Kodakami Vocaloid

Vocaloid Music by Eric Freischlad

Don’t fear the VOCALOID3 Editor!

February 9th, 2013

Don't Fear VOCALOID3

Recently, I’ve noticed more than a few people mentioning the VOCALOID3 Editor, or more specifically, people who are against using it in favor of V2. I hope I can assuage any of those fears here by discussing the changes to the user interface, the improvements in clarity, and the reasonable price.

The first reasons people will say they prefer the VOCALOID2 Editor to its successor, are almost always the changes to the user interface. Common topics include the addition of a Track Editor and Mixer. Some feel that the inclusion of these distinct features complicates the streamlined process of Vocaloid Music creation.  It may be true that the two windows effectively triple the number of factors you must figure out, but I’m here to help.

Starting with the Track Editor, I feel the added feature is not pointlessly complex, but simply not necessary for regular or power-users of the software. The point of the Track Editor is to organize different Vocaloid sequences you have written for one song (such as different harmony lines, vocal effects like screams, and repeated sections), and to let you place them in the correct order with proper timing. Another feature of the Track Editor is to finally let you import a background track (a highly-requested feature), which gives people the option of making Vocaloid covers all without a separate program. In theory, you could even take individually recorded music tracks and mix them together for a final piece all within the V3 Editor. Here’s the problem: Most Digital Audio Workstation programs (like Logic, Cubase, or FL Studio) already feature a more functional version of this Track Editor (sometimes called a Playlist). This means that if you’re planning to use virtual vocalists for more than just peanuts and popcorn, you’re invariably going to be using the more powerful creation software for that purpose. My solution? I use the Track Editor for two things: setting the length of my current sequence in measures, and selecting my vocalist. If the Track Editor is complicating things, you could even complete 99% of your work with it minimized in the bottom corner.

Second of the two windows often disliked or misunderstood by new V3 users is the Mixer. Like the Track Editor, this is a highly-requested feature for VOCALOID. The purpose of the mixer is to give you, the Producer, two main things; control over effect plug-ins, and control over track volume. The unfortunate case for the Mixer, however, is the same as the Track Editor. Regular and power-users of VOCALOID will find that the functionality is almost entirely covered by your DAW of choice. Need to compress the vocals on your track? Well, you’re probably more used to your own favorite compressor and have presets. Want some nice Reverb on that verse? Ah, it’s probably better to apply that after all your other effects, so best use your own favorite reverb plug-in after you import the vocal lines into something else. In the end, what we have left with the mixer is a list of fun effects downloadable from the Internet, and while that’s still a good thing in my opinion, there really isn’t much need to have it open in your V3 Editor window. When I first booted the Editor, I located the source of the reverb effect and turned it off, and I’ve never used the Mixer again (not that you shouldn’t, just I like my own effect plug-ins in FL Studio). If the Mixer is cluttering your window or your confidence, just set all your settings to normal, and close it.

The second concept to recognize about the VOCALOID3 Editor is its giant leaps forward in vocal quality. I have heard more than one person mention that there is “no difference in quality” between Vocaloid voices exported from the V2 and V3 Editors. While I can’t speak for everyone’s tastes and opinions regarding what sounds “right” or “good”, I think that these claims come mostly from misunderstandings or here-say. As with any product worth its money, the V3 Editor boasts significant quality improvements over it’s predecessor. Virtually all voicebanks designed for VOCALOID3 sound clearer and more lifelike than VOCALOID2 voices, and not only that; V2 voicebanks imported into the V3 Editor have the same noticeable improvements. I’m very serious when I say that using a V2 voicebank in the V3 Editor is like buying an updated (some say “Append” or “Extend”) version of the voice. Don’t take my word for it, have a listen to this: Big Al V2 V3 comparison. The two lines are the same exact sequence file exported from the VOCALOID2 and VOCALOID3 Editors respectively, with the same effects plug-ins applied to each. You can easily hear the difference in vocal clarity and fluidity in the second line.

The final thing that seems to scare away possible users of VOCALOID3 is the price. This is a major issue for some VOCALOID enthusiasts. A price-tag of $137 (once $200) is nothing to laugh at if you’re not sure you’ll even need the product. I understand the concern, but let me see if I can help make the decision any easier.

VOCALOID3 is a definite, real improvement in quality over VOCALOID2. That being said, if your only interest is a V3 vocalist, then you might not actually need the full version of the Editor. All V3 voicebanks come with the “Tiny VOCALOID3 Editor”, which mainly lacks only three features of the full version; importing of V2 voicebanks, use of Vocaloid-only effects plug-ins (via the Mixer), and a limited sequence length of 17 measures. If any of these options are worth the price to you, then I recommend buying the full editor.

In addition to that, the cost of the full VOCALOID3 Editor is actually less than that of most V3 voicebanks. This means that if you own any V2 vocalists, you can import all of them into the full V3 Editor for free, essentially paying one price for updated (“Append”) versions of all the voices you’ve already bought. Something to think about if you already own at least one VOCALOID2 voicebank.

When all is said and done, there seems to be a sizable amount of people who are either afraid to jump into VOCALOID3, or refuse to for their own reasons. I hope I have helped you solve any problems you might have had with the software. I believe the changes to the user interface are nothing to be concerned about, the improvements in vocal quality and realism are noticeable and wonderful, and the price of the full Editor is well worth the benefits. I encourage you to give the product another look if you have been turned away from it by any misinformation. Thanks for stopping by!

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Kodakami Vocaloid