I recently purchased Hatsune Miku V4X from Amazon. I found the installation process to be very frustrating due to the Digital Rights Management (DRM), registration process, and lack of English documentation.
I’ve since installed the software a few times. Once on my old laptop, and once on my new laptop. I’ve learned quite a bit from the process, so I’m writing down my notes. These are the things I wish I knew from the beginning, things that I think should have been documented in English and included with the box.
Hatsune Miku V4X is just a collection of soundbanks for VOCALOID 4, not a standalone program. To use said soundbanks, I could either use VOCALOID software from Yamaha, or Piapro Studio from Crypton Future Media. I was shocked to learn that I couldn’t just run Piapro Studio as a standalone program. No such standalone exists for English or Japanese versions, but it does for Chinese! This was frustrating at first, but I learned that Piapro Studio is accessible as an audio plugin (VST) in just about any mainstream Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
The setup requires several steps. Here are the steps, and the order in which I think they should be executed. I’m also sharing my thoughts because there are a lot of things I think CFM could do better.
1. Create a Crypton Future Media Account
There is Japanese registration which requires a Japanese mailing address, and there is English registration which is more flexible. Here is the link to English registration. https://www.crypton.co.jp/reg_en
2. Add your License Keys to CFM Account
Your license keys are found on a yellow-orange card in your software bundle box.
Unfortunately, Crypton Future Media’s website is a bit difficult to navigate. Partially due to lack of internationalization, and partially due to bad design choices. The page you need to be on to register your product is titled, “My Page” — https://ec.crypton.co.jp/en/mypage. Click the orange button labelled “+ Product Registration” then follow the prompts.
3. Hatsune Miku V4 English
For whatever reason, Miku’s English soundbank isn’t on the CD. It must be downloaded from CFM’s website. The download link doesn’t show up until you complete step 2 and register your V4X product with Crypton Future Media. The link doesn’t even look like a link to me because of how it’s styled, but it is definitely a link which will take you to https://ec.crypton.co.jp/mypage/license.
Can you believe the picture above is from the same CFM website as the picture below? They both use different fonts, languages, color schemes. Who designed these?!
4. Decide which DAW to use
Decide whether or not you need PreSonus Studio One Artist Piapro Edition. PreSonus Studio One is the DAW that comes bundled with V4X. If you already use a DAW such as Logic, Ableton, Tracktion, FL Studio, etc. You don’t need PreSonus Studio One and I would recommend that you skip this step. If you don’t have a DAW, you are going to need one. In this case, go ahead and proceed to create a PreSonus account. https://my.presonus.com/login
5. Activate your PreSonus license
Skip this step if you will not be using PreSonus Studio One. https://my.presonus.com/home
Follow the prompts and type the Studio One License key from your V4X yellow-orange license key card into the prompt.
6. Download PreSonus Studio One
Skip this step if you chose not to install PreSonus Studio One.
7. Install Crypton Future Media VST
Install Crypton Future Media VSTs using “Crypton Software Installer” found on the CD. You have to choose the correct installer which matches the CPU architecture of your PC. Either 32 bit or 64 bit, don’t install them both. You definitely need to put a checkmark in the box to install the CFM Piapro Studio VST. I don’t know what CFM Mutant VST is, but I installed it anyway.
8. Install Miku’s Japanese voice
Miku’s Japanese voice bank installer is on the CD in the folder labelled, “Hatsune Miku V4X Installer.” This also installs ACTIVATE4 which we will use in the next step.
9. Install Miku’s English Voice
Miku’s English voice bank will be in the zip file which we downloaded in step 3. Find the file “39820_win.zip” in your downloads folder and extract it. Once extracted, browse to the folder “MIKU V4 English Installer.” Run setup.exe in the folder.
It is not necessary to run any of the other files in the extracted zip folder, because they are the same as the ones on the CD.
10. Activate Hatsune Miku voice banks.
Do this by running ACTIVATE4 which was installed in step 8.
