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Measuring the Effect of Noise Reduction on Listening Effort

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Noise reduction (NR) has become widely applied in the forensic audio domain to “improve” the quality of noisy speech recordings. In this paper we consider how such processing affects listener productivity in everyday speech communication. Two measures are presented: one based on reaction time to spoken digits, and one based on finding errors in a transcript of a spoken conversation. We explain why such tasks are a useful complement to measures based on intelligibility, then present the methodology and results for two evaluations of these measures using MMSE processing on speech corrupted by babble and car-noise. Finally we discuss the implications for the use of NR techniques and for our understanding of how signal quality affects speech communication.

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