Beamforming Networks Using Spatial Covariance Features for Far-field Speech Recognition

Recently, a deep beamforming (BF) network was proposed to predict BF weights from phase-carrying features, such as generalized cross correlation (GCC). The BF network is trained jointly with the acoustic model to minimize automatic speech recognition (ASR) cost function. In this paper, we propose to replace GCC with features derived from input signals' spatial covariance matrices (SCM), which contain the phase information of individual frequency bands. Experimental results on the AMI meeting transcription task shows that the BF network using SCM features significantly reduces the word error rate to 44.1% from 47.9% obtained with the conventional ASR pipeline using delay-and-sum BF. Also compared with GCC features, we have observed small but steady gain by 0.6% absolutely. The use of SCM features also facilitate the implementation of more advanced BF methods within a deep learning framework, such as minimum variance distortionless response BF that requires the speech and noise SCM.