Category Archives: Synthesis

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

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 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:



AES61 Audio for Games

The 61th International Conference of the Audio Engineering Society on Audio for Games took place in London from 10 to 12 February. This is the fifth edition of the Audio for Games conference which features a mixture of invited talks and academic paper sessions. Traditionally a biennial event, by popular demand the conference was organised in 2016 again following a very successful 4th edition in 2015.

Christian Heinrichs presented work from his doctoral research with Andrew McPherson, discussing Digital Foley and introducing FoleyDesigner, which allows for effectively using human gestures to control sound effects models.

I presented a paper in the Synthesis and Sound Design paper session, on weapon sound synthesis and my colleague William Wilkinson presented work on mammalian growls, both of which can be found in the conference proceedings.  

Furthermore, Xavier Serra and Frederic Font presented the Audio Commons project and how the creative industries could benefit from and get access to content with liberal licenses

Along with presenting work at this conference, I was also involved as the technical coordinator and webmaster for the Audio for Games community.

More information about the conference can be found on the conference website.

DAFx Day 3

Day three of the Digital Audio Effects Conference (DAFx15) began with an excellent introduction and summary of Wave Digital filters and Digital Wave Guides by Kurt Werner and Julius O. Smith from CCRMA, in which the current state of the art in physical modelling no nonlinearities was presented and some potential avenues for future exploration was discussed. Following on from this work was discussed

DAFx Day 2

Photo from Photo by Jørn Adde © Trondheim kommune

Day two of DAFx conference in Trondheim NTNU opened with Marije Baalmans keynote on the range of hardware and software audio effects and synthesisers are available to artists, and how different artists utilise these effects. This talk was focused primarily on small embedded systems that artists use, such as Arduino, Beaglebone Black and Raspberry Pi. Later in the day, some excellent work including:

AES Presentation on Owl Guitar Pedal

Martin Klang presented a talk on Open Source Entrepreneurship and the OWL discussing the OWL guitar pedal, creation through to production.

He discussed how the crowd funding sources, how to budget for small start up projects. The importance of open source, both in terms of software and hardware was discussed at length, and is a vital aspect of what the OWL team set out to do.

The OWL is a custom build programmable guitar effects pedal that allows anyone to write their own effect pedal and load it onto the standalone program. Effects can be written in C++, Faust or even Pure Data (PD). There is also a wrapper that allows users to run their patches as a VST or AU within a Digital Audio Workstation and in the future, it will also be possible to run patches in the browser. Recently a modular synthesiser version of the Owl has also been released.

Hoxton Owl Guitar Pedal