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An effective voice activity detection (VAD) algorithm is proposed for improving speech recognition performance in noisy environments. The approach is based on the determination of the speech/nonspeech divergence by means of specialized order statistics filters (OSFs) working on the subband log-energies. This algorithm differs from many others in the way the decision rule is formulated. Instead of making the decision based on the current frame, it uses OSFs on the subband log-energies which significantly reduces the error probability when discriminating speech from nonspeech in a noisy signal. Clear improvements in speech/nonspeech discrimination accuracy demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed VAD. It is shown that an increase of the OSF order leads to a better separation of the speech and noise distributions, thus allowing a more effective discrimination and a tradeoff between complexity and performance. The algorithm also incorporates a noise reduction block working in tandem with the VAD and showed to further improve its accuracy. A previous noise reduction block also improves the accuracy in detecting speech and nonspeech. The experimental analysis carried out on the AURORA databases and tasks provides an extensive performance evaluation together with an exhaustive comparison to the standard VADs such as ITU G.729, GSM AMR, and ETSI AFE for distributed speech recognition (DSR), and other recently reported VADs.