Offline Speech Recognition on Raspberry Pi 4 with Respeaker

Faster than real-time! Based on Mozilla’s DeepSpeech Engine 0.9.*

UPDATE June 2020: Updated commands for DeepSpeech 0.7.* .Screenshots, except for Raspberry Pi 4 stayed the same. Benchmarks table also hasn’t changed, since I didn’t notice any inference speed gain. But it seems there was accuracy improvement – the 2830-3980-0043.wav audio file, that before was transcribed as “experience proofless” is now transcribed as “experience proves this”, which makes much more sense. The archived version of the article is still available on steemit. I also updated mic transcription with hotword script. Enjoy!

In this article we’re going to run and benchmark Mozilla’s DeepSpeech ASR (automatic speech recognition) engine on different platforms, such as Raspberry Pi 4(1 GB), Nvidia Jetson Nano, Windows PC and Linux PC.

2019, last year, was the year when Edge AI became mainstream. Multiple companies have released boards and chips for fast inference on the edge and a plethora of optimization frameworks and models have appeared. Up to date, in my articles and videos I mostly focused my attention on the use of machine learning for computer vision, but I was always interested in running deep learning based ASR project on an embedded device. The problem until recently was the lack of simple, fast and accurate engine for that task. When I was researching this topic about a year ago, the few choices for when you had to run ASR (not just hot-word detection, but large vocabulary transcription) on, say, Raspberry Pi 3 were:

  • CMUSphinx
  • Kaldi
  • Jasper


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And a couple of other ones. None of them were easy to setup and not particularly suitable for running in resource constrained environment. So, a few weeks ago, I started looking into this area again and after some search has stumbled upon Mozilla’s DeepSpeech engine. It has been around for a while, but only recently (December 2019) they have released 0.6.0 version of their ASR engine, which comes with.tflite model among other significant improvements. It has reduced the size of English model from 188 MB to 47 MB. “DeepSpeech v0.6 with TensorFlow Lite runs faster than real time on a single core of a Raspberry Pi 4.”, claimed Reuben Morais from Mozilla in the news announcement. So I decided to verify that claim myself, run some benchmarks on different hardware and make my own audio transcription application with hotword detection. Let’s see what the results are.

Hint: I wasn’t disappointed.


Raspberry Pi 4/3B

The pre-built wheel package for arm7 architecture is set to use.tflite model by default and installing it as easy as just

pip3 install deepspeech

This is it really! The package is self-contained, no Tensorflow installation needed. The only external dependency is Numpy. You’ll need to download model separately, we’ll cover it in the next section.

Nvidia Jetson Nano

The latest version of DeepSpeech, 0.7.3 has pre-built binaries for aarch64 architecture, which have model type by default set to .tflite. Unfortunately, the wheel is only available for python 3.7 and NVIDIA’s latest Jetpack 4.4 still comes with Python 3.6.9 as default python3… I don’t know why and neither do the maintainers of DeepSpeech. Which means we’ll have to install Python3.7 first, then install a couple of more dependencies and only then install DeepSpeech.

sudo apt-get install python3.7 python3.7-dev
python3.7 -m pip install cython
python3.7 -m pip install deepspeech-0.7.3-cp37-cp37m-linux_aarch64.whl

Windows 10/Linux

For Windows and Linux you’ll need to download .tflite enabled version of pip package.

pip3 install deepspeech-tflite

If you’re using Python 3.8 you’ll likely to encounter DLL loading error on Windows. It can be corrected fairly simple with a little change to DeepSpeech package code, but I suggest you just install the version for Python 3.7, which works flawlessly.

If you have NVIDIA GPU and CUDA 10 installed you can opt for GPU-enabled version of Deepspeech

pip3 install deepspeech-gpu


Let’s download the models, language model binary and some audio samples. Tflite model is used for inference on CPU/embedded platforms, .pbmm is a memory mapped larger model – only download that one if you want to run inference with deepspeech-gpu package. Scorer is the language model and while not necessary to run inference, having language model significantly improves accuracy as opposed to just relying on acoustic model – I talk in more details about DeepSpeech architecture in the accompanying video, make sure to check it out!

curl -LO
curl -LO
curl -LO

Download example audio files

curl -LO
tar xvf audio-0.7.1.tar.gz

Raspberry Pi 4 run:

deepspeech --model deepspeech-0.7.*-models.tflite --scorer deepspeech-0.7.*-models.scorer --audio audio/2830-3980-0043.wav

If successful you should see the following output

Not bad! 1.529 seconds for 1.975 seconds sound file. It IS faster than real time.

Nvidia Jetson Nano run:

deepspeech --model deepspeech-0.7.*-models.tflite --scorer deepspeech-0.7.*-models.scorer --audio audio/2830-3980-0043.wav

Hm.. a little bit slower than Raspberry Pi. That is expected, since Nvidia Jetson CPU is less powerful than Raspberry Pi 4. There are no pre-built binaries for arm64 architecture with GPU support as of this moment, so we cannot take advantage of Nvidia Jetson Nano’s GPU for inference acceleration. I don’t think this task is on DeepSpeech team roadmap, so in the near future I’ll do some research here myself and will try to compile that binary to see what speed gains can be achieved from using GPU. But seconds is still pretty decent speed and depending on your project you might want to choose to run DeepSpeech on CPU and have GPU for other deep learning tasks.

Windows 10/Linux

deepspeech --model deepspeech-0.7.*-models.tflite --scorer deepspeech-0.7.*-models.scorer --audio audio/2830-3980-0043.wav

Source: Offline Speech Recognition on Raspberry Pi 4 with Respeaker

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