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Unsupervised Equalization of Lombard Effect for Speech Recognition in Noisy Adverse Environments

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2 Author(s)
Hynek Boril ; Center for Robust Speech Systems (CRSS), The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX, USA ; John H. L. Hansen

In the presence of environmental noise, speakers tend to adjust their speech production in an effort to preserve intelligible communication. The noise-induced speech adjustments, called Lombard effect (LE), are known to severely impact the accuracy of automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems. The reduced performance results from the mismatch between the ASR acoustic models trained typically on noise-clean neutral (modal) speech and the actual parameters of noisy LE speech. In this study, novel unsupervised frequency domain and cepstral domain equalizations that increase ASR resistance to LE are proposed and incorporated in a recognition scheme employing a codebook of noisy acoustic models. In the frequency domain, short-time speech spectra are transformed towards neutral ASR acoustic models in a maximum-likelihood fashion. Simultaneously, dynamics of cepstral samples are determined from the quantile estimates and normalized to a constant range. A codebook decoding strategy is applied to determine the noisy models best matching the actual mixture of speech and noisy background. The proposed algorithms are evaluated side by side with conventional compensation schemes on connected Czech digits presented in various levels of background car noise. The resulting system provides an absolute word error rate (WER) reduction on 10-dB signal-to-noise ratio data of 8.7% and 37.7% for female neutral and LE speech, respectively, and of 8.7% and 32.8% for male neutral and LE speech, respectively, when compared to the baseline recognizer employing perceptual linear prediction (PLP) coefficients and cepstral mean and variance normalization.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 6 )