WavThruVec: Latent speech representation as intermediate features for neural speech synthesis

31 Mar 2022  ·  Hubert Siuzdak, Piotr Dura, Pol van Rijn, Nori Jacoby ·

Recent advances in neural text-to-speech research have been dominated by two-stage pipelines utilizing low-level intermediate speech representation such as mel-spectrograms. However, such predetermined features are fundamentally limited, because they do not allow to exploit the full potential of a data-driven approach through learning hidden representations. For this reason, several end-to-end methods have been proposed. However, such models are harder to train and require a large number of high-quality recordings with transcriptions. Here, we propose WavThruVec - a two-stage architecture that resolves the bottleneck by using high-dimensional Wav2Vec 2.0 embeddings as intermediate speech representation. Since these hidden activations provide high-level linguistic features, they are more robust to noise. That allows us to utilize annotated speech datasets of a lower quality to train the first-stage module. At the same time, the second-stage component can be trained on large-scale untranscribed audio corpora, as Wav2Vec 2.0 embeddings are already time-aligned. This results in an increased generalization capability to out-of-vocabulary words, as well as to a better generalization to unseen speakers. We show that the proposed model not only matches the quality of state-of-the-art neural models, but also presents useful properties enabling tasks like voice conversion or zero-shot synthesis.

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