This paper evaluates the impact of three special forms of the Minkowski metric (Euclidean, City Block, and Chebychev distances) on the performance of the conventional vector quantization (VQ) and Gaussian mixture model (GMM) based closed-set text-independent speaker recognition systems, in terms of recognition rate and confidence on decisions. For the VQ based system, evaluations are carried out using the two most common clustering algorithms, LBG and K-means, and it is revealed which clustering algorithm and distance pair should be used to exploit the best attribute of both to achieve the best recognition rate for a given codebook size. In the case of GMM based system, we introduce the metrics into the GMM using a concatenation of the LBG and K-means algorithms in estimating the initial mean vectors, to which the system performance is sensitive, and explore their impact on system performance. We also make comparison of results obtained from evaluations on clean speech (TIMIT) and telephone speech databases (NTIMIT and NIST2001) with the modern classifiers VQ-UBM and GMM-UBM. It is found that there are cases where conventional VQ based system outperforms the modern systems. Moreover, the impact of distance metrics on the performance of the conventional and modern systems depends on the recognition task imposed (verification/identification). Crown Copyright (C) 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.