If you’re into music production and looking to get your feet wet with pitch correction tools, you don’t need to spend much – or any. There are a variety of free plugins that provide autotuning capabilities rivaling premium offerings. You just need to know where to look and what to look for. So, get ready to improve your mixes, tighten your vocals, and bring your audio production game to the next level—all without spending a dime. Stay tuned!
The term ‘auto-tune’ is a trademark registered in 2022 by Antares Audio Technologies, an American company headquartered in California. Antares first introduced the technology back in 1997, and it was invented by Dr. Andy Hildebrand. Since then it has taken the music production world by storm.
Autotune is software that corrects the pitch of vocals during recording or mixing. It works by shifting the vocal to the nearest note within a chosen scale. It was mainly intended for fixing intonation errors to help vocalists better control their pitch, but it’s now also used to add various effects to songs such as robot sounds.
Since the invention of Auto-tune, several other companies have created their own version of it. These pitch correction plugin rivals come in both free and paid options. Some of them work differently or offer additional functionality beyond what the original Auto-tune provides.
The popularity of pitch correction plugins took off in the early 2000s. That’s when producers started to experiment with them as creative tools. Soon enough, it became clear that autotune had many advantages to offer.
Autotune quickly and effectively fixes minor pitch issues by tweaking the flatness/sharpness of notes according to a preset musical scale. These edits can be made outside of the recording process at professional quality, saving a lot of time and effort.
Autotune also delivers a more polished vocal output. It tidies up the sound so it’s perceived as tighter, more professional, and more appealing.
Additionally, autotune can create an extensive range of interesting effects such as robotic, electronic, and so on.
Related Article: How To Mix Vocals: 8 Tips & Techniques For Radio Quality Tracks
Now that you’re more familiar with the concept of autotune, how it works, and its advantages for vocal production, you’re ready to dive into the practical portion of this guide.
The following are the best-performing autotune plugins that you can use for free to get into the game:
The free version of Graillon 2 is one of the most popular autotune plugins you’ll come across in the freebies category. It’s easy to navigate with straightforward controls and it has a beautifully intuitive interface. Its production results are also super impressive, comparable to what many paid autotune plugins offer nowadays.
You can use Auburn Sounds’ Graillon 2 on Windows and Mac devices as a 32-bit, 64-bit, VST, AU, VST3, or AAX format plugin. The pitch correction module is pretty simple to put into action; just add it to your audio mix channel as an insert effect.
For fine-tuning and greater control, you can tweak the correct speed, determine the note detection range, or lock the process to a specific scale or note range. You can also change the pitch, combine the pitch shifter and correction modules, Bitcrush for distortion effects, and preserve the original tone with formant shifting.
Whenever you need to mellow down the impact of the correction module, simply turn the Amount knob on the right. The extent of sounding natural or artificial with Grailon 2 is one of the widest on the market thanks to its flexible controls and engine.
Highly efficient in both natural autotune and hard processing, MAutoPitch is as much of a beast as Graillon 2. MeldaProduction’s pitch correction module is pretty much on par with Auburn Sounds’ plugin with nearly identical features, but you get a few extras.
These include a limiter, automatic gain control, and stereo width adjustment. Supporting ease of mixing, you can tweak the range, speed, depth, and scale. You also get typical features such as formant shifting, lock-to-scale options, automatic pitch detection, Dry/Wet dial, and more.
Interestingly, the formants effect allows you to adjust your voice to sound more masculine or feminine. While we love this feature, we recommend not messing with it too much or it’ll sound terrible.
Like Graillon 2, MAutoPitch is compatible with Windows and Mac devices in a 32-bit, 64-bit, VST, AU, VST3, or AAX format. The one bone we have to pick with MeldaProduction is how much of a hassle it is to install their plugin.
MAutoPitch is part of a bundle; if you want this free autotune plugin, you have to download and install 36 other plugins. If you don’t want the 580+mb worth of effects, equalizers, analyzers, and all that jazz, then you need to manually uninstall each of the additional plugins.
That said, MAutoPitch is simple to navigate. Its user interface is great, but not as quite intuitive as Graillon’s in our opinion. It’s highly customizable though, offering a wide selection of features to better match your workflow.
We couldn’t wrap up this list without talking about GVST’s GSnap. It was the first plugin for pitch correction to ever be available as a free tool. It may be old, but it’s an incredibly smart autotune tool.
GSnap has a similar appearance to both the plugins we covered above. However, one unique feature it offers is the one in its name; the ability to snap to MIDI data. This allows you to tune vocals (or any audio piece) to the notes present in MIDI. This can be chord data, a synth line, or any of the track’s other elements.
Additionally, GSnap features a vibrato control that’s not available in both Graillon and MAutoPitch. This tool is seen mostly on paid versions so it's nice that GSnap offers it.
Unfortunately, GSnap lacks features present in the other two plugins such as formant shifting and preserving formants. Its interface is pretty simple and its operation is a breeze to figure out, complete with red and green indicators of the amount of correcting happening.
GSnap is compatible with Windows and Mac OS as a 32-bit, 64-bit, VST, AU, VST3, or AAX plugin.
Related Article: The Top 5 Best FREE PLUGINS of 2023 You’ll Actually Use
In this digital age where music creation and audio production are more accessible than ever, tools like pitch correction have become vital to achieving a polished and professional sound. And, as we've seen today, that doesn't mean you need to break the bank. With the variety of free autotune plugins we've explored, everyone from bedroom producers to aspiring artists can access high-quality pitch correction to perfect their tracks.
So, whether you're subtly smoothing out a vocal performance or aiming for a high-impact, stylistic effect, these free autotune plugins will help you elevate your audio game without any cost. Remember, it's not about masking a lack of talent, but about enhancing a sound so it doesn't take away from the overall production.
So why wait? Jump in, start exploring these plugins, and let your creativity run wild. You might be surprised at what you can achieve with the right tools at your disposal. After all, in the world of audio production, the only limit is your imagination. Happy tuning!
"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."