Perceptual scaling of voice identity: common dimensions for different vowels and speakers

Psychol Res. 2010 Jan;74(1):110-20. doi: 10.1007/s00426-008-0185-z. Epub 2008 Nov 26.


(1) to determine if the acoustical parameters used by normal subjects to discriminate between different speakers vary when comparisons are made between pairs of two of the same or different vowels, and if they are different for male and female voices; (2) to ask whether individual voices can reasonably be represented as points in a low-dimensional perceptual space such that similarly sounding voices are located close to one another. Subjects were presented with pairs of voices from 16 male and 16 female speakers uttering the three French vowels "a", "i" and "u" and asked to give speaker similarity judgments. Multidimensional analyses of the similarity matrices were performed separately for male and female voices and for three types of comparisons: same vowels, different vowels and overall average. The resulting dimensions were then interpreted a posteriori in terms of relevant acoustical measures. For both male and female voices, a two-dimensional perceptual space was found to be most appropriate, with axes largely corresponding to contributions of the larynx (pitch) and supra-laryngeal vocal tract (formants), mirroring the two largely independent components of source and filter in voice production. These perceptual spaces of male and female voices and their corresponding voice samples are available at: section Resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Speech Acoustics
  • Speech Perception*
  • Voice*
  • Young Adult