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Google’s SoundStream codec simultaneously suppresses noise and compresses audio

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Google nowadays detailed SoundStream, an end-to-end “neural” audio codec that may give higher-quality audio whilst encoding other sound varieties, together with blank speech, noisy and reverberant speech, tune, and environmental sounds. The corporate claims that is the primary AI-powered codec to paintings on speech and tune whilst on the with the ability to run in actual time on a smartphone processor on the identical time.

Audio formats compress audio to scale back the desire for top garage and bandwidth necessities. Preferably, the decoded audio will have to be perceptually indistinguishable from the unique and introduce little latency. Whilst maximum formats leverage area experience and in moderation engineered sign processing pipelines, there’s been passion in changing hand made specifications with AI that may discover ways to encode at the fly.

Previous this yr, Google launched Lyra, a neural audio codec skilled to compress low-bitrate speech. SoundStream extends this paintings with a gadget consisting of an encoder, decoder, and quantizer. The encoder converts audio right into a coded sign that’s compressed the usage of the quantizer and transformed again to audio the usage of the decoder. As soon as skilled, the encoder and decoder will also be run on separate purchasers to transmit audio over the web, and the decoder can function at any bitrate.

Compressing audio

In conventional audio processing pipelines, compression and enhancement — i.e., the removing of background noise — are most often carried out by way of other modules. However SoundStream is designed to hold out compression and enhancement on the identical time. At 3kbps, SoundStream outperforms the preferred Opus codec at 12kbps and approaches the standard of EVS at nine.6kbps whilst the usage of three.2-Four instances fewer bits, Google claims. Additionally, SoundStream plays higher than the present model of Lyra when put next on the identical bitrate.

Right here’s reference audio earlier than processing with SoundStream:


And right here’s the audio after processing:

Google cautions that SoundStream remains to be within the experimental levels. Then again, the corporate plans to unencumber an up to date model of Lyra that accommodates its elements to ship each increased audio high quality and “lowered complexity.”

“Environment friendly compression is essential every time one must transmit audio, whether or not when streaming a video or all over a convention name. SoundStream is a very powerful step towards bettering gadget learning-driven audio formats. It outperforms cutting-edge formats, reminiscent of Opus and EVS, can improve audio on call for, and calls for deployment of just a unmarried scalable fashion, somewhat than many,” Google analysis scientist Neil Zeghidour and personnel analysis Marco Tagliasacchi wrote in a weblog put up. “Through integrating SoundStream with Lyra, builders can leverage the prevailing Lyra APIs and gear for his or her paintings, offering each flexibility and higher sound high quality.”

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