Which word means melodically compatible

Celemony Melodyne 5 Studio test

Pitch, tempo and level correction

Detection progress

The audio editing software Celemony Melodyne now has version number 5. In my experience, such a large update, which deserves a completely new version, always brings something really innovative for music production onto the computer at Melodyne. I described in detail what Melodyne is essentially in my last test - you can read even more about it in our comprehensive Melodyne workshop.

Even before the switch to the previous version number 4, Melodyne had continued to develop functionally. The most fundamental improvement in the workflow, however, was brought about by the DAWs that now support ARA (Audio Random Access): Cubase and Logic. ARA stands for the close integration of a plug-in (in this case Melodyne) with the DAW. This eliminates the time-consuming “playing” of the track content for Melodyne, changes to the arrangement are implemented directly in Melodyne and all files required by Melodyne are automatically saved with the song file.

Melodyne is a plug-in for all common interfaces, but can also be used stand-alone. In addition to the full version Melodyne Studio 5 tested here, Celemony also offers various slimmed-down versions of the software with Melodyne 5 Editor, Melodyne 5 Assistant and Melodyne 5 Essential. In the following I will briefly go into the innovations of version 5 in order to show them to you afterwards with a practical example.


Melodyne 5: Sibilant detection for the "Melodic" algorithm

A first promising innovation in version 5 is the "Melodic" algorithm, which promises automatic sibilant detection. Sibilants are the noisy parts of the song, such as sibilants ("S", "Sch", "Z"), short, voiceless sounds ("K" or "T") and short breaths between the words. Because sibilants are voiceless, their pitch cannot be changed along with the tonal components. In the previous versions of Melodyne, they therefore always had to be meticulously separated in order to achieve particularly natural-sounding results - a really grueling task.

Melodyne automatically recognizes sibilants and marks them in the relevant blob (Melodyne's term for a displayed note) with hatching.

This has now been significantly improved with version 5: Melodyne automatically recognizes sibilants and marks them in the relevant blob (Melodyne's term for a displayed note) with hatching.

When transposing these sibilants are also shifted, but this is only due to legibility, so that a word or syllable can still be recognized as a unit. The sibilants are not transposed. It's the same with timing changes: If, for example, the word “meet” is extended, it sounds like “meeeeeeeeeet” and not like “mmmmeeeetttt”.

The situation is different with blobs that consist exclusively of atonal components, such as breaths: They are shortened when the surrounding notes move closer together. In my tests, Melodyne always automatically reacted correctly and treated the sibilants correctly. All Melodyne versions, even the smallest version, Melodyne essential, benefit from this grandiose innovation with the “Melodic” algorithm.

Backward Compatibility

The new, superior sibilant detection naturally raises the question of compatibility with Melodyne 4. If the new algorithm were to be used automatically, the sound of older projects would also change, and that is certainly not usually desired. In addition, Melodyne 5 calculates the pitch center slightly differently than the previous versions - but more on that later.

In order to avoid problems with the new recognition, the software developers at Celemony have thought of a good way: When opening old documents, the two new functions are not yet activated. So if you open old projects just to change the mix, you don't have to do anything in Melodyne: everything sounds like it did before.

Note: Once saved with Melodyne 5, there is no going back.

If you want to benefit from the innovations with projects that are still in progress, you can do so, because the sibilant treatment can be switched on separately in vocal tracks. Afterwards, the result may sound different, but it is usually better than before. But now comes the but: Unfortunately, this function does not exist in the “essential” variant. If you want to use the sibilant detection here, you have to restart the detection - this means that all edits are lost. It is also possible to recalculate the center of gravity according to the changed logic so that the musical content is represented better than before.

New: pitch correction via double click and pitch macro

In order to test how well the new sibilant detection and the changed pitch focus work in practice, I pulled a few old sessions out of the drawer and compared the tracks processed with Melodyne 4 with the new version, and it actually worked very well. The pitch macro and a double click on the note blobs are far more likely to produce an appropriate result than before. And that means: Editing a vocal track will be drastically reduced in many cases!

While you previously had to go through note for note for inaudible corrections, you can now choose the opposite way: First correct everything with the pitch macro and then only reset the blobs for which the correction led to poorer results. I cannot say with certainty what part of these improved results the sibilant detection and what the changes in the pitch center of gravity have, but the combination leads to better results - and that is ultimately the most important thing.

But there is still something to complain about: Unfortunately, there are still octave errors in recognition.

The newly weighted center of gravity leads to different results: gray Melodyne 4 and orange Melodyne 5

The built-in compressor: the leveling macro

Melodyne blobs can not only be changed in pitch and timing, but also in volume - a powerful tool for reducing unwanted dynamic differences. With the new macro for leveling there is now the possibility in version 5 to adjust the volume of all selected blobs like in a MIDI editor. The feature thus closes a “macro gap”, because macros have been around for a long time for pitch and timing correction - now also for blob volume.

The dynamics of a performance can be restricted with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Chord recognition and chord track

Version 5 also includes a chord recognition and a chord track. These two innovations, which at first glance seem unspectacular, are, in my view, the highlight of this version jump in addition to the detection of sibilants. The note editor in Melodyne Stand-alone or the plug-in window no longer only shows the bars at the top, but also the key and the chords.

Melodyne 5 now also offers a chord track below the key track.

For the key, this method of representation in a separate line is particularly relevant if the music to be processed contains a key change. The display of the chords is generally very useful because it helps as a musical memory aid when correcting individual notes. As soon as one deals with the arrangement of vocals, brass groups or other polyphonic sound units, the meaning of this display becomes even clearer.

New algorithm "percussive tonal"

Melodyne now has the new "Percussive tonal" algorithm in order to be able to properly map percussive instruments with a tonal component such as an 808 kick. The recognized beats are separated and also sorted according to the pitch. For example, a tabla can be tuned to the rest of the musical material. Similar to the Melodic algorithm, percussive can also recognize sibilants tonally.

Search function for keyboard commands / templates

For many years now, Melodyne has been controlled using self-configurable keyboard commands. With the new search function, you can, for example, see which keyboard shortcuts are available for the zoom functions of the program / plug-in when you enter the term zoom in the search field. This increases the clarity and may even bring random "bycatch" if you find another useful function while looking for a certain abbreviation function.

In addition, Celemony offers DAW-specific keyboard shortcut presets that users can download from the Celemony homepage. Melodyne adapts to any production environment.