A framework for low bit-rate speech coding in noisy environment
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State of the art model based coders offer a perceptually acceptable reconstructed speech quality at bit-rates as low as 2000 bits per second. However, the performance of these coders rapidly deteriorates below this rate, primarily since very few bits are available to encode the model parameters with high fidelity. This thesis aims to meet the challenge of designing speech coders that operate at lower bit-rates while reconstructing the speech at the receiver at the same or even better quality than state of the art low bit-rate speech coders. In one of the contributions, we develop a plethora of techniques for efficient coding of the parameters obtained by the MELP algorithm, under the assumption that the classification of the frames of the MELP coder is available. Also, a simple and elegant procedure called dynamic codebook reordering is presented for use in the encoders and decoders of a vector quantization system that effectively exploits the correlation between vectors of parameters obtained from consecutiv speech frames without introducing any delay, distortion or suboptimality. The potential of this technique in significantly reducing the bit-rates of speech coders is illustrated. Additionally, the thesis also attempts to address the issues of designing such very low bit-rate speech coders so that they are robust to environmental noise. To impart robustness, a speech enhancement framework employing Kalman filters is presented. Kalman filters designed for speech enhancement in the presence of noise assume an autoregressive model for the speech signal. We improve the performance of Kalman filters in speech enhancement by constraining the parameters of the autoregressive model to belong to a codebook trained on clean speech. We then extend this formulation to the design of a novel framework, called the multiple input Kalman filter, that optimally combines the outputs from several speech enhancement systems. Since the low bit-rate speech coders compress the parameters significantly, it is very important to protect the transmitted information from errors in the communication channel. In this thesis, a novel channel-optimized multi-stage vector quantization codec is presented, in which the stage codebooks are jointly designed.