"Unofficial" AquesTone2 Manual by Kechi2dtm

This is translated by kechi2dtm (http://kechi2.blogspot.com/) The original Japanese version can be found at http://www.a-quest.com/download/manual/aqtone2_man.pdf

1 Overview

This document describes how to use the Vocal Synthesizer Plug-in "AquesTone2". Please note that we may change features and specifications without notice.

2 Configuration

"AquesTone2" is a VSTi plug-in module and requires a DAW software that supports VSTi (for example, CUBASE). In addition to the MIDI information to specify the timings and scales of notes, it also requires a separate lyrics file. Furthermore, parameters such as vibrato, pitch bend, and the voice quality can be dynamically modified using MIDI control messages.

3. Installation

Unzip the downloaded archive to the folder specific to your DAW software.

For CUBASE AI 4, place AquesTone2.dll to "C:/Program Files/Steinberg/Cubase AI 4/VSTPlugins". Installation folder varies depending on the setting of the DAW software. Please follow the procedures of VST plug-in installation for your DAW software.
Mac OS X:
Copy AquesTone2.vst to /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST/

4. Lyrics file

"Lyrics file" specifies the Lyrics and should be written using a writing system similar to romaji. You can create the file in text editor. A recommended style to organize lyrycs is that each phrase is separated by line (see the figure on right).

kiiyoshi konoyoru hoshiwa hikari sukuiino miikowa mabuneeno naakani

AquesTone2 can use MIDI signal to move the position in lyrisc file. This can be used to stay in synch with the lyrics. For example, when you made some mistakes in playing, the lyrics will synch back at the next available MIDI message (See 7.2. for detail). The maximum number of lines in lyrics file is 127.

Available syllables are limited. The list of available syllables is displayed on the screen by pressing the [Syl List] button. The order in which they appear is in the order of precedence for interpretatioin of lyrics to syllables.

For example, "ana" will become two syllables "a na" and "an a" will become three syllables "a n a". An undefined syllable will be ignored.

5. Panels

manual panel

(1) Lyrics file name

It displays the full path of the lyrics file currently opened. You can drag and drop a lyrics file here to open the file.

(2) Voice (instrument name)

It shows the name of the sound source currently selected. When you click here, instrument name list is displayed. However, the current package only contains the built-in sound (Lina). Additional sound source may be added later.

(3) Lyrics display

The contents of the lyrics file will be displayed here. Three lines of lyrics will be displayed. The currently selected line will be rendered in white. Right after the loading, the top line will be focused. The numbers at the beginning like 000> represents the line number. W in "W000" stands for warning and appears when undefined syllables are detected. E in "E000" stands for error and it means the line 000 is either empty or all syllables are undefined. You can drop a lyrics file here to open as well.

(4) Open

The button for opening a file lyrics. File selection dialog will appear when you click on it. Select the file, and press "Open". You can also simply drop a lyrics file to areas (1) and (3).

(5) Before

Clicking this button will move the focus to one line above.

(6) Next

Every click will move the focus down by one line.

(7) Syll List

A list of available syllables will be shown on the panel. The list depends on the sound source.

(8) Poli (Poly?)

This will toggle between "Mono mode" and "Poly mode". Please use "Poly mode" when you play chords (like chorus). When "Poly mode" is selected, the top part of the button will become red.

(9) Speed

This will specify the speed of the speech. Turning to the knob clockwise makes the speech faster, and shortens "Attack" and "Release". Adjust this according to the BPS (Beat Per Second).

(10) Vibrato Rate

This will change the frequency of vibrato.

(11) Portamento Time

This will adjust the speed of portamento. The beginning of portamento is fixed to 2nd interval below the note. You can also use the pitch bend to manually control the portamento. It is recommended to set this parameter to 0 when doing so.

(12) Hard-Velocity

It determines the sensitibity to the change in velocity to modify "Hardness of voice". As you turn it to the right, the sensitivity increases.

(13) Hard-Sustain

Specify the "hardness of the voice" during Sustain period of ADSR. The more you turn to the left, the softer and huskier the voice becomes.

(14) Hard-Master

It specifies the "overall hardness of the voice". As you turn it to the right, the voice will have clearer sense of pitch until high pitch range. The voice will become haskier as you turn it to the left.

(15) Gender

This will morph the voice from the male through the female to the child voice. Please adjust the notes accordingly to this setting, because this is achived by shrinking/stretching the frequency span of the waveform across the frequency axis.

(16) Resonance

Clockwise will make it more like human voice by increasing the vowel level whereas counterclockwise will make it more like string or wind instrument. The default is 50. Please note that tone variations by pitch will become more obvious near the maximum resonance level.

Technical note: Resonance is modified by streching/shrinking the difference between the peaks and troughs of the voice characteristics.

(17) Detune

It determines the level of pitch deviation among several voices being mixed. There would be no deviation at 0 and clockwise will increase the gap. At the maximum end, the voice will sound less clear. It has similar effects to chorus effector.

(18) Volume-Consonant

It determines the level of consonant. More specifically, fricativesn, affricates and plosives are affected. Reduce this when "s" sound stands out too much compared to vowls. The default is 50.

(19) Volume-Sustain

It determines the volume during Sustain of ADSR envelope. This parameter is normalized by the maximum volume of the Attack. Therefore, the volume of the Sustain part is half the Attack volume at 50.

