Perception of synthesized voice quality in connected speech by Cantonese speakers

Edwin M.-L. YIU, Bruce MURDOCH, Kathryn HIRD, Suk Han Polly LAU

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Perceptual voice analysis is a subjective process. However, despite reports of varying degrees of intrajudge and interjudge reliability, it is widely used in clinical voice evaluation. One of the ways to improve the reliability of this procedure is to provide judges with signals as external standards so that comparison can be made in relation to these "anchor" signals. The present study used a Klatt speech synthesizer to create a set of speech signals with varying degree of three different voice qualities based on a Cantonese sentence. The primary objective of the study was to determine whether different abnormal voice qualities could be synthesized using the "built-in" synthesis parameters using a perceptual study. The second objective was to determine the relationship between acoustic characteristics of the synthesized signals and perceptual judgment. Twenty Cantonese-speaking speech pathologists with at least three years of clinical experience in perceptual voice evaluation were asked to undertake two tasks. The first was to decide whether the voice quality of the synthesized signals was normal or not. The second was to decide whether the abnormal signals should be described as rough, breathy, or vocal fry. The results showed that signals generated with a small degree of aspiration noise were perceived as breathiness while signals with a small degree of flutter or double pulsing were perceived as roughness. When the flutter or double pulsing increased further, tremor and vocal fry, rather than roughness, were perceived. Furthermore, the amount of aspiration noise, flutter, or double pulsing required for male voice stimuli was different from that required for the female voice stimuli with a similar level of perceptual breathiness and roughness. These findings showed that changes in perceived vocal quality could be achieved by systematic modifications of synthesis parameters. This opens up the possibility of using synthesized voice signals as external standards or "anchors" to improve the reliability of clinical perceptual voice evaluation. Copyright © 2002 Acoustical Society of America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1101
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002


Yiu, E. M.-L., Murdoch, B., Hird, K., & Lau, P. (2002). Perception of synthesized voice quality in connected speech by Cantonese speakers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 112(3), 1091-1101. doi: 10.1121/1.1500753


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