The Effect of Partial Time-Frequency Masking of the Direct Sound on the Perception of Reverberant Speech

Lior Madmoni*, Shir Tibor, Israel Nelken, Boaz Rafaely

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The perception of sound in real-life acoustic environments, such as enclosed rooms or open spaces with reflective objects, is affected by reverberation. Hence, reverberation is extensively studied in the context of auditory perception, with many studies highlighting the importance of the direct sound for perception. Based on this insight, speech processing methods often use time-frequency (TF) analysis to detect TF bins that are dominated by the direct sound, and then use the detected bins to reproduce or enhance the speech signals. The detection of bins dominated by the direct sound is typically based on an objective measure, such as the direct-to-reverberant ratio (DRR). However, the relation between the DRR in the TF bins and the spatial perception of the reverberant sound which is reproduced from these bins is still not clear. It is the aim of this paper to provide some insights into this relation, specifically for reverberant speech, focusing on bins with high DRR. This is performed using a listening experiment, where high DRR bins within a reverberant speech signal have been masked in the TF domain, based on various DRR thresholds. The results show that the percentage of high-DRR TF bins that were masked may better indicate the quality of spatial perception, compared to the specific value of the DRR threshold. The insights from this work could be incorporated into spatial audio techniques that reproduce the direct sound of reverberant speech, and potentially improve spatial perception. This was illustrated with an implementation of directional audio coding that was studied with an additional listening experiment supporting the previously described results.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9444149
Pages (from-to)2037-2047
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio Speech and Language Processing
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 IEEE.


  • Spatial perception
  • binaural reproduction
  • direct-to-reverberant ratio
  • reverberant speech


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