Skip to Main Content
Recently, binary mask techniques have been proposed as a tool for retrieving a target speech signal from a noisy observation. A binary gain function is applied to time-frequency tiles of the noisy observation in order to suppress noise dominated and retain target dominated time-frequency regions. When implemented using discrete Fourier transform (DFT) techniques, the binary mask techniques can be seen as a special case of the broader class of DFT-based speech enhancement algorithms, for which the applied gain function is not constrained to be binary. In this context, we develop and compare binary mask techniques to state-of-the-art continuous gain techniques. We derive spectral magnitude minimum mean-square error binary gain estimators; the binary gain estimators turn out to be simple functions of the continuous gain estimators. We show that the optimal binary estimators are closely related to a range of existing, heuristically developed, binary gain estimators. The derived binary gain estimators perform better than existing binary gain estimators in simulation experiments with speech signals contaminated by several different noise sources as measured by speech quality and intelligibility measures. However, even the best binary mask method is significantly outperformed by state-of-the-art continuous gain estimators. The instrumental intelligibility results are confirmed in an intelligibility listening test.