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Sound source localization (SSL) is an essential task in many applications involving speech capture and enhancement. As such, speaker localization with microphone arrays has received significant research attention. Nevertheless, existing SSL algorithms for small arrays still have two significant limitations: lack of range resolution, and accuracy degradation with increasing reverberation. The latter is natural and expected, given that strong reflections can have amplitudes similar to that of the direct signal, but different directions of arrival. Therefore, correctly modeling the room and compensating for the reflections should reduce the degradation due to reverberation. In this paper, we show a stronger result. If modeled correctly, early reflections can be used to provide more information about the source location than would have been available in an anechoic scenario. The modeling not only compensates for the reverberation, but also significantly increases resolution for range and elevation. Thus, we show that under certain conditions and limitations, reverberation can be used to improve SSL performance. Prior attempts to compensate for reverberation tried to model the room impulse response (RIR). However, RIRs change quickly with speaker position, and are nearly impossible to track accurately. Instead, we build a 3-D model of the room, which we use to predict early reflections, which are then incorporated into the SSL estimation. Simulation results with real and synthetic data show that even a simplistic room model is sufficient to produce significant improvements in range and elevation estimation, tasks which would be very difficult when relying only on direct path signal components.
Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:18 , Issue: 7 )
Date of Publication: Sept. 2010