In line with their license it to third-party developers approach, we're now starting to see some version 2 packages appear.
Prima is UK company Zero G's first in this format. However, rather than cover similar territory, it focuses on the classical arena.
Modelled on the voice of a professional soprano opera singer, the sound (and, we would suggest, the uses) are therefore slightly different to previous versions.
From a technical perspective, the application is still Windows-only (although not backwards compatible with v1). In addition to the full 16-part standalone editor, you now get a real-time VSTi plug-in.
This combines lyric input (in advance) with real-time keyboard playback (four-note polyphony), so you can play phrases on the sly.
For full flexibility, programming in the standalone version is still the best bet, though. You can hook this up to your main sequencer using ReWire, or by exporting the special MIDI files for the playback VSTi. Exporting WAV files is also an option.
Vocaloid 2 has a more streamlined interface than previous iterations, and renders the results more quickly, but the method of phrase construction is very similar.
This means pitched words are built from vowel and consonant sounds that are then modified with vibrato and expression factors.
Then, during playback, additional parameters can be automated (velocity, breathiness, dynamics and so on).
You might think that a solo operatic soprano is a bold move for a Vocaloid 2 package, but the 'trained' nature of classical singing lends itself to this system.
Overall, Prima is capable of reasonable results, but its classical soprano voice limits its uses. Frustratingly, it still takes time to make things sound acceptable. Even so, it's useful for sketching out parts.