Design and evaluation of noise reduction techniques for binaural hearing aids

One of the main complaints of hearing aid users is their degraded speech understanding in noisy environments. Modern hearing aids therefore include noise reduction techniques. These techniques are typically designed for a monaural application, i.e. in a single device. However, the majority of hearing aid users currently have hearing aids at both ears in a so-called bilateral fitting, as it is widely accepted that this leads to a better speech understanding and user satisfaction. Unfortunately, the independent signal processing (in particular the noise reduction) in a bilateral fitting can destroy the so-called binaural cues, namely the interaural time and level differences (ITDs and ILDs) which are used to localize sound sources in the horizontal plane. A recent technological advance are so-called binaural hearing aids, where a wireless link allows for the exchange of data (or even microphone signals) between the ...

Cornelis, Bram — KU Leuven


Design and evaluation of digital signal processing algorithms for acoustic feedback and echo cancellation

This thesis deals with several open problems in acoustic echo cancellation and acoustic feedback control. Our main goal has been to develop solutions that provide a high performance and sound quality, and behave in a robust way in realistic conditions. This can be achieved by departing from the traditional ad-hoc methods, and instead deriving theoretically well-founded solutions, based on results from parameter estimation and system identification. In the development of these solutions, the computational efficiency has permanently been taken into account as a design constraint, in that the complexity increase compared to the state-of-the-art solutions should not exceed 50 % of the original complexity. In the context of acoustic echo cancellation, we have investigated the problems of double-talk robustness, acoustic echo path undermodeling, and poor excitation. The two former problems have been tackled by including adaptive decorrelation filters in the ...

van Waterschoot, Toon — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Adaptive filtering techniques for noise reduction and acoustic feedback cancellation in hearing aids

Understanding speech in noise and the occurrence of acoustic feedback belong to the major problems of current hearing aid users. Hence, an urgent demand exists for efficient and well-working digital signal processing algorithms that offer a solution to these issues. In this thesis we develop adaptive filtering techniques for noise reduction and acoustic feedback cancellation. Thanks to the availability of low power digital signal processors, these algorithms can be integrated in a hearing aid. Because of the ongoing miniaturization in the hearing aid industry and the growing tendency towards multi-microphone hearing aids, robustness against imperfections such as microphone mismatch, has become a major issue in the design of a noise reduction algorithm. In this thesis we propose multimicrophone noise reduction techniques that are based on multi-channel Wiener filtering (MWF). Theoretical and experimental analysis demonstrate that these MWF-based techniques are less ...

Spriet, Ann — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Adaptive filtering algorithms for acoustic echo cancellation and acoustic feedback control in speech communication applications

Multimedia consumer electronics are nowadays everywhere from teleconferencing, hands-free communications, in-car communications to smart TV applications and more. We are living in a world of telecommunication where ideal scenarios for implementing these applications are hard to find. Instead, practical implementations typically bring many problems associated to each real-life scenario. This thesis mainly focuses on two of these problems, namely, acoustic echo and acoustic feedback. On the one hand, acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) is widely used in mobile and hands-free telephony where the existence of echoes degrades the intelligibility and listening comfort. On the other hand, acoustic feedback limits the maximum amplification that can be applied in, e.g., in-car communications or in conferencing systems, before howling due to instability, appears. Even though AEC and acoustic feedback cancellation (AFC) are functional in many applications, there are still open issues. This means that ...

Gil-Cacho, Jose Manuel — KU Leuven


Integrated active noise control and noise reduction in hearing aids

In every day life conversations and listening scenarios the desired speech signal is rarely delivered alone. The listener most commonly faces a scenario where he has to understand speech in a noisy environment. Hearing impairments, and more particularly sensorineural losses, can cause a reduction of speech understanding in noise. Therefore, in a hearing aid compensating for such kind of losses it is not sufficient to just amplify the incoming sound. Hearing aids also need to integrate algorithms that allow to discriminate between speech and noise in order to extract a desired speech from a noisy environment. A standard noise reduction scheme in general aims at maximising the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal to be fed in the hearing aid loudspeaker. This signal, however, does not reach the eardrum directly. It first has to propagate through an acoustic path and encounter ...

