Developers: Inspyder Software
Platforms: Windows/Mac – Online Download
Summary: Pitch Switch is a lightweight software program that allows the user to change the key and tempo of any sound media file on your PC or Mac. You can speed up or slow down any piece without the pitch being affected. The key can be changed up or down 12 semitones without affecting the tempo. There is also a karaoke feature where the program will attempt to remove the voice of a track allowing you to sing with accompaniment only.
The Pros: Pitch Switch does exactly what it claims to do. You simply open any sound file on your computer in the most popular formats (mp3, wav, etc.) and then using the Pitch Switch control panel (see below) move the appropriate slider up or down to change the pitch or tempo.
One excellent feature is the playback loop. You can isolate a small section of the piece (a bar or phrase or more) and it will playback that small section in a loop so that you can practice one particularly difficult passage again and again until it is mastered. There is also an equalizer which allows the user to pull up or pull out certain frequencies in the recording so that you can focus on one voice or instrument.When you have adjusted the tempo and pitch and any frequencies, you can save your settings and download them onto your mobile device or burn to a CD.
The program is very lightweight and extremely easy to use. The documentation is clear and concise.
The Cons: The documentation warns that the Karaoke feature will only work under certain conditions (the recording must be in stereo, the voice must be centered and no other instruments on the recording can be centered) and indeed that is the case. I was not able to successfully use this feature with any recordings that I had. It did alter the mix, pulling out some frequencies but I would not suggest that you use this program solely for this feature. It is not reliable.
The only other minor issue is that changing the pitch and tempo does alter the quality of the recording very slightly. But using the software as a practicing tool would not result in this being a major problem.
Recommendation: This is an excellent program for students and teachers who need a practice tool. Slow down a passage to practice it at a more manageable tempo then gradually speed it up to attain mastery. Transpose an accompaniment at the drag of a slider. Very simple to use and reasonably priced. Highly recommended!