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Sound Synthesis – Are we there yet?

TL;DR. Yes

At the beginning of my PhD, I began to read the sound effect synthesis literature, and I quickly discovered that there was little to no standardisation or consistency in evaluation of sound effect synthesis models – particularly in relations to the sounds they produce. Surely one of the most important aspects of a synthetic system, is whether it can artifically produce a convincing replacement for what it is intended to synthesize. We could have the most intractable and relatable sound model in the world, but if it does not sound anything like it is intended to, then will any sound designers or end users ever use it?

There are many different methods for measuring how effective a sound synthesis model is. Jaffe proposed evaluating synthesis techniques for music based on ten criteria. However, only two of the ten criteria actually consider any sounds made by the synthesiser.

This is crazy! How can anyone know what synthesis method can produce a convincingly realistic sound?

So, we performed a formal evaluation study, where a range of different synthesis techniques where compared in a range of different situations. Some synthesis techniques are indistinguishable from a recorded sample, in a fixed medium environment. In short – Yes, we are there yet. There are sound synthesis methods that sound more realistic than high quality recorded samples. But there is clearly so much more work to be done…

For more information, read the paper here

360 Degree Sound Experience – Warsnare at the Albany

Having spent the past week working at the Albany in Deptford. We produced a 360 degree surround sound experience for Warsnare, a Deptford based DJ and producer https://soundcloud.com/warsnare.

27 Genelec Speakers and 4 subwoofers 5 different stages, with live performance spatialised and mixed in with pre-recorded and spatial elements were used to produce a fully immersive experience for a sold out audience, as such tickets to watch from the balcony were also produced.

ambisonic collage

Propellor Sound Synthesis at Audio Mostly

Recently, at the Audio Mostly 2017 conference, my work with Rod Selfridge and Josh Reiss was published on Propellor Sound Synthesis. I was both published at the conference, on the conference organising committee, as a the webmaster and a member of the music team. More information is available here on the Intelligent Sound Engineering Blog, and an example of the propellor synthesis is available on youtube.

Sound Effects Taxonomy

At the upcoming International Conference on Digital Audio Effects, I will be presenting my recent work on creating a sound effects taxonomy using unsupervised learning. A link to the paper can be found here.

A taxonomy of sound effects is useful for a range of reasons. Sound designers often spend considerable time searching for sound effects. Classically, sound effects are arranged based on some key word tagging, and based on what caused the sound to be created – such as bacon cooking would have the name “BaconCook”, the tags “Bacon Cook, Sizzle, Open Pan, Food” and be placed in the category “cooking”. However, most sound designers know that the sound of frying bacon can sound very similar to the sound of rain (See this TED talk for more info), but rain is in an entirely different folder, in a different section of the SFx Library.

Our approach, is to analyse the raw content of the audio files in the sound effects library, and allow a computer to determine which sounds are similar, based on the actual sonic content of the sound sample. As such, the sounds of rain and frying bacon will be placed much closer together, allowing a sound designer to quickly and easily find related sounds that relate to each other.

A full run down of the work is present on the Intelligent Audio Engineering Blog

Sound Effects in Post Production

It has been quite a while since I have posted, but I hope to resolve that shortly with a number of academic papers being published this summer,

In the meantime, there is some discussion over the use of sound effects in port production, and the fundamental fact that many things you hear as part of a soundscape are not the original recorded sound – this is the one of the fundamental justifications for my PhD and this is very well explained in this TED Talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tasos_frantzolas_everything_you_hear_on_film_is_a_lie

 

 

High Resolution Audio

For as long as  digital audio has existed, there have been discussions as to sampling rate and bit depth. I have heard countless arguments between people of Analogue vs. Digital, 96kHz vs. 44.1kHz, 24 bit vs 16bit.

After numerous experiments and publications, discussions and tests on the subject, we seem to be getting towards the truth. In the June AES Journal, a new meta study  on high resolution audio promises to identify what the biggest failing are in our experimental methods, how we can progress with research in this field and finally, what are the results of years of research in the field.

Intelligent Sound Engineering Blog

AES Journal Paper (Open Access)

AES 140 – Paris

Last weekend saw the 140th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society — Europe’s largest gathering of audio professionals from around the globe, take place at Paris’ Palais des Congrès. From cutting edge research to fundamentals to practical application, the four-day technical program brings the opportunity to network with and learn from leading audio industry luminaries. Special events — including technical tours of premier production facilities and installs, student focused sessions and a 3 day manufacturer exposition round out the Convention. There was a particular focus on 3D and immersive audio at this Convention.

I was responsible for running all aspects of the student track of the convention, including Education and Career Fair, Student Design Competition, Recording Competitions and the Education Committee Meetings. At the end of the Convention I was promoted to Chair of the Student Delegate Assembly for Europe and International Regions.

More information can be found here