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Vocoder-Based Additive-Synthesis Limitations

Using the phase-vocoder to compute amplitude and frequency envelopes for additive synthesis works best for quasi-periodic signals. For inharmonic signals, the vocoder analysis method can be unwieldy: The restriction of one sinusoid per subband leads to many ``empty'' bands (since radix-2 FFT filter banks are always uniformly spaced). As a result, we have to compute many more filter bands than are actually needed, and the empty bands need to be ``pruned'' in some way (e.g., based on an energy detector within each band). The unwieldiness of a uniform filter bank for tracking inharmonic partial overtones through time led to the development of sinusoidal modeling based on the STFT, as described in §G.11.2 below.

Another limitation of the phase-vocoder analysis was that it did not capture the attack transient very well in the amplitude and frequency envelopes computed. This is because an attack transient typically only partially filled an STFT analysis window. Moreover, filter-bank amplitude and frequency envelopes provide an inefficient model for signals that are noise-like, such as a flute with a breathy attack. These limitations are addressed by sinusoidal modeling, sines+noise modeling, and sines+noise+transients modeling, as discussed starting in §10.4 below (as well as in §10.4).

The phase vocoder was not typically implemented as an identity system due mainly to the large data reduction of the envelopes (piecewise linear approximation). However, it could be used as an identity system by keeping the envelopes at the full signal sampling rate and retaining the initial phase information for each channel. Instantaneous phase is then reconstructed as the initial phase plus the time-integral of the instantaneous frequency (given by the frequency envelope).


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``Spectral Audio Signal Processing'', by Julius O. Smith III, W3K Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9745607-3-1.
Copyright © 2016-07-18 by Julius O. Smith III
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA),   Stanford University
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