Audio source separation to reduce sleeping partner sounds: A simulation study

Valeria Mordoh, Yaniv Zigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective. When recording a subject in an at-home environment for sleep evaluation or for other breathing disorder diagnoses using non-contact microphones, the breathing recordings (audio signals) can be distorted by sounds such as TV, outside noise, or air-conditioners. If two people are sleeping together, both may produce breathing/snoring sounds that need to be separated. In this study, we present signal processing and source separation algorithms for the enhancement of individual breathing/snoring audio signals in a simulated environment. Approach. We developed a computer simulation of mixed signals derived from genuine nocturnal recordings of 110 subjects. Two main source separation approaches were tested: (1) changing the basis vectors for the mixtures in the time domain (principal and independent component analysis, PCA/ICA) and (2) converting the mixtures to their time-frequency representations (degenerate un-mixing estimation technique, DUET). In addition to these source separation techniques, a beamforming approach was tested. Main results. The separation results with a reverberation time of 0.15 s and zero SNR between signals showed good performance (mean source to interference ratio (SIR): DUET = 12.831 dB, ICA = 3.388 dB, PCA = 4.452 dB), and for beamforming (SIR = -0.304 dB). To evaluate our source separation results, we propose two new measures: an evaluation measure based on a spectral similarity score (mel-SID) between the target source and its estimation (after separation) and a breathing energy ratio measure (BER). The results with the new proposed measures yielded comparable conclusions (mel-SID: DUET = 1.320, ICA = 2.732, PCA = 1.927, and beamforming = 2.590, BER: DUET = 10.241 dB, ICA = 0.270 dB, PCA = -2.847 dB, and beamforming = -1.151 dB), but better differentiated the differences between the performance of the algorithms. The DUET is superior on all measures. Its main advantage is that it only uses two microphones for separation. Significance. The separated audio signal can thus contribute to a more informed diagnosis of sleep-related and non-sleep-related diseases. The Institutional Review Committee of Soroka University Medical Center approved this study protocol (protocol number 10141) and all methods were performed in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064004
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Audio analysis
  • Breathing
  • Breathing energy ratio measure
  • Sleep sounds
  • Sleeping partner
  • Snoring
  • Source separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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