Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

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wing
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Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by wing » Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:25 pm

Hi there,
I just did a session with a client who now wishes to speed the song up just a hair, without altering the key. It was at 87 bpm and now he would like to try 90 bpm. I know a quick way of doing this in Ableton Live using the warp tool, but when I tried it, it made the vocals sound a bit robotic— you could definitely hear the effect at work: and I toyed around with all the available settings to no avail.

I had tracked most of the session in Pro Tools, and I know about the TCE tool, but it seems I would have to use that tool manually track by track, which would take hours just to try, and I don't even know if it would sound good.

Is there a better, faster way of achieving this, without sacrificing the vocals too greatly or making his voice sound robotic? Unfortunately re-recording is not an option at this point. Thanks!

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:11 pm

it's wing and you're in brooklyn now !! - hope all is well

I have no experience with this but I saw someone do it with PT elastic audio feature once - it sounded natural to me

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by ashcat_lt » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:40 pm

Short answer is no. The only way to accomplish it is literally resynthesis (what Ableton did for you) and it is always prone to potential artifacts. There ARE different algorithms out there, and some work better on certain material, but there's no one good answer. IDK if Ableton gives you any options or settings. Reaper has a bunch of different algorithms you could try. Maybe one will get you close enough.

Edit - If you've got the individual tracks, it MIGHT be better to do each separately than to do the whole mix at once. Then you can choose the best algorithm for each, but also just less complex material is less likely to have bad artifacts and any single track is always less complex than a full mix. Whether you'd want to do this before or after applying effects and other processing is questionable and depends on just about everything, but again less complex is usually easier, so before reverb, modulation, distortion, etc might be better...unless the effects end up bringing up the artifacts...

Like I said, it ain't really easy.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by kslight » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:26 pm

Within Pro Tools, elastic audio. If you don't go extreme with this stuff, you can usually get away with it.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by Soul One » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:22 am

I´ve done this successfully in REAPER several times. In order to make it sound good you have to put some work in tho.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by Professor » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:27 am

For my money, and unless something has really changed since I've not been paying as close attention, I would push to re-record depending on what kinds of tracks you're working with. And the first thing I would do as part of the sales pitch on a new take is to create a rough mix, time compress the mix (since it's easier on 2 tracks than 10) and I'd play them the shifted track. First I would make sure that time difference really makes that big a difference to him, and second I would see how tolerant he is of the artifacts.
Now if you absolutely have to do the time shift, you're at least in luck that you're going faster rather than slower which means note sustains have to be cut a little shorter vs. being stretched. In theory that's easier for hiding the edits. Of course if you're working with acoustic instruments things don't line up exactly on beats so there's that. And for a lot of algorithms they try to process the entire file vs. trying to detect and pick out beats that need to be shortened. It might seem similar, but if you think of something like a long synth pad holding a single note for 4 beats... well the only thing it really needs is a tiny cut & cross fade at the end of the note, but if your algorithm tries to shorten the whole thing you get unnecessary artifacts across the whole sound.
In terms of trying to time shift multitrack vs. mix, I could see that really going either way. If you time compress all the individual tracks and then mix, you have more places and ways to hide the artifacts in the mix. But if you time compress every track individually and your process is trying to detect beats, it may push & pull tracks differently and ruin the overall tightness of the tracks... especially on acoustic tracks. If the program your using can lock to one particular track and pull the others to match then that usually works out better. If there's any way to layer one or two replacement tracks at the tempo (think your picky artist's lead vocals or guitar or whatever) then again it will be a little easier to hide artifacts in the shifted tracks by having at least one track recorded for real at the new tempo.
But with all that said, do yourself the favor of making a rough mix and time-shifting that to play for the client. Make sure you don't do a ton of work just for him to say, "let's try 92 BPM" because that would just suck.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:30 pm

wing wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 1:25 pm
Hi there,
I just did a session with a client who now wishes to speed the song up just a hair, without altering the key. It was at 87 bpm and now he would like to try 90 bpm. I know a quick way of doing this in Ableton Live using the warp tool, but when I tried it, it made the vocals sound a bit robotic— you could definitely hear the effect at work: and I toyed around with all the available settings to no avail.

I had tracked most of the session in Pro Tools, and I know about the TCE tool, but it seems I would have to use that tool manually track by track, which would take hours just to try, and I don't even know if it would sound good.

Is there a better, faster way of achieving this, without sacrificing the vocals too greatly or making his voice sound robotic? Unfortunately re-recording is not an option at this point. Thanks!
Hi,

I have Serato Pitch N Time Pro. For 3 bpm speed up it will not create any artifacts, nor pitch it up (that is optional). I have done this a few times, and this is the only plug in I've seen that does not make artifacts on the audio.

If you need me to, send the session over, I can speed the whole multitrack up, which is the only proper way to do this.

Cheers,
Nick
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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by ashcat_lt » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:05 pm

Honestly, straight varispeed is always the least damaging way to do it. In this case, it'll cause a 58 cent shift. Just over half a semitone. Nobody will ever notice unless they actually try to play along. It's a time-tested technique that really just works.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by vvv » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:21 pm

I would try and talk the artist down, and make sure they know it's gonna cost.

Ny first choice in doing it would be to speed up the instrument tracks, and then OD at least the lead vocal.
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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by losthighway » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:35 pm

Ah, an artistic snipe hunt over a 3bpm difference. Another quixotic hunt for perfection.

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Re: Speeding up a song after tracking without altering pitch

Post by wing » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:17 am

Thanks for all the helpful answers everyone! I tried various settings using the elastic audio feature and even after rendering with best settings, there was still something a bit robotic to his voice, unfortunately. The 3 bpm difference might seem minor but it really kind of picked the song up. But after showing him the results, he's decided to accept it at 87 bpm for what it is, so I fortunately was able to talk him off that ledge, thank god.

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