Intelligibility-enhancing speech modifications: the Hurricane Challenge


Abstract  Speech output is used extensively, including in situations where correct message reception is threatened by adverse listening conditions. Recently, there has been a growing interest in algorithmic modifications that aim to increase the intelligibility of both natural and synthetic speech when presented in noise. The Hurricane Challenge is the first large-scale open evaluation of algorithms designed to enhance speech intelligibility. Eighteen systems operating on a common data set were subjected to extensive listening tests and compared to unmodified natural and text-to-speech (TTS) baselines. The best-performing systems achieved gains over unmodified natural speech of 4.4 and 5.1 dB in competing speaker and stationary noise respectively, while TTS systems made gains of 5.6 and 5.1dB over their baseline. Surprisingly, for most conditions the largest gains were observed for noise-independent algorithms, suggesting that performance in this task can be further improved by exploiting information in the masking signal.

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