(20) Volume-Master

It adjusts the total volume.

6. How to use

6.1 Creating a lyrics file

A lyrics file needs to be prepared in advance. You can use any text editor. See "Lyrics File" in Section 4 more for detail.

6.2 Loading lyrics files.

(this section was mostly redundant and the translation is skipped. See section 5 "Panel" for detail)

6.3. Note On / Note Off

A MIDI "Note On" massage (issued when you press a key) will trigger the pronunciation of lyrics in the focused line. The velocity of "Note On" determines the volume and hardness of the voice. The peak volume during attack period is proportional to velocity as shown in Figure A. On the other hand, the sensitivity of hardness of voice toward velocity is adjusted by (12) [Hard-Velocity]. MIDI "Note off" message will stop the pronunciation of the syllable and the sound will decay during Release period. Attack, Decay, Release periods can be adjusted by (9) [Speed] parameter.


6.4. Mono mode / Poly mode

[Poli] button (8) toggles between the monophonic and polyphonic modes. In the monophonic mode, each time you play a note it goes to the next syllable. In the polyphonic mode, it goes to the next syllable only when all the keys have been released. Therefore, when you are holding down a key, the same syllable will be used for following notes. Therefore, this is useful when you play chords (like in Chorus). The number of the maximum simultaneous voices is 8.

Unlike most other synthesizers, multiple voices can be played in the monophonic mode. Figure B shows that by adjusting the timing of "Note On" and "Note Off", it is possible to perform articulations such as Staccato and legato. Fine adjustments of note lengths are required for diphthong, gemination and smoothness of speech.


6.5. Scrolling lyrics lines focus

[Before]/[Next] button will move up/down the focus of lyrics lines.

6.6. Vibrato

You can use the standard MIDI messages (CC:1) to control the modulation wheel to perform vibrato in real-time. The frequency of the vibrato can be modified by (10) [Vibrate Rate] or MIDI messages (NRPN 0108H). There is no auto vibrato function.

6.7. Pitch bend

You can use the standard MIDI message for the pitch bend wheel (EnH, LSB, MSB) to change the pitch in real time. In addition, the maximum amount of change in interval can be specified by the Pitch Bend Sensitivity (MIDI messages, RPN 0000H).

6.8. Program (preset parameters)

You can programmatically change the preset parameters. You can set up to 16 presets (0-15). Preset can specify parameters of knobs from (9) to (20) but do not apply to (1) lyrics file selection and (2) Voice setting.

6.9. MIDI control messages

We can also use the MIDI control messages to perform all the operations of the buttons and knobs on the panel. By placing MIDI messages on the track, you can automatically perform various operations in playback. For more information about the MIDI control messages, please refer to the section 8 "MIDI Implementation Chart". In addition, MIDI messages can perform some operations that can not be operated from the user interface such as moving the focus to a given lyrics line or to the beginning of a line and Pitch Bend Sensitivity.

6.10. Automation

DAW Automation is supported. However, the support for recording/playing is limited as compared to MIDI control messages. Only the parameters available on the lower part (knobs from 9 [Seed] to 20 [Volume-Master]) are supported.

7 Miscellaneous

7.1 Display all the syllables available

When you press (7) [Syll List], the syllable set that can be used in lyrics files will be displayed in the panel. Pressing the keyboard will play the syllable in the focus line sequentially. By doing so, you can check the actual sound of the syllable notation. It should be noted that this list depends on the setting in (2) [Voice].

7.2. To synchronize lyrics and melody

Place a MIDI control messages CC# 49 00 at the beginning of DAW track in order to start the lyrics from the top. In the middle of the song, use MIDI control message CC # 49 nn (nn is the line number of the lyrics) to move to a given line so that you can play the song from that point.

7.3 Advice on the note timing

The pronunciation starts at "Note On" event. Therefore, it sounds like it's playing behind the beat. In particular, s/n/h/m sounds lag the most. For syllables starting with these, it is better to move the note 5-10 msec earlier.

8. MIDI Implementation Chart

[Basic channel]



default = Mode2; message = {Mode1, Mode2}

[Note number]



Note On 9nH V=1-127; Note off 8nH=0-127 (V=0 being Note off)

[After touch]

not supported

[Control change]

CC # send recieve remark
01 - supported modulation
05 - supported portamento time
06 - supported data entry
07 - supported Volume
20 - supported Hard-Sustain
21 - supported Hard-Volume
22 - supported Gender
24 - supported Detune
25 - supported Volume-Consonant
26 - supported Volume-Sustain
48 - Val=0 go to the top of lyrics
- Val=1 go to the beginning of line
49 - Val=0-127 move to the beginning of line specified
50 - supported move to the next line
51 - supported move one line back
71 - supported Resonance
73 - supported Speed
74 - supported Hard-Master
76 - supported Vibrato Rate (NRPN supported also)
98, 99 - supported NRPN LSB, MSB
100, 101 - supported RPN LSB, MSB
126 - supported Mode 2 Omni-On Mono mode
127 - supported Mode 1 Omni-On Poly mode

[Program change]





all note off CC# 123


*1: val=0 will be ignored

*2: move to the line specified by val

*3: RPN is (00H 00H): pitch bend / sensitivity

*4: NRPN is (MSB:01H LSB:08H) vibrate rate

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