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Auto-Tune Vocal EQ – Review & Analysis

As you may have noticed, the legendary plugin manufacturer Antares has recently launched a new plugin: Auto-Tune Vocal EQ. Does it stand out from the competition or is it just another EQ on the market? I did the test, and I’ll give you a full answer in the rest of this article.

Antares Auto-Tune Vocal EQ

Overview

Auto-Tune Vocal EQ is a full-parametric EQ plugin with 6 dynamic or non-dynamic bands, a high-pass filter, a low-pass filter, a tilt filter and an air band. But it also gives you access to advanced settings that we will discover later.

Price

Thanks to Antares’ relatively new subscription system, Auto-Tune Vocal EQ (and all the rest of Antares’ products) is available for $24.99/month if you choose to be billed monthly or only $14.58/month if you choose the annual model.

Like Slate Digital, Antares is very much focused on its subscription system rather than the per-piece purchase. So much so that I haven’t even figured out how to buy Auto-Tune Vocal EQ permanently.

Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Price

Interface

The interface of this plugin is very similar to the F6 interface of Waves. Indeed, when you open the EQ, you see a relatively small spectrum window with 6 distinct color bands and elaborate settings at the bottom of the plugin window. This well-designed interface quickly gives the user confidence in its build quality.

Usability / Intuitiveness

What we expect from a plugin like this one, which can be summarized as a full-parametric EQ with advanced parameters, is to be precise while being instinctive.

From the first clicks and knobs fiddling, you can feel the flexibility of this tool. The bands are easy to move and the knobs and faders are not capricious. Everything is very simple with the mouse. It takes very little time to get the hang of the EQ and use it efficiently.

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Review

After a few days of use and now that the Antares plugin has been used in half a dozen projects, I can now make a complete and objective review of this plugin.

I will first give you the whole review, then you will find, after this “review” point, a list of the pros and cons of this Vocal EQ. Let’s go!

Precision

Is the accuracy of this tool as good as its interface suggests? Actually, yes and no.

On the one hand, the parameters located at the bottom of the plugin allow you to adjust each band to the nearest tenth of a dB and to the nearest frequency, but on the other hand, the number of band types (or “shapes”) that Vocal EQ offers (3…) remains very limited.

Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Shape

In 2022, the amount of possibility to choose the band type is essential and must be at least elaborated. But here, you only have the choice of a low/high and band-pass filter, which is quite poor compared to its competitors, whose names I won’t mention in this article.

ℹ️ This plugin might be, in some situation, a very good alternative plugin to the great FabFilter Pro-Q3. All you need to know is here: Top 9 Alternative Plugins To FabFilter Pro-Q3 (Free & Paid)

Spectrum Analyzer

Any good modern full-parametric EQ must have a spectrum analyzer to facilitate the work of its users. Good news. This is the case with the Auto-Tune Vocal EQ! And this good news is enhanced by two features that can make the difference against competitors.

The first is the fact that, in parallel to this spectrum analyzer, there is a note detector. Basically, the tool is able to associate frequencies and notes in real time. Very useful in many situations!

The second is the precision of the analyzer. In fact, it seems to be designed on a very fine band basis, which gives a lot of information about critical and/or powerful frequencies.

Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Spectrum Analyzer

But behind this big advantage is a trap that you should not fall into: over-cleaning. Indeed, as Vocal EQ visually highlights the critical frequencies, it can quickly make the user want to clean all these frequencies.

However, this kind of over-cleaning of frequencies exposes you to the risk of losing the very essence of the vocals. By removing too many frequencies, even with a very tight Q, the energy of the vocals can be lost. So be careful with this analyzer.

Dynamic Processing

Even though dynamic processing features are becoming almost the norm in modern full-parametric EQs, having these kinds of parameters available to you in vocal mixing is clearly a good thing.

And unlike many EQs, this one leaves the user with the ability to adjust attack and delay, which in my opinion is essential for accurate and professional quality work.

What is convenient about this dynamic section is that it is visible even when it is not in use. This gives instant access to the dynamic processing of each band.

Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Dynamic Processing

Pitch Tracking

To be honest with you, I only discovered this “track” feature a few days after the activation of the plugin, while trying to discover what was hidden in the presets. When I discovered this, my reaction was like “WAAAW!!”

But what exactly is it about? This is an advanced feature of the plugin that allows you, starting from a certain frequency, to track the critical frequencies (or the harmonics) located near the selected band area.

The band will then move according to the critical frequency located in its zone and act actively in real time. This is exactly the kind of reason why we love technology! However, it is important to pay attention to two points:

  • Do not abuse it. As already mentioned above, not all frequencies that are supposed to be critical are necessarily so.
  • Keep an eye on it. Everything that is done automatically thanks to technology must always be rechecked afterwards by humans. Don’t forget that it is an algorithm, it can be wrong!
Antares Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Pitch Tracking

Air/Tilt Filter

You understand that this tool is almost exclusively designed for vocal mixing when you discover these two filters, the tilt filter and the air filter.

