Since you’re here, I assume you have heard of Hatsune Miku, and possibly Kasane Teto too. Now, both Miku and Teto are used by two different singing voice synthesizers, namely VOCALOID for Miku and UTAU for Teto. The results may sound similar but there are many factors that make these synthesizers different.
However before we head into that, let’s go through the background of each of these singing voice synthesizers.
VOCALOID is the more popular between UTAU and itself. The synthesizer was released by YAMAHA and currently has four different engines, Vocaloid 1, Vocaloid 2, Vocaloid 3 and Vocaloid 4. Vocaloid 4 being the latest release of course. Vocaloid 1 was released in January 15, 2004 but it got really popular after its second release due to Hatsune Miku’s voicebank which was released by Crypton Future Media on August 31, 2007.
Through the years it has greatly improved, being able to make a voicebank sound almost human if tuned correctly with its new growl feature. An example being VY1V4 which was released by YAMAHA earlier this year.
UTAU is not to be assumed as the ‘weaker’ synthesizer as it is free unlike VOCALOID. UTAU has an engine for both Windows and MAC but it’s been said that the MAC version, UTAU Synth, updates more frequently than the Windows version. The more well-known UTAU are Kasane Teto, Namine Ritsu and Yokune Ruko, which were initially meant to be ‘prank’ VOCALOIDS or ‘BOUCALOIDS’.
As UTAU progressed, better and better UTAUloids appeared and few of the many, popular and realistic UTAUloids are Gahata Meiji, Matsudappoiyo (Retired), Anna Nyui and Yamine Renri. Some UTAUloids have been said to have surpassed the quality of certain VOCALOIDS.
Other than VOCALOID being a paid voice synth engine and UTAU being a free one, another significant difference is that voicebanks can be made by anyone. Yes, anyone.
It’s a fairly simple process depending on what kind of voicebank you are planning to achieve. A simple one for beginners? A CV (consonant vowel) voicebank would be good. A smoother one with more realistic results? A VCV (vowel consonant vowel) would be what you’re looking for. VOCALOIDS have paid voicebanks as well but you might have to go through a more difficult process to make your own.
VOCALOIDS are made by studios that are licensed by YAMAHA to make their own. Voice providers are chosen by various means depending on the studio. Not to mention, you cannot run an UTAU voicebank on a VOCALOID engine and vice versa.
The said synthesizers have been said to be quite similar as the results have shown similarities. The engines serve the same purpose but they work differently. UTAU is self-developed whereas VOCALOID uses vocal phonetics for a wider range of possibilities. In my experience, UTAU is much easier to use than Vocaloid so not only is it easier on your head but on your wallet too! There are many free voicebanks you can download and use to an extent. I found it a little harder to use VOCALOID as it was hard for me to work my way around.
If you are looking for a good hobby to use your time on, UTAU is what you’re looking for. Some take it fairly lightly and others take it more seriously. You can make amazing works if you put enough effort into it and if you have trouble, the community is ready to help. There are various forums you can ask and answer.
VOCALOID is meant for a more professional approach but some also take it as a hobby. Most songs sung by VOCALOIDS and UTAUloids are usually initially released with a VOCALOID as its original vocal but there are songs originally sung by UTAU such as Fukkireta by Kasane Teto.
To conclude, yes. There is a difference. The results may not show much but the process of attaining the result is what shows how different these engines work and how unique they are in their own ways. To really experience the difference, you should try the synths out for yourself, you’d be surprised.