VOCALOID3 (mostly commonly shortened to just "V3" in reference) is the current successor to the VOCALOID2 engine. The new VOCALOID engine was revealed on June 8, 2011 by YAMAHA via NicoNico Douga live stream. It can be purchased at the official VOCALOID site.
VOCALOID3 was first announced mid-2011 at a special invitation only event. The release date was set for September 2011, however it was held back on several occasions until it was eventually released on October 21, 2011. This particular version had much early promotion and there was almost as many new voicebanks for it as there were in the entire VOCALOID2 range. YAMAHA also showed great interest in promoting its well established Japanese Vocaloid producer fanbase while expanding the usage of Vocaloid itself.
New languages were prepared in Spanish, Korean, and Chinese along with the Japanese and English VOCALOID line up.
Yamaha's first attempt to revive the voice of a dead singer also has been made with Ueki-loid. However, due to the complexity it is confirmed it will be a while before the same can be attempted for an English speaking vocal..
Additional versions of the software were also released, including VOCALOID Editor for Cubase (including a "NEO" version), an updated "SE" (second edition) version and VOCALOID NEO. The SE version includes a larger number of Job Plug-ins than the original, all of which were previously downloadable from the Yamaha website for free. Users who owned the original editor did not have to buy the SE edition as all new content was supplied free of charge from Yamaha in the Vocaloid shop. Likewise, users who owned the Cubase version of the software did not need to buy the regular version of VOCALOID3 or the SE version.
The Cubase version used any available vocal for the current VOCALOID2 and VOCALOID3 compatible versions. In the case of "NEO" and "SE", some of the previously released VOCALOID3 vocals were re-released with new versions of the 'VOCALOID3 Lite version to match these engine updates.
Impact on Voicebank Development
Some studios had expansion packs and updates intended for VOCALOID2 in development. The Vocaloid voicebanks known to have been affected by the release were GUMI Megpoid's Extend, English Hatsune Miku, Megurine Luka's Append, Kaito Append and Meiko Append. However, after the announcement of VOCALOID3 these were delayed and released for VOCALOID3.
SeeU was also intended to have an English voicebank, but was released early so it could meet the VOCALOID3 initial release date without it; some phonetics for English were included in her Korean voicebank as a consequence, but not enough for full English capabilities. A full version of a SeeU English voicebank began production in 2012, but has since been confirmed on hiatus.
Also, as of the start of VOCALOID3 more private vocals have been released, as well as new "exclusive" vocals given out. Although private licensing at this level is new, several private unreleased vocals were made in the VOCALOID2 era, further more, VOCALOID was not originally considered for commercial release at all, making the concept older than the engine. 
In the past, since the editor and voicebank were sold together to get the latest version of the software, it involved purchase of a newer Vocaloid. As of VOCALOID3, updates now come directly from Yamaha themselves because the editor and voicebank are sold separately.
- Ver.22.214.171.124: was released 2 November 2011 and was a general glitch fix update that repaired things that were making the editor crash.
- Ver.126.96.36.199: was released on 21 December 2011 the fix reorganized the libraries of Vocaloids into languages and a few glitches.
- Ver.188.8.131.52; was released 26/01/2012 as an automatic update, simply running the VOCALOID3 software on a system with an internet connection will allow the software to update itself. A few new features were added such as CTL+R; this will change the order of note from lyric to phoneme, for a more complex phoneme edition directly.
- Ver.184.108.40.206: was released 21/2/2012 to improve various things notably, keyboard shortcuts have been added for note placement and selection, and the ability to export tracks to their own separate sound files has also been added. The Alt key can now be used to bypass quantization settings, and various other improvements have been added as well. For more information check here.
- Ver.220.127.116.11: Was released on 23 March 2012
- Ver.18.104.22.168: was released on 10 July 2012.
