Smule brings Auto-Tune to the iPhone

The makers of the iPhone app "Ocarina" team up with T-Pain and Antares to launch "I Am T-Pain"

Technology trends and news by Chris Caceres
September 4, 2009
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A recent trend in hip hop music these days is the use of a digital effect called Auto-Tune.  You've heard it used in popular songs like Jamie Foxx's hit, "Blame It On The Alcohol" to Kanye West's, "Heartless."  It's an effect placed on singers voices - a sort of emulation of the Talkbox effect used in old funk and r&b music, and now it's here on the iPhone.  

"I Am T-Pain," which is a collaboration between Smule (makers of the incredibly popular Ocarina app for the iPhone), Antares (makers of the AutoTune effect), and T-Pain (a hip hop superstar who's made AutoTune very popular in music today), have launched an application which lets users have all sorts of fun with that popular effect we are hearing all over the radio.

Following the tradition of recent Smule apps, "I Am T-Pain" is part instrument, and part game with plenty of interesting social elements.   I was able to try out the beta version last month, and since then, have been struggling to keep my mouth shut about how incredibly cool the application is.

So here's how it works - the App lets users choose from a couple different playing modes: Sing Along and Freestyle.  In Sing Along mode, players can karaoke it up to popular songs like "Buy U A Drank" and "Bartender".  These songs are then recorded and can be shared via Facebook, MySpace or Email.  In Freestyle mode, users can basically use the application as a live version of AutoTune.  Users always have the option to customize and create presets of their AutoTune settings to use at later times.  If a user gets bored of the tracks they have, they can hit up the Beats section and download new tracks to sing along to, some of which are free, and some which cost around a buck.  

If your familiar with Smule's "Leaf Trombone" this application is definitely not that.  This thing sounds just like the radio.  If you have an ear for music, and can really get a hold of how to sing into the iPhone, you can actually get your recordings to sound like the real thing.  After all, the application is based on the same Antares Auto-Tune technology T-Pain uses in the studio, according to Smule.  

Smule is once again breaking new grounds with this application that merges music technology, the iPhone's capabilities, and mainstream hip-hop music.  To date, Smule's applications have been downloaded more than 2 million times.  "I Am T-Pain" can be bought in the app store for $2.99, it's quite a bargain if you're looking to get a tiny taste of Auto-Tune, which sells for $399. 


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