Binaural Direct-to-Reverberant Energy Ratio and Speaker Distance Estimation

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Binaural Direct-to-Reverberant Energy Ratio and Speaker Distance Estimation

By: 
Mehdi Zohourian; Rainer Martin

This article addresses the problem of distance estimation using binaural hearing aid microphones in reverberant rooms. Among several distance indicators, the direct-to-reverberant energy ratio (DRR) has been shown to be more effective than other features. Therefore, we present two novel approaches to estimate the DRR of binaural signals. The first method is based on the interaural magnitude-squared coherence whereas the second approach uses stochastic maximum likelihood beamforming to estimate the power of the direct and reverberant components. The proposed DRR estimation algorithms are integrated into a distance estimation technique. When based solely on DRR, the distance estimation algorithm requires calibration where naturally the critical distance is a good calibration point. We thus propose two approaches for the calibration of the distance estimation algorithm: Informed calibration using the critical distance of the reverberant room and blind calibration using the listener's own voice. Results across various acoustical environments show the benefit of the proposed algorithms for the estimation of sound source distances up to 3 m with an estimation error of about 35 cm using informed calibration and about 1 m using the fully blind calibration strategy.

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