Perceptual Aspects of Broadcast Audio Mixing for the Hearing Impaired

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Sch of Electronic Eng & Computer Science

Abstract

Research Questions:

* Can existing psychoacoustic models capture perceptual characteristics of audio mixes?
* What aspects of audio mix perception are affected by hearing impairments?
* What strategies could counter these issues?
* To what extent can these strategies be implemented algorithmically?
* Do the implementations of these strategies have the desired results?

Main Objectives

The overall goal of the project is to investigate, implement and validate new strategies for mixing broadcast content such that it can be delivered with improved perceptual quality for the hearing impaired. This project aims to fill a gap between audio engineering and audiology, by fulfilling the following key objectives:

* Establish limitations of existing approaches to improving audibility in broadcast scenarios.
* Investigate novel signal processing strategies for personalised automated mixing of broadcast material for the hearing impaired.
* Evaluate algorithmic approaches to broadcast mixing for the hearing impaired, using subjective and perceptual testing.
* Demonstrate the developed techniques applied in a broadcast application.
* Disseminate the work to a wide audience, e.g. the BBC, academia, broadcast and audio mixing practitioners, and the greater public.

Research Approach:

In order to fulfil those objectives, the following approach will be employed:

* Review state-of-the-art techniques for signal processing in hearing aid systems, automated audio production systems and underlying understanding of the auditory system for normal hearing- and hearing-impaired listeners. Gather code, data and reports from prior related work.
* Establish the limitations of existing approaches to improving audibility in broadcast scenarios, including object-based audio systems with separate mix elements (e.g. separate dialogue and background effects).
* Investigate novel signal processing strategies for personalised automated mixing of broadcast material for the hearing impaired.
* Implement several signal processing strategies based on the investigations of personalised automated mixing.
* Perform extensive perceptual testing to evaluate algorithmic approaches in the context of broadcast applications.
* Build a prototype system to demonstrate the developed techniques applied in a broadcast application.
* Assess the performance of the developed system using listening tests and user experience evaluation.

This project directly addresses the EPSRC ICT research theme. It is cross-disciplinary and aligns with Vision, Hearing and other Senses as well as Assistive Technology, Rehabilitation and Musculoskeletal Biomechanics priorities. Hearing-impaired people are at the heart of this proposal, and it feeds into the prosperity outcome of a 'Healthy Nation'.
In terms of the EPSRC delivery plan it develops non-medical treatments (H3; H5) to enhance audio for an inclusive digital society (C5) and provides innovative, disruptive technologies (P1) parallel to other hearing prostheses.
Within the Industrial Challenge fund, this project contributes to "Healthy Ageing "treatments (H3; H5) to enhance audio for an inclusive digital society (C5) and provides innovative, disruptive technologies (P1) parallel to other hearing prostheses.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S513696/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2161145 Studentship EP/S513696/1 01/01/2019 31/12/2022 Angeliki Mourgela