A good vocal tuning plugin is necessary for every producer. From fixing mistakes to cleaning up a bad take, tuning plugins can be a life-saver when you need them.
With quite a few options around, with wildly differing price points, which tuning VST is best for you? Today we’ll take a look at Waves Tune and Melodyne, comparing them to find out which makes more sense for you!
Waves Tune vs Melodyne (TL;DR Answer)
Melodyne is better than Waves Tune & is more feature-rich. But, access to the higher-end controls that make Melodyne better, leave you short of $300+. Waves Tune is cheaper, offers basic graphical pitch editing and real-time autotune. Put simply – beginners are better with Waves Tune. More advanced producers are better with Melodyne Editor and above.
Waves is much better for a hard-tuned sound and live, low-latency autotune. Melodyne, can also be used for hard-tuning, but is worse than Waves Tune at it. Melodyne is better for in-depth, meticulous vocal editing and provides a more natural sound, with polyphonic note editing.
With Melodyne you get benefits like polyphonic note editing (which can change the notes of chords), audio to MIDI, quantize to track, multi-track editing, EQ, tone & timbre controls and even a synth module for sound design.
With Waves Tune you get monophonic note editing and real-time autotune. This is great at the price point, but is severly lacking in comparison.
It's important to note that, to make full use of Melodyne's features, you'll have to get Editor and above.
This can set you back around $300+, which is an obscene amount when compared to Waves Tune's sale price at $39. And, Waves Tune (like every other Waves product) is on sale 90% of the time.
If you're looking at Melodyne Essential or Assistant, then Waves Tune is better than both for a lower price. We wouldn't recommend getting etiher over Waves Tune, unless you have plans to upgrade and make use of seasonal upgrade deals.
Compatibility: Windows, macOS, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit only
✅ Very low latency and easy on the CPU
✅ Real-time tuning for Live performances
✅ Natural and Smooth Sound
❌ No polyphonic note editing or ability to change entire keys/chords naturally
❌ Dated design & needs a good computer to run in real-time
Waves Tune is one of the most well-known and beloved VST plugins from the Waves arsenal. Offering precise graphical pitch editing, with a ton of tools for shaping your formants, timbre and more.
In addition to having a great graphical pitch editor window, Waves Tune can also work in real-time, making it great for live performance and incredibly quick when it comes to vocal tuning. Not only that, but the sound quality is very natural and smooth. Obviously, if you’re adjusting your pitches too much, your vocals are bound to start sounding robotic.
However, this is less an issue with Waves Tune, and more of a general issue that all pitch correction software has. To sum up – Waves Tune is an affordable, yet highly precise and natural-sounding vocal pitch editor.
How Does Waves Tune Tuning Sound?
Video starts at un-edited example. Please scrub to 3:49 to hear how it tunes naturally after you've heard the original.
Waves Tune sounds super transparent, clean and natural. If you’re doing subtle tuning, and not doing very drastic changes, you won’t run into any issues with sound quality. Not only that, but Waves Tune can even do the tuning in real-time with the same amount of precision.
That being said, Melodyne still takes the cake, when it comes to sound quality. Mostly because of the sheer amount of options you get for every single note, letting you get your vocals absolutely perfect.
While there are a lot of options with Waves Tune, it’s not even close to what Melodyne offers.
You can get Waves Tune for $249, which is quite affordable for a pitch correction VST. If you keep an eye out on the Waves webstore though, you can catch Waves Tune on promotion for as little as $35. This is much cheaper than Melodyne, however Waves Tune doesn't process vocals as well as Melodyne
What Makes Waves Tune Better Than Melodyne?
Waves Tune has quite a few advantages over Melodyne. The main thing is that Waves Tune has an auto-tune mode, that lets you tune your vocals in real-time. Where Melodyne only offers a graphical pitch editor, Waves Tune offers both for a much lower price.
When it comes to ease of use, Waves Tune also takes the cake. While Melodyne is by no means difficult to use, Waves Tune is just way friendlier towards beginners. The User Interface is much easier to navigate, with all options clearly laid out and labelled.
If you get Waves Tune on sale for $35 though, there’s pretty much no competition to it. However, as a trade off for the low price, you get a lot less control over your vocal tuning. This is when something more advanced like Melodyne, Autotune, or even Flex Pitch would come in to help fine tune your vocals.
Compatibility: Windows, macOS, VST, AU, AAX, 64-bit only
Price: $50 – $600
✅ Indiviudal note control & ability to change entire key
✅ Sibilance detection and removal unlike any other autotune tool available
✅ Audio to MIDI functionality
✅ Polyphonic pitch correction
✅ Natural and Transparent Sound
✅ Consistent updates & improved algorithms
✅ ARA Integration
❌ No real-time tuning
❌ Polyphony only available with Editor and Studio versions
❌ Can take a while to get used to the workflow
Probably the most famous graphical pitch editor out there, Melodyne has been out for a while and is still going strong as the industry standard. Melodyne is so well known in fact, that the word Melodyne has become a verb e.g. “I'll Melodyne my vocals later”
Melodyne uses what’s called note-based editing. This basically means that Melodyne listens to your input audio and finds the exact pitches, timing, and even intonation, letting you then adjust and edit any part of every note.
