Signal conditioning includes all signal modifications aimed at optimising signal characteristics for special purposes. Examples of such purposes are presented in the next sections.
Modification of speech signals may intentionally influence some of the following parameters:
Signal contamination aims at generating ``non-flawless'' speech signals under well-defined conditions. Starting with ideal ``flawless'' speech , a wide range of signal and channel characteristics is subsequently adjustable by controlled speech contamination. The ``flaws'' can be chosen from a variety of linear or non-linear distortions (cf. Section 8.6). Possible applications are the stimuli generation process for the evaluation of the robustness of speech recognisers or the assessment of speech coding algorithms under non-ideal conditions.
Binaural processing simulates the signal processing scheme of the human auditory system [Blauert (1983)]. By investigating the relevant signal parameters from both ears it is possible to make full use of signal features that are impossible to obtain from monophonic signals. These features include positions, movements and extensions of sound sources. In the field of speech, interesting applications for binaural techniques are speech enhancement and voice separation, for example in connection with the so-called cocktail party effect, i.e. the ability to track one voice among many.
Special algorithms like room simulation or reverberation tools allow subsequent introduction of acoustic environmental characteristics into the speech signal (cf. Section 8.5 on environment characteristics). Beyond impressions like room size and wall properties, sophisticated virtual auditory environments can be simulated in combination with binaural processing techniques. Although the speech signal has been produced independently of these environmental factors, arbitrary room acoustics can be created from a single recording and simulated without the physical existence of the room.