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With the strong growth of assistive and personal listening devices, natural sound rendering over headphones is becoming a necessity for prolonged listening in multimedia and virtual reality applications. The aim of natural sound rendering is to naturally recreate the sound scenes with the spatial and timbral quality as natural as possible, so as to achieve a truly immersive listening experience. However, rendering natural sound over headphones encounters many challenges. This tutorial article presents signal processing techniques to tackle these challenges to assist human listening.

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We propose a complex-valued deep neural network (cDNN) for speech enhancement and source separation. While existing end-to-end systems use complex-valued gradients to pass the training error to a real-valued DNN used for gain mask estimation, we use the full potential of complex-valued LSTMs, MLPs and activation functions to estimate complex-valued beamforming weights directly from complex-valued microphone array data. By doing so, our cDNN is able to locate and track different moving sources by exploiting the phase information in the data.

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Audio codecs are typically transform-domain based and efficiently code stationary audio signals, but they struggle with speech and signals containing dense transient events such as applause. Specifically, with these two classes of signals as examples, we demonstrate a technique for restoring audio from coding noise based on generative adversarial networks (GAN). A primary advantage of the proposed GAN-based coded audio enhancer is that the method operates end-to-end directly on decoded audio samples, eliminating the need to design any manually-crafted frontend.

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