With the pro version, you can also use Melodyne on polyphonic recordings, letting you change chords after you've recorded them, which is an insanely powerful function to have. If you don't like the key your melody was in, or the chords you used, you can simply change them and it will sound natural.
When it comes to pitch correction and editing, there’s nothing out there that matches the utility of Melodyne.
How Does Melodyne Sound?
Video starts at un-edited example. Please scrub to 2:31 to hear how it tunes naturally after you've heard the original.
The sound quality of Melodyne is hard to talk about. This is because when the plugin is working at its best, you won’t hear anything that would give away its presence. In fact, Melodyne is so clean and natural sounding that it can be used on not only vocals but also guitars, pianos etc.
Essentially anything with pitch can be adjusted with Melodyne. This makes Melodyne so much more useful, than just for vocal pitching.
Keep in mind that just like with Waves Tune, subtle adjustments are key, and you’re bound to run into unwanted artefacting if you’re tuning more than an octave. However, these artefacts are less noticable in Melodyne when pushed further.
Unlike Waves Tune, the pricing for Melodyne is not as straightforward.
Here's a quick summary of the 4 different versions of Melodyne & their pricing:
- Essential ($99) – basic time & pitch
- Assistant ($249) – includes audio to MIDI, tempo detection & more in depth pitch control.
- Editor ($399) – introduces Polyphonic Direct Note Access, which allows you edit things like piano pieces.
- Studio ($699) – Polyphony, Quantization, Tempo, Advanced pitching tools & more.
Which one is best for you, all depends on what features you want from Melodyne. We have a great article that explains all the differences between the different versions of Melodyne. So refer to this if you need some more help.
Generally, though, expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $600 for the Melodyne version of your choice.
What Makes Melodyne Better Than Waves Tune?
When it comes to sound quality, Waves Tune and Melodyne are quite comparable. If you’re doing subtle adjustments, you won’t hear much of a difference between the two.
Melodyne offers a lot more adjustability and customization for every single note. And, as a creative tool, Melodyne is absolutely incredible, letting you pretty much change the melody of a vocal, guitar, piano or any other instrument take after recording it.
While Waves Tune is great at what it does, if you want to go past simple pitch editing and adjustment, Melodyne is heaps better.
Waves Tune vs Melodyne Verdict
While they might seem quite similar at their core, Melodyne and Waves Tune have a lot of differences. Let’s look into some of these now!
Which is Better for Natural & Hard Tuning?
This is quite a simple one! Melodyne is better at natural and smooth tuning than Waves Tune. Even if you’re doing more drastic adjustments, the additional controls for every note let you smooth out any issues quickly and easily. Melodyne isn't good at hard tuning, however, and Waves Tune is much better for this purpose.
Although you can set up hard-tuning on Melodyne, it doesn't work as well as something like Waves Tune or AutoTune for that signature HipHop style sound. In fact, you'd get better results from a free autotune plugin over Melodyne's hard tuning.
Melodyne was built to sound natural, and that's what it's best at.
Waves Tune is much better, and in addition to actually sounding better, you can set it up to work automatically, in real-time. This makes the hard tuning much more distinct and gives a more T-Pain like effect.
Which Has The Best GUI & Workflow
If you’re practised with Melodyne and well acquainted with its features and layout, you might find some issues with this next sentence!
Waves Tune has a way better GUI and a more conventional and intuitive workflow. Melodyne isn’t difficult to use at all. If you’re looking to extract the most out of the software though, Melodyne can start feeling clunky.
Keep in mind that this is just our personal experience, and you might find Melodyne easier to use. But for beginners, Waves Tune will definitely make more sense when you open it up first time.
What Has The Most Useful Features?
Melodyne has the most useful features. Direct note access and polyphonic editing allow you to change the key of a recording without introducing artefacts. Along with EQ and harmonics control, multi-track editing & more, professional sounding vocals are easy. If you want live performance autotune, you'd be better off getting Waves Tune.
Waves Tune offers graphical pitch editing, with direct note access, but doesn't offer polyphonic note editing, which is useful in instrument recordings, and when you want to change chords. There is also an abscence of EQ, harmonics, options to alter dynamics, timbre and a synth module.
All of these features are found in Melodyne's most expensive package – Studio. Even with Editor, you're getting most of these features, minus the multi-tracking. They are great for sound design, mixing, vocal editing and provide a much more professional set of utilities for pitch control.
If you get Melodyne Essential or Assistant, Waves Tune is more feature-rich for the price.
Waves Tune also offers real-time tuning, which is something that Melodyne doesn't. So, if you're looking for live autotune, then Melodyne can't offer you that. Melodyne definitely has the most useful features, but when deciding between $39 and $399 price tags, it's clear that Waves Tune offers more for a lower price.
