Talkbox vs. Auto-Tune: Part 1 of 3

Auto-Tune Plug-In
Auto_Tune Plug-In

Lately the first thing people say when they hear one of my records is “Damn…you freak the auto-tune different than anybody!” My reply is, “I play the talkbox…not Auto-tune!” Then they say,”Ain’t it the same?” then I tell ’em, “Hell naw! Not even close!”

As a producer who’s been able to work with some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop from Drake to Kanye West, Big Boi, and T.I. by playing the Talkbox, it’s my duty to clear up the “urban myths” about the difference between the Talkbox and Auto-Tune, as well as to breakdown the best talkbox products on the market for all the aspiring talkbox artists and talkbox weekend warriors alike. I will write a series of posts to help you become more familiar with both Auto-tune and mostly Talkbox products. The posts will include free downloads, video and links to learn more or purchase the reviewed products.

Let me start by breakin it down like this: Auto-Tune is a computer program created for people who can’t sing (no disrespect to T-pain whom I’ve worked with….an amazing producer/writer and a better singer than he gets credit for). Auto-Tune does just what it’s name suggests: it automatically tunes a singers’s voice (or a rapper’s) once it’s been recorded into the computer. A “slow” Auto-Tune setting is barely noticeable, while a “fast’ setting creates the “computerized” perfectly-tuned “T-Pain” effect that is so popular. Although T-Pain is noted as the “Auto-Tune King”, my friend Sam Ward was the first to use Auto-Tune as an effect instead of just a fix for not so great singing. The song was 1998 Cher “Believe” an instant hit. The Auto-Tune effect had all but died out until T-Pain got “Sprung” in 2005 and took auto-tune and ran with it (marathon style!) making a career out of that one effect even…and I’m not mad!

Here is a link to buy Auto-Tune
Antares Auto-Tune Evo Native

Logic Audio’s built in tuning plug in produces a similar effect.
Apple Logic Express 9 DAW Software

Waves also makes a great auto-tune like program called “Tune”

Waves Renaissance Maxx Native Bundle

part 2 coming soon!

4 Replies to “Talkbox vs. Auto-Tune: Part 1 of 3”

  1. Ha ha, someone just forwarded this to us… We run club Bootie, basically, the world’s biggest mashup club night and one of our most recent self-produced mashups is called “Believe in Sexual Eruption” which is Cher’s Believe mashed up with Snoop’s R-rated version of Sensual Sedution which was called Sexual Eruption. We mashed them together for this very reason, dueling vocoders (auto-tune). You can check it out – free DL here: or listen on our myspace page at Enjoy!

  2. So popular nowadays, it has its own RYM list dedicated to it. And I don’t think there’s a list of this exact topic anywhere else. Suggestions are welcome. Note: Zapp did not use auto-tune, it was the talk box, like in “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Do You Feel Like We Do”.

  3. This is the video explaning the effect T-pain uses to get that computer effect on his voice. T pain can sing, however this effect is what makes him unique! Below are links and the settings for auto tune. Auto-tune is the plug-in that T pain uses. Thanx for watching and please subscribe.Auto-Tune Demo:Auto-Tune Vocal effect settings:Key – CScale – MajorRetune – 0Tracking – 75Rate – 0.1Variation – 0Onset Delay – 0Onset Rate – 0Pitch – 0Amplitude – 30Formant – 100There you go. Put that on your choruses or whatever, and enjoy.

  4. Seems like the difference in sound comes from the sound being fed into it. Autotune will still sound like the person’s voice while a talkbox will sound like the instrument being fed into it. That’s how I’ve learned to distinguish.

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