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Supplementary Material for: Plug-and-play microphones for recording speech and voice with smart devices

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posted on 2023-11-16, 11:46 authored by Noffs G., Cobler-Lichter M., Perera T., Kolbe S.C., Butzkueven H., Boonstra F.M.C., vanderWalt A., Vogel A.P.
INTRODUCTION Smart devices are widely available and capable of quickly recording and uploading speech segments for health-related analysis. The switch from laboratory recordings with professional-grade microphone set ups to remote, smart device-based recordings offers immense potential for the scalability of voice assessment. Yet, a growing body of literature points to a wide heterogeneity among acoustic metrics for their robustness to variation in recording devices. The addition of consumer-grade plug-and-play microphones has been proposed as a possible solution. Our aim was to assess if the addition of consumer-grade plug-and-play microphones increase the acoustic measurement agreement between ultra-portable devices and a reference microphone. METHODS Speech was simultaneously recorded by a reference high-quality microphone commonly used in research, and by two configurations with plug-and-play microphones. Twelve speech-acoustic features were calculated using recordings from each microphone to determine the agreement intervals in measurements between microphones. Agreement intervals were then compared to expected deviations in speech in various neurological conditions. Each microphone’s response to speech and to silence were characterized through acoustic analysis to explore possible reasons for differences in acoustic measurements between microphones. The statistical differentiation of two groups, neurotypical and people with Multiple Sclerosis, using metrics from each tested microphone was compared to that of the reference microphone. RESULTS The two consumer-grade plug-and-play microphones favoured high frequencies (mean centre of gravity difference ≥ +175.3Hz) and recorded more noise (mean difference in signal-to-noise ≤ -4.2dB) when compared to the reference microphone. Between consumer-grade microphones, differences in relative noise were closely related to distance between the microphone and the speaker’s mouth. Agreement intervals between the reference and consumer-grade microphones remained under disease-expected deviations only for fundamental frequency (f0, agreement interval ≤0.06Hz), f0 instability (f0 CoV, agreement interval ≤0.05%) and for tracking of second formant movement (agreement interval ≤1.4Hz/millisecond). Agreement between microphones was poor for other metrics, particularly for fine timing metrics (mean pause length and pause length variability for various tasks). The statistical difference between the two groups of speakers was smaller with the plug-and-play than with the reference microphone. CONCLUSION Measurement of f0 and F2 slope were robust to variation in recording equipment while other acoustic metrics were not. Thus, the tested plug-and-play microphones should not be used interchangeably with professional-grade microphones for speech analysis. Plug-and-play microphones may assist in equipment standardization within speech studies, including remote or self-recording, possibly with small loss in accuracy and statistical power as observed in this study.


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