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Melodyne Uno Review

Foreword
    Melodyne Uno is the light and monophonic version of the already famous Melodyne software of Celemony. As a Melodyne user, I was very interested in testing the little brother of Melodyne and its possibilities, and my surprise was particularly grand,that's the least one can say!

    Melodyne Uno is an audio editor of a particular kind, since you can open an audio and single melodic file, and it displays in an edition window the musical characteristics of any sound, instead of the horrid Christmas trees we were used to. In Melodyne Uno, the sound samples don't simply appear as a simple succession of curt data, but Melodyne investigates the musical significance of the data : the software displays the pitches, the durations, the transitions, the rhythmic relations, it can also analyse and display in real time the musical notation corresponding to the audio file you worked on.

    A simple and totally intuitive click on the mouse allows you to transpose a melody, to change the duration of a sound, its pitch, to modify the volume of the vibrato on only one syllable, or else to modify the duration of a note in a passage, or the duration of the entire passage, in less time than is needed to write it.
installation and authorisation
    Melodyne Uno comes on a Mac/Windows CD-Rom. After the installation procedure specific to each Mac software, you'll be asked to enter your serial number. The software will then allocate an identifier to your machine (host ID), then a licence key (unlocking code), which is sent to you by email in a few minutes (or by post for the ones who have no internet access). It allows you to authorize the software on your computer for good. On Mac, a window with a drop-down menu allows you to choose the audio peripheral when you launch the software. The default setting is "CoreAudio - Built-in-Audio", if however you have connected additional audio hardware that came with its own driver, you may select that.
The selection of the materials
    One has to be perfectly clear on one point : Melodyne Uno is the perfect tool to work the human voice, that was mainly why it was devised. So it's designed for a simple unaccompanied melodic line, and "in principle" for no other purpose. Editable sounds won't include any chord. Vocal sounds are perfect and so are the solo wind instruments. Stringed instruments sounds work perfectly too, even if you have to see to avoid the double-stopping on violins, or plucking on an acoustic guitar. You actually have to see to it that the note recognition algorithm used by Melodyne Uno is not mislead by a material that is more difficult to analyse (vibration of open strings in sympathy, notes that are played on a harp, even when plucked seperately, take a long time to decay, etc).

    The truth about Melodyne Uno is that this software is deeply musical and that it allows the edition on a wide range of sound materials. I have personally tested concrete sounds (door banging, plane taking-off, bus engine, Spoutnik sound signal), instrumental sounds (piano, marimba) and vocal sounds with the same success and pleasure. Some samples are certainly less easily editable, however Melodyne Uno does allow to intuitively test any experimentation.

    Melodyne Uno opens mono and stereo audio files (Wav., AIFF, Sound Designer II), 8 to 24 bit resolution, sampling rates of 22, 44,1, 48 or 96 KHz. Whenever you don't save your audio file using the "save as" command, Melodyne will modify your original file each time. Another interesting command in the preference menu ("keep original files when saving") allows to systematically keep the edited file as well as a copy of the original file that is not modified. Melodyne only opens audio files from recordable mediums (such as hard disks), so don't try to open a file from a samples CD-Rom for example....
The main window



    Melodyne Uno is a single and easy-to-use edit window. Volume command, transport controls, tempo selection (time signature, click volume and stretch controls) appear in the upper part of the window. When the time-stretch function is active, not only the bar/time ruler but also the date itself expands and contracts as you click on the Tempo box and drag the mouse pointer, respectively, downwards or upwards. Finally on the right, we find correction macros buttons, to access the correct pitch and quantize time parameters.

    Just under the upper part, we find the Time Ruler, displaying time in bars and beats or seconds, and the "Notation" section. This latter displays notes in conventional notation on a G clef single stave. The Stave icon toggles the notation display on and off.

    The main window vertically displays the Note Ruler that identifies the tonality (C, C#, D, D#,...) and horizontally displays time. Please note that when the "Snap" button is selected, blobs snaps to the nearest degree of the selected scale. The sounds are represented by "blobs". Their thickness is indicative of their amplitude, so each blob displays the amplitude envelope of the note to which it refers. We can either display or not separation lines between the blobs.

First steps in editing audio
    Pitch recognition functions are often poor in many softwares. It's not the case with Melodyne Uno, and it's even its main trump. The software can analyse audio samples with infinite precision and very few mistakes. I have loaded different files - contemporary instrumental music with a complex notation - and I have encountered no pitch recognition problem. Time and rhythm analysis recognition is equally impressive. On loaded files, I have met no problem, even with complex rhythms.



    In "normal mode", audio editing is so intuitive, simple and effective that there's no need to write a long explanation. The edit mode allows you to simply move up or down sound blobs to change their pitch. You can also stretch blobs to modify the duration. The result is immediate and the sound quality is really good.

Expert Tools



    The "View" menu displays the "Expert Tools". These five advanced functions are the two pitch and stretch functions already mentioned above, and three others : the Edit formants tools, the Edit Amplitude Tools, the Note and Segment separation tool. Each tool is multi-function and gives you a powerful set of editing options, including several parameters. Here again, simplicity is obvious, even for Expert Tools. For example, to modify the amplitude of a blob, you only have to select the Amplitude Tool, and click on a note, and drag upwards, it becomes louder; downwards, softer. Tools for editing formants, and tool for editing transition between formants, are particularly easy-to-use, as we can see on the following screenshot. And of course the audio result is convincing.

In conclusion
    It seems difficult to give a neutral point of view on a software which is one of my favourites and to find drawbacks to it. However there's no user's manual in other languages, for example French as it was announced.

    During this review, the software was totally stable on both the Built-in Audio and on the Digidesign Core Audio Manager. Melodyne Uno was particularly reactive on a G5 PowerMac. Because I was curious I installed it on a G3 iBook to edit formants in the sun in my garden. On this configuration Melodyne was able to load a 6.30-minute sound file in less than 4 seconds and was perfectly stable.

    Melodyne Uno analysis engine seems to be as powerful as Melodyne's. It has been great pleasure to work on such a purely musical, powerful and intuitive software. Melodyne Uno allows any experimentation with a perfect sound result. As an electroacoustic and contemporary music composer, it was the software missing in my set of softwares. Today it is part of it as much as some other major softwares.
About the author: clouvel
Electroacoustic music composer @ sound designer
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