On the number of channels needed to understand speech

Philipos C. Loizou, Michael Dorman, Zhemin Tu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    150 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Recent studies have shown that high levels of speech understanding could be achieved when the speech spectrum was divided into four channels and then reconstructed as a sum of four noise bands or sine waves with frequencies equal to the center frequencies of the channels. In these studies speech understanding was assessed using sentences produced by a single male talker. The aim of experiment 1 was to assess the number of channels necessary for a high level of speech understanding when sentences were produced by multiple talkers. In experiment 1, sentences produced by 135 different talkers were processed through n (2≤n≤16) number of channels, synthesized as a sum of n sinc waves with frequencies equal to the center frequencies of the filters, and presented to normal-hearing listeners for identification. A minimum of five channels was needed to achieve a high level (90%) of speech understanding. Asymptotic performance was achieved with eight channels, at least for the speech material used in this study. The outcome of experiment 1 demonstrated that the number of channels needed to reach asymptotic performance varies as a function of the recognition task and/or need for listeners to attend to fine phonetic detail. In experiment 2, sentences were processed through 6 and 16 channels and quantized into a small number of steps. The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether listeners use across-channel differences in amplitude to code frequency information, particularly when speech is processed through a small number of channels. For sentences processed through six channels there was a significant reduction in speech understanding when the spectral amplitudes were quantized into a small number (<8) of steps. High levels (92%) of speech understanding were maintained for sentences processed through 16 channels and quantized into only 2 steps. The findings of experiment 2 suggest an inverse: relationship between the importance of spectral amplitude resolution (number of steps) and spectral resolution (number of channels).

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2097-2103
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Volume106
    Issue number4 I
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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