Pitch Shifting and Time Strecthing tool choices

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Curious to hear what tools and workflow you reach for when pitch shifting and time stretching material? What have you found offers the cleanest results?

Shaun mentioned this nice tip in a previous question “For instance, in Pro Tools you can deactivate sample rate correction/conversion when importing a higher sample rate audio file into a lower rate session. So if you pull a 96k file into a 48k session, it will automatically play back at half speed (also half the pitch). This is a great trick, because you’re not actually doing any processing to the file…that means fewer artifacts.”

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I did a test a while back comparing the method Shaun mentioned to the Time Shift plugin in PT. I found that if you were just doing a simple change of playback rate (like playing back 96 at 48, like Shaun stated), it was the same as using Time Shift to do the same shift (importing a 96k file, then shifting down by both frequency and time by 50%). As long as there was a direct correlation between time and frequency, there was no difference in the waveforms, down to the sample. Now, granted, PT’s waveform analysis is very rudimentary, and I did this experiment back before spectral analysis was so easily available (RX, Audition, Spectral Layers), but I suspect the result would be the same (it’s possibly even the same algorithm within PT). It does get more tricky once you separate the time from the frequency though – that’s when you’ll start getting artifacts…

For more complex shifts, I typically default to a few standard methods. Soundshifter is great, especially if you need to shift over time (instead of shifting an entire selection). I’ve had great results with PT’s elastic audio as well (Logic’s works well too). I’ve heard great things about Pitch n Time and a few others, but I haven’t been doing a whole lot of complex shifting lately, so my focus has been elsewhere… There may be a few new tools out there I’m not aware of. My best advice would be to play with the ones you have access to (the many that are built in to DAWs) and a few demos, as YMMV with this sort of thing…

If you do happen to find yourself getting artifacts, check out the Unchirp plugin from Zynaptic. It helps minimize chirps / underwatery / washy sounding stuff caused by denoising / pitch shifting / similar processes. Not miraculous, but it can really help sometimes.

Here’s a link to the original blog I mentioned, in case you’re interested. Keep in mind that it’s from nearly 7 years ago, so a lot has changed since then…

http://hartfx.net/192k-experiments/

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Pitch n Time Pro is still probably the best tool out there for time stretching as far as I know, but it costs a $1000. Soundshifter works pretty well for it’s price, it’s what I use at my home studio. Soundminer does a great job as well, but you don’t have the ability to change the sound over time with it.

Recording sounds at a higher sample rate 96K, or even 196K will yield the best results for time stretching as you have more samples with which the tool can use to alter the sound.

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