- OS: Windows 7/Windows 8/Vista/XP
- CPU: Celeron Dual Core 2.1 GHz or more
- RAM: 1GB or more
- HDD: 200MB free space or more
Note these requirements only apply to the VOCALOID3 engine itself. Users need to check each Vocaloid package and its requirements before installation as some variation may occur between releases.
Also note that if you own VOCALOID Editor for Cubase, you do not also have to purchase the full Vocaloid3 software.
Starter packs are VOCALOID2 or, more commonly, VOCALOID3 releases that are sold with the VOCALOID3 engine included. The idea is this cheapens the first vocal a producer buys for the engine. Not all normal releases for VOCALOID3 have been given starter packs. Below is a list of vocals that have been sold as "starter" vocals. A number of the starter packages can no longer be purchased and have since been retired.
In December 2013, a starter kit was introduced for both Windows and Mac users. This contained all the essentials to begin Vocaloid production. Included inside the box is VOCALOID Editor for Cubase and Cubase7.
Note: Vocaloid vocals are sold separately and do not come with this version.
VOCALOID-P data packs
As well as the engine, it is also possible to buy the .VSQX files used for songs made by famous producers. The first of the VOCALOID-P data series packs was released with the VOCALOID3 engine and can be purchased separately. Previously, the majority of .VSQ files had been recreated by fans and not the producers themselves.
Vol.2 of the series was released on the December 16, 2011, a 3rd installment with just GUMI songs was released on March 16, 2012 in conjunction with her update V3 Megpoid - Native.
A new feature in VOCALOID3 is Triphones, these will instantiate a different sound if a particular set of three phonemes are pieced together, for example, allowing “ka” to sound different in “aka” compared to “ika” improving language quality. VOCALOID2 voicebanks, even imported into the VOCALOID3 engine, will not process these sounds. Vocaloids of all languages can use triphones, it is not restricted to one language in particular, these sounds can also be cancelled out using the hidden phonetics if users do not wish them to sound out.
The software will also update itself automatically or manually and takes updates directly from Yamaha itself, updates are free and much easier to gain access to.
There are now some updates to the list of hidden phonetics. VOCALOID3 introduces the Glottal Stop (written as [?]) and improvements to the vowel-to-vowel connector (written as [-]) increase the smoothness of the actions between vowel carrying. One of the improvements to the VOCALOID3 engine database was the inclusion of new voiceless sounds for Vocaloids (written as [*_0]), something they did not possess in VOCALOID2. When VOCALOID2 voicebanks are imported into VOCALOID3, the engine has the capabilities to add these additional sounds to their voicebank libraries, making them from existing samples the Vocaloid had. Some voicebanks in VOCALOID3 do not assign codes for breaths ([br1] to [br5]) and you can instead import various noises directly into Vocaloid.
The engine itself is now localized so issues from VOCALOID2 over language problems are absent, such as that seen of Megurine Luka, who although she had an English voicebank did not have the English interface because she was sold to the Japanese market. Users can select the language upon installation.
VOCALOID3 saves in the new standard format of ".VSQX" and can save .VSQ files as .VSQX files. .VSQX alVocaloid allows more data to be saved than .VSQ, and allows the newer details of the VOCALOID3 engine to be more easily saved. UTAU did not support this new file type when VOCALOID3 was released, though conversation into .VSQ is possible at the cost of some minor data loss, thus it is still possible to transfer Vocaloid songs onto UTAU.
The engine itself is sold standalone or with additional voicebanks which in turn can also be bought as stand alone software. This is a departure from VOCALOID and VOCALOID2 who had the engine sold with the voicebank. This also means updates come directly from Yamaha themselves, whereas with VOCALOID2 the only way to update the engine to a newer version in some cases was to buy a later VOCALOID2 voicebank than the one the consumer already owned previously, installing them over their current Vocaloids.
