Process / Pitch Shift (Help ?)

Hi folks,

i have HALion Sonic and Cubase Artist 6.

As you are aware, Cubase come shipped with LOOPS in Media Bay. i have been studying the dvd tutorial and the demonstrator transposes (as far as up 7 x semitones) a couple of these LOOPS to create chord-changes within the composition example. So for example, the original pitch of the sax line (or whatever the instrument may be) is in C Major, and this is transposed up a Perfect 4th and 5th to produce transpositions in F Major and G Major. All of this is done in a matter of seconds with no apparent glitches.

However, i have spent months on this and i just can’t get it to work as it should. i select PROCESS, then PITCH SHIFT, and then i chose the NEW PITCH via the blue selecter on the mini keyboard image. Once selected, i chose the POLY COMPLEX ALGORITHM to process the transposition. But, when i exit and play the newly transposed audio it sounds a combination of distorted and warped !! i went thru all the different Algorithms but none of them seem to have the same effect as in the tutorial dvd.

Would be great if someone can help as i have spent way too long trying to solve this.

Thanks guys.


i still can’t get this issue solved !! Been on it since October but i just can get it to transpose to a satisfactuary degree ??

The results can also suffer from severe stuttering as well as poor audio quality.

i would really appreciate some help here guys… Cheers.

Hey Monsterjazzlicks - I don’t know specifically Cubase Artist 6, but:

Sometimes some sounds don’t sound good being transposed too much. Just to test that your system is OK or not, if you haven’t yet, you might consider:

  1. In a brand new project - trying to exactly reproduce what the video/DVD that you are watching does - same Halion SE patch, same shift from key A to key B, same project tempo, same algorithm, everything you can see or think of exactly the same.

  2. Take what you are doing, and only bring it up 1/2 step (1 piano key). Does it still sound garbly?

  3. Also, keep checking youtube, people put new things up there frequently.

Hope that helps, sorry I couldn’t be more specific, good luck!

i copied the dvd procedure and it sounds ok but (to my ears) not a 100% perfect in terms of the quality of the sound. Moving up 5 x semitones is fairly ok but up 7 x semitones i can hear a difference. The tuning is perfectly fine though.

A second opinion would be appreciated because then i would know for sure its not just my ears playing tricks on me. i would still say that in the dvd the quality of the sound in each transposition was better than in my results.
Pitch Shift Example.mp3 (543 KB)

i had done thanks, but most of the videos are of Correctional or Auto-Tuning etc.

I don’t have golden ears, but played on laptop speakers just now (actually a mono speaker) it sounded OK. If you’re not sure exactly what you’re hearing, might consider taking the two .wav files to some other speakers … lo-fi is just fine, you’re just giving your ears some more chances to make a decision on the comparison. If you’re still not sure, then it probably isn’t enough of a difference to make a difference!

Thanks Alexis,

i appreciate you taking a listen. Yes, there is a difference but its very subtle (though it becomes more distinct the further away you transpose from the original pitch).

i think what i will do is try transposing a couple more audio files where the difference is more noticible.

i tried recording my Nord keyboard and transposing the recording up just one tone. The quality was very poor indeed. Again, i used the Poly Complex Algorithm.

Am i wrong to assume that Cubase can accurately transpose audio or am i doing something wrong in the process ??

And is this a facility which members use very much (ie.transposing audio) or is it not commonly used ??


Here are a couple more Pitch Shifts i carried out. One of a vocal sample in Media Bay and the other of my Nord piano (which i tinkle a few bars). i think the comparisons are quite obvious.
Pitch Shift (Vocal).mp3 (546 KB)
Pitch Shift (Nord).mp3 (518 KB)

I’m afraid you will always get mixed results depending on source material.

Personally, I try to use Cubase pitch shift pretty sparingly as I can normally hear artefacts after raising or lowering more than 3-5 semitones.

Remember the effect can often be masked in a busy mix though.

Thanks KW,

If you do not use Pitch Shift very often then what do you use instead ?? Is there an alternative method ??

Hi again,

i am still really getting nowhere with the Pitch Shift processing after trying for about 6 x months now. The results really are very poor and this is using the Poly Complex Algorithm. The transpositions are totally unusable in my opinion/experience.

Does anyone else experience this ??

Is Cubase 7 any better ??

Would i be better purchasing a superior 3rd party alternative ??

i ask because this is a function i would like to use a lot and was also one of the main reasons i bought Cubase !!



