J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 119, No. 6, pp. 4055-4064, Jun. 2006
Improving syllable identification by a preprocessing method reducing overlap-masking in reverberant environments
N. Hodoshima, T. Arai, A. Kusumoto and K. Kinoshita
Abstract: Overlap-masking degrades speech intelligibility in reverberation [R. H. Bolt and A. D. MacDonald, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 21(6), 577–580 (1949)]. To reduce the effect of this degradation, steady-state suppression has been proposed as a preprocessing technique [Arai et al., Proc. Autumn Meet. Acoust. Soc. Jpn., 2001; Acoust. Sci. Tech. 23(8), 229–232 (2002)]. This technique automatically suppresses steady-state portions of speech that have more energy but are less crucial for speech perception. The present paper explores the effect of steady-state suppression on syllable identification preceded by /a/ under various reverberant conditions. In each of two perception experiments, stimuli were presented to 22 subjects with normal hearing. The stimuli consisted of mono-syllables in a carrier phrase with and without steady-state suppression and were presented under different reverberant conditions using artificial impulse responses. The results indicate that steady-state suppression statistically improves consonant identification for reverberation times of 0.7 to 1.2 s. Analysis of confusion matrices shows that identification of voiced consonants, stop and nasal consonants, and bilabial, alveolar, and velar consonants were especially improved by steady-state suppression. The steady-state suppression is demonstrated to be an effective preprocessing method for improving syllable identification by reducing the effect of overlap-masking under specific reverberant conditions.