Antares' Auto‑Tune needs no introduction, and the company have now launched a super‑simple version that is more affordable and doesn't need an iLok to authorise. The control set has been pared down to a minimum, but still provides the tools you need to implement either gentle and natural pitch correction or super hard-tune 'Auto‑Tune as an effect'-type processing. Auto‑Tune Access can track according to a pre‑selected scale, a scale specified by the user, or to a chromatic scale; clicking on the keys displayed at the bottom of the screen adds or removes notes from the current scale. This keyboard has plenty of space to display the note names and to highlight the currently identified note. However, it doesn't appear to be possible to change the frequency of A, which can be a bit limiting, especially if you're working with a piano that's not in concert pitch.
In normal use there are only two controls to adjust — what looks like a large knob in the centre of the screen is actually a display that shows the currently detected note and the amount of pitch correction being applied. However, there is also a Hold button that can lock the current note, which can be automated in most DAWs. Retune Speed offers slow, medium or fast options: fast gives the familiar hard-tune effect, and you can't select in-between positions. Likewise, Humanize just presents three options. Of these, Max allows more of the natural pitch variations to come through, helping to preserve a natural vocal sound, especially at faster correction speeds — but this should be turned off for the most dramatic hard-tune effect.
On the tech side, Auto‑Tune Access is light on CPU load and has very low latency, making it suitable for live use. It is also compatible with Auto-Key, the optional Antares plug-in that detects the key and scale of a piece of audio, then sends that information to Auto‑Tune Access or Pro.
In use Auto‑Tune Access worked flawlessly within the limits that any fully automatic pitch‑correction plug-in can. Where it can come unstuck is when the singer's pitching is so bad that they stray more than halfway between the intended note and the next note in the scale, in which case you can end up with a perfectly tuned wrong note. When applied to an already reasonably in‑tune vocal, the results sound quite natural as long as a slow or medium retune speed is selected and one of the Humanize options dialled in. It also delivers the familiar robotic vocal sound with Speed set to Max and Humanize set to Off.
If your DAW already has auto‑pitch-correction capability, such as Logic Pro's Pitch Correction plug-in, then Auto‑Tune Access may not bring anything new to the party, but if not and you don't need all the fancy Auto‑Tune Pro features, Auto‑Tune Access is a very practical proposition for adding polish to vocals that are already 'nearly there'.