Alter/Ego is a synthesizer program created by Plogue.
Alter/Ego uses a engine called the "ARiA" engine, which is shared also by the software Chipspeech. While for the most part the two engines work the same, one of the most major differences is down to the two software approaches to each other and the contrast as a result between the. For example, Chipspeech is based on established works from vintage sources; all Alter/Ego vocals, in contrast, are based on modern sources such as human vocalists. As a result, Alter/Ego vocals tend to sound more human and Chipspeech vocals are mostly robotic; despite both having the same engine used for both.
This approach alone means that Alter/Ego will continue to develop towards more realistic vocals in the future and exploration of human vocal adaption for sound recreational use. Chipspeech in contrast will continue to become closer to the original synthesized vocals, while exploring more ways they can be morphed to create unique sounds.
In Chipspeech, development is often uniformed and when one new adaptation is offered, all Vocals received it. This occurred when "Talker" was added to the software and each vocal received the new adaptation. Alter/Ego vocals have very different voicebanks on offer. So one vocal can have English and Japanese, but another could have French and Chinese instead. For this reason, users have to be more aware of how different each vocal is and adapt with them.
There are also a number of minor differences, such Alter/Ego is set in a landscape layout with the image of the character on the left side of the input perimeters. In Chipspeech, the layout is set in portrait, with the image of the character above the main input. Also, Chipspeech has a single overall blue tint to it and the artwork of the characters is done by a single artist. In Chipspeech, images are in any colour and by a artist chosen by the party involved with the character.
Otherwise, many functions are the same in both software and users familiar with one version canuse the other with little problems.
Other differences fall down onto the characters themselves. In Chipspeech, all characters have Twitter accounts and interact with each other. They have a pre-set "Canon" storyline between them and follow a Cyberpunk influence. In contrast, each Alter/Ego character is governed and controlled by their respective parties. Their storylines and personality are controlled independently following their development teams own direction. This allows the characters to take very different approaches from Bones and Marie Ork's more gothic/fantasy look to ALYS and LEORA's more futuristic/science-fiction look.
Another difference for the characters is owed to the way the engine and the vocals are provided by Plogue. For being based on previously licensed software and resource, Chipspeech is a paid for software released by Plogue with premission of the original sources. However, updates and additional vocals are provided for free. In contrast, for Alter/Ego the engine is offered for free but the voices are handled by their respective parties. So vocals can be free such as Marie Ork and Bones or have to be paid to use like ALYS or NATA.
The ARiA engine and its Adaptation
As mentioned prior, Alter/Ego uses the ARiA engine, first developed for use with the software Chipspeech. As such, many features of the two software are identical. also as mentioned, what separates the two versions is the direction. Chipspeech focuses on vintage synthesizing, while Alter/ego focuses on modern synthesizing styles. The original idea of the engine was to act as a replacement for the synthesizers that it was emulating, providing a valued source for sound music producers and sound engineers. Therefore there was a need for it to be as close to the original source as possible, as many of the sources of the original synthesizers were becoming rare over time, or costly to obtain. In the worst cases, perhaps even lost over time due to the closure of their respective developers.
Because Plogue had producers in mind, the ARiA engine was developed to be flexible for music, owed to the nature of the vocals used in Chipspeech having been used for their flexibility foremost in music in the past. Due to having to recreate the vintage vocals in various ways, ARiA had to be able to be easily adapted to use various methods to achieve the same result. This was owed to how different the Vintage synthesizers were in nature and process. It took recorded X-SAMPA samples and vintage data and recreated the result into the ARiA engine to produce a synthesizer result close to the original sound each vocal was based on. The legacy of this approach is the ARiA engine can be adapted in many possible ways, avoiding a restriction of some other synthesizers of being limited to a fixed language or direction only.
Alter/ego focuses mostly on the most common single method of recreating sound via the ARiA engine, the Formant Singer method of achieving results, as used by Dandy 704, Lady Parsec and Bert Gotrax. Daisy, being the first Alter/ego vocal used this method to synthesizer her vocal. The Formant Singer has a monotone result with high flexibility to it, in contrast to Synthesizers such as VOCALOID which uses multiple layers giving a more realistic result, but suffer from a limitation in vocal range and flexibility.
Currently, Alter/Ego has several variants of voicebanks it can use. Owed to the flexible nature of the ARiA engine, new types of databases can be written for the engine, so new voicebanks such as languages can be developed.
English/Japanese or "En"/"Jp"
Seen originally with Daisy, this is the voicebank that was used in the original ARiA engine for Chipspeech. The lyrics reference a X-SAMPA library of combined sounds for English and Japanese. While Japanese and English has similar sounds in some cases, the X-SAMPA for other sounds is identical, but the result is different. This is occasionally displayed by the combined vocals of Daisy and Chipspeech. Modern Alter/ego voicebanks usually separate the English and Japanese vocals.
Some releases such as ALYS (jp) only will have sounds for one of the two languages, in this case Japanese. However, sounds for the English lyrics still register, as English lyrics can still be typed in, but it does not contain a full X-SAMPA list for both languages. The resulting English is far from perfect, resulting in a low quality English which is often broken and can be gibberish. Bones (en) and Bones (jp) also display this same problem when a person tries to use Japanese in Bones (en) and English in Bones (jp).
The English portion of the database has been improved since Daisy, with later vocals such as NATA displaying a much better grasp of the language compared to her. It was noted that originally Plogue knew nothing on recording scripts, especially enlists.
French or "Fr"
The first major adaption of the engine that was eventually released was for French. The French voicebank has a dedicated database for only French X-SAMPA sounds compared to English or Japanese which uses a combined of two languages. The first released vocal for this adaptation of the engine is ALYS.
Talk or Talker
This first appeared in Chipspeech with all characters, exception having been Daisy, being given the ability to talk. The Talker adaptation was designed to take advantage of the vintage prosody of CiderTalk'84 and Rotten.ST."Talker" voicebanks are limited currently to English only.
Bones is the first Alter/Ego vocal to have a Talker voicebank known as "Bones (talker)".
Chinese or "Chn"
The latest known adaptation of the engine is Chinese Mandarin. Bones currently has a vocal being developed for him in this language.
Software — • Alter/Ego •