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Composition of Deep and Spiking Neural Networks for Very Low Bit Rate Speech Coding

by   Milos Cernak, et al.

Most current very low bit rate (VLBR) speech coding systems use hidden Markov model (HMM) based speech recognition/synthesis techniques. This allows transmission of information (such as phonemes) segment by segment that decreases the bit rate. However, the encoder based on a phoneme speech recognition may create bursts of segmental errors. Segmental errors are further propagated to optional suprasegmental (such as syllable) information coding. Together with the errors of voicing detection in pitch parametrization, HMM-based speech coding creates speech discontinuities and unnatural speech sound artefacts. In this paper, we propose a novel VLBR speech coding framework based on neural networks (NNs) for end-to-end speech analysis and synthesis without HMMs. The speech coding framework relies on phonological (sub-phonetic) representation of speech, and it is designed as a composition of deep and spiking NNs: a bank of phonological analysers at the transmitter, and a phonological synthesizer at the receiver, both realised as deep NNs, and a spiking NN as an incremental and robust encoder of syllable boundaries for coding of continuous fundamental frequency (F0). A combination of phonological features defines much more sound patterns than phonetic features defined by HMM-based speech coders, and the finer analysis/synthesis code contributes into smoother encoded speech. Listeners significantly prefer the NN-based approach due to fewer discontinuities and speech artefacts of the encoded speech. A single forward pass is required during the speech encoding and decoding. The proposed VLBR speech coding operates at a bit rate of approximately 360 bits/s.


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