Ageing voices: The effect of changes in voice parameters on ASR performance
EURASIP Journal on Audio, Speech, and Music Processing
Vipperla, Ravi Chander
With ageing, human voices undergo several changes which are typically characterized by increased hoarseness and changes in articulation patterns. In this study, we have examined the effect on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and found that the Word Error Rates (WER) on older voices is about 9\% absolute higher compared to those of adult voices. Subsequently, we compared several voice source parameters including fundamental frequency, jitter, shimmer, harmonicity and cepstral peak prominence of adult and older males. Several of these parameters show statistically significant difference for the two groups. However, artificially increasing jitter and shimmer measures do not effect the ASR accuracies significantly. Artificially lowering the fundamental frequency degrades the ASR performance marginally but this drop in performance can be overcome to some extent using Vocal Tract Length Normalisation (VTLN). Overall, we observe that the changes in the voice source parameters do not have a significant impact on ASR performance. Comparison of the likelihood scores of all the phonemes for the two age groups show that there is a systematic mismatch in the acoustic space of the two age groups. Comparison of the phoneme recognition rates show that mid vowels, nasals and phonemes that depend on the ability to create constrictions with tongue tip for articulation are more affected by ageing than other phonemes.