Voicebanks come with a Lite version of the software that has one track and only 17 bars of music. This version's most common usage is as a "demo" version, or for those wishing only to use VOCALOID for samples and not as a full fledged singer. It has no additional features such as VOCALOID2 voicebank library importation, nor does it allow plug-ins. This also cheapens the price of each voicebank greatly as the consumer is not paying for the engine with every purchase. The addition of a Lite edition with every new vocal, as opposed to forcing the consumer to buy both the vocal and engine, also removes some issues such as those displayed by older VOCALOID2 versions such as Prima. There is less chance of coming across conflicts between versions as only the bare basics of the software is included.
The full engine can be bought with additional voices or on its own, unlike the Lite edition which is only released with each Vocaloid vocal. The advantage of releasing it on its own without vocals is that the full version allows the importation of VOCALOID2 voices, and for those who do not wish to purchase any of the new VOCALOID3 vocals they can buy the engine for this reason alone.
There is a ReWire function in VOCALOID3, the feature is not supported, however, you can import files into VOCALOID3 removing the need for the function or alternatively save the vocal file as a .wav and export to a DAW. Also, unlike previous versions of Vocaloid, VOCALOID3 supports plug-in, although it is a limited. While the VOCALOID3 software comes with several plug-ins, additional plug-ins can be bought directly from Yamaha's Vocaloid shop.
The software comes with the following plug-ins, note they can still be purchased from the Yamaha shop despite this at no extra cost;
- AdjustGain: If there is any gap between notes in a whole part, this cuts it off by extending the forward note to the head of the next note.
- InsertRest: This inputs a directed length rest(space) in the position you instructed.
- Staccato: This changes a note which is longer than sixteenth note (120Tick) to sixteenth note and make it staccato by setting the verovity value to its maximum.
- TimingRandomize: This makes a subtle movement to and fro of a note's starting position in a selected area with a random value.
- VibratoTypeConversion: This changes the type of vibrato of all notes in a whole part all together.
"SE" editions of VOCALOID come with more plug-ins. Once again you can download these from the Vocaloid store at no extra cost, though some were only listed on the Japanese plug-in shop:
- IdolStyle: Tunes the selected notes in a manner similar to the style of an 80's Japanese idol singer, by tuning pitch bend up at the end of the note. Made by Yamaha.
- MasterTune: Master Tune is a simple plug-in designed to finely adjust musical scale in a whole part to such as 442 Hz. Changeable range is 412.0 - 455.0 Hz. It was designed by Yamaha.
- MetronomeJPNPiPo: A Japanese-only plug-in (will not work with voicebank libraries of any other language). Fills up the selected portion with metronomic "pi" and "po" syllables.
- NyanNote: This is a plug-in that inputs the sound "miao" in the song position. You can choose the length of sound(note) to input from 2 types, that is, "short" and "long". This plug-in is made by Yahama.
- PitchRandomize: Rewrites a value of pitch bend in a selected portion with a random value. The random level is 「1(small)」～「5(large)」. This is made by Yamaha.
- QuantizeNoteLength: This changes a length of notes in a selected area in one time. It will be the length of dotted note with checking Dotted Note.
- SineVibrato: Adds vibrato to all the notes in the selected portion, using dynamics and pitch bend instead of the built-in vibrato feature. Developed by Yamaha.
- StaccatoSelected: Makes the notes staccato by changing the length of notes and the value of velocity in a selected portion. Furthermore, adjustment of the decay time and accent of expression note property is possible here. Developed by Yamaha.
- Transposition: Shifts the key of all notes up or down according to the value you put in. Developed by Yamaha.
- TrimPartLeftSide: Deletes the extra part on the left side from an imported sequence. Developed by Yamaha.
- V3KeroPitch: This changes rise and fall of a note to a value of pitch bend and makes the sound "kero sound"(frog sound) that is like effected as giving a vocal pitch revise. This plug-in is made by Yamaha.
Smoothness is more noticeable in VOCALOID3 whereas VOCALOID and VOCALOID2 both often became choppy or robotic sounding when they met some pronunciation issues. Furthermore, when entering into slurry words clarity is more easily maintained than past versions, though this is still effected by the vocal type and sample quality more than the engine itself.
