Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Synthesizer V Studio Pro: Time To Ditch Vocaloid 5?


Ever since Synthesizer V came out, I've been keeping an eye on it. The Basic version of the Synthesizer V Studio software is free as are all the lite versions of the voicebanks. There's no reason not to try it out, right? Because they are not trial versions, they are free versions to use forever!

I was impressed by the ease of use. I think the interface is easier to use than the Vocaloid 5 editor or the Piapro Studio VST. The only thing that made me hesitate to buy Synthesizer V Studio Pro was the lack of English voicebanks. They have Eleanor Forte lite, and initially, I thought it wasn't really suitable for most genres, and I have since come around--I think she does very well in specific situations. You just have to pick the right song for her.

So for the longest time, I was sitting on the fence. Then AH-Soft announced the Tsurumaki Maki voicebank--in both Japanese and English! That was the game-changer for me. I went ahead and purchased Synthesizer V Studio Pro and then bought Tsurumaki Maki AI English and also the Koharu Rikka AI voicebank. It was a tough choice for me between Rikka and Saki because both sound really good. I felt I should have one full version Japanese voicebank. And you know what? That not only gives me the option of creating songs in Japanese but also in English because the Japanese voicebanks can sing in English pretty decently!

What I like about Synthesizer V is the ability to draw parameter curves with much more control. Vocaloid 5 has the Attack/Release effects--which are great, but sometimes you want to manually draw in a parameter curve, and although Vocaloid 5 kept the parameters feature, drawing in the curves is really clunky.

Synthesizer V, however, does it very smoothly, and in the case of Pitch, you can draw the curve right on the piano scroll over the notes. That is a huge advantage.

Synthesizer V does not have a note preview though. I hope they can add that in in the future. Because what that means is that I constantly have to click on the keyboard to check the note rather than just hearing the note as I draw it in.

Most of the voicebanks have two options--Standard and AI. I prefer the AI version. The Standard version sounds more like the traditional Vocaloid voicebank. The AI version is inching ever more closely to a real human voice. The AutoPitch feature available in the AI version is KILLER. Let me say that again. The AutoPitch feature available in the AI version is KILLER

So should you buy Studio Pro and the full voicebanks? The free versions are all very usable. If you are a hobbyist, it's fine to use the free versions. In the context of a mix, you probably won't really notice it. Well, unless you make a direct comparison to the full, paid version. There is a difference. I can hear it easily. The full voicebanks are sampled at multiple pitches whereas the lite version is sampled at only one. This means the voices can get pretty thin and raspy when you go outside the range.

Listening to Tsurumaki Maki, she sounds a lot warmer than her lite version. There is a richness in the tone of her voice that is lacking in the lite version. Again, this is not to say that the lite version is bad--on the contrary, it's very, very good. But if you want your song to sound its best (and also do commercial stuff with it), you should buy the full versions of the voicebanks.

I still have all these Vocaloid voicebanks, so I'm still going to be using them, but...it doesn't make sense to me to invest in any more Vocaloid voicebanks. Unless Yamaha wakes up and makes Vocaloid 6 AI, that is. We'll see if that happens.

For now, the future is extremely bright for Synthesizer V.

Here is a cover of We Are the People (Martin Garrix) sung by Tsurumaki Maki AI English!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Adjusting Pitch in Piapro Studio vs Vocaloid 5 Editor


Hey, Everyone!

You know, adjusting and manipulating pitch is probably the single most important thing you can do when tuning Vocaloids in order to make them sound realistic.

The problem, though, is that doing it by hand (drawing pitch curves) is extremely tedious, not to mention, very inaccurate. It involves a lot of trial and error until you get it to sound the way you want it to.

This is why I love the Vocaloid 5 Editor. With Attack and Release effects, you can save a lot of time and cut out a lot of that trial and error. And, if you don't find an attack or release effect that is quite what you're looking for, you still have to old tools available to you to manually draw the pitch curve.

Unfortunately, Yamaha does not sell the Vocaloid 5 Editor by itself. You have to buy a package, either Standard or Premium. Buying a package saves you a whole lot of money in the long run because--in the case of the Standard package, you get four Vocaloids with it. But it's a pretty steep initial investment.

Whereas, if you buy a Crypton Future Vocaloid (like Miku V4 or Rin), they give you the Piapro Studio VST plugin. It's not as full-featured as Vocaloid 5, but you can still pretty much do everything you need to do with it.

Let's take a look at the Enka attack in Vocaloid 5. It's one of my favorites! Here is what the pitch curve looks like.

Enka attack in Vocaloid 5

Let's see if we can replicate it by drawing the pitch in Piapro Studio!

Replicated Enka attack in Piapro

Not quite the same, but kind of similar! That's what you get when you're trying to draw a curve with a computer mouse!

Now, let's hear what they sound like! (Vocaloid 5 is first, the Piapro comes second)

Vocaloid 5 vs Piapro Studio

Okay, so it's not perfect, but I think it's in the general ballpark. It just means you have to tweak it some more. In other words, how much time are you willing to put into tuning before you are satisfied with the outcome? And, also, let's not forget--the more you do something, the better and faster you will get at doing it, and I have to admit--I don't do a lot of manual pitch drawing.

