap the note to the right pitch as well as how precise you want it to be.
You can also select the range of the singer’s voice, such as “Bass”, “Baritone”, “Soprano”, etc. as well as the scale, such as chromatic, major and minor.
You can also delete certain notes/ranges from the detection circuit by simply dragging with your mouse on the plugin’s keyboard, which the plugin won’t then correct.
This is really useful during a live show because low rumble could be picked up by the mic, or the higher frequencies generated by the guitars could also be picked up, and to avoid unwanted sounds/noises you can simply tell the plugin in what frequency range it should work.
When you select a key, a “minus” sign will appear on top of the notes that are not part of that scale, and what’s really interesting about this plugin is that if the singer hits one of those notes, it will naturally correct automatically to the closest note that’s on the scale.
However, you can tell the plugin to also correct upwards or always correct downwards when those notes that are not part of the scale are hit by clicking on those minus signs and selecting either the right- or left arrow.
If the vocalist always sings a C# instead of a D, you can use this feature to let the plugin know to always shift up to D instead of going down to C, etc.
The Waves Tune Real-Time is extremely powerful and probably the best Auto-Tune plugin for live performances and recording, plus it’s quite simple to use!
Find out more about the Waves Tune Real-Time plugin here.
Reaper ReaTune ($60)
Reaper is a DAW that was created by Cockos, and it’s one of the most affordable professional DAWs out there today.
Not only is it an absolutely fantastic DAW, but the plugins you get with it are extraordinary.
Sure, they don’t look as flashy as many others do, but they do sound fantastic and that’s the whole point.
Reaper comes with a built-in pitch-correction tool that features both automatic correction as well as manual correction.
Manual correction lets you see the notes that are being sung on a window that looks fairly similar to a MIDI piano roll, and this will tell you if the note’s out of tune or not.
You can then correct those by quite literally drawing a line on the note that you want the pitch to be corrected to.
The Automatic correction will let you choose a key, be it chromatic, major or minor, and it will then only correct to the notes on the scale you chose.
You can add specific notes by clicking on them as well, if you so desire.
On the automatic correction tab, you will also be able to see some useful information while listening back to the vocals, since it will show you how the pitch is being corrected, how much, etc.
What’s interesting about this plugin is that it comes free with the Reaper DAW that only costs $60, which also includes a whole array of great-sounding plugins, plus you can even download a couple more for free on their website here.
If you’re on a budget and don’t care too much about the way these plugins look, then I would actually recommend purchasing Reaper since it comes with so many high-quality features.
Note: You can try Reaper for free for 60 days as well before you decide.
Find out more about Reaper and ReaTune here.
Izotope Nectar 3
Nectar 3 is a fairly complex plugin at its core since it comes with so many features; however, it’s extremely easy to use.
It was created with the intent of being the ultimate plugin to make your vocals sit well in a mix; from pitch-correction all the way to extremely detailed polishing, this plugin does it all.
The pitch correction module allows you to select a key and to choose whether you want it to be major, minor or chromatic.
The pitch will then start correcting to the notes in those specific scales.
You can also control the speed at which the plugin will correct the pitch with the “Speed” control, as well as how accurately it will correct it by using the “Strength” control.
Formants can also be shifted up and down depending on what kind of sound you’re going for.
Aside from the access to pitch correction that this plugin gives you, it also features various different modules, such as; Gate, EQ, Compressor, De-Esser, and more.
If you’re looking for just one plugin that does everything you could ever need for vocal mixing, then Nectar 3 is definitely it.
Find out more about Nectar 3 here.
Image Line Pitcher
Despite being a great pitch-correction tool, Pitcher is only available for FL Studio and doesn’t come in a VST format which would allow you to use it with other DAWs.
This means that in order to be able to use it, you’d have to purchase FL Studio as well.
FL Studio is a great DAW and you can find out more about it in my post about the best DAWs currently available.
With Pitcher you can specify what notes or Scale you want it to correct the pitch to as well as adjust how fast and how accurately it should do so, allowing you to control how natural or robotic the vocals end up sounding.
It can also be controlled via MIDI to create up to four simultaneous harmonies, plus the formants of those harmonies can be adjusted as well from male to female.
