Vocaloid Megurine Luka V4X by Crypton through Best Service
How real can fake be? Actually Vocaloids comes closer and closer. But the real point is that it is fun and easy to use. So, join the army of Vocaloid users and sing along with Megurine.
by A. Arsov, May 2015
We have all heard about Vocaloids, watched some video clips and found them funny. I received the newest, fourth generation of Vocaloid and immediately realized that things have changed over the years. For the price of an average VST instrument you get a creative tool that can be very handy for preparing demo material for your vocalist. You could also be making some special sounding background vocals. Or maybe you could use this artificial lady to record a short melodic phrase. Things become even more interesting when you add some effects to your Vocaloid phrase, putting it through a vocoder or heavily re-pitching it to get some unusual robotic phrases for your EDM track. Even a fake human voice sounds far more appealing than a million synthesizers. Just two words, and your instrumental will move up to the next level. Also we shouldn’t forget that there’s a whole Vocaloid culture in Japan. There are plenty of clips on YouTube where you can hear how those ladies sing various well-known songs.
So, what’s new in this fourth generation of Vocaloids? As someone mentioned on a forum: “You can almost understand her.” This is actually big progress. In a previous generation it was very hard to understand anything unless you already knew what she was singing, but for me, the biggest advantage in this latest addition is that you can import MIDI clips into the VST Vocaloid Piapro Studio v.2 editor and then further edit the melody and words. In the past it was a painful process to create anything longer than one sentence with Vocaloid. With such a primitive VST controller you had to manually input all the notes into the editor, outside your DAW, and then you could only control where and when the phrase started. Now you can simply play the whole line with your keyboard, recording it directly into your DAW, drag the MIDI clip inside Piapro Studio, select more notes, type your text and – “one click and five minutes later” – you have your whole vocal track. It’s far, far easier to get useful results than it was with the previous generations. Also, if you have an old Vocaloid library you can import it to and use all of the features of the new version of Piapro Studio.
Piapro Studio v.2
Piapro Studio v.2 is a piano-roll like editor for Vocaloid where you can insert notes with a pencil tool or, as we already explained, just by dragging in a MIDI track from your DAW. Lyrics can be added note by note or, even faster, by selecting a number of notes, inserting text, then simply correcting any phrase transitions.
On the top lefthand side of the Piapro Studio editor window is a place where you can add articulations – variously recorded versions of the Megurine Luka singer – like “hard”, “soft” or some others that are presented in this particular version of Vocaloid, all available in a drop-down menu. In one instance of Piapro Studio you can load up to fifteen different singers (theoretically – it depends on your CPU and RAM capacity). In the bottom lefthand corner we find a whole array of additional controllers for further fine tuning the selected articulation or singer: pan, velocity, breathiness, brightness, clarity, portamento time, pitch band and a few more. Some of these, like brightness and clarity can actually really improve the performance, but I presume your goal won’t be to compile a complete vocal line just with Vocaloid. No matter how hard you try all those controllers can’t do miracles – the whole thing will still sound somewhat robotic and unnatural. However, this can still be a very creative tool just as it is.
Double clicking in the empty space to the right of the selected singer will open a piano-roll editing window, just like one in all major DAWs. Above the piano-roll is a row of basic tools, like pencil, split, mute, rank and selection, along with a drop-down menu for setting snap value – actually everything you already know from your favourite DAW, so no big surprises here. The whole process of inserting notes is quite straightforward: first you should draw or drag notes and then insert lyrics. If you find that some words are phonetically unrecognizable you can try to fix them by dividing the word into vowels using two or more notes for a single word instead of one note. Actually every note could be further edited or fine-tuned with the aforementioned controllers on the lefthand side of Piapro Studio. Press on any controller button and a new lane will open under the piano-roll window where you can draw curves, setting the values for ever note. The whole performance can also be improved by adding vibrato on longer notes, making a vocal line less static and more vivid.
The truth …
I wrote about it in my first Vocaloid review a few years ago, but it won’t hurt if I repeat the story. Almost ten years ago we worked on a Dance project and I was playing around with the first versions of Vocaloid, making a vocal line to present to our vocalist. We all liked the strange voice so somehow this Vocaloid line ended up as an intro to the song. It should have been just another song for the Neurobic album, but obviously the combination of real vocals along with the Vocaloid ones sounded so catchy that our song charted at number two for two months on a big internet radio station from the UK. Not bad for something that just meant to be a joke. After all these years the song still sounds fresh.
What it’s all about
For €159 EUR you get a creative and easy to use tool. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s far from being useless. It adds some kind of spice, and you definitely won’t use it in every song you make, but it can do wonders if you use it creatively. To make the whole thing even better and more appealing, those Crypton fellows also added Studio One Artist Piapro Edition in a Vocaloid pack containing around 200 instruments, allowing you to make a whole song just with the included content.
If you don’t already have a DAW then this could be a good deal for you, as Studio One, even in this reduced version, is still a very good DAW that can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with some its more well-known brothers.
The only thing I would have liked to see is an option to allow installation of just the English database, as the whole database takes up around 20 GB of space. For that reason I wrote to technical support and got an answer in less than 12 hours (after all, they live in a totally different timezone) letting me know this can be done by selecting “Customize” during installation. ( reducing the content to reasonable 5 GB)If you’ve ever had problems getting technical support from certain companies, I’m glad to inform you that Crypton is not one of them.
To buy or not to buy? It is up to you, but I definitely know why I ordered this one. After all, there are some albums recorded just with Vocaloid software, and if you didn’t know even Mike Oldfield used it for some of his back lines. These half-sampled, half-synthesized beasts are used by both professionals and amateurs around the globe. So count me in, please.