Combining Statistical Parameteric Speech Synthesis and Unit-Selection for Automatic Voice Cloning
Proc. LangTech 2008
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The ability to use the recorded audio of a subject's voice to produce an open-domain synthesis system has generated much interest both in academic research and in commercial speech technology. The ability to produce synthetic versions of a subjects voice has potential commercial applications, such as virtual celebrity actors, or potential clinical applications, such as offering a synthetic replacement voice in the case of a laryngectomy. Recent developments in HMM-based speech synthesis have shown it is possible to produce synthetic voices from quite small amounts of speech data. However, mimicking the depth and variation of a speaker's prosody as well as synthesising natural voice quality is still a challenging research problem. In contrast, unit-selection systems have shown it is possible to strongly retain the character of the voice but only with sufficient original source material. Often this runs into hours and may require significant manual checking and labelling. In this paper we will present two state of the art systems, an HMM based system HTS-2007, developed by CSTR and Nagoya Institute Technology, and a commercial unit-selection system CereVoice, developed by Cereproc. Both systems have been used to mimic the voice of George W. Bush (43rd president of the United States) using freely available audio from the web. In addition we will present a hybrid system which combines both technologies. We demonstrate examples of synthetic voices created from 10, 40 and 210 minutes of randomly selected speech. We will then discuss the underlying problems associated with voice cloning using found audio, and the scalability of our solution.