Google's New Lyra Voice Codec + AV1 Aim For Video Chats Over 56kbps Modems In 2021
Written by Michael Larabel in Google on 27 February 2021 at 01:00 AM EST. 74 Comments
GOOGLE --
Google's AI team has announced "Lyra" as a very low bit-rate codec for speech compression designed for use-cases like WebRTC and other video chats... With a bit rate so low that when combined with the likes of the AV1 video codec could potentially allow video chats over 56kbps Internet connections.

Google engineers formally announced Lyra on Thursday as this new codec to challenge the likes of Opus. Lyra leverages machine learning to make it suitable for delivering extremely low bit-rate speech compression.

Google's Lyra announcement noted, "Lyra is currently designed to operate at 3kbps and listening tests show that Lyra outperforms any other codec at that bitrate and is compared favorably to Opus at 8kbps, thus achieving more than a 60% reduction in bandwidth. Lyra can be used wherever the bandwidth conditions are insufficient for higher-bitrates and existing low-bitrate codecs do not provide adequate quality."

While leveraging machine learning, Google noted they aimed to make it very fair, "We’ve trained Lyra with thousands of hours of audio with speakers in over 70 languages using open-source audio libraries and then verifying the audio quality with expert and crowdsourced listeners. One of the design goals of Lyra is to ensure universally accessible high-quality audio experiences. Lyra trains on a wide dataset, including speakers in a myriad of languages, to make sure the codec is robust to any situation it might encounter."

As part of the Google AI Blog announcement they also detailed how pairing Lyra with AV1 could allow for video chat support for those still on 56kbps modems, "Lyra can be used in cloud environments enabling users with various network and device capabilities to chat seamlessly with each other. Pairing Lyra with new video compression technologies, like AV1, will allow video chats to take place, even for users connecting to the internet via a 56kbps dial-in modem."
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