DOA-informed source extraction in the presence of competing talkers and background noise
A desired speech signal in hands-free communication systems is often degraded by noise and interfering speech. Even though the number and locations of the interferers are often unknown in practice, it is justified to assume in certain applications that the direction-of-arrival (DOA) of the desired source is approximately known. Using the known DOA, fixed spatial filters such as the delay-and-sum beamformer can be steered to extract the desired source. However, it is well-known that fixed data-independent spatial filters do not provide sufficient reduction of directional interferers. Instead, the DOA information can be used to estimate the statistics of the desired and the undesired signals and to compute optimal data-dependent spatial filters. One way the DOA is exploited for optimal spatial filtering in the literature, is by designing DOA-based narrowband detectors to determine whether a desired or an undesired signal is dominant at each time-frequency (TF) bin. Subsequently, the statistics of the desired and the undesired signals can be estimated during the TF bins where the respective signal is dominant. In a similar manner, a Gaussian signal model-based detector which does not incorporate DOA information has been used in scenarios where the undesired signal consists of stationary background noise. However, when the undesired signal is non-stationary, resulting for example from interfering speakers, such a Gaussian signal model-based detector is unable to robustly distinguish desired from undesired speech. To this end, we propose a DOA model-based detector to determine the dominant source at each TF bin and estimate the desired and undesired signal statistics. We demonstrate that data-dependent spatial filters that use the statistics estimated by the proposed framework achieve very good undesired signal reduction, even when using only three microphones.