|Initial release||March 2008|
|Stable release||0.4.18e / September 5, 2013|
|Operating system||Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / 7
Mac OS X
|Available in||Japanese and English (and other languages via patch files)|
|Type||Musical Synthesizer Application
|License||Shareware (by donations)|
Utau (stylized and most often referred to as UTAU) is a Japanese singing synthesizer application created by Ameya/Ayame. This program is similar to the Vocaloid software, with the difference that it is shareware instead of being released under third party licensing.
In March 2008, Ameya/Ayame released UTAU, a free, advanced support tool shareware software that was made free to download from its main website. UTAU, meaning "to sing" in Japanese, has its origin in the activity of "Jinriki Vocaloid" (人力ボーカロイド?, Manual Vocaloid), where people edit an existing vocal track, extracting phonemes, adjusting pitch, and reassembling them to create a Vocaloid-esque singing voice. UTAU was originally created to assist this process. UTAU has the ability to use wave files provided by the user, so that a singing voice can be synthesized by introducing song lyrics and melody. It comes with AQUEST's voice synthesizer "AquesTalk" for synthesizing of the voice samples of the default voicebank, Utane Uta (also nicknamed Defoko) on UTAU's initial launch (after which the generator deletes itself). Voices made for the UTAU program are officially called "UTAU" as well but often colloquially known as "UTAUloids", a reference to "Vocaloids". They are also called "voicebanks" (more common in English-speaking areas) and "(voice) libraries" in Japan. A myriad number of voicebanks have been developed by independent users. These voicebanks are normally distributed directly from their creators via internet download.
UTAU is mostly a Japanese program and thus many voices are created specifically for the Japanese language. However, the languages have been expanded and there are many bilingual UTAUloids, mostly singing in Japanese and English. While there are a high number of bilingual UTAU, multilingual UTAU have also been made that can sing in three or more languages. A few notable creators have also developed some that are capable of singing in as many as 15 languages. Regardless of the language, the software menus remain in Japanese and a user's computer must be in the Japanese locale or use AppLocale in order to run the software. Most of its documentation is in Japanese, but its User Manual has been translated into English. Recently, the program has been user translated to English, and other translations are still pending. However, even with the translations, the program still requires support for Japanese text.
UTAU's project files are saved under the ".ust" (Utau Sequence Text) extension. These files can be freely distributed, allowing different UTAU to sing the same piece. It is important to make note of the guidelines the UST creator has provided in terms of the .usts distribution and use. Producers have developed several methods of producing their sound banks and results for the voicebanks vary because of this.
Notable UTAU voicebanks
There are hundreds of UTAUs within the fandom that can speak up to almost ten languages many of them are extremely popular and surpass the popularity of many VOCALOIDs. Kasane Teto, Utane Uta (Defoko) and Momone Momo are amongst the more popular UTAUs (or UTAUloids) within the fandom. They are recognized as the "three UTAU girls" and are the first three UTAUs ever released.
Many other notable UTAUs are Namine Ritsu, Yokune Ruko and Sukone Tei. Despite being less popular than Teto, Uta and Momo, Ritsu, Ruko and Tei are recognized as higher quality vocalists and provide much more realistic vocals.
Though the software is very popular in Japan, its origins and cultural impact are owed to the already established popularity of the Vocaloid software. UTAU itself was first made famous when the creator of Kasane Teto released the character posing as a Vocaloid character as part of an April Fool's joke in 2008. The influence of the Vocaloid software also led to both programs commonly being used side by side. Often popular UTAU mascots like Kasane Teto appear in VOCALOID-based media such as Maker Hikōshiki Hatsune Mix.
Its main attraction is not only based on it being freely distributed on the internet, but because it allowed a user to insert their own voice into the database for use for music, opening the doors for users to further develop their own music. UTAU owes its growing popularity to its ability to provide a free method of creating voices for music use and has established numerous music producers working with the software on sites such as Nico Nico Douga and YouTube. Users also see it as an alternative to the Vocaloid software, which only offers a more limited supply of voices at a costly price and may not offer the voice types they are seeking for music, as the large database of voices often has a much greater chance of offering the voice they seek. However, despite the number of voicebanks offered, the software has overall far fewer producers working with it than Vocaloid.
A radio station set up a 1 hour program containing nothing but Vocaloid and UTAU-based music.
Unlike Vocaloid, UTAU files are not restrictive as it is not a proprietary based license. Therefore, it is possible to use Open-source license products with the UTAU software, such as those produced for the Macne series (Mac音シリーズ?), released for the programs Reason 4 and GarageBand. These products were sold by Act2 and by converting their file format, were able to also work with the UTAU program.
The default voicebank "Defoko" (Uta Utane) borrows her voice from the software AquesTalk, specifically the voice "AquesTalk Female-1" produced by A-quest. Permission had been granted for her distribution free with the software. Koe Utane, Uta's "sister", also borrows her voice from the AquesTalk software. Namine Ritsu (波音リツ), a vocal originally built for UTAU, also was later added to another software called "Sinsy" as "Namine Ritsu S".
Due to the software's own copyright agreement, non-open license software such as VOCALOID is not permitted to be imported into the UTAU software.
A number of plug-ins for the software have also been developed by users of the software which add and enhance the vocals of the software.
The software "Sugarcape", based on the same freeware intention as UTAU, has already entered beta stage. There is now an official Mac version of UTAU, named UTAU-Synth. It has approximately the same features as the Windows version. UTAU-Synth version can import both voices and songs made with the Windows version, but its project files and voicebank configurations are not fully compatible with the Windows version.
Usage in music
The licensed songs from the album Graduation from Lie featuring Teto Kasane were released for music downloads from Karen-T, under Crypton Future Media, as a special release. This is the first licensed release of any UTAU. Momo Momone is also famous for singing "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!", a song originally composed by daniwellP and sung by the VOCALOID Hatsune Miku. This song was made popular with the YouTube video of "Nyan Cat".
- "歌声合成ツールUTAU" [Vocal Synthesis Tool UTAU] (in Japanese). Utau. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- "NHK の本気!ボカロラジオ「エレうた」の高き志" [NHK's Determination! High Aspirations with Vocaloid Radio "Ere Uta"] (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works. February 5, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- "Mac音ナナ シリーズ" [Macne Nana Series] (in Japanese). Act2. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- "Kasane Teto "Graduation from Lie"" (in Japanese). Crypton Future Media. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Official website (Japanese)