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Does Opeth use auto-tune in recordings?

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by nat0, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. NicholasDWolfwood

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    listen to any modern metal production, or any modern production in general, and there's several spots where you can tell that auto-tune was used - especially if you take into consideration the many variables of a) what their previous recordings sound like in the vocal department b) how they sing live c) studio documentaries showing the production

    just an example, anything that joey sturgis has worked on has autotune all over, due to the fact that these singers cannot sing in tune.

    seen opeth back on the gr tour twice as well as once on the watershed tour and he was off-key several times. even he, by his own admission, is not a perfect singer and is off-key, especially live, a lot. this is apparent more-so on the older records where clean vocal parts are buried under reverb and other effects to mask imperfections.

    perhaps I have used the wrong terminology, oh dear studio engineer, in saying "aligning it to the grid." but if you hadn't so cleverly skipped over my side-note in that same paragraph, you would have noticed that I specifically stated the use of tools like 100% correction in melodyne or the line tool in antares.

    perhaps I'm mistaken, but not once did I say that mikael cannot sing and needs to be tuned. you're speaking in absolute. I've stated, however, that mikael does go off-key quite a bit and when roadrunner is giving bogren a big fee to produce their records, I'm sure that it'd be unsatisfactory to not tune any off-key vocals (which mikael has acknowledged time and time again that he's not a perfect singer and goes off-key)


    "an actual engineer"? care to provide any engineering credits to back up your claim? otherwise it's just a red herring.
     
  2. Lateralus14

    Lateralus14 New Metal Member

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    I know everyone wants to believe their favorite musicians are perfect but, simply put, people are going to use whatever modern technology they can if it makes their product sound better. Get over it guys.
     
  3. antonis

    antonis junior member :D

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    this
     
  4. nat0

    nat0 Member

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    btw i thought i would just bring this up: has anyone noticed how horribly off-key mikael is on the watershed dvd when theyre jamming? could this explain if they use auto tune live? but i hear heaps of imperfections live anyway :S
     
  5. BrandonS

    BrandonS Member

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    You can tell if they use auto-tune live, and Mike doesn't. It is so much more obvious live than it is on record.


    hahah
     
    #25 BrandonS, Jul 5, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  6. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    I dont understand the mindset of this thread, but i sense something anti-rational about it from its humble and confused beginnings, so i just have to reply and say what i feel is right. I cant get rid of the feeling that situation we're having here is a bunch of guys who actually dont have any audio engineering experience disbelieving completely palatable claims by someone who actually does have some experience, and offering a number of platitudes ("99% of bands/producers use it", "its part of modern recording", "people will use whatever technology to get the best sounding product"...) to back up and perhaps justify a choice (using auto-tune) that would hardly satisfy any critically disposed music fan. And all that while all - and only! - that would actually prove satisfactory would be to either provide a "source" (for instance Mike saying "yeah, we're using auto-tune, its part of modern recording" in an interview) or point out an example from the actual recordings and say "in XYZ song at xy:yz seconds you can hear that certain synthlike sound" so everyone can see it since its "easy to tell", and "doesnt need a source"... Oddly enough, all this is coming from folks who would otherwise scorn autotuned vocals of a random pop star.

    Since im not an audio expert by any means, but consider myself relatively capable of telling red herrings from rational discourse, i am just going to say that Davo's argumentation seems much stronger and logical to me than the one presented by those who claim Opeth records from D&D onwards were autotuned. In short - i do not think Opeth or PT use autotune on their recordings, and i dont think it can be heard if they do, it would be subtle undetectable changes. I would like to stress that i would be pretty disappointed and unhappy if id found a dead on proof that they actually do, since i think its unfair and wrong and also not necessarily, i would say not at all, beautifying the records. To me it would be like having the most delicate Eastern dish blotted with stinky Big Mac ketchup, or maybe like seeing a photo of a beautiful girl's face whose lovely features have been tastelessly erased by airbrush to make it "perfect" and a "product". Or none of that, but just an unpleasant finding.

    Finally, getting to know Mike as someone who prefers vintage 70's prog sound and aesthetics, loathes using pre-recorded tracks, dislikes modern bands for "they're relying on technology to come up with something halfway decent", and even uses modest Laney amps for his live sound, i definitely feel that he does not want to use autotune, on principle and cause he has some artistic pride and command, or even for ethical reasons; also, i count him and Steven among those "1%" (which is not just 1% i would hope) of artists and not the inertial "rest". I cant see any other way around it.

    I am also surprised that all those engineering savvy people on this forum who were so eloquent in topics dealing with different aspects of production of Opeth records are now hesitant to take a bite at this and perhaps resolve all the dilemmas. Anyone who could take a more authoritative stance on this and make a proof-laiden claim?
     
