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A new digital filter bank design is proposed for the processing of speech waveforms where spectral pattern matching techniques are applicable. Outputs in decibels from the 30 channels of the filter bank are computed every 12 ms. Care has been taken to select a time window and filter center frequency and bandwidth values that take into account the acoustic characteristics of speech. A distance metric is proposed for comparing a spectral frame with previously derived reference patterns. The metric incorporates procedures for crude speaker/microphone normalization, signal level normalization, background noise normalization, and procedures for emphasizing differences in the region of spectral peaks.