Mask scalar prediction for improving robust automatic speech recognition

26 Apr 2022  ·  Arun Narayanan, James Walker, Sankaran Panchapagesan, Nathan Howard, Yuma Koizumi ·

Using neural network based acoustic frontends for improving robustness of streaming automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems is challenging because of the causality constraints and the resulting distortion that the frontend processing introduces in speech. Time-frequency masking based approaches have been shown to work well, but they need additional hyper-parameters to scale the mask to limit speech distortion. Such mask scalars are typically hand-tuned and chosen conservatively. In this work, we present a technique to predict mask scalars using an ASR-based loss in an end-to-end fashion, with minimal increase in the overall model size and complexity. We evaluate the approach on two robust ASR tasks: multichannel enhancement in the presence of speech and non-speech noise, and acoustic echo cancellation (AEC). Results show that the presented algorithm consistently improves word error rate (WER) without the need for any additional tuning over strong baselines that use hand-tuned hyper-parameters: up to 16% for multichannel enhancement in noisy conditions, and up to 7% for AEC.

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