PnT Review Header

As radio Imagers, we are all pitchers and shifters! It’s common to adjust the bpm and keys of various songs to do a great beatmix for example. We also like to use pitch shifting for creative effects. For this task it’s necessary to call a good time and pitch manipulation plugin your own. Serato has the reputation for one of the best time-stretching and pitch shifting algorithms wrapped in a plugin (Side Note Andy: I think it is the best).  Enter Serato Pitch n Time Pro:

General

Most time-stretching software use mathematical techniques. Serato instead took a different approach: Pitch n Time „listens“ to material and performs an auditory scene analysis. And to get to the point: The result is an incredible OUTPUT!

Time stretching plugins are usually not available as online versions, because this manipulation can only be done file base. Serato’s Pitch’n’Time is available as an Audio Suite Plugin for Avid Pro Tools (10.3.5, 11) on Mac or Windows. But note, that there is also an LE version (399$) , which works with Logic 9 and X.

Overview

Screenshot - PnT Overview

The plugin is separated in three sections:

1.The tempo section is located to the top. Here you can choose between three modes: Fixed, Variable and Morphing.
2.The middle is called the length section.
3.On the bottom is the pitch section with three modes: Fixed, Variable and Varispeed.
Additionally you find general controls on the top, which contain all different kind of options ( like range selection and three different algorithm modes for more tonal, transient or voice material. Especially the Voice Algorithm is pretty nice.)

If you want to access the single Tempo & Pitch modes click on the little squares.

Tempo

  • Fixed: compresses or expands the tempo linearly. This is your tool for simple beatmatching. Set the source bpm, your target bpm and youre ready to go.
  • Variable: Click on “Analyse” to load the waveform. You can create anchors and set your automation value. Use the preview button to check whether it works. Choose this mode if you want to speed up or slow down in a Promo to create a smooth transition.
  • Morph: stretch set regions. Click on the “Analyse” button. Place markers for the region you want to stretch and move them to modify the selected section. This mode is nice if you have to fix the length of a single word in your VO or if you need a longer note for a transition.

Pitch Shift

  • Fixed: Works like mednitoned above. You are adjusting pitch instead of tempo.
  • Variable: Can be combined with the tempo variable mode. Nice Way to adjust the key of different songs within a mix. Enter the source key and pitch them up to the key of your next song. I often use this in Music Promos for example.
  • Varispeed: links time-stretch and pitch-shift. With this mode you can do vinyl stops or speed ups like with Avid’s Vari-Fi, f.e.

 

For the following promos I used Pitch ‘n Time to create transitions between different keys:


Verdict

Pitch n Time compresses or expands audio from 1/8 speed to 8x speed and pitches up to 36 semitones and although it is an offline plugin, Serato enabled automation options. This really helps to get interesting effects for VO or on single notes.

As a comparison I tested the harmonic algorithm of Pitch ‘n Time on various materials and did the same with the elastique algorithm from zplane which is used in Presonus Studio One.

First, I speed up and slowed down a Dance song by 30(!)bpm. Have a listen and compare it with the original and the elastique version:

I think Serato did a great job! You can just hear some small artifacts around the fade, but the overall impression is incredible.

I also manipulated a Ballad with a little more “decent” setting of 15bpm:

When listening closely to the slowed down version, you can hear some very small artifacts on the guitar, but the voice still sounds natural.

Additionally I pitched another Ballad and an Urban song up and down:

I think Pitch ‘n Time stands out from the Studio One standard, even though you might have expected this due to its price difference.

Note that the sound reaches the limit itself before you will hear any artifacts caused by the plugin. The Urban song is a good example: by pitching it down for 5 semitones it does not sound broken and there a no artifacts noticable, but it really sounds unnatural.
I really liked that you have independent tempo and pitch panels so you can work the way you need it: stretch by tempo, length, bpm and pitch by frequency or semitones. While using the bpm mode Pitch’n’Time is set up automatically by the session tempo.

Serato Pitch ‘n Time Pro 3 is about 799$ and no cheap trick, but as you heard, it helps you to keep up quality output when you have to manipulate time or pitch of audio. I think it would be one of my 5 plugIns to take with me on a lonely island! Keep pitching friends!

  1. Jamie Henry says:

    Great article on this, music promos and beat matching is something that freaked me out only a few months Ago, with help from Andreas and benztown youtube videos and soundcloud if have started understanding it more and I turn being Able to start producing it. I have still a bit to go but understanding how it is done has been a very important step.

  2. Selwyn Donia says:

    A good alternative to this is Song Surgeon 5, it costs 60 bucks and works very good.

  3. Giovanni says:

    maybe you could do a video demo one day for us newbies… i have a general idea of how to get there but i am a visual learner and i’d love to see it in action!

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