Melodyne 5 v. Steinberg VariAudio and Audio Editor?

This may seem like a silly question, but… I’m getting old. And I’m becoming less and less willing to learn -any- new ‘tech’ unless someone convinces me to bear down and do it for my own good.

I’m a 20 year user of Cubase. I own AutoTune and Melodyne 4, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I used either. Frankly, most of the time, I would either have the players redo parts -or- in the case of drums, just chop and align manually the odd bit with a timing issue.

But recently, I’m getting projects that need more help. I dunno if people just stopped singing in tune or what, but I find myself using the audio editor in Cubase a -lot- more. And that’s happening just at the time in my life where I’m losing patience with this sort of thing.

This weekend I (finally) figured out how to use Cubase 11 with ARA and Melodyne 4. But it’s -waaaaay- slower for me than using the Cubase editor. And my initial tests didn’t show any major differences. At first glance it seemed as though VariAudio is pretty good for -minor- issues.

SO MY QUESTION IS TWO PART:

  1. Is Melodyne 4 actually worth learning and using instead of VariAudio? ie. is the automagic results it provides really worth the extra effort? (ie. really superior to the pitch fix capabilities of Cubase 11)

  2. Is Melodyne 5 worth the upgrade, just for the simple pitch correction I do. (I read some reviews and wasn’t clear as to how much it helps in my very simple use case.) Again, does it create better (more natural?) results than the built-in tools in Cubase.

EDIT: I am actually mostly fine with the Cubase audio editor for simple non-vibrato notes. Where it often totally falls down are notes where this a lot of vibrato. Trying to fix those to sound ‘natural’ is often impossible for me. I wonder if Melodyne handles that kind of thing more gracefully.

TIA.

—JC

for cleanly recorded material, mono… VariAudio is more than adequate if not better in some regards.

If it doesn’t sound right after, I open up melodyne to see if it can automatically do any better

It’s a good question! If this helps, here’s my thoughts. :thought_balloon:

I did a test between Melodyne and VariAudio last year when I was upgrading. I edited the same vocal track with both, to the same standard as I’d like in a vocal. I found that both allowed me to edit how I’d like them, but I preferred VariAudio for it’s quicker editing (and integration). The sound was different though and I couldn’t decide which I preferred. My subjective description is that Melodyne made the vocal sound more like a modern vocal, slightly thinner and toppier. Whereas VA sounded warmer and rounder, maybe more honky. It was close but with a blind test I could always tell which was which. TBH I’d use either, but just because everyone else uses Melodyne I tend to do final album vocals in Melodyne and preproduction/demo vocals in VariAudio.

In the past I’ve used many different ways of pitch adjusting vocals, and I started off years ago just using the Cubase event pitch shifting - that was before VariAudio and Melodyne. But, one thing I’ve always done and still do is to use AutoTune as an insert plugin. It saves me a lot of time in the detail of vocal editing. So, I’ll roughly quantise pitch and flatten in Melodyne or Variaudio and then the AutoTune plugin will smooth out the bits that I miss. I’m always using my ears to make sure the vocal is natural and also pitch perfect (where it needs to be). When I’m happy with the vocal then I’ll render it back to a mono track after the AT insert (usually because AT (still) creates pops and clicks!!). I’ll also automate the AT speed to stop slides from being quantised, or after the render I’ll replace with the original or VA/Melodyne version to make it smooth. Also both Melodyne and VariAudio can both get a bit crunchy sometimes so spot edits on those places are required - they get crunchy in different ways, but they both get crunchy!

I find there’s an element of mix and match, for example if there’s a bit which I can’t get to sound right then I’ll try another technique, maybe 2 x autotune or maybe VA instead of Melodyne or maybe both. And I’ll start dipping into the complex editing options like pitch drift or vibrato. So in other words, it’s not an exact science, one tool doesn’t do everything I need.

As for the upgrade, sorry I can’t say if it’s worth it because I haven’t used Melodyne that much recently - but I did upgrade. I personally don’t get on with the Melodyne interface so I feel your pain there!!

Mike.

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This is a helpful reply. Thank you. I have noticed a timbral difference between VariAudio and Melodyne. And that’s one reason I’m considering working with it, DESPITE the UI challenges.

There is something vaguely ‘artificial’ sounding about VariAudio. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Not ‘robotic’. As you say, perhaps it’s an EQ thing. But I gotta admit–it’s very easy to work with. My only real beed with it is that it is terrible with vibrato.

If you’re happy with the performance - for slight adjustments and tidying, VariAudio is more than adequate, and you can get away with some corrective stuff as well.

But for a lot of and deep corrective issues, and or musical/compositional changes… I’d likely still shift to Melodyne.

There has been the odd situation where VariAudio beat melodyne as well. make sure to adjust the anchor points in Vari Audio:

-Set range for pitch curve anchors
-Set tilt/rotate anchor

it sounds Variaudio should be fine for you. I agree Variaudio is a way more convenient way to work GUI wise. The upgrade to v5 is great feature-wise update, but I guess you won’t wanna use them :slight_smile:

For me, I love the new chord features and the easy way to manually de-ess . The ARA2 integration is a great timesaver but I guess that worked in v4 too.

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I forgot about the de-essing. I may have to try it after all. That’s an area I have -never- been happy with. De-essers never -really- work. Manual fades always sound artificial. If it -really- does as it describes that would be a game-changer for me.

What recent de-essers have you tried?

Sonnox Supressor was my go to for a while

now I’m using Oek Sooth

BX DynEQ for needle frequency cuts

Eiosis e2 looks pretty nice but never tried