The tilt filter allows you to make an “opposite” balance between low and high frequencies, starting from a crossover frequency.

The air filter is in fact simply a high-shelf filter that applies only the air zone of the frequency spectrum. In this case, you can adjust it between 10 kHz and 40 kHz.

Both filters work very well and I find it very nice that Antares created such a “niche” plugin. It is made for vocal mixing.

Antares Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Air Band

Mix Knob

Simple but so powerful: a dry/wet knob. This knob located at the bottom right of the plugin will allow you to balance the dry signal (unprocessed) and the wet signal (processed by Auto-Tune Vocal EQ).

It seems rather futile, but I think it’s great because it allows you to find a balance between too extreme and too “nice” processing.

Antares Auto-Tune Vocal EQ Mix Knob

Audio Quality

Talking about audio quality is, in itself, false, since each EQ has a certain color and tone that can be more or less transparent and appreciated by the user.

In the case of the Vocal EQ, I find the sound very close to the Waves REQ: not very transparent but without any noticeable coloration or tone. I find that for a tool like this, this kind of rendering is ideal for vocal mixing.

✅ PROS ✅

This “track” feature is without a doubt what will make this plugin stand out from all its competitors. This parameter will surely make many users loyal.

Vocal EQ features a complete and elaborate dynamic processing section.

This plugin allows its users to balance the processed and unprocessed signal. Very useful!

The bands of the spectrum analyzer are quite thin and therefore help the user to work accurately.

The tool is able to associate frequencies with notes.

The window size is adjustable.

❌ CONS ❌

Very limited in the filter types (3 filter type / band)

No floating window for each band

Limited in the number of full parametric bands (6)

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Conclusion

Overall, Auto-Tune Vocal EQ is a great achievement on the part of Antares. The fact that it is exclusively designed for vocal mixing makes this plugin an outstanding and easy to use tool.

It has everything to please its future users and, apart from a few details, has not much to envy to its competitors. The frequency correction is precise, the dynamic processing is elaborate, the pitch tracking feature makes the frequency processing more lively, the wet/dry knob allows to keep a natural voice color,… In short, there are a lot of positive points!

I would have liked to see some of the features found in its competitors like more filter types and EQ bands or a floating window within the plugin (very trendy nowadays). But… you can’t have everything either!

If you have any questions about Auto-Tune Vocal EQ or anything in the field of vocal mixing, please contact me, I’m always very happy to help!

Related Articles:

Top 9 Alternative Plugins To FabFilter Pro-Q3 (Free & Paid)
Top 6 EQ Plugins For Professional Rap Vocals
Vocal Mixing : The 6 Frequency Bands To Focus On

My favorite tools for mixing pop and hip-hop music:

Plugins

In the field of auto-tune, I’m convinced that nothing’s better and more efficient than Antares Auto-Tune Pro. As for the EQ’s, FabFilter Pro-Q3 and Slate Digital Infinity EQ are, in my opinion, the best tools. For compression, I have 2 favorites plugins: Waves RComp and UAD EL8 Distressor.

As for reverb, I’m a big fan of the Soundtoys Little Plate, but generally, I go for the Valhalla VintageVerb for its versatility. I also love the Arturia Rev PLATE-140 and the UAD Pure Plate for its organic side.

Headphones

The closed headphones I love and will always love using for mixing pop and hip-hop music are the Beyerdynamic DT-770. As for the best open-back headphones, I use the Sennheiser HD600 headphones, and I’m really happy of them!

Monitors

Having a pair of Yamaha HS7 in its studio or home studio is always cool for more excitement while listening to your mixes. The Adam Audio T7V monitors are also super accurate. In my studio, I also have a pair of Genelec 8030 for their reliability.

Hardware gear

For anyone who wants to start using hardware in their mixes, I always recommend these 2 units from Klark Teknik: the EQP-KT and the 76-KT. Don’t forget to use good converters, such as the Apollo interfaces. This is essential for a good rendering.

IDeez

IDeez (real name Gauthier Claude) is the owner and head engineer of IDeez Studio. He has been working as a mixing engineer in pop and hip-hop music for several years and collaborates with many artists and independent labels around the world. His goal is to provide quality online mixing services and to teach, through his blog posts, the principles and techniques of mixing in pop and hip-hop music.

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IDeez

About IDeez

IDeez is the head sound engineer of IDeez Studio. He studied BA and MA in sound engineering at IAD (Belgium) and has been a specialist in vocal mixing for several years, especially in pop and hip-hop music. His goal is to help artists, rappers and singers in their mixing process through online mixing services, tutorials, blog articles and e-books. Contact him for any information!

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