Is Auto-Tune on your mic preamp really necessary?
Item: ART Auto-Tune Pre, mic preamp with pitch correction
Price: $229 US, £169 UK
At A Glance: ART’s Auto-Tune Pre combines a tube microphone preamp with integrated Antares Auto-Tune® processing in a compact package ideal for studio or stage. This means you can easily add the Antares pitch processing that is often used in studios, in a gig setting without the complexity and cost of an external computer and software. Users can select the key, scale and correction type and individual notes can be toggled on or off using the key pads for more customization. There is also an optional footswitch that allows you to recall settings that can be stored in one of five presets as well as bypass the pitch correction section entirely.
High Notes: The unit has a low-noise microphone preamp with a 12AX7A tube circuit that can be used to help add warmth to your vocal sound. It is suitable for both studio and live use, and is of a slightly higher quality than preamps often found on lower-end mixing desks. The preamp offers 48v phantom power for use with condenser microphones and there is a low-cut filter to remove unwanted bass frequencies. To keep things simple for singers who are used to using Auto-Tune in the studio, it has been designed to have a user interface and functionality that is similar to the Auto-Tune EFX Plug-In. There is also an insert jack to allow external processing to be added between the preamp and Auto-Tune EFX section.
Off Pitch: When compared to the plug-in version of Antares Auto-Tune, there are far fewer options to tweak the parameters of the pitch correction processing. There will be many singers who find the entire idea of using Auto-Tune goes against their artistic principles – although it is possible just to use the Auto-Tune section just to send a pitch guide to your monitors and not to your audience or only turn it on for certain passages of a track for creative effects.
VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: ART’s Auto-Tune Pre offers an affordable way of using Antares’s pitch correction technology in a live setting; however in studio you would probably be better with using the plug-in version as it offers more options to get the perfect sound. Although combining a tube-preamp with pitch correction is a unique concept, it does face competition from voice processors that offer pitch correction as well as many other effects from manufacturers such as TC-Helicon, Boss, and Digitech. For example, TC-Helicon’s Mic Mechanic costs less than the ART unit and features EQ, reverb, compression, de-essing as well as pitch correction (although you can’t specify the key). Although it does not have a separate preamplifier, most mixing desks have good enough microphone preamplifiers for general live use – or for $40 you could even buy a separate ART tube preamplifier to use within your setup.
Manufacturer’s Website: http://artproaudio.com