The Future of Audio Quality Testing: Artificial Intelligence in QA Technologies

The audio technology industry is currently undergoing a paradigm shift, driven by relentless technological innovation. As the world becomes more digitally interconnected, the demand for superior audio quality during calls or conferences is paramount. Now, more than ever before, there is a pressing need for refined quality assurance measures to assess voice quality in applications that use audio, like VoIP apps, video conferencing apps, streaming apps, video games, and other communication apps.

In this blog, we will unravel how advanced technologies, namely Whisper by OpenAI, and technologies that are currently being developed by TestDevLab — SpeechQ and ASQ-ViT — are going to be revolutionizing audio technologies and quality assurance practices. We will explore the mechanics of these cutting-edge solutions and their potential influence on the future of the industry.

The Role of AI in QA: Revolutionizing Practices and Metrics

The landscape of Quality Assurance (QA) is evolving at an incredible pace, and a significant driving force behind this transformation is Artificial Intelligence (AI). In today’s digital world, the volume, velocity, and variety of data are increasing exponentially. In such a scenario, traditional QA methods are often ill-equipped to keep up with the heightened demand for accuracy, efficiency, and scalability. AI steps in to fill this gap, offering innovative solutions that revolutionize QA processes.

AI has proven to be an invaluable tool for enhancing precision and accelerating processes in QA. Its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns, anomalies, or trends far outstrips human capabilities. This becomes particularly crucial in areas where the margin for error is minimal, and the requirement for precision is paramount, such as audio quality assurance.

One key advantage of using AI in QA is its ability to provide objective, consistent results. AI eliminates human bias and variability, which often skew the results in traditional manual testing. By providing an objective standard, it ensures that the QA processes are more accurate, reliable, and consistent.

Moreover, AI allows QA processes to be more dynamic and responsive. In the face of unpredictable network conditions and diverse real-world scenarios, for example, AI-powered tools can adapt and respond more effectively. They can simulate these varying conditions, assess the audio quality, and help establish robust testing practices that can be applied to a wide spectrum of situations.

Additionally, AI’s capability to work without reference data makes it highly versatile and flexible. Traditional methods are constrained by the need for ideal reference samples, which may not always be available in diverse network conditions. AI’s ability to predict quality without reference data paves a way for more adaptable and efficient QA processes.

The growing integration of AI in QA is a testament to its transformative potential. It’s not merely a trend but an essential component of modern QA practices. As QA engineers, understanding AI and its applications isn’t optional anymore, it’s a crucial skill for staying relevant and competitive. By leveraging AI, QA engineers can ensure they’re equipped to meet the escalating demands for superior quality in the digital world.

To fully understand this transformation, let’s delve into three frameworks—WhisperAI, SpeechQ, and ASQ-ViT.

Whisper by OpenAI: The Foundation

Whisper forms the bedrock of contemporary quality assurance measures in audio technologies. It is a speech recognition model that is trained on a large dataset of diverse audio and is also a multitasking model that can perform multilingual speech recognition, speech translation, and language identification. Leveraging AI, this technology presents an efficient methodology for evaluating the quality of degraded audio samples against reference ones.

Whisper is essentially an audio quality indicator that allows QA engineers to estimate the extent of degradation an audio sample can bear before it becomes unintelligible. This plays a pivotal role in environments where optimal audio quality is critical, such as telecommunication software, virtual meeting platforms, podcast streaming services, and even AI-powered transcription services.

The implications of WhisperAI for quality testing are significant. With this technology, we can not only determine how resilient our audio services are to quality loss but also pinpoint the threshold beyond which the audio quality deteriorates. By establishing this benchmark, we can design our testing practices to ensure the audio quality always stays above this threshold, guaranteeing a positive user experience.

SpeechQ: Next-Gen Audio Assessment Tool

SpeechQ is a powerful tool used to measure the intelligibility of audio in real-world scenarios. Built upon the foundation of Whisper, SpeechQ uses text correlation to estimate the intelligibility of degraded audio samples. Or in simpler terms, it assesses how well users can understand the audio despite its degradation. SpeechQ is particularly useful for evaluating audio quality in video calls where network conditions can be unpredictable and vary significantly, acting as an important key performance indicator (KPI) for audio quality. Apart from video calls, SpeechQ can be applied to any scenario where clear audio communication is crucial. Whether it’s a critical business meeting, a virtual classroom lecture, a telehealth appointment, or even a live-streamed concert, SpeechQ can help QA engineers accurately assess audio clarity.

As QA engineers, it’s essential for us to understand how network fluctuations impact audio quality. SpeechQ enables us to simulate different network conditions and assess how well applications can maintain their audio quality. It’s not just about ensuring clear audio in ideal conditions, but guaranteeing clarity even when conditions aren’t perfect.

