So you’re interested in writing your own original Engloid song (or maybe even just a cover), but you don’t know where to start. No problem. Provided you already know a little about music, then the next step is to buy one of the great and powerful English-language VOCALOID voicebanks.
The two main providers of Engloid voices to date are Zero-G Ltd., operating from England, and PowerFX Systems AB, from Sweden. Aside from those two major players, Crypton’s CV03 Megurine Luka software includes an English voicebank (albeit with a Japanese accent).
What this all boils down to is that, provided you are not interested in using Luka’s English voice, you will have to decide between Zero-G and PowerFX sooner or later. Before you go deciding, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Do you want a VOCALOID1 or VOCALOID2?
Now this question is not as simple as if you were asked, “Do you want Windows Vista, or Windows 7?”. VOCALOID1, though a more primitive software, has proven itself more than once to be able to hold its own against its predecessor. Take for example KAITO’s popularity over the male VOCALOID2’s Gakupo and Kiyoteru. Sometimes companies do a really good job with VOCALOID1, but fail to keep that same quality in some of their VOCALOID2’s.
If you have no problem using VOCALOID1, or the character you already had in mind is a VOCALOID1, then your decision is already made for you: Zero-G was the only company to produce VOCALOID1 voices in English (LOLA, LEON, and MIRIAM). If you think VOCALOID2 is more your style, then you’ll have to read on.
- Which kind of voice do you want?
There is just as much variety in Engloids as in their Japanese counterparts. Zero-G’s Prima and Tonio voices have an operatic quality to them, while Sonika is more of a pop singer. PowerFX’s Sweet Ann has a heavier British accent on her vowels than many Engloids, whereas Big Al goes for a recognizable American accent (refer to his demo song, “Saints go Marching”).
Each voice has their upsides and downsides.
Prima and Tonio have a tone to their voice that is beautiful when used in the right setting, but some people find their voices to be too limited in versatility. Sonika’s voice is brighter and more versatile than the other Zero-G VOCALOID2’s, but her voice has a tinny quality to it that can make it sound less realistic at many ranges, and some of her syllables sound muffled.
The PowerFX VOCALOID2’s, on the whole, have a clearer sound to them that is often easier to understand, but on the downside, both characters’ are heavily accented to one particular breed of English. In addition, both Sweet Ann and Big Al have occasional issues with certain phonemes falling into the wrong accent.
- How much are you willing to pay?
VOCALOID is a rather pricey program if you’re just looking to fiddle around with it here and there, but it can be a valuable investment for a serious musician.
Currently, Zero-G charges $79.99 for a downloadable version of all of their VOCALOID1 voices (LOLA, LEON, and MIRIAM), with a DVD version available for $129.99. Their VOCALOID2’s (Prima, Sonika, and Tonio) are priced at $179.99, with the DVD versions for those costing $199.95. PowerFX’s VOCALOID2’s are available at $129.99, the same price as Zero-G’s VOCALOID1 DVD versions.
Both companies have been known to change their pricing at certain times, so keep on the lookout for sales, especially as VOCALOID3 is right around the corner.
After all is said and done, both companies are good choices. They both offer great quality Engloid software with great customer service to back their sales. If you can’t make a choice, then why not save up some more and buy one from each? Your investment helps ensure the continued production of Engloids, which is what we’re all about!