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Digital Performer: ZTX Pro Pitch-shifting & Time-stretching

MOTU Digital Performer Tips & Techniques By Mike Levine
Published September 2021

Screen 1: Absolute mode (left) is for tuning audio, and Relative mode is for transposing it.Screen 1: Absolute mode (left) is for tuning audio, and Relative mode is for transposing it.

We guide you through DP’s pitch‑shifting and time‑stretching options.

Digital Performer is equipped with a suite of ZTX Pro time‑stretching and pitch‑shifting algorithms, developed by Zynaptiq. This new technology makes the manipulation of time and pitch impressively transparent.

While ZTX algorithms mainly work ‘under the hood’, knowing how to configure them for different audio material and tasks using DP’s pitch‑editing tools can make a significant difference in both sound quality and ease of use.

Relative Or Absolute?

One of the key concepts to understand when it comes to pitch editing in DP is the difference between the Absolute and Relative modes. In a nutshell, Absolute is for tuning monophonic material, and Relative is for transposing polyphonic material. In Absolute mode, each note is a separate segment that can be individually adjusted. You use this mode for pitch‑correcting vocals and monophonic instruments. Transposed pitches can conform to musical scales, modes, and custom maps. The Transpose window is also capable of fine‑tuning selected pitches by cents. (For detailed tips on tuning audio in Absolute mode, check out the DP column from the April 2018 issue: www.soundonsound.com/techniques/digital-performer-pitch-craft.)

In Relative mode, you see one long pitch segment in the form of a horizontal bar in the track that goes throughout the whole song. You can cut it at any point, on or off the edit grid, and drag it to a new pitch to create a transposition. Relative mode offers a slightly different display to Absolute. Instead of the vertical piano keys you see in Absolute mode, you get what’s referred to as the Pitch Ruler Keyboard. Rather than notes, it shows you intervals (seconds, thirds, fourths etc.) mirrored above and below the root. When editing pitch segments, they snap to half steps as you move them up and down. Use the Command (or Windows) key to disable snapping and smoothly move the pitch segments as desired. The pencil tool and drawing Reshape Modes are also available to freely draw pitch data or conform the lines to specific shapes. Don’t hesitate to experiment and get creative: the ZTX engine can handle dramatic pitch alterations and even glissandos. For more fine‑tuned adjustments in Relative mode, you may need to alter the zoom level to see them clearly. Screen 1 (above) shows both modes side by side.

Screen 2: Start by selecting the Pitch Layer.Screen 2: Start by selecting the Pitch Layer.

To configure ZTX Pro pitch‑shifting, go to the Sequence editor and choose Pitch in the Audio Edit Layer dropdown menu in the Track Settings Panel, as shown in Screen 2. Then, in the lower part of the Track Settings Panel, choose Absolute or Relative in the dropdown for Pitch Layer Mode, as shown in Screen 3. (Note: the Pitch...

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