ASQ-ViT: Transforming Audio Evaluation

The audio industry, much like any other tech industry, is data-driven. We rely heavily on data to assess performance and to plan future strategies. This is where ASQ-ViT comes in, delivering a data-driven approach to audio quality assessment.

ASQ-ViT—or Audio Spectrogram Quality with Visual Transformer—is a no-reference audio quality assessment tool that can be used to evaluate a wide range of audio technologies, such as audio streaming platforms, digital assistants, telecommunication software, and more. The core strength of ASQ-ViT lies in its innovative combination of spectrograms and a deep learning model, which provides a precise evaluation of audio quality. A spectrogram is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound or other signal as they vary with time. ASQ-ViT enables us to view audio quality through a fresh lens by treating audio signals as images and processing them through a convolutional neural network and a transformer. To evaluate audio, we use the same architecture as our VQTDL algorithm.

One of the main advantages of ASQ-ViT is its ability to mirror human perception of quality, thereby helping QA engineers align the audio quality more closely with user expectations.

Moreover, ASQ-ViT’s high correlation with subjectively evaluated audio demonstrates its ability to accurately predict quality even without reference data. For QA engineers, this means reduced dependency on having ideal reference samples for quality assessment. This paves the way for a more dynamic and flexible testing environment, enhancing the overall efficiency of our quality assurance processes.

AI-Based vs. Traditional Quality Assessment Methods

Traditional methods of audio quality assessment and assurance relied heavily on subjective human evaluation or the availability of ideal reference audio samples. One of the most commonly used traditional methods for audio quality assessment is the Mean Opinion Score (MOS). The MOS is a numerical measure that provides an overall quality score of an audio (or video) sample. It is derived from a series of subjective tests where human listeners rate the quality of audio samples on a scale from 1 (bad quality) to 5 (excellent quality). Methods like this, while practical in the past, pose significant challenges in the modern digitized world, which Whisper, SpeechQ, and ASQ-ViT are engineered to overcome.

Whisper vs. Traditional Assessment Algorithms

Traditional audio quality assessment methods, like MOS, are performed manually. This means that they often require human evaluators to conduct exhaustive listening tests. However, this type of approach is not scalable and is subject to individual perceptual biases. With the advent of Whisper, this paradigm shifted significantly. Leveraging artificial intelligence, Whisper provides an objective and automated method for assessing audio quality. It eliminates human bias and vastly increases the efficiency and scalability of the testing process.

SpeechQ vs. Traditional Assessment Algorithms

Speech intelligibility is another critical aspect of audio quality that is traditionally tested by manually assessing the understandability of speech in a degraded audio sample. This method, while somewhat effective, is highly dependent on the human factor and can be influenced by language proficiency and auditory acuity.

SpeechQ, by incorporating text correlation between reference and degraded samples, eliminates this variability. It provides a quantitative measure of speech intelligibility, making it a more reliable and objective assessment tool. In addition, as SpeechQ is based on AI, it can work with large volumes of data, enabling more comprehensive and accurate testing.

ASQ-ViT Traditional Assessment Algorithms

In a conventional setting, audio quality assessment requires ideal reference audio samples to compare against degraded samples. The need for ideal references poses a significant challenge, especially when dealing with diverse and unpredictable real-world network conditions.

ASQ-ViT, with its no-reference algorithm, addresses this issue. By converting audio into spectrograms and using deep learning, it can assess the quality of audio samples without the need for a reference. This is particularly beneficial in dynamic network conditions where obtaining ideal reference samples might not be feasible.

Conclusion

The demand for superior audio quality has created a massive shift in quality assurance practices. Namely, artificial intelligence is paving a new path in the quality assurance industry that promises a more streamlined process, particularly in audio quality testing. While traditional audio quality assessment methods are still being used, advanced tools like Whisper, SpeechQ, and ASQ-ViT, which utilize artificial intelligence, make the overall testing process more robust, reliable, and objective.

Through AI’s capabilities, we can automate and streamline QA processes, enhancing their accuracy, consistency, and responsiveness. WhisperAI provides us with an efficient method for estimating audio degradation. SpeechQ helps ensure speech intelligibility even in the face of network fluctuations, while ASQ-ViT offers a fresh, data-driven perspective on audio quality assessment.

These transformative technologies are more than just tools. They represent a paradigm shift in how we approach quality assurance. As we move forward, embracing these innovative quality assessment methods is not just beneficial, but essential to staying relevant and competitive in the rapidly advancing audio technology industry.

At TestDevLab, we are committed to staying at the forefront of the AI revolution, by developing unique testing tools and providing comprehensive software testing services that meet the demands of companies across industries. Contact us to learn more about our unique audio quality algorithms—SpeechQ and ASQ-ViT—and how we can implement them into your project, or get in touch to find out how we can help you test the quality of your solution.

Esam Ali-Halil
Esam Ali-Halil
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