Results from VOCALOID2 vocals will not be the same for VOCALOID3 and improvements are noticeable. However, it does not allow backwards compatibility with VOCALOID engine voicebanks. Glitches such as the noted "pluck" glitch continue over from VOCALOID and VOCALOID2, however, it is less noticeable in this engine even for imported VOCALOID2 vocals, and is often rendered as a softer, quieter sound. The audio quality itself has been improved.
The importation of VOCALOID2 into pirated versions of VOCALOID3 has also been known to have handling issues, both from pirated and official versions of the VOCALOID2 software. None of these issues were present with VOCALOID2 and all related to new features of the VOCALOID3 software, so users who do not own legal versions will noticeably miss out on many new developments for the VOCALOID3 software.
Wat, who was working on VOCALOID2 versions of vocals that eventually became VOCALOID3 vocals, also mentioned that VOCALOID3 allowed vocals that had previously not been possible for some voices. This increased the exploration of vocal types further.
Language handling is still far from perfect, for example, IA and OLIVER both will slur their vocals at faster paces if not controlled. This event occurs because of a long-term issue Vocaloid still faces in regards to the Vocaloid's sample database, wherein the software has difficulty fitting all samples into the allocated space set for each word in each beat. This issue has been present in the software since VOCALOID.
Even the highest quality VOCALOID2 voicebanks when imported into VOCALOID3 have issues competing with the quality of the average VOCALOID3 vocals.
Updated versions often do not contain new recordings (such as those of GUMI - Native) as it is possible for studios to re-use the data recorded from VOCALOID2 samples for new voicebanks in VOCALOID3. Therefore, sometimes there is no rush to buy new versions of older voices from the VOCALOID2 as the vocal is virtually the same.
VOCALOID is not compatible with this engine despite VOCALOID2 being compatible.
In March 2013, an issue related to Galaco appeared which impacted VOCALOID3 when daylight savings kicked in. The engine would appear to "expire" and a pop-up would appear requesting the user to activate the software. As this issue was only related to Galaco, uninstalling her or turning off daylight savings was the only solution to resolving the problem. Users in countries (e.g. China) which did not use daylight savings, did not experience this problem.
- Gackpoid; Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3
- Megpoid; Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3
- Lily; Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3
- Gachapoid; Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3
- VY1; Differences between VY1, VY1 Vocaloid 3 imported and VY1v3
- Sonika; various comparisons between Vocaloid 2 and Vocaloid 3.
- LEON + Avanna; Comparison between Vocaloid and Vocaloid3 english
To help the development and promotion of Vocaloids within the VOCALOID3 range, the Vocaloid store was opened up by Yamaha. Furthermore, Yamaha set up their own music publishing site much like Karen-T to promote Vocaloid music. Several events have also been arranged to showcase new vocals, such as the Vocafarre. Yamaha's approach was to bring the Vocaloid software back into the professional realm through a more serious promotional tone.
Studios have continued to promote their Vocaloids. Internet Co., Ltd continued heavier promotion of their Vocaloids with the launch of V3 GUMI Megpoid. AH Software also has begun heavier promotions with Yuzuki Yukari having the widest vocal capabilities offered on sale of any new Vocaloid at the time. Bplats continued to focus on their VY series, by relaunching them under the "VYv3" market with improved vocals. Crypton Future Media, who had established much of the Vocaloid fandom via Hatsune Miku in the VOCALOID2 era, have opted to enter the VOCALOID3 era in 2013 with their new line-up. They are still focused on selling their established Vocaloids to America, as well as re-launching the VOCALOID era Vocaloids in a newer engine with the releases of KAITO V3 and MEIKO V3.
