Phase effects in masking by harmonic complexes: Speech recognition

Mickael L.D. Deroche, John F. Culling, Monita Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Harmonic complexes that generate highly modulated temporal envelopes on the basilar membrane (BM) mask a tone less effectively than complexes that generate relatively flat temporal envelopes, because the non-linear active gain of the BM selectively amplifies a low-level tone in the dips of a modulated masker envelope. The present study examines a similar effect in speech recognition. Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were measured for a voice masked by harmonic complexes with partials in sine phase (SP) or in random phase (RP). The masker's fundamental frequency (F0) was 50, 100 or 200Hz. SRTs were considerably lower for SP than for RP maskers at 50-Hz F0, but the two converged at 100-Hz F0, while at 200-Hz F0, SRTs were a little higher for SP than RP maskers. The results were similar whether the target voice was male or female and whether the masker's spectral profile was flat or speech-shaped. Although listening in the masker dips has been shown to play a large role for artificial stimuli such as Schroeder-phase complexes at high levels, it contributes weakly to speech recognition in the presence of harmonic maskers with different crest factors at more moderate sound levels (65dB SPL).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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