Sing With Me ~UTAU~

August 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

Hi, everyone!  River here!  Over the past few months, you may have heard some murmurings on the blog about a little program called UTAU.  Here at the Studio, we’ve been talking about it and planning to use it for some time.  Purin in particular is eager to get started.  Now, you may be wondering:  What is UTAU?

The Basics

“Utau” is the Japanese word for “Sing/Song”, which is appropriate considering that UTAU is a voice synthesizer.  It’s creator, Ameya/Ayame, made it free to download, so anyone can use it.  Another cool feature is that anyone can make a voicebank (an “UTAUloid”) to use with UTAU, with the result that there’s now hundreds of UTAUloids.  Most UTAUloids are free to download.

Fun fact: Most UTAUloids include manga/anime-style character art.  This trend is inspired by Vocaloids (in particular Hatsune Miku), who also have character art paired with a voice.

Basically, UTAU is like a free version of Vocaloid.

The Program

The UTAU program has a graphical interface, so it’s pretty easy to use.  On the left side is a keyboard, and the main screen marks quarter beats.  In fact, it looks a little like this. . .

UTAU 2.76 Screenshot with Kasane Teto saying &...

UTAU 2.76 Screenshot with Kasane Teto saying “Hello Friend”
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In this environment, it is easy to make your UTAUloid sing:  Simply define what phoneme you want, how long you want it, what note it is, and where it is in the song.  Repeat as many times as is necessary, and there you have it: Your first song.

Note: Though UTAU is entirely in Japanese by default, there is an English fix available.  It is linked on the UTAU Wiki’s GIU Translation Page.  As I don’t read Japanese, this is what I had to do.

The Pros

  • UTAU is easy on the pocketbook.  It’s free to download, and while I’ve heard of a paid version, the paid version only provides add-ons–so the free version is fully functional. Free is good!
  • In addition to Uta Utane, the default voice included with the UTAU download, you can make your own UTAUloid.  All it takes is a few hours, a quiet place, a good microphone, and a program you can use to record and edit sound like Audacity.  (We really like Audacity here at the Studio.)
  • Hundreds of free voicebanks available for download.  (Just make sure that they are free of viruses. . . )

Fun fact: Uta Utane is also known as Defoko (“Default Girl”) because she is the default voicebank.

  • The graphical programming environment is easy to use.
  • UTAU uses .wav files to synthesis singing.  And it just so happens that .wav files are easy to make using a sound editor like Audacity.
  • You can make and use both CV (consonant-vowel) and VCV (vowel-consonant-vowel) voicebanks.  (VCV voicebanks sound smoother than CV voicebanks.)*

*A discussion about CV and VCV voicebanks is, alas, not for today.

The Cons

  • Just inputing the basic notes and phonemes isn’t enough to make your song sound good.  There’s a lot of fiddly tuning needed to make the voice sound less robotic.
  • UTAU isn’t as advanced as Vocaloid 3, so the singing sounds more robotic even after all of that tuning.  (Of course, this could be seen as a pro depending on what you want to use UTAU for. . . .)
  • Not all of the voicebanks available for download are high quality.  And since there are so many voicebanks, it can be hard to wade through all of the not-so-good ones to find a good one.
  • You can’t make more than one UTAUloid sing at one time.  So if you want a duet or a chorus, you have to manually put together each UTAUloid singing in another program.  (If I’m wrong about this, please let me know.)
  • UTAU only synthesizes singing.  You have to make the accompanying music in another program, and then put the music and the singing together after you export the singing from UTAU.

Learn More

To learn more, you can go to the UTAU wiki.  I learned a lot about UTAU from this wiki.

You can also watch the UTAU Super Tutorials by otakuJami on Youtube (the first is linked in this post, and the second and third are available in this post on this blog).  Sadly, she is no longer making these videos, but there are a lot of others out there, too.

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Entry filed under: Music, UTAU, Vocaloid. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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