Serizel, Romain — KU Leuven


Preserving binaural cues in noise reduction algorithms for hearing aids

Hearing aid users experience great difficulty in understanding speech in noisy environments. This has led to the introduction of noise reduction algorithms in hearing aids. The development of these algorithms is typically done monaurally. However, the human auditory system is a binaural system, which compares and combines the signals received by both ears to perceive a sound source as a single entity in space. Providing two monaural, independently operating, noise reduction systems, i.e. a bilateral configuration, to the hearing aid user may disrupt binaural information, needed to localize sound sources correctly and to improve speech perception in noise. In this research project, we first examined the influence of commercially available, bilateral, noise reduction algorithms on binaural hearing. Extensive objective and perceptual evaluations showed that the bilateral adaptive directional microphone (ADM) and the bilateral fixed directional microphone, two of the most ...

Van den Bogaert, Tim — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Analysis, Design, and Evaluation of Acoustic Feedback Cancellation Systems for Hearing Aids

Acoustic feedback problems occur when the output loudspeaker signal of an audio system is partly returned to the input microphone via an acoustic coupling through the air. This problem often causes significant performance degradations in applications such as public address systems and hearing aids. In the worst case, the audio system becomes unstable and howling occurs. In this work, first we analyze a general multiple microphone audio processing system, where a cancellation system using adaptive filters is used to cancel the effect of acoustic feedback. We introduce and derive an accurate approximation of a frequency domain measure—the power transfer function—and show how it can be used to predict system behaviors of the entire cancellation system across time and frequency without knowing the true acoustic feed-back paths. Furthermore, we consider the biased estimation problem, which is one of the most challenging ...

Guo, Meng — Aalborg University


Sparse Multi-Channel Linear Prediction for Blind Speech Dereverberation

In many speech communication applications, such as hands-free telephony and hearing aids, the microphones are located at a distance from the speaker. Therefore, in addition to the desired speech signal, the microphone signals typically contain undesired reverberation and noise, caused by acoustic reflections and undesired sound sources. Since these disturbances tend to degrade the quality of speech communication, decrease speech intelligibility and negatively affect speech recognition, efficient dereverberation and denoising methods are required. This thesis deals with blind dereverberation methods, not requiring any knowledge about the room impulse responses between the speaker and the microphones. More specifically, we propose a general framework for blind speech dereverberation based on multi-channel linear prediction (MCLP) and exploiting sparsity of the speech signal in the time-frequency domain.

Jukić, Ante — University of Oldenburg


Multi-microphone noise reduction and dereverberation techniques for speech applications

In typical speech communication applications, such as hands-free mobile telephony, voice-controlled systems and hearing aids, the recorded microphone signals are corrupted by background noise, room reverberation and far-end echo signals. This signal degradation can lead to total unintelligibility of the speech signal and decreases the performance of automatic speech recognition systems. In this thesis several multi-microphone noise reduction and dereverberation techniques are developed. In Part I we present a Generalised Singular Value Decomposition (GSVD) based optimal filtering technique for enhancing multi-microphone speech signals which are degraded by additive coloured noise. Several techniques are presented for reducing the computational complexity and we show that the GSVD-based optimal filtering technique can be integrated into a `Generalised Sidelobe Canceller' type structure. Simulations show that the GSVD-based optimal filtering technique achieves a larger signal-to-noise ratio improvement than standard fixed and adaptive beamforming techniques and ...

Doclo, Simon — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


Prediction and Optimization of Speech Intelligibility in Adverse Conditions

In digital speech-communication systems like mobile phones, public address systems and hearing aids, conveying the message is one of the most important goals. This can be challenging since the intelligibility of the speech may be harmed at various stages before, during and after the transmission process from sender to receiver. Causes which create such adverse conditions include background noise, an unreliable internet connection during a Skype conversation or a hearing impairment of the receiver. To overcome this, many speech-communication systems include speech processing algorithms to compensate for these signal degradations like noise reduction. To determine the effect on speech intelligibility of these signal processing based solutions, the speech signal has to be evaluated by means of a listening test with human listeners. However, such tests are costly and time consuming. As an alternative, reliable and fast machine-driven intelligibility predictors are ...

