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The Audio Degradation Toolbox and its Application to Robustness Evaluation

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Publication authored by Matthias Mauch and Sebastian Ewert.

Abstract: We introduce the Audio Degradation Toolbox (ADT) for the controlled degradation of audio signals, and propose its usage as a means of evaluating and comparing the robustness of audio processing algorithms. Music recordings encountered in practical applications are subject to varied, sometimes unpredictable degradation. For example, audio is degraded by low-quality microphones, noisy recording environments, MP3 compression, dynamic compression in broadcasting or vinyl decay. In spite of this, no standard software for the degradation of audio exists, and music processing methods are usually evaluated against clean data. The ADT fills this gap by providing Matlab scripts that emulate a wide range of degradation types. We describe 14 degradation units, and how they can be chained to create more complex, ‘real-world’ degradations. The ADT also provides functionality to adjust existing ground-truth, correcting for temporal distortions introduced by degradation. Using four different music informatics tasks, we show that performance strongly depends on the combination of method and degradation applied. We demonstrate that specific degradations can reduce or even reverse the performance difference between two competing methods. ADT source code, sounds, impulse responses and definitions are freely available for download at https://code.soundsoftware.ac.uk/projects/audio-degradation-toolbox.

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