Pitch shifting loops is something I have done in Cubase as well with mixed results (trying to emulating Sony Acid, for example). I have found that Cubase does a really good job but you have to keep this in mind - the pitch shifted sound will NEVER be as good as the source. Changing the pitch of digital audio is not the same as speeding up or slowing down a tape recorder - you lose quality in the process. And the further you shift it the worse it gets.

That is why most of the really good hardware synths use “multi-point sampling”. They don’t shift loops more than a few semitones.

The only choice you have working in Cubase is to find loops that are as close as possible to the desired pitches initially. Some sample sets may offer multiple loops for this reason.

Ta man,

So it’s not that i am doing some WRONG (for the last year !!!) ?? But more that i am expecting Cubase to perform something to a higher standard than it can possible achieve. Thats a real bummer for me. As i say, the way it is presented in the video and manual is that the end result is in no way inferior !!

Some people say that Ableton is the best for obtaining the highest standard of Audio Tranposition ??



To be honest I usually try and avoid massive pitch shifts these days.

If I really had to I’d use Melodyne in the first instance.

I’d say generally look out for off-line pitch-shifters as they’re usually better quality than real time effects, and find one with inedependent pitch/formant shifting.

Havent used this for a few years but it used to be brilliant:
edit it looks like Prosoniq are Mac only these days – that’s probably why.

Thanks KW,

When you say off-line do mean 3rd Party software ??

What i don’t understand is why transposition (from a semitone to an octave !!!) work and sound brilliantly on all the tutorial/demonstration videos ??

i would really like to be able to create my own songs/grooves using the factory loops in Media Bay and also from other loop packages offered by Steinberg. But as i say, what use are these loops if you are not able to transpose them ?? Meaning you are stuck to using them in their original key !!

Someone told me Cubase 7 is better at making transposistions but i am not totally sure myself. Do you not use ProSonic anymore or is it that you do not transpose Audio at all in your music ??

By Offline, I basically mean you can’t play the song and pitch shift ‘live’. The computer works out the pitchshift in advance.

A good offline pitch-shifter could take a while to calculate the pitch-shift but you usually get much better results than something like Ableton where you can change pitch while the song’s playing (not knocking Ableton, it’s good at what it does)

For whatever reason I’ve naturally drifted to being less loop/sample dependent and try to play stuff or make synth sounds. If I’m going to use samples I might fire up NI Kontakt as it has the ability to change pitch/time of samples live – but the difference is I never really try to recreate ‘real’ sounds so dont really know what Kontakt is capable of.

You may want to see if a Kontakt demo’s available.

Cheers man.

i hope i understand you correctly here, apologies if not. i never want to use Cubase to perform transpostion/pitch-shift in a LIVE situation. By ‘live’ i am guessing you specifically mean on an actual live gig or similar ??

Everything i use Cubase for is within the context of my bedroom-studio. Just to be clear here :-

i am wanting to create my own backing-tracks in Cubase using the Factory Loops available in Media Bay and also sold separately by Steinberg on CD, and then once each song is finished, i just export it as a Wav or mp3 and play it thru Winamp or Windows Media Player on a gig.

Therefore if it takes 60 x mins per track to process each pitch-shift then i really don’t mind !! Its the end result which i am bothered about. ie the QUALITY of the processing.

Regarding Ableton, i have been told by a couple of mates that is is brilliant at performing Transposition of Audio (far better than Cubase !!) but this is just hearsay.

When I say live, I mean that the computer is doing ALL the calculations when you press ‘play’ (whether on stage or in your bedroom). This happens with Cubase’s musical mode or when warping with Ableton.

Cubase may be fine to transpose things a couple of semitones here and there, online and offline, and as for which is better I’ve never done a direct comparison with Ableton.

I’m sure most people here would agree though, that you’ll always get the highest quality pitch-shifting using an offline pitchshifter such as Timefactory as it uses all your computers processing power to take the time to do a ‘proper job’ rather thantrying to pitch-shift and play back the audio all at once as well as 20 other tracks and 30 plugins.

Maybe have a read of this article – It’s about 5 years old (and for Mac) but still pretty much valid.

Hi KW,

Thanks a lot.

Yes, i know what you mean now when you say ‘live’. i am just getting used to all the terminology !! i distinctly remember in the Steinberg tutorial video (which i have watch about 20 times now !!) that they explain how the ORIGINAL Media Bay Audio File remains intact on your computers HD and the Prosessing facility on Cubase PITCH SHIFTS this in ‘real time’ as the Cubase project is playing.

i have never heard of Time Factory before so i will check it out ta. And i will also read the artical link you sent me.