ACTIVATE4 offers a choice to bind the license to the hard drive OR network card. This is confusing and brings up a lot of questions which I get into at the bottom of this article. I just went with the network adapter as I am more likely to make changes to my storage volume than I am to my network adapter.
Be sure to tick the option to activate multiple serial numbers so we can activate both Japanese and English voice banks in once step.
The software is installed and ready to use. I recommend watching video Tutorials on how to use Piapro Studio, as there is a lot to it. For basic instructions to get started, here is what I do.
- Start DAW and create a new song
- Add VST instrument, “Piapro Studio” in DAW.
- Double Click Piapro Studio logo in VST
- Use pencil tool in Piapro Studio to draw a range
- Draw notes in Piapro Studio
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My complaints with Hatsune Miku V4X Software Bundle
I am wholly opposed to the method of DRM employed by Crypton Future Media. The license is bound to hardware. This brings up a lot of questions.
- Which should I choose, bind to HDD or bind to Network Adapter?
- What if my HDD gets swapped out?
- What if my network adapter goes down??
- What if I upgrade my PC and want to move Miku to the new PC??
- Can I migrate on my own or do I have to contact CFM every time?
- Is there a limit of times I can do this?
- Will my precious Miku become a brick after 3 migrations!?
I answered some of my own questions through trial and error. Yes, I am able to transfer the license to a new PC. This is done using the Vocaloid Deactivation Tool. First, I used Vocaloid Deactivation Tool to remove the license from my old PC. Then on my new PC, I installed all the software, and ran ACTIVATE4 software on the new PC. Using ACTIVATE4, I bound the license to the new PC. Issue solved, right? No, not at all. What if my computer gets destroyed by a fire, and my license is still bound to the network adapter of my burnt up computer? It would be impossible to run the Vocaloid Deactivation Tool at that point.
The existing method for DRM is stressful because it seems so fragile. One hardware problem, and my $200 investment becomes a brick. Crypton Future Media DRM favors Crypton Future Media, not the user who just shelled out hundreds of dollars for the software to support Miku. This DRM is a punishment of honest customers who could have just downloaded Vocaloid V4 Free Edition and not had to spend even a second with convoluted registration and DRM. For these reasons, I think CFM DRM is pure madness.
Keys must be input multiple times. Once on the CFM website, and once in ACTIVATE4. CFM binds the license keys to the user account, and the hardware. Why not just bind the keys solely to the user account?
The box comes with several instruction sheets, all of which are in Japanese. The silver lining here is that this is one more reason to learn Japanese! The down side is that the software has an English voice bank… Why are there no English instructions to match?
The setup process is a confusing mess, and I hope Crypton Future Media can work out the pain points in the future. Generally I wouldn’t put up with this kind of install process and I’d send it back. I make an exception for Miku!
One final note for nerds… Piapro Studio runs great in both Wine and Virtualbox. This means that Miku can run on Linux!
Thanks so much for reading this article. If you have any suggestions on how I can make it better or more easy to follow, let me know in the comments below.
August 2022 Update
It’s been awhile since I’ve worked with Piapro studio and I was thinking of installing it again on a new computer of mine. I didn’t have a copy handy so I went on Crypton’s website so I could download the necessary files.
It turns out that I’ve reached the limit on Hatsune Miku V4X downloads. I don’t even remember how many times I downloaded the files, but that’s it, no more!
I’ll have to dig through stacks of my old hard drives to find the files. Hopefully I still have them somewhere. Will I even be able to activate the software again? I’m frustrated about this because I expect to be able to use software that I purchase. Steam has really set the bar high in this regard, because if I buy something on Steam I can uninstall and reinstall over and over and I never have to worry about not being able to use what I paid for. That’s what I’m used to; that’s what I expect in 2022.
I’m drawn to piracy at this point. If I pirate VOCALOID, I can download immediately and use immediately, and there is no lengthy, antiquated DRM scheme that forces me to jump through hoops and make/preserve backups and remember CD keys and/or take up shelf space with paper license cards.
I think Gabe Newell said it best,
Piracy is almost always a service problem.Gabe Newell
I’m feeling that right now!
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