The Minimum Overlap-Gap Algorithm for Speech Enhancement

Poul Hoang, Zheng-Hua Tan, Jan Mark De Haan, Jesper Jensen
2022 IEEE Access  
In this paper, we propose a novel speech enhancement paradigm which can effectively solve the problem of retrieving a desired speech signal in a multi-talker environment. The proposed speech enhancement paradigm involves a three-step procedure consisting of separation, ranking, and enhancement. First, a speech separation system -which could be a conventional spatial filter bank or more advanced separation systems -separates mixtures of speech signals captured by microphones into speech signals
more » ... rom candidate speakers. Next, novel ranking algorithms -proposed in this paper -are applied to determine the talker-of-interest amongst the separated speech signals. Finally, the speech signal of the talker-of-interest is estimated as a linear combination of the separated signals, whose weights are determined by the ranking algorithms. We propose ranking algorithms, which exploit turn-taking patterns between conversational partners in order to determine the talker-of-interest amongst competing speakers. Unlike some existing solutions, our ranking algorithms do not require access to additional sensors, e.g., EEG electrodes, cameras, etc., but only relies on microphone signals. Specifically, the proposed algorithms rank the separated speech signals based on the probability of speech overlaps and gaps with the user's own voice. The speech signal with highest ranking is the talker with minimum probability of speech overlap and gap with the user's own voice. The proposed ranking algorithms are shown highly effective at determining the talker-of-interest, since conversational partners, i.e., the user and the talker-of-interest, behaviorally avoid speech overlaps and gaps. We evaluate the proposed speech enhancement paradigm in two practical hearing aid related applications, where the objective is to enhance a speech signal of a conversational partner in a multi-talker environment. The results of the evaluation demonstrate that the proposed speech enhancement systems in both applications significantly outperform conventional speech enhancement systems. INDEX TERMS Speech enhancement, turn-taking, multichannel noise reduction, DOA estimation, multitalker problem, estimation of the talker-of-interest.
doi:10.1109/access.2022.3147514 fatcat:ulhl7xivdrgrllurdq75x6m5xu