  7. NicholasDWolfwood

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    steve wilson can barely stay on key as it is, why would he not use tuning on a record

    and just to let you know, mike has been using boss multipedals (gt6? gt8? gt10? not sure which anymore) for awhile for their distorted tones.

    can I just ask one question. this may sound a bit dumb to you but please bare with me, because I cannot, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, understand your povs here.

    say you were being paid by roadrunner, the amount that a jens bogren does, to deliver the best possibly produced record to them that you can. now say your singer sometimes has problems staying on key (which he's said numerous times, especially live, that he has problems sometimes staying on-key) now, say that your singer has problems nailing specific pitches on his clean vocals (for example, when he goes all david coverdale except not quite). would you really, at the price that you're being paid and the advance that rr has given you, would you really keep that take instead of tuning it up?

    oh yeah and notice on the watershed dvd that mike is very clearly off key in certain spots (I believe the cleans in the rehearsal of the lotus eater were one spot iirc)

    kinda wish that bogren still posted here on um, so we could ask the man himself.

    btw davo's claim that he's an engineer is a red herring until he provides proof, since that is the standard that we're using this thread.
     
  8. nat0

    nat0 Member

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    i'm pretty sure its used extensively on coil, mike's voice is very synthy.
     
  9. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    The only proof has already been mentioned, and it's on the Lamentations DVD. Steven and Mike are listening to a vocal harmony comprised of a few layers of Mikes voice, and Mike says "it's going to be nice" and after Steven agrees, Mike says "Some tuning?" Steven again agrees "a bit more tightening up, a little bit of tuning, it'll be great." After Mikes done with the harmony, Steven than starts singing to record another layer with his own voice, the DVD seems to cut into the scene after Steven just did his second take, and after Mike and Steven talk about the vocal part being hard to sing, Steven says "I think the tuner will fix that, so lets do a 3rd."

    I don't see why you would need more proof, however, I don't really think you should care either. Almost everyone uses them, some more than others of course, but it's just the way things are done now. It's a tool of trade, like an equalizer, compressor, or reverb.
     
  10. BrandonS

    BrandonS Member

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    It's not the end of a world if a band uses auto-tune. Most of them do and there's no denying it. They may not use it live but it is definitely used on records, even if just to tighten up what is already good. If you listen to Steve Wilson recording on the Lamentations DVD it sounds like nails on a chalkboard, simply horrible, yet after he tunes the vocals it sounds good. I think certain people are trained to work well with auto-tune and can't really sing without it. I don't think Mike is one of those people.

    I have worked with auto-tune a lot and the robotic side-effects can be hidden pretty well, especially with subtle usage. Even if it is applied heavily and properly edited, and the singer puts in a near perfect performance to begin with, it can be fairly unnoticeable. If they just set it "parked" live, then you would probably hear the robotic transitions.
     
  11. lammoth

    lammoth Member

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    Would be better if mikael came and clarified this for the real curious people, anyway we know he can sing awesome live, and thats what matters. In studio you get so many takes and all which makes it simpler.
     
  12. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    Im sorry if im being a pain in the ass, but after all, why not going on with this thread, i think it can still lead to interesting, albeit somewhat unpleasant, discussion. So ill say a few things in addition, after giving it more thought. Sorry if im too picky, you can ignore me if i irk you :)

    About RR and Bogren. I think what Nicholas said makes sense but at the same time RR came to Opeth, no?, not the other way around, not like Mike begged RR to sign his band. So, if they couldnt make him write a proper single, they couldnt force him into auto-tune either, if he didnt want to, that is. Some artists just have enough control and authority to say no to whatever if they feel its right. Also, auto-tune is not the only and certainly not the most important tool that makes the band sound hi-fi; so GR and Watershed wouldnt sound like shit with or without Bogren applying auto-tune. I think what Opeth wanted/expected from RR was to provide them with decent recording conditions so that traumatic D&D sessions would never repeat, and i believe they got that. Good studio with proper recording, mixing, mastering, combined with great songwriting, i think its more than enough to make a great sounding record. But yeah, one wishes Bogren would still post here, cause its all so simple, just yes or no ;), and im gonna be talking so much now instead :Smug:

    About that Lamentations DVD clip. Ive watched it several times over, paying close attention and, overall, i think its obvious that they did use whatever "tuner" for that particular MA harmony. I realize that. But, as Davo pointed out, "These are specific for harmonies which is exactly what I use Tune for. This the "aaahhhh" parts in Master's Apprentices.", and i would still like to believe that they've been using that "tuner" thing to synchronize and coordinate individual vocal lines that make up that harmony, or as Steven Wilson put it, "to tighten it up", and not really to systematically apply correction of single vocal lines throughout entire albums. I think that is why Wilson, after discussing the hard part and Mike saying "so its not just me" and Steven saying "i think the tuner will fix that", goes on to take a third, then fourth (and do we know how many?) take of a vocal line that might have finished buried deep in the mix beneath the Mike's more prominent lines (remember that Wilson is even second guessing if he should add his vocals at all and does so only after Mike says "yes"). So, i would say that the video undeniably proves Wilson does use whatever computer software to do some tricks, BUT only for editing that harmony and in a way that is easier to back up and appreciate artistically.
     
