There are a number of different ways to make audio slow down. I'm talking about sound that slows (and pitches) down to a stop, much like if you were to stop the motor on a record player without lifting up the needle.

It's a lot easier to do now with elastic / flex audio. Do you use these or do you have a different way of doing it? What have you found to be the best sounding method? Have you had success with lower sample rates?

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    As an example, I often use "Vari-fi" or Serato Pitch 'n' Time.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jun 11, 2010 at 23:04
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    I use Vari-Fi all the time. A really fast and effective.
    – ianjpalmer
    Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 9:32

9 Answers 9


Digidesign's Vari-Fi does two things and two things only: Emulate a record or tape deck slowing down or speeding up. Although it's a one-trick pony plug-in, I find it's super useful for quickie "bullet time" effects or just to spice something up that maybe isn't doing much for me.


I use Ableton Live for all my envelope controlled pitch and time shifting. It's a pain to shuttle files back and forth between Ableton and Pro Tools but I find Ableton's time stretching algorithms to be way better than PT elastic time and I'm still using Live 6!
georgi.m raises an interesting question. Should slowed down time be represented by lower pitched sounds or is that anachronistic now? I'm fascinated by how cinema has created its own self referential reality and how the hallmarks and standards of the lexicon are largely the result of out dated technology. Slow motion sounds pitched down because that's how we've heard it done in countless movies and countless movies have done it that way because for a long time that was the only way to do it. Reminds me of the story about a girl who asks her mother why she always cut the pot roast in half even though the pot was big enough for a whole roast. The mother answered "because that's how my mother taught me to do it". And why did her mother do it that way? Because she had a smaller pot.

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    well it is a question between "increasing your resolution of time" and "getting more time between events", no? i know this is the subject of yet another stylistically-driven choice, but there's a funny even maybe philosophical angle i thought i'd highlight..
    – georgi
    Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 17:49

<3 Max MSP.

I find myself warping stuff all the time, so made this max app: alt text http://www.robinarnott.com/works/resources/Picture%203.png

Probably not nearly as strong as Pitch'N'Time, but saved me a few bucks. And where P 'n T only works in Pro Tools, this works in everything except pro tools.

I could be convinced to make this downloadable if it's a tool you'd be interested in.

  • Awesome, I'd love to check it out... Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 10:17
  • Me too, even though I built a similar max patch myself some time ago :) I recently read an interesting topic on the cycling74 forum about upsampling and might implement this to bump up the audio quality and flexibility a bit.
    – EMV
    Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 11:45
  • @EMV that would be great! Max/MSP is awesome for building stuff, but not so hot when it comes to audio quality. Commented Jun 13, 2010 at 8:22
  • Can you link to that forum? Would <3 you! Commented Jun 19, 2010 at 0:48
  • cycling74.com/forums Not sure where the specific post is..
    – user528
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 18:25

I like to use Propellerheads Reason for stuff like that. Just open Rewire, load the effect into a sampler and use the pitchbend wheel.

I think the suspension (fading out) of the ambiences and/or transitioning to new, special slow ambiences doubles the effect of time slowing.

  • +1 on the BGs changing and/or transitioning. That technique really helps sell the idea of time slowing or reality changing. Commented Jun 12, 2010 at 8:49
  • Another point made late, but instead pitching down abiences to slow them, I put them through a bandpass filter, cutting off all the highs down to 2k and anything below 100hz; and then send that through a reverb and some of that signal through a VERY slow phaser or tremolo....
    – Kurt Human
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 9:25

Could slowing things down and pitching them down at the same time get you in trouble with the digital generation? The casual young viewer/listener would ask "why did the pitch go down? it sounds funny.."

Much as i love analogue sound, I'd be very interested if sound slowed down without the pitch going down and without the effect being too "digital". All in sync to picture. I'd certainly try elastic before reaching for pitch.

Are we at the point where DSP allows for "fluidity" while "preserving transients" at super high quality?


I was reading @Tim's post for the virtual internships and he has a wonderful point of view: slowing down time "means we have more time to hear the details"... and of course I thought of this old thread!


I use Reaper which allows me to automate the play rate. It's basically the same thing as using a sampler and pitch wheel. Higher sample rates help a bunch!


Vari-Fi if I'm in Pro Tools.

If I'm in another environment like Reaper I can either automate the playrate, In reaper and any other hosts I can always automate a pitch plug-in, I could use a sampler with a pitch wheel as well or if I have a lower bitrate file and I want it to try and stay as clean and alias free I will use an analog tape style delay and sweep the feedback and delay times.

There are definitely many ways to skin this cat but Vari-Fi and Delay plug-in's are my favorite. Vari-Fi because it's precise, Delay because I might get some awesome unexpected results.


I mostly use Vari-Fi as well, but sometimes use Elastic Time set to varispeed to experiment with settings across multiple tracks - just enable elastic time on the tracks and drop the tempo to lower the speed. The only thing to watch out for there is that if any of your tracks are set to ticks rather than samples, then they'll all move on the timeline to match the tempo which probably isn't what you want.

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