Studio DEEN also focused on the fandom side of Vocaloid by holding a competition for a fan to become the voice of their first Vocaloid, Aoki Lapis, and also held a competition for Merli's voice. They have done a number of small promotional ads for Lapis. MoeJapan entered the Vocaloid market with Rion Tone, focusing on their marketing on the Otaku side of the Vocaloid fandom rather than the professionals. 1st PLACE have opted for a more subtle launch of their first Vocaloid and IA has been promoted as a more mysterious Vocaloid.
Yamaha at first did not support the English version of the software and did not launch an English writing version of the Vocaloid website until more towards OLIVER's release. PowerFX decided to focus its marketing at the now establish English Vocaloid community and most promotions for their first Vocaloid OLIVER were done through the forum Vocaloid Otaku. Zero-G are also late entries, they have decided to continue aiming at professionals and their newest Vocaloid is Avanna; a Celtic themed Vocaloid.
SBS Artech managed to gain interest from outside of Japan with their first Vocaloid SeeU. They decided to sell SeeU's Korean voicebank by making a bold language claim on its capabilities, claiming that she can do English with it as well as Korean. They also had included a Japanese voicebank so they could sell SeeU to the Japanese producers, although interest in her was more mixed than outside of Japan.
New company Voctro Labs faced a bumpy start because of a backlash at their first two Vocaloids artwork, despite this they were able to gain some ground via an artwork contest.
A CD titled "The Vocaloids" was released in conjunction with the launch of VOCALOID3. The CD contained 18 songs sung by Japanese Vocaloids and a booklet with information about the Vocaloid characters used. Mew was also featured on the CD for the first time.
Official Guide Book
The official guidebook for VOCALOID3 was also released in conjunction with the software's own release.
Run by Yamaha, the Vocaloid shop has been the biggest development for the Vocaloid software and is the outlet from which the VOCALOID3 software is bought. It offers CDs of various songs, plug-ins and merchandise as well as providing the Vocaloids in the same place for purchase. It replaced the old website for Vocaloid in both Japanese and English, the latter having not been updated since the VOCALOID era, as well as opening up to Chinese and Korean versions. The English version is, however, hosted by Bplats. Currently, it doesn't directly sell English or Spanish Vocaloids, but does contain links of where they are being sold by the developers.
Updates and other information about current and upcoming Vocaloids are also listed on this website. Updates for the VOCALOID3 software may also be released from here as well. The website is open for world wide purchases.
In previous generations, the Vocaloid website only offered the workings behind the software, it did not host a shop. The Vocaloid shop has been the single biggest factor in marketing for the Vocaloid software in Japan and makes everything you need easier to purchase. However, it only links to the studios which made the VOCALOID2 voicebanks, therefore there is still some issues with gaining access to older Vocaloid voicebanks.
VOCALOID3 Music Contest
On November 15, 2011, a contest was announced with prizes and ends on March 31, 2012. To enter, you must write an original song, or cover and upload it to Nico Nico Douga by March 31, 2012. The contest is being hosted by Yamaha.
The following VOCALOID3 voicebanks are allowed entry into the competition.
- V3 GUMI Megpoid
- Tone Rion
To qualify your song must have the tag "VOCALOID3発売記念コンテスト" locked.
Prizes will be determined by Yamaha, Dwango and the studios releasing VOCALOID3 products allowed in the competition:
- Internet co., Ltd (GUMI Megpoid/CUL);
- 3 winners will get one Vocaloid product from Internet Co., Ltd
- SBS Artech(SeeU);
- 1 winner will get a ticket for two to Seoul in South Korea for three days and two nights.
- 1 excellence winner will get 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi
- imyss Prize (SeeU);
- Cosmetic Gift Set from imyss for 1 winner.
- Yamaha Prize (VY1V3/Mew);
- Grande Prize: Cubase6 for 1 winner.
- 3 excellence winners of a VOCALOID3 library of Yamaha of your choice
- MoeJapan/Dear Stage Prize (Tone Rion);
- 1 winner is invited to Akihabara (2 tickets)
- 10 winners will get a courtesy ticket for Dear Stage.
