The intelligibility of noise-vocoded speech: spectral information available from across-channel comparison of amplitude envelopes.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Noise-vocoded (NV) speech is often regarded as conveying phonetic information primarily through temporal-envelope cues rather than spectral cues. However, listeners may infer the formant frequencies in the vocal-tract output-a key source of phonetic detail-from across-band differences in amplitude when speech is processed through a small number of channels. The potential utility of this spectral information was assessed for NV speech created by filtering sentences into six frequency bands, and using the amplitude envelope of each band (≤30 Hz) to modulate a matched noise-band carrier (N). Bands were paired, corresponding to F1 (≈N1 + N2), F2 (≈N3 + N4) and the higher formants (F3' ≈ N5 + N6), such that the frequency contour of each formant was implied by variations in relative amplitude between bands within the corresponding pair. Three-formant analogues (F0 = 150 Hz) of the NV stimuli were synthesized using frame-by-frame reconstruction of the frequency and amplitude of each formant. These analogues were less intelligible than the NV stimuli or analogues created using contours extracted from spectrograms of the original sentences, but more intelligible than when the frequency contours were replaced with constant (mean) values. Across-band comparisons of amplitude envelopes in NV speech can provide phonetically important information about the frequency contours of the underlying formants.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1595-600
Number of pages6
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1711
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2011