Recent advances in speech synthesis suggest that limitations such as the lossy nature of the amplitude spectrum with minimum phase approximation and the over-smoothing effect in acoustic modeling can be overcome by using advanced machine learning approaches. In this paper, we build a framework in which we can fairly compare new vocoding and acoustic modeling techniques with conventional approaches by means of a large scale crowdsourced evaluation. Results on acoustic models showed that generative adversarial networks and an autoregressive (AR) model performed better than a normal recurrent network and the AR model performed best. Evaluation on vocoders by using the same AR acoustic model demonstrated that a Wavenet vocoder outperformed classical source-filter-based vocoders. Particularly, generated speech waveforms from the combination of AR acoustic model and Wavenet vocoder achieved a similar score of speech quality to vocoded speech.
Recent neural networks such as WaveNet and sampleRNN that learn directly from speech waveform samples have achieved very high-quality synthetic speech in terms of both naturalness and speaker similarity even in multi-speaker text-to-speech synthesis systems. Such neural networks are being used as an alternative to vocoders and hence they are often called neural vocoders. The neural vocoder uses acoustic features as local condition parameters, and these parameters need to be accurately predicted by another acoustic model. However, it is not yet clear how to train this acoustic model, which is problematic because the final quality of synthetic speech is significantly affected by the performance of the acoustic model. Significant degradation happens, especially when predicted acoustic features have mismatched characteristics compared to natural ones. In order to reduce the mismatched characteristics between natural and generated acoustic features, we propose frameworks that incorporate either a conditional generative adversarial network (GAN) or its variant, Wasserstein GAN with gradient penalty (WGAN-GP), into multi-speaker speech synthesis that uses the WaveNet vocoder. We also extend the GAN frameworks and use the discretized mixture logistic loss of a well-trained WaveNet in addition to mean squared error and adversarial losses as parts of objective functions. Experimental results show that acoustic models trained using the WGAN-GP framework using back-propagated discretized-mixture-of-logistics (DML) loss achieves the highest subjective evaluation scores in terms of both quality and speaker similarity.
Speech-driven visual speech synthesis involves mapping features extracted from acoustic speech to the corresponding lip animation controls for a face model. This mapping can take many forms, but a powerful approach is to use deep neural networks (DNNs). However, a limitation is the lack of synchronized audio, video, and depth data required to reliably train the DNNs, especially for speaker-independent models. In this paper, we investigate adapting an automatic speech recognition (ASR) acoustic model (AM) for the visual speech synthesis problem. We train the AM on ten thousand hours of audio-only data. The AM is then adapted to the visual speech synthesis domain using ninety hours of synchronized audio-visual speech. Using a subjective assessment test, we compared the performance of the AM-initialized DNN to one with a random initialization. The results show that viewers significantly prefer animations generated from the AM-initialized DNN than the ones generated using the randomly initialized model. We conclude that visual speech synthesis can significantly benefit from the powerful representation of speech in the ASR acoustic models.
This paper proposes a new loss using short-time Fourier transform (STFT) spectra for the aim of training a high-performance neural speech waveform model that predicts raw continuous speech waveform samples directly. Not only amplitude spectra but also phase spectra obtained from generated speech waveforms are used to calculate the proposed loss. We also mathematically show that training of the waveform model on the basis of the proposed loss can be interpreted as maximum likelihood training that assumes the amplitude and phase spectra of generated speech waveforms following Gaussian and von Mises distributions, respectively. Furthermore, this paper presents a simple network architecture as the speech waveform model, which is composed of uni-directional long short-term memories (LSTMs) and an auto-regressive structure. Experimental results showed that the proposed neural model synthesized high-quality speech waveforms.
We investigated the impact of noisy linguistic features on the performance of a Japanese speech synthesis system based on neural network that uses WaveNet vocoder. We compared an ideal system that uses manually corrected linguistic features including phoneme and prosodic information in training and test sets against a few other systems that use corrupted linguistic features. Both subjective and objective results demonstrate that corrupted linguistic features, especially those in the test set, affected the ideal system's performance significantly in a statistical sense due to a mismatched condition between the training and test sets. Interestingly, while an utterance-level Turing test showed that listeners had a difficult time differentiating synthetic speech from natural speech, it further indicated that adding noise to the linguistic features in the training set can partially reduce the effect of the mismatch, regularize the model, and help the system perform better when linguistic features of the test set are noisy.