Nonlinear waveform distortion: Assessment and detection of clipping on speech data and systems

Speech Commun. 2021 Nov:134:20-31. doi: 10.1016/j.specom.2021.07.007. Epub 2021 Aug 12.


Speech, speaker, and language systems have traditionally relied on carefully collected speech material for training acoustic models. There is an enormous amount of freely accessible audio content. A major challenge, however, is that such data is not professionally recorded, and therefore may contain a wide diversity of background noise, nonlinear distortions, or other unknown environmental or technology-based contamination or mismatch. There is a crucial need for automatic analysis to screen such unknown datasets before acoustic model development training, or to perform input audio purity screening prior to classification. In this study, we propose a waveform based clipping detection algorithm for naturalistic audio streams and examine the impact of clipping at different severities on speech quality measurements and automatic speaker recognition systems. We use the TIMIT and NIST SRE08 corpora as case studies. The results show, as expected, that clipping introduces a nonlinear distortion into clean speech data, which reduces speech quality and performance for speaker recognition. We also investigate what degree of clipping can be present to sustain effective speech system performance. The proposed detection system, which will be released, could contribute to massive new audio collections for speech and language technology development (e.g. Google Audioset (Gemmeke et al., 2017), CRSS-UTDallas Apollo Fearless-Steps (Yu et al., 2014) (19,000 h naturalistic audio from NASA Apollo missions)).

Keywords: Audio clipping; Non-linear distortion; Speaker recognition; Speech quality assessment.