Pengi: An Audio Language Model for Audio Tasks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Soham Deshmukh, Benjamin Elizalde, Rita Singh, Huaming Wang


In the domain of audio processing, Transfer Learning has facilitated the rise of Self-Supervised Learning and Zero-Shot Learning techniques. These approaches have led to the development of versatile models capable of tackling a wide array of tasks, while delivering state-of-the-art performance. However, current models inherently lack the capacity to produce the requisite language for open-ended tasks, such as Audio Captioning or Audio Question Answering. We introduce Pengi, a novel Audio Language Model that leverages Transfer Learning by framing all audio tasks as text-generation tasks. It takes as input, an audio recording, and text, and generates free-form text as output. The input audio is represented as a sequence of continuous embeddings by an audio encoder. A text encoder does the same for the corresponding text input. Both sequences are combined as a prefix to prompt a pre-trained frozen language model. The unified architecture of Pengi enables open-ended tasks and close-ended tasks without any additional fine-tuning or task-specific extensions. When evaluated on 21 downstream tasks, our approach yields state-of-the-art performance in several of them. Our results show that connecting language models with audio models is a major step towards general-purpose audio understanding.