When would it be appropriate to use the Elastique Pro - Formant Time algorithm instead of the default Elastique Pro - Time algorithm?
My grasp of formants is a bit dodgy, but I want to always choose the best algorithm for the job. For example, I often use VariAudio to correct timing of melodic audio events (e.g., guitars) without adjusting their pitch at all. I’m thinking this might be the ideal time to preserve formants. Then again, stretching time affects pitch, so maybe that’s wrong?
Any advice is appreciated.
It is appropriate to use when after listening to it that algorithm produces the results that sound the best to you. There is no general answer to your question. The answer is the result of the specific audio you are processing & your own personal taste. Use the Preview button to compare results and pick the one you prefer.
Sorry I can’t be more specific, but that’s how art related stuff works.
Actually, there’s a bit more science to it than that. Sure, at the end of the day, whatever sounds best is indisputably best, but getting there is usually quicker with some understanding of the underlying principles.
For example, formants are often discussed in relation to acoustic phonetics. So, one might assume that the élastique formant algorithms are optimized for vocal recordings. Then again, other instruments produce formants too. Is it relevant? Clearly, an understanding of the intent of these algorithms would be helpful.
Steinberg simply describes the algorithms this way in the Cubase User’s Guide: “élastique Pro Formant - For best audio quality, but including formant preservation.” Some elaboration would be helpful.
Well think of the formant as being similar to a boost in EQ. Say you have a slight formant boost around 2K on a vocal and you move the pitch down by a third. If you preserve the formant that boost will remain at 2K. But if you don’t then the boost will also move down to say 1.6K (just making the numbers up, not doing the math). Neither of these are intrinsically right or wrong - they’re just different. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish one might work better than the other. If you want to change a few notes in a melody line then preserving the formants might be more realistic because if you sing the note and then the note a third below both will have the boost at the same frequency of 2K. On the other hand if you are trying to convert a single line into a 3-part harmony maybe it’s better to not preserve the formants. That way the different vocal lines will be less likely to mask each other because their formants are distributed across the frequency spectrum. Or maybe you’d want to preserve on one line and use a non-elastique algorithm on another to give the impression of different singers.
But even with all that, in the end it still comes down to listening & making your decision on what you hear. In theory it might seem like preserving should give the best results. But then you listen and realize that not preserving sounds better.
And yes all instruments have formants. They are caused because instruments & voices all have resonate frequencies caused by the shape of your throat or guitar body, density of materials in an instrument etc.