  13. truhlo

    truhlo Member

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    Anyway, what baffles me is not so much the possibility (and i see its way more probable than i ever thought) that Opeth would use auto-tune to whatever extent, it is that i just cant find the well thought out explanation, rationale, for using auto-tune without harming your integrity as an artist; i think this thread has completely failed in doing that, i could only hear bromides... There was one argument i think needs a reply and it is the claim that auto-tune is the same thing as reverb, compression or EQ. I am totally ignorant in this domain, but at the same time, whatever good article i read during the days of AT controversy and hype, whatever article with some intellectual and theoretical backbone there was, it didnt leave any place to doubt that these tools differ in that AT alters the structure of the vocal line - and therefore is cheating - whereas other tools make it only change the mode so to speak, but not really the actual shape (in precisely the same way Mike describes how Steven applies effects that can make him sound like "underwater", or "miles away", or "telephone voice" and so).

    Acknowledging the fact that i never entered a recording studio and therefore may not be able to understand how easy it is to get tempted to tweak it all just a little for better results, i cant help but wonder could it be that i dont understand something about application of such a tool, or is it that even the best of artists are just amoral pragmatics as much as the rest of the plebs and will go for it without giving it much thought. But i just cant believe that especially Steven, as someone who is so eloquent, so intelligent, even philosophical about music and the whole creative process thingy would only go like "i cant sing for shit but the tuner is gonna fix that", and when asked why just say, "well its a tool of trade". Heck, i would expect an "evil" major label producer to have better arguments than that. And that is what i wish to hear: a well versed, intelligent and intelligible explanation for using auto-tune, cause im just not the kind of person who takes things for granted, especially with art, so i dont see it as hairsplitting, but i think it is very important and also very subtle topic. So i ask: could AT be used in any other way than to make a "Cher effect" for pop productions, or to make a poor performance sound better (or a good one even better) without leaving an audible trace?, in which case, lets not fool us, it is cheating, a small one or a big one, but still.

    Thanks for your patience.
     
  14. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    If it is in the right hands, yes, it can be done undetected, and is more often then not used in such a way. Not to mention, Celemonies Melodyne that will be released soon, is pretty much a new era of vocal tuning, and instrument correction, where it allows.

    Just as a related subject, what is your feeling on drum triggers? They are used in thousands of metal recordings, and used live by many artists as well. Also, I do believe they were used on Ghost Reveries.
     
  15. NicholasDWolfwood

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    triggers are a necessity in extreme metal, eos. and for what its worth triggers weren't used on gr iirc, but on both deliverance and gr the drums (at least the kick) were replaced later on in production (in the case of deliverance, it was when sneap got his hands on it - I believe he blended the real sounds with samples)
     
  16. ozric

    ozric Member

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    What would you rather... vocals that stay in key and sound smooth, or a few 'errors' here and there? I know that I'd choose the former.

    Personally, I only oppose auto-tuning when it produces a very artificial sound, or when a singer can't sing live, and there is a susbequently a considerable discrepancy between the album-vocals and the live-vocals.
     
  17. Cyrosis

    Cyrosis Member

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    They are only a necessity if the drummer is not good enough, which is rather in vein with the vocal tuning argument IMO, which is why I brought it up. Triggers and drum replacing are nearly the same thing as far as I'm concerned, both are layering samples over the acoustic sound, or removing the acoustic kit entirely, I'd say this is a lot more extreme than vocal tuning, though you can tell in my previous posts, I'm not really against some mild vocal tuning.
     
  18. The Emptier

    The Emptier t3h b3aSt0rZ

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    yeah in the lamentations dvd steve is talking about touching up the vocals with auto-tune or what not
    i personally think its fucked up

    and i think there recording process is extremely stupid, them saying how they never rehearse the stuff and only have a basic outline of what the songs are, sure if you have the money to dick around spend tons of time actually writing ( and even LEARNING) the songs they shouldve had down well before the studio then thats ok but if your a small time band then you need to have your shit together and get in there bang it all out really quick and there you go
    thats how i think at least
     
  19. lammoth

    lammoth Member

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    your point being? it doesn't matter unless you're part of the band, and plus it worked for them then, and if you see the Watershed DVD, you'll find out that they rehearse now.
     
  20. The Emptier

    The Emptier t3h b3aSt0rZ

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    i just think it's weird that they had no concept of recording and only had a small idea of what there were going to do. i mean i guess it works with them because they probably need that room to experiment and etc. but for me i need everyone to know there parts and not to dick around and be tight as fuck before we go into any recording setting. but its different for everyone
     

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