Notionally steady background noise acts primarily as a modulation masker of speech

M.A. Stone, C. Füllgrabe, B.C.J. Moore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Stone et al. [J. Acoust. Soc Am. 130, 2874–2881 (2011)], using vocoder processing, showed that the envelope modulations of a notionally steady noise were more effective than the envelope energy as a masker of speech. Here the same effect is demonstrated using non-vocoded signals. Speech was filtered into 28 channels. A masker centered on each channel was added to the channel signal at a target-to-background ratio of −5 or −10 dB. Maskers were sinusoids or noise bands with bandwidth 1/3 or 1 ERBN (ERBN being the bandwidth of “normal” auditory filters), synthesized with Gaussian (GN) or low-noise (LNN) statistics. To minimize peripheral interactions between maskers, odd-numbered channels were presented to one ear and even to the other. Speech intelligibility was assessed in the presence of each “steady” masker and that masker 100% sinusoidally amplitude modulated (SAM) at 8 Hz. Intelligibility decreased with increasing envelope fluctuation of the maskers. Masking release, the difference in intelligibility between the SAM and its “steady” counterpart, increased with bandwidth from near-zero to around 50 percentage points for the 1-ERBN GN. It is concluded that the sinusoidal and GN maskers behaved primarily as energetic and modulation maskers, respectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-326
    Number of pages9
    JournalAcoustical Society of America. Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • speech
    • speech intelligibility
    • random noise
    • auditory system
    • low-noise noise


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