Unify and conquer: How phonetic feature representation affects polyglot text-to-speech (TTS)
An essential design decision for multilingual Neural Text-ToSpeech (NTTS) systems is how to represent input linguistic features within the model. Looking at the wide variety of approaches in the literature, two main paradigms emerge, unified and separate representations. The former uses a shared set of phonetic tokens across languages, whereas the latter uses unique phonetic tokens for each language. In this paper, we conduct a comprehensive study comparing multilingual NTTS systems models trained with both representations. Our results reveal that the unified approach consistently achieves better cross-lingual synthesis with respect to both naturalness and accent. Separate representations tend to have an order of magnitude more tokens than unified ones, which may affect model capacity. For this reason, we carry out an ablation study to understand the interaction of the representation type with the size of the token embedding. We find that the difference between the two paradigms only emerges above a certain threshold embedding size. This study provides strong evidence that unified representations should be the preferred paradigm when building multilingual NTTS systems.