Audio Time-Scale Modification

David Dorran

Audio time-scale modification is an audio effect that alters the duration of an audio signal without affecting its perceived local pitch and timbral characteristics. There are two broad categories of time-scale modification algorithms, time-domain and frequency-domain. The computationally efficient time-domain techniques produce high quality results for single pitched signals such as speech, but do not cope well with more complex signals such as polyphonic music. The less efficient frequencydomain techniques have proven to be more robust and produce high quality results for a variety of signals; however they introduce a reverberant artefact into the output. This dissertation focuses on incorporating aspects of time-domain techniques into frequency-domain techniques in an attempt to reduce the presence of the reverberant artefact and improve upon computational demands. From a review of prior work it was found that there are a number of time-domain algorithms available and that the choice of algorithm parameters varies considerably in the literature. This finding prompted an investigation into the effects of the choice of parameters and a comparison of the various techniques employed in terms of computational requirements and output quality. The investigation resulted in the derivation of an efficient and flexible parameter set for use within time-domain implementations. Of the available frequency-domain approaches the phase vocoder and timedomain/ subband techniques offer an efficiency and robustness advantage over sinusoidal modelling and iterative phase update techniques, and as such were identified as suitable candidates for the provision of a framework for further investigation. Following from this observation, improvements in the quality produced by time-domain/subband techniques are realised through the use of a bark based subband partitioning approach and effective subband synchronisation techniques. In addition, computational and output quality improvements within a phase vocoder implementation are achieved by taking advantage of a certain level of flexibility in the choice of phase within such an implementation. The phase flexibility established is used to push or pull phase values into a phase coherent state. Further improvements are realised by incorporating features of time-domain algorithms into the system in order to provide a ‘good’ initial set of phase estimates; the transition to ‘perfect’ phase coherence is significantly reduced through this scheme, thereby improving the overall output quality produced. The result is a robust and efficient time-scale modification algorithm which draws upon various aspects of a number of general approaches to time-scale modification.