Waves Tune even offers more than Essential, which is priced at $99. However, if you're looking to upgrade Melodyne's capability in future, then it's advisable to grab Essential for future upgrade deals.
It's less a case of which has more features than the other, and more a case of which one do you need first.
However, to make it simple: If you want basic editing, get Waves Tune or Melodyne Essential. If you want a full suite of incredible vocal, instrument and editing utility – get Melodyne Editor and above. For $399 it's worth it.
Which is The Best Value for Money?
Melodyne Editor is the best value for money. You get everything in Studio minus multi-tracking – direct & polyphonic note editing, EQ, dynamics & timbre, a synth + more. Essential and Assistant are basic tools that offer graphic pitch editing. You're better off getting Waves Tune, unless you plan to upgrade from these in future.
Here are the pricing options for Melodyne:
- Essential ($99) – basic time & pitch (no real-time tune)
- Assistant ($249) – includes audio to MIDI, tempo detection & more in depth pitch control (no real-time tune).
- Editor ($399) – introduces Polyphonic Direct Note Access, which allows you edit things like piano pieces (no real-time tune).
- Studio ($699) – Polyphony, Quantization, Tempo, Advanced pitching tools & more (no real-time tune).
Here are the pricing options for Waves Tune:
- Waves Tune off Sale ($149) – Graphic pitch editing, monophonic only, real-time tuning etc.
- Waves Tune on Sale ($29) – the same as listed above.
When comparing Melodyne Editor on price to Waves Tune, Waves Tune is clearly cheaper. However, it does not include the functionality that Melodyne does. If you're looking at Essential or Assistant versions of Melodyne, we'd suggest Waves Tune instead. If you want a more powerful autotune plugin, go for Melodyne Editor and above.
That being said, if you catch Waves Tune on sale for $35, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that’s better value for money.
Get Melodyne if you’re looking for the best advanced pitch editor that lets you adjust anything and everything in your vocal take. Get Waves Tune if you’re looking for great value for money, an intuitive interface and real-time pitch correction in addition to a graphical pitch editor.
Melodyne is the far superior pitch editing software, but doesn't include real-time autotune and is much more expensive for the full functionality. It's only worth getting Melodyne over Waves Tune if you're going to purchase Editor (or above).
Essential and Assistant are more introductions to Melodyne, and Waves Tune actually does more for a cheaper price.
However, if you know you're going to upgrade in the future – get Melodyne Essential or Assistant. You can then make use of future sales and save yourself a lot of cash when you need to upgrade. If you're serious about audio, Melodyne is the pick for you.
Melodyne vs The Competition
With so many different options on the market, you're probably looking at multiple different solutions to autotune, comparing them to Melodyne to see if it's really worth it.
We tried and tested them all and wrote in-depth comparisons to help you decide which is worth it:
Which Version of Melodyne is Best?
Melodyne Editor is best, considering the price and features. You get direct note access editing (the main selling point of Melodyne) and can change the key of chords, melodies or any instrument. It also includes polyphonic editing, along with sibilant detection tools and is affordable. If you want basic pitch editing, look at cheaper autotune options like Waves Tune.
Of course this is situational, but if you're looking at Essential or Editor for anything other than, cheap upgrades during holiday sales periods, then they're pretty much pointless and will offer less features than Waves Tune and even some free autotune plugins (which are of course, much cheaper).
To compare the Melodyne versions in more detail, check our article that includes an easy to read table.
If you're just looking for basic pitch editing, and are a begininner, it's best to go for Melodyne Essential or Assistant. There are some benefits to doing this like, making use of sales on upgrades. This can make an upgrade considerably cheaper than it usually is.
For instance, in Black Friday 2021, you could have made use of this deal:
|Melodyne Black Friday Deal||Original Price||Total Saving|
|Essential – $49||$99||$50|
|Studio Upgrade – $360||$599||$239|
|Melodyne Studio – $448||$699||$251|
|Essential deal + Studio upgrade deal – $410||$699||$289|
Which is The Best Autotune Plugin Overall? (Honorable Mentions)
If neither Melodyne nor Waves Tune hit the spot, there are quite a few alternatives out there for you to check out!
Antare's Auto-Tune Pro is the best alternative out there, with graphical pitch editing, direct note access and real-time live performance autotune. Antares AutoTune is unfortunately only monophonic, where Melodyne is polyphonic, giving it a slight edge. However, the price is much lower with AutoTune.
Here’s a list of some alternatives to Melodyne and Waves Tune!
Toms is a music producer & DJ, born and raised in Post Soviet Latvia. Currently based in Brighton, Toms has had over 6 years of experience with all things production and in that time, he's done a tonne of cool stuff! He's played multiple festivals, had experience in the field with mixing & mastering and even become a freelance journalist in the music industry.
Toms currently creates music under the alias Sovereign. Producing music that's intimate and subtle, while full of edge and energy, the young producer combines the artistic sounds of Trip Hop artists like Massive Attack, with the energy and youthfulness of producers like Flume, Jamie XX and Yaeji. You can check his stuff on Soundcloud.