All in all, it’s a great pitch-correction tool, and at this price point it’s definitely one that I would consider investing in.
If you’re already using FL Studio, then absolutely, get Pitcher!
Otherwise I think you’d be better off purchasing any of the other plugins on this list.
Find out more about Pitcher here.
Free Auto-Tune Plugins
If you are completely new to music production and don’t want to start spending money on a bunch of plugins, then you should actually consider trying out a couple free ones first.
One question I often hear people ask is; “But aren’t premium plugins better?”.
And while there may lie some truth in that, it’s not necessarily so.
Free plugins usually work just fine, and as far as pitch-correction goes, at least the plugins that I tried definitely worked extremely well.
The difference however, may lie in the number of included features, ease of use, etc.
Here is a post I wrote about the best Free Auto-Tune plugins that you should check out if you’re interested in trying some of them out before spending money on a paid one.
However, here are my top three picks for the best free pitch-correction VSTs:
The interface of this plugin looks absolutely astounding and it’s also very easy to use since the controls are quite intuitive.
You can tell it what notes it should correct the pitch to as well as how fast and how accurately it should do so.
Additionally, it comes with a built-in bitcrusher section and it can be controlled via MIDI, which is something that most of the free plugins I tried weren’t able to.
Lastly, it can be upgraded to a premium version that includes a couple extra features for $25.
You can download it here.
What I like about MAutoPitch is its ease of use; it’s extremely straight forward.
Not only that, but you actually get it as part of a whole bundle that MeldaProduction created, which comes with a dozen additional free plugins that are just as good.
Of course, if you end up liking this pitch-correction plugin you can always upgrade to the paid version, if you so desire.
You can download it here.
Auto-Tune Evo can be used during live performances or during the recording process in the studio.
You can set it to automatically correct the pitch, or you can do this manually with the “Graphical Mode”, and while this may take more time, the end result is much more natural sounding.
In addition to this, it features a “humanize” and a Vibrato control and it can be controlled via MIDI.
You can download it here.
Which Pitch-Correction plugin is right for you?
Well, this is a tough question to answer…
I think that in most cases, any of the free plugins I listed either here or on the post I linked earlier about free Auto-Tune plugins, should do the trick.
However, I think that Melodyne, especially since its latest release, is absolutely fantastic; the ability to control the sibilance and breath noises is really something to consider.
Plus, you can get the “Essential” version for $99, which is a fair price point.
Antares Auto-Tune Access, which also sells for roughly $99, is another great contender that you should consider.
Now, if you already own FL Studio, then get Pitcher, no questions asked; its price point is about half of both the cheapest version of Auto-Tune and Melodyne and it works great.
I like Melodyne the best, but in all honesty it’s mostly because of the sibilance and breath control features, plus you can get the “Essential” version for about $100.
If you already use Reaper, then simply use the ReaTune plugin that comes with it, and even if you don’t use Reaper, remember that you can try it out for free for 60 days.
Lastly, to any FL Studio users, you should get Pitcher… Mainly because it’s more affordable than any of the other plugins and it’s quite powerful.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
Frequently Asked Questions
How expensive is auto tune?
Antares Auto-Tune ranges from $99 for the “Access” version, all the way up to $399 for the “pro” version.
Most other pitch-correction plugins share similar price tags as well.
What is the best autotune plugin?
There is no such thing as the “best” auto-tune plugin, but there are two that have stood the test of time and that are being used in studios worldwide; Antares Auto-Tune and Celemony Melodyne.
While both do the same thing, in essence, each comes with its own unique features, so make sure to choose the one that suits your needs best.
How do I use autotune VST?
The first step is to select the key/scale that your song is in. You can usually also select each specific note individually.
Then either let it automatically correct the pitch, or you can go in and manually select where each individual note should be corrected to.
Then choose how fast and how accurately the software should be snapping to the corrected pitch; if it’s instant then it will sound robotic and futuristic and you should mostly use this as an effect.
Set it to correct slowly and leave some wiggle room on how precise it should correct the pitch to make it sound more natural and human.
Unless you’re using it to achieve an effect, pitch-correction should never be noticed.