Some wise legend, trained in the craft of live sound engineering, thought it prudent to make a recording of Britney Spears live microphone. The results and how they compare to what her audience thinks she is singing, say everything you need to know about the sophistication of modern vocal processing techniques in contrast to the sophistication of the leave Britney alone brigade at the consumer end of the pop music industry.
Auto-tune software is nothing new. What is new are the refinements in how ‘believable’ the adjustments made can sound and how quickly they can be calculated. The near zero latency of devices by companies like Eventide make it possible to take a vocal processing technique traditionally limited to the recording studio, often performed in a painstakingly slow mix-down process of manually nudging errant pitching up and down until they’re close to the right note in the scale, right into the live stage show environment.
It’s even possible to use a human voice as the input source for sample triggering, so the age old problem of lip-syncing being noticeably out of kilter with the output audio, immediately goes away with a little practise on the part of the performer.
Of course there is an overhead with this level of processing, such as the “singer” completely missing a line due to being out of breath from a dance routine and so on – but the future of this technology can only be on the up and up, with the increasing demand for more elaborate stage shows in direct competition with the declining standards of musicianship among performers who are aiming at that magical 11 to 16 year old demographic.