Fast-acting dynamic range compression is a level-dependent amplification scheme which aims to restore audibility for hearing impaired listeners. However, when being applied to noisy speech at positive signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs), the gain function typically changes rapidly over time as it is driven by the short-term fluctuations of the speech signal. This leads to an amplification of the noise components in the speech gaps, which reduces the output SNR and distorts the acoustic properties of the background noise. An adaptive compression scheme is proposed here which utilizes information about the SNR in different frequency channels to adaptively change the characteristics of the compressor. Specifically, fast-acting compression is applied to speech-dominated time-frequency (T-F) units where the SNR is high, while slow-acting compression is used to effectively linearize the processing for noise-dominated T-F units where the SNR is low. A systematic evaluation of this SNRaware compression scheme showed that the effective compression of speech components embedded in noise was similar to that of a conventional fast-acting system, whereas natural fluctuations in the background noise were preserved in a similar way as when a slow-acting compressor was applied.
- Wide dynamic range compression
- Signal-to-noise ratio
- Hearing-aid signal processing