Stereophonic hands-free communication system based on microphone array fixed beamforming: real-time implementation and evaluation
A3LAB - Department of Information Engineering, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce bianche 1, 60131 Ancona, Italy
EURASIP Journal on Audio, Speech, and Music Processing 2012, 2012:26 doi:10.1186/1687-4722-2012-26Published: 22 October 2012
In this article, the authors propose an optimally designed fixed beamformer (BF) for stereophonic acoustic echo cancelation (SAEC) in real hands-free communication applications. Several contributions related to the combination of beamforming and echo cancelation have appeared in the literature so far, but, up to the authors’ knowledge, the idea of using optimal fixed BFs in a real-time SAEC system both for echo reduction and stereophonic audio rendering is first addressed in this contribution. The employment of such designed BFs allows positively addressing both issues, as the several simulated and real tests seem to confirm. In particular, the stereo-recording quality attainable through the proposed approach has been preliminarily evaluated by means of subjective listening tests. Moreover, the overall system robustness against microphone array imperfections and noise presence has been experimentally evaluated. This allowed the authors to implement a real hands-free communication system in which the usage of the proposed beamforming technique has proven its superiority with respect to the usual two-microphone one in terms of echo reduction, and guaranteeing a comparable spatial image. Moreover, the proposed framework requires a low computational cost increment with regard to the baseline approach, since only few extra filtering operations with short filters need to be executed. Nevertheless, according to the performed simulations, the BF-based SAEC configuration seems to not require the signal decorrelation module, resulting in an overall computational saving.