- 1 winner, Yamaha's TENORI-ON "TNR-O"
- Dwango Prize (any library allowed in the competition);
- 5 winners will receive assorted goods related to Nico Nico Douga.
The competition was later extended to the June 30, 2012 and a new prize (special prize for participation) was added. A prize in the competition is confirmed to be an exclusive voicebank that will be given as a prize to anyone with 3,000+ views, this prize is the voicebank for Galaco. V3 Lily and V3 GUMI Megpoid - Native have been added to the list of Vocaloids allowed in the competition.
The view count '3,000+' needed for the special prize for participation was lessened to 1,000+ views later.
Aoki Lapis has also been added to those Vocaloids who can be entered in the competition. Since this IA and Yukari have also been added with additional prizes to support these characters from the appropriate supporters of the software. This left Clara, Bruno and OLIVER unable to be used to enter the competition.
The list of new prizes:
- i-style Project Prize (Aoki Lapis);
- 1 winner will get Aoki Lapis original silver ring and Cubase starter pack.
- PV category Prize (any library allowed in the competition);
- 2 winners will get Wacom professional graphics tablet with wireless kit (medium size) Intuos5 touch PTH-650/K0 .
- Rookie Award (any library allowed in the competition);
- 1 winner will be interviewed by the chief editor in a feature article of Gekkayo Magazine, and the score of the winner song will appear in the magazine.
- Lawson Prize (any library allowed in the competition);
- 1 winner: The winner song will be played in Lawson stores for a month.
After the contest was over a further extension was given to allow users a chance to get Galaco. This time, the rules were extended to allow any sold VOCALOID3 voicebank in the competition, including Vocaloid voicebank libraries that had previously been unable to be used in the contest.
Vocaloid itself celebrated its 10th birthday during this version of the software and several project, one of which was ZOLA PROJECT were run in 2013. The anniversary celebrations began on February 26, 2013.
This generation is more focused on making Vocaloid its own genre of music. There is also pressure to push into America, with the launch of products like VOCALOID Trans-Pacific.
Compared to VOCALOID2 the response to new VOCALOID3 vocals has been mixed. Some Japanese Vocals like Tone Rion and Mew initally failed to match previous VOCALOID2 popularity growth. The reasons for the lack of popularity for newer Vocals seem to have been mixed. Vocaloids like SeeU have struggled in particular because of Japanese and Korean cultural politics and the differences and feelings between the fans of the two countries. Another effect on the popularity of some of the newer vocals was simply that no popular producer had picked up the vocal and made songs with them, while other producers have held back for particular Vocaloid releases.
Initially, criticism was made by both Spanish and English vocaloid fans as they had been left in the dark. At the beginning of the VOCALOID3 launch, they faced less promotion and coverage than the other 3 languages offered. For instance, the CD released for VOCALOID3 titled "The Vocaloids", which acted a pre-release promotion for the Vocaloid software, did not include any of the English VOCALOID2 voicebanks and was solely focused on Japanese Vocaloids. An English version of the Vocaloid Store now exists, it was put up in Beta format in Jan 2012; several months after VOCALOID3 was launched and a month after the launch of the first English voicebank. Both Spanish and English Vocaloids were absent from the store, though later added in an "overseas" section. The previous incarnation of the English Vocaloid website of which the shop replaced had not been updated since VOCALOID release.
Another criticism came from the initial reaction to the avatars of Bruno and Clara with a strong reaction to their design unveiling. Voctro Labs responded by hosting a competition with the wining entry having the possibility of becoming the boxart, if the artwork was good enough. A possible result of the competition was that later Vocaloid Avanna was impacted. Yamaha themselves rejected a realistic style of artwork for Avanna in favor of a more anime-esque style, the theory put out was that Yamaha's reaction was owed to backlash against Clara and Bruno's artwork. Though Sonika had an eastern appearance, Avanna's style was far different to the one Zero-G had used in previous VOCALOID and VOCALOID2 vocals.