Taal, Cees — Delft University of Technology


Dereverberation and noise reduction techniques based on acoustic multi-channel equalization

In many hands-free speech communication applications such as teleconferencing or voice-controlled applications, the recorded microphone signals do not only contain the desired speech signal, but also attenuated and delayed copies of the desired speech signal due to reverberation as well as additive background noise. Reverberation and background noise cause a signal degradation which can impair speech intelligibility and decrease the performance for many signal processing techniques. Acoustic multi-channel equalization techniques, which aim at inverting or reshaping the measured or estimated room impulse responses between the speech source and the microphone array, comprise an attractive approach to speech dereverberation since in theory perfect dereverberation can be achieved. However in practice, such techniques suffer from several drawbacks, such as uncontrolled perceptual effects, sensitivity to perturbations in the measured or estimated room impulse responses, and background noise amplification. The aim of this thesis ...

Kodrasi, Ina — University of Oldenburg


Speech Enhancement Algorithms for Audiological Applications

The improvement of speech intelligibility is a traditional problem which still remains open and unsolved. The recent boom of applications such as hands-free communi- cations or automatic speech recognition systems and the ever-increasing demands of the hearing-impaired community have given a definitive impulse to the research in this area. This PhD thesis is focused on speech enhancement for audiological applications. Most of the research conducted in this thesis has been focused on the improvement of speech intelligibility in hearing aids, considering the variety of restrictions and limitations imposed by this type of devices. The combination of source separation techniques and spatial filtering with machine learning and evolutionary computation has originated novel and interesting algorithms which are included in this thesis. The thesis is divided in two main parts. The first one contains a preliminary study of the problem and a ...

Ayllón, David — Universidad de Alcalá


Blind Signal Separation

The separation of independent sources from mixed observed data is a fundamental and challenging signal processing problem. In many practical situations, one or more desired signals need to be recovered from the mixtures only. A typical example is speech recordings made in an acoustic environment in the presence of background noise and/or competing speakers. Other examples include EEG signals, passive sonar applications and cross-talk in data communications. The audio signal separation problem is sometimes referred to as The Cocktail Party Problem. When several people in the same room are conversing at the same time, it is remarkable that a person is able to choose to concentrate on one of the speakers and listen to his or her speech flow unimpeded. This ability, usually referred to as the binaural cocktail party effect, results in part from binaural (two-eared) hearing. In contrast, ...

Chan, Dominic C. B. — University of Cambridge


Flexible Multi-Microphone Acquisition and Processing of Spatial Sound Using Parametric Sound Field Representations

This thesis deals with the efficient and flexible acquisition and processing of spatial sound using multiple microphones. In spatial sound acquisition and processing, we use multiple microphones to capture the sound of multiple sources being simultaneously active at a rever- berant recording side and process the sound depending on the application at the application side. Typical applications include source extraction, immersive spatial sound reproduction, or speech enhancement. A flexible sound acquisition and processing means that we can capture the sound with almost arbitrary microphone configurations without constraining the application at the ap- plication side. This means that we can realize and adjust the different applications indepen- dently of the microphone configuration used at the recording side. For example in spatial sound reproduction, where we aim at reproducing the sound such that the listener perceives the same impression as if he ...

Thiergart, Oliver — Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg


Distributed Signal Processing Algorithms for Multi-Task Wireless Acoustic Sensor Networks

Recent technological advances in analogue and digital electronics as well as in hardware miniaturization have taken wireless sensing devices to another level by introducing low-power communication protocols, improved digital signal processing capabilities and compact sensors. When these devices perform a certain pre-defined signal processing task such as the estimation or detection of phenomena of interest, a cooperative scheme through wireless connections can significantly enhance the overall performance, especially in adverse conditions. The resulting network consisting of such connected devices (or nodes) is referred to as a wireless sensor network (WSN). In acoustical applications (e.g., speech enhancement) a variant of WSNs, called wireless acoustic sensor networks (WASNs) can be employed in which the sensing unit at each node consists of a single microphone or a microphone array. The nodes of such a WASN can then cooperate to perform a multi-channel acoustic ...

Hassani, Amin — KU Leuven

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