I guess the point is--don't sweat it if you can't afford Vocaloid 5. Use the tools available to you and work to be the best at them. This advice applies to a lot of things. Like, say, guitar.

Oh, incidentally, Synthesizer V manual pitch drawing is superior to everybody, I think. It's a lot smoother to draw so you have more control, and, you see the pitch line being drawn right on the lyrics.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Megumi Introduced Us to a New Friend of Hers--Some 16 Year Old Girl With Blue Hair Named Miku


Megumi met this girl--a kid, really--I mean, she's only 16 years old. Her name is Hatsune Miku. She loves to sing, so Megumi invited her over to one of our band practices. She's a nice kid, has kind of a quirky voice, and she has very long blue hair tied up in pigtails. My first thought was, "What the...??"

Well, long story short, we wrote a song and Miku is singing it. What a crazy world, eh?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

I'm the Girl Who Crapped in Your Car (old song revisited)


Hi, All!

Hope everyone is doing well. Hang in there! Who knows how long this will last. Keep wearing your masks, keep your distance from people, and wash your hands! Just make it a habit, you know? Here in Asia, wearing masks is quite normal. Why do some countries freak out about it so much?

Anyway, Gumi wanted to sing an old Anomie Train song, but she had to re-write it to sing it. And no, Gumi never crapped in anybody's car! Gumi also added a bridge section to the song and worked in a diminished chord in there. We also did a fade-out, which is something we normally don't do. Remember when most songs faded out?

Monday, May 4, 2020

New Song - I've Seen the Worst in You (Gumi)

Hey, everybody! I hope you all are hanging in there. It's a strange time, for sure. You know, in school, you learn about wars, The Great Depression, and going way, way back, The Black Death--but you never think about living through a period where people will learn about the things you lived through in a future history class. You just live through it, just like all those people lived through World War II.

Anyway, me and Yasuko are hunkered down while Megumi is busy writing in her home. I mean, she's been really busy. We've been passing files back and forth over the Internet since we can't be together in one space.

We've just wrapped up Megumi's latest song, I've Seen the Worst in You. She wanted kind of a shoegazy sound to it, so we added a bunch of reverb and delays, and Megumi added a really heavy guitar on the track. Megumi also had her friends Ken and Kaori sing a bit of background vocals on it along with Yasuko.

I've Seen the Worst in You

I've been rejected for a long time
social distance is a daily practice of mine
If you want, I can drive your guests away
I do it every day

All I have to do is show up
then watch the roaches leave everything in the dust

Over there is a fat kid getting bullied
I don't care 'cause that fat boy stole my lunch money
It never pays to try and do a good deed
This is advice you should heed

I stop caring so long ago
I just do my best and try to keep the status quo

I've seen the worst in you
You can't hide what will always come through
You like to claim it will be great again
Fat chance! We've reached the end

Who the hell is hoarding all the toilet paper?
Pretty sad that it's coming down to neighbor vs. neighbor
I'm not surprised--but know this
I won't lose to a piece of shit

I stop caring so long ago
I just do my best and try to keep the status quo

I've seen the worst in you
You can't hide what will always come through
You like to claim it will be great again
Fat chance! We've reached the end  (x3)

I've seen the worst
It's not getting any better
I've seen the worst
It's not-
It's not-
It's not getting better

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Vincent Chin

Megumi wanted to cover our elders' song, "Vincent Chin" by Anomie Train.

Vincent Chin was beaten with a baseball bat on June 19, 1982, by two unemployed autoworkers in Detroit, resentful of Japan's inroads into the American automobile industry, who apparently mistook him for being Japanese. He died four days later.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

New Demo - My Cat Hates My Guts

What's up, folks? Megumi has written a new tune, My Cat Hates My Guts, and we did a demo of it. It's her homage to Shonen Knife.

We're using a PRS Santana SE and a Squier Affinity Telecaster on it going into a Caline Pure Sky pedal and then into the computer (Presonus Studio One).

The amp sim VST we are using is bx_bassdude.

For drums, we are migrating from audio drum loops to using Session Drummer (which we have from the days I used to run Cakewalk Sonar). Session Drummer is a VST so we can use it in any program that uses VSTs. The loaded kit a the Led Zep kit, and the drum patterns are from Groove Monkey (Rock Essentials). It's a lot more flexible this way since we can adjust the individual hits, and we think the Led Zep kit sounds pretty good!

My Cat Hates My Guts
The 3Represents


D                            A
My cat, she hates my guts
When I sleep she bites my butt
She pissed my clothes and made them stink
Then took a dump in the kitchen sink


G                    A           D
But I'll always love my cat
She's really good at killing rats
The rules of home are understood
I give her food and it's all good

Em       G          A    D     A   D

People always tell me to get a dog
and I always tell them to get a cat

F#      Em      B#m        GM7
I'm sorry, I don't trust animals who eat their own poop


D                A
D                A
D                A
D                A
G                A       D
G                A       D
G                A       D
G                A       D

Verse 2

My cat, she hates my guts
When she found me, I was down on my luck
I know she always has my back
I can show you where her claws left tracks


G                    A           D
But I'll always love my cat
She's really good at killing rats
The rules of home are understood
I give her food and it's all good