Recognition of Speech Produced in Noise

Andrea L. Pittman, Terry L. Wiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


A two-part study examined recognition of speech produced in quiet and in noise by normal hearing adults. In Part I 5 women produced 50 sentences consisting of an ambiguous carrier phrase followed by a unique target word. These sentences were spoken in three environments: quiet, wide band noise (WBN), and meaningful multi-talker babble (MMB). The WBN and MMB competitors were presented through insert earphones at 80 dB SPL. For each talker, the mean vocal level, long-term average speech spectra, and mean word duration were calculated for the 50 target words produced in each speaking environment. Compared to quiet, the vocal levels produced in WBN and MMB increased an average of 14.5 dB. The increase in vocal level was characterized by increased spectral energy in the high frequencies. Word duration also increased an average of 77 ms in WBN and MMB relative to the quiet condition. In Part II, the sentences produced by one of the 5 talkers were presented to 30 adults in the presence of multi-talker babble under two conditions. Recognition was evaluated for each condition. In the first condition, the sentences produced in quiet and in noise were presented at equal signal-to-noise ratios (SNRE). This served to remove the vocal level differences between the speech samples. In the second condition, the vocal level differences were preserved (SNRP). For the SNRE condition, recognition of the speech produced in WBN and MMB was on average 15% higher than that for the speech produced in quiet. For the SNRP condition recognition increased an average of 69% for these same speech samples relative to speech produced in quiet. In general, correlational analyses failed to show a direct relation between the acoustic properties measured in Part I and the recognition measures in Part II.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Background noise
  • Competing message
  • Speech acoustics
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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