14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Formant Bandwidth Affects the Identification of Competing Vowels

Alain de Cheveigné

CNRS - IRCAM, France, and ATR-HIP, Japan

Formant bandwidth is known to have little effect on vowel quality. This paper shows that it has a strong effect on mutual masking between vowels. Subjects presented with stimuli consisting of pairs of synthetic vowels were requested to report one or two vowels for each stimulus. Identification rates were calculated independently for both vowels in the stimulus. Vowels had either the same or different fundamental frequencies. Their RMS amplitudes differed by 5, 15 or 25 dB. Formant bandwidth of each vowel was either twice or half its standard value. Identification of a target vowel was best when: (1) its RMS amplitude exceeded that of its competitor, (2) its formants were narrow, (3) formants of the competitor were wide, and (4) F0s were different. These effects were approximately orthogonal. A narrow-bandwidth voice is thus more resistant to masking, and a stronger masker, than a wide-formant vowel.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Cheveigné, Alain de (1999): "Formant bandwidth affects the identification of competing vowels", In ICPhS-14, 2093-2096.