Creating Robotic Voice Effects with Melodyne

Melodyne is best known for its pitch correction tools and makes editing out of tune vocal performances simple! However, it can be used with creative results in mind too, as Gary Hiebner discovers.  

Melodyne is a great pitching and time-stretching tool. A vocal auto-correction tool, if you may. But it can also be used in a creative manner to create unique robotic vocal effects. I will be using the Melodyne Editor plugin in Logic, but this can be achieved with Melodyne’s other products as well, such as Melodyne Studio, Melodyne Assistant and Melodyne Essential.


Step 1 – Transfer The Vocals

With the Melodyne Editor plugin it needs to analyze the audio before it can process it. Begin by activating the Transfer button on the plugin. Then play the vocal audio file. 

transfer the vocals


Melodyne will analyze this audio file and will present little red blobs on the plugin representing the audio pitch changes of the vocal audio.

Audio in Melodyne


Step 2 – Pitch Correcting Vocals

Next up I have pitch-corrected the analyzed audio file. Click on the Correct Pitch button. This will bring up a window where you can specify how much Melodyne will correct the audio. I have brought the Pitch Center up to about 97% (just so the audio isn’t completely corrected). This will give me the pitched sound I am after.

Correcting pitch


I have also edited the pitch of some of the notes so that there are some fluctuations left of the pitch. You will see from the image below that the notes are a bit more linear that before.

Changing the pitch


Here is my Pitched Vocal in the context of a track. 


Step 3 – De-Modulate the Vocals

Every vocal line has some form of natural modulation to the pitch of the vocal line. What I find really creates interesting results is to “de-modulate” these pitches on the vocal. If you click and hold on the Pitch Tool you will see that you can choose the Pitch Modulation Tool. Select all the notes, and then use the Pitch Modulation Tool to decrease the amount of modulation on the audio. 

de-modulate the vocals


This is what it sounds like after the Pitch “De-Modulation”:


Step 4 – Edit the Formant

The Formant Tool is also a great tool to alter the tone of your vocal on a track. Select all the notes, then Choose the Formant Tool. Start raising the formant on the notes and you will quickly notice quite a difference in the vocal. Higher formants are normally suited to female vocals, and lower formants for male vocals. But you can obviously use this in reverse roles for different vocal effects.

I have a male vocal in my track, but have raised the formant on the voice to give it a more artificial high tone.

Formant editor

Raised formant


Here is what my vocal sounds like with the raised formant:


Conclusion

As you can see quite interesting results can be achieved when working with Melodyne on your vocals. You can create these crazy robotic sounding vocal effects. Melodyne has excellent pitching algorithms, so the vocal still retains much of its character. I find I always can get interesting and creative results when working with Melodyne. Try it out in your next productions.


For further Melodyne check out the Melodyne 101 tutorial.


Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More

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