UTAU, or Vocal Synthesis Tool UTAU (歌声合成ツール UTAU), is a vocal synthesis software which has currently been distributed for usage on Windows Computers and Apple Computers (UTAU-Synth).
UTAU is a proprietary vocal synthesizer program unlike VOCALOID and VOCALOID2, which are commercially-sold programs with an accompanying voice bank. Distribution of UTAU began in March of 2008.
UTAU, meaning "to sing" in Japanese, has its origin in "Jinriki Vocaloid" (人力ボーカロイド, translated as "Manual Vocaloid"). It was created by re-editing an existing singing voice, extracting tones as WAV files and, reassembling them. For this purpose, a support program was created. In March 2008, Ameya/Ayame (飴屋／菖蒲) released a free, advanced support tool as UTAU. Now UTAU is a shareware, yet the developer distributes it free in effect and accepts donations.
The program has at least 50 different usable audio files, composed of Japanese syllables. It comes with the company's "AquesTalk" pre-loaded, which allows any user to load their own voice data to be programmed for usage within UTAU. However, without the explicit permission of the voice donor, it is a violation of copyright laws. Those laws protect the rights of any vocalist who may not wish for their voices to be used within the program, such as celebrities. Any music made through this program can be used in the commercial sector. The program can be downloaded here. However, it will not run properly on computers which do not support Japanese text or AppLocale.
Some UTAU are commonly put out as "real" vocaloids such as is the April Fool's joke origins of Teto Kasane. Songs using both UTAU and Vocaloid are also not unheard of. Some users have also began to enforce their copyright ruling over their voicebanks; UTAU or fanmade vocaloids who are guilty of plagiarizing an UTAU's name or using a voicebank without permission risk violating UTAU software agreements and voicebank copyright ownerships.
Usage in MusicEdit
UTAU is well supported as an alternative to Vocaloid and is favoured in both the Vocaloid and UTAU fandoms as an alternative to pirating the Vocaloid software itself. The prinicple of both software is the same as UTAU and Vocaloid both share a mulitude of common traits and abilities with each other. For those unsure of their handling of Vocaloid, UTAU can also act as an introduction to synthesized vocals and aid in making the decision to purchase a Vocaloid.
The reason for UTAU's popularity is owed to some considered major differences between it and the Vocaloid software, which are listed below in the "strengths" and "weaknesses" section. It's for these reasons, there is some debate as to if this software is overall better than the Vocaloid software or worstl. While it is able to compete with Vocaloid the reason being is because there is a sizable gap between what areas both software are covering. UTAU has also earnt a reputation as the closest rival software to Vocaloid for these reasons and in comparison to other rival software it has managed to stay competitive over the course of its existence, whereas other software such as Cantor failed to see continued developement.
✔ Strengths Edit
UTAU saves the data in .ust format, it is capable of converting .VSQ files into its software file format. Since few software packages can read .VSQ file formatting beside Vocaloid itself, UTAU has been an attractive alterative and partner software to Vocaloid.
UTAU also has the advantage of having its developement occur at a faster pace. It has a plug-in support and users have made a number of plug-ins that greatly improve the softwares handling and experience. This support was established fairly early in the softwares existence, whereas Vocaloid did not gain this ability until Vocaloid 3 in late 2011 and even now it only offers a limited access to source code and plug-in support. Therefore the plug-ins for UTAU can often prove invaluable to users as they can effect the softwares results and quality greatly.
Updates such as the addition of triphones occured prior to Vocaloid and were present by 2010, whereas Vocaloid did not gain this type of data until 2011 when Vocaloid 3 was released. Even in comparison to Vocaloid 3, the amount of langauges offered is much larger with some vocals abe to do more than 10 languages. For Vocaloid, there are very few Vocaloids with bilingual capablities, and the software only offers 5 languages at the most. Voicebanks practically work with any version of the software, thus issues seen between different versions of Vocaloid and Vocaloid 2 software (such as those displayed by Kaito and Prima) are usually absent.
The UTAU software is open license, which means that vocals from other software can be used in conjuction with the software, so long as it complies with the other softwares agreement (Vocaloid cannot be used in UTAU legally for this reason as its licensing is restricted). There are hundreds of vocals for the software and the type of vocals are much broader and cover a variety of different genres and vocal types. Most of these vocals are given out free. In Vocaloid, you are restricted to just the vocals offered with no chance of producing your own vocals for the software should none of the current releases spark your interests.
✘ Weaknesses Edit
The UTAU engine is one of the few engines able to convert the Vocaloid data files for its own use. However, .UST files itself do not hold as much data as the vocaloid engines VSQ or VSQX file extensions. The result may led to loss of data and with it, quality in the vocal results. The converter also relies on the UTAU user-base to keep up with Vocaloids version updates, thus it is may not always be a reliable method of working.
As for the engine itself, there is a level of uncertainty in how to grade the results of the software. The advantage of UTAU being open license has resulted in a large range in quality of UTAU's results, with the engine plug-ins leading many producers to adapted to suit users needs.
UTAU is not a professional software while Vocaloid is produced as a professional software package. For this reason it overall doesn't produce the same quality results as Vocaloid. This also gives an additional drawback to the software; whereas Vocaloid gives a means for professional singers to release their vocals much safer, with the singers not only getting something out of each sale, but also there is a definite structure to using the vocals with and without the singers consent. In contrast, UTAU vocals may not offer any form of commercial-based distribution security; there is less chance of a professional singer considering to offer their vocals to the engine. As a result of this, it can be at times difficult to find a standard level of quality within the vocals offered.
The vast majority of the vocals offered for the engine are of poor quality in comparison to the standard of vocals offered by Vocaloid. Users creating vocals for the engine may not take full advantage of the tools UTAU offers and differences between voicebanks is often not well documented. Although the software supports multiple languages, finding quality non-Japanese vocals is often harder with more complex languages such as English.
The standard of practice within the UTAU community is also vast. Technical support may or may not be offered and most common support is found within the UTAU community. Not all vocals are offered freely and some have to be paid for for use. Unfinished vocals may be never completed, or abandoned altogether, may even crash the UTAU engine itself. This is also one of the reasons why users will fall back onto the few reliable vocals at times, as these vocals are considered the "safest" to work with.
- UTAU offered the ability to create a voice, with the advantage of legally owning the voicebank and controlling how it was passed around. UTAU led to a decrease in fanmade Vocaloids in Japan because their creators did not have this advantage.
- The best-known voice bank for UTAU is Kasane Teto. She is recognized as the first UTAUloid, if not Utane Uta (Defoko), the default voicebank in UTAU.