Influences of Fundamental Frequency, Formant Frequencies, Aperiodicity, and Spectrum Level on the Perception of Voice Gender PurposeTo determine the relative importance of acoustic parameters (fundamental frequency [F0], formant frequencies [FFs], aperiodicity, and spectrum level [SL]) on voice gender perception, the authors used a novel parameter-morphing approach that, unlike spectral envelope shifting, allows the application of nonuniform scale factors to transform formants and more direct comparison of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2014
Influences of Fundamental Frequency, Formant Frequencies, Aperiodicity, and Spectrum Level on the Perception of Voice Gender
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Verena G. Skuk
    Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Jena, Germany
  • Stefan R. Schweinberger
    Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Jena, Germany
  • Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Verena G. Skuk: verena.skuk@uni-jena.de
  • Editor: Craig Champlin
    Editor: Craig Champlin×
  • Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek
    Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Research Article   |   February 01, 2014
Influences of Fundamental Frequency, Formant Frequencies, Aperiodicity, and Spectrum Level on the Perception of Voice Gender
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2014, Vol. 57, 285-296. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0314)
History: Received October 2, 2012 , Revised March 6, 2013 , Accepted April 28, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2014, Vol. 57, 285-296. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0314)
History: Received October 2, 2012; Revised March 6, 2013; Accepted April 28, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

PurposeTo determine the relative importance of acoustic parameters (fundamental frequency [F0], formant frequencies [FFs], aperiodicity, and spectrum level [SL]) on voice gender perception, the authors used a novel parameter-morphing approach that, unlike spectral envelope shifting, allows the application of nonuniform scale factors to transform formants and more direct comparison of parameter impact.

MethodIn each of 2 experiments, 16 listeners with normal hearing (8 female, 8 male) classified voice gender for morphs between female and male speakers, using syllable tokens from 2 male–female speaker pairs. Morphs varied single acoustic parameters (Experiment 1) or selected combinations (Experiment 2), keeping residual parameters androgynous, as determined in a baseline experiment.

ResultsThe strongest cue related to gender perception was F0, followed by FF and SL. Aperiodicity did not systematically influence gender perception. Morphing F0 and FF in conjunction produced convincing changes in perceived gender—changes that were equivalent to those for Full morphs interpolating all parameters. Despite the importance of F0, morphing FF and SL in combination produced effective changes in voice gender perception.

ConclusionsThe most important single parameters for gender perception are, in order, F0, FF, and SL. At the same time, F0 and vocal tract resonances have a comparable impact on voice gender perception.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Grant Schw 511/10-1 (“Voice Perception”), awarded to the second author in the context of the DFG Research Unit Person Perception (Grant FOR1097).
We gratefully acknowledge the advice given by Hideki Kawahara in describing in detail the TANDEM-STRAIGHT procedure. We also thank Achim Hötzel for assistance in stimuli preparation, acoustic measurement, and data acquisition, and Harms Achtergarde and Romi Zäske for helpful comments on this article.
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