A Spectral Energy Distance for Parallel Speech Synthesis

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Alexey Gritsenko, Tim Salimans, Rianne van den Berg, Jasper Snoek, Nal Kalchbrenner


Speech synthesis is an important practical generative modeling problem that has seen great progress over the last few years, with likelihood-based autoregressive neural models now outperforming traditional concatenative systems. A downside of such autoregressive models is that they require executing tens of thousands of sequential operations per second of generated audio, making them ill-suited for deployment on specialized deep learning hardware. Here, we propose a new learning method that allows us to train highly parallel models of speech, without requiring access to an analytical likelihood function. Our approach is based on a generalized energy distance between the distributions of the generated and real audio. This spectral energy distance is a proper scoring rule with respect to the distribution over magnitude-spectrograms of the generated waveform audio and offers statistical consistency guarantees. The distance can be calculated from minibatches without bias, and does not involve adversarial learning, yielding a stable and consistent method for training implicit generative models. Empirically, we achieve state-of-the-art generation quality among implicit generative models, as judged by the recently-proposed cFDSD metric. When combining our method with adversarial techniques, we also improve upon the recently-proposed GAN-TTS model in terms of Mean Opinion Score as judged by trained human evaluators.