Thursday, November 30, 2023
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SoundStorm: Efficient parallel audio generation

Posted by Zal?n Borsos, Research Software Engineer, and Marco Tagliasacchi, Senior Staff Research Scientist, Google Research

The recent progress in generative AI unlocked the possibility of creating new content in several different domains, including text, vision and audio. These models often rely on the fact that raw data is first converted to a compressed format as a sequence of tokens. In the case of audio, neural audio codecs (e.g., SoundStream or EnCodec) can efficiently compress waveforms to a compact representation, which can be inverted to reconstruct an approximation of the original audio signal. Such a representation consists of a sequence of discrete audio tokens, capturing the local properties of sounds (e.g., phonemes) and their temporal structure (e.g., prosody). By representing audio as a sequence of discrete tokens, audio generation can be performed with Transformer-based sequence-to-sequence models — this has unlocked rapid progress in speech continuation (e.g., with AudioLM), text-to-speech (e.g., with SPEAR-TTS), and general audio and music generation (e.g., AudioGen and MusicLM). Many generative audio models, including AudioLM, rely on auto-regressive decoding, which produces tokens one by one. While this method achieves high acoustic quality, inference (i.e., calculating an output) can be slow, especially when decoding long sequences.

To address this issue, in “SoundStorm: Efficient Parallel Audio Generation“, we propose a new method for efficient and high-quality audio generation. SoundStorm addresses the problem of generating long audio token sequences by relying on two novel elements: 1) an architecture adapted to the specific nature of audio tokens as produced by the SoundStream neural codec, and 2) a decoding scheme inspired by MaskGIT, a recently proposed method for image generation, which is tailored to operate on audio tokens. Compared to the autoregressive decoding approach of AudioLM, SoundStorm is able to generate tokens in parallel, thus decreasing the inference time by 100x for long sequences, and produces audio of the same quality and with higher consistency in voice and acoustic conditions. Moreover, we show that SoundStorm, coupled with the text-to-semantic modeling stage of SPEAR-TTS, can synthesize high-quality, natural dialogues, allowing one to control the spoken content (via transcripts), speaker voices (via short voice prompts) and speaker turns (via transcript annotations), as demonstrated by the examples below:

Input: Text (transcript used to drive the audio generation in bold) Something really funny happened to me this morning. Well, uh I woke up as usual.

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