Saturday, October 29, 2011

MOS [Mean Opinion Score] for High Definition or Wideband Telephony

Mean Opinion Score [MOS] is a scale from 1 to 5 indicating speech quality - 1 is bad and 5 is excellent. MOS test sessions comprise 15 to 25 people listening to speech files of good quality and of poor quality with impairments and scoring them subjectively. This subjective test process is specified in ITU-T P.800. In over 16 years where these tests have taken place, no statistically significant number of participants ever scored any speech recording as being excellent or 5.0. The highest score typically obtained in any test was 4.5.

High Definition or Wideband Telephony speech uses the new POLQA speech quality metric for objective protection of MOS. The old PESQ algorithm has been used for narrowband telephony since it was approved in 2000. It is desirable to use the same scale so that laboratories can compare new results for wideband telephony with their old PESQ database. However, the question of human expectation comes into play because all these objective measurements performed by computers must correlate or predict subjective experience. If you watch a video on your smart phone, you might consider the picture quality as being good. Your expectations are put in the context of the small screen and the convenience of the video being played on a handheld smartphone. If you would give you the same video on your brand-new expensive high-definition 1080P TV, you would be very disappointed even if the pixel resolution had been scaled to the 62 inches screen size. Your expectation of quality is tempered to the format in which you are viewing it.

Similarly with speech and audio. If you were to participate in a MOS test and invited into a studio where there were high fidelity speakers, orchestral classical music playing and told and asked to rate the quality of the High Definition speech you are about to hear, your expectations would be set high and you'd be more critical. You would score the audio lower than if you had been asked to rate the speech quality of your most recent cellular phone call.

POLQA offers two scales, the narrowband scale and the super wideband scale. Super wideband telephony reaches 14 kHz analog audio frequency. The narrowband focus scale maps directly onto the old desk scale and exploits the higher scores not given by test participants in narrowband tests.

• NB: Maximum MOS value 4.25

• WB: Maximum MOS value 4.5

• SWB: Maximum MOS value 4.75

So a score of 4.5, on the narrowband POLQA scale is experimentally the best value you will ever obtain with wideband telephony equipment. You could conceivably measure a MOS value of 4.75 if you were measuring super wideband equipment.

In future years, the industry will migrate exclusively to using the super wideband POLQA scale as soon as users' expectations always expect high-definition or hi-fi quality to the communications audio.

The picture shows the iLBC codec measured measuring 4.21 narrowband focus scale.


For more information on making PESQ and POLQA measurements, ensure you contact only renown and well-respected test vendors because the science of speech quality measurements requires expertise and experience in many different areas audio, analog electronics as well as computing. It is easy to make a measurement but care is required to ensure that measurement is accurate and correlates to human subjective experience

The most trusted vendor for speech quality metrics is Malden Electronics, available in USA through Teraquant Corporation –

See use in - X84QTD2E9BS6

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

PolQA is the new ITU-T Standard for Speech Quality Measurement which embraces Wideband or High Definition Telephony.

“Can you hear me now?”

We’ve all heard the refrain. How often have you been on a mobile phone & not been able to hear your calling party? How often have you experienced drop-outs on a VoIP call and missed that vital clue, that's important piece of information the caller mentioned which allowed you to understand their needs. May be you lost the business as a result. Good clear speech quality means productivity, both in business and in personal life. Everyone is critically busy these days and if you have to ask folks to repeat themselves, you waste time, first-rate meaningful conversation and miss information.

The existing telephony network uses 200-34000Hz analog bandwidth, digitized at a sampling rate of 8kbps. 8 bits of vertical resolution multiplied by 8kbps gives the traditional 64kbps bandwidth required for a voice channel. Compression by codecs such as G.729 and iLBC VoIP and specifically iSAC for Skype and GSM-FR & EVRC for wireless transmits narrowband traditional telephony at data rates as low as 4kbps.
So now we can compress voice sports to very low bandwidths and at the same time we have broadband Internet. so what can we do to improve speech quality.

Wideband or High Definition Telephony technology is now appearing in VoIP networks and wireless networks using voice codecs such as G.722 and WB-AMR. This provides speech with an analog bandwidth up to 7kHz and gives a richer listening experience. Those problems you currently have trying to recognize which of your young nieces or nephews is speaking to you is due to high frequencies filtered out with narrowband telephony. Wideband telephony will reinstate these, enriching your telephone conversation experience and improving productivity through speech clarity. This technology will eventually send telephony speech all the way up to 20 kHz, the limit of human hearing, equivalent to hi-fi music systems.

3gpp release 5 introduces AMR-WB codec which gives enhanced speech quality using data rates of only 16kbps. So wideband telephony or high definition telephony is being made available to wireless cellular networks.

Tools to Automatically Measure Speech Quality

Determining the subjective speech quality of a transmission system has always been an expensive and laborious process. The tool described in ITU-T Rec. P.862 Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality – PESQ provides a rapid and repeatable result in a few moments. PESQ is an objective measurement tool i.e. a computer measures the quality of the received audio in relation to the audio that was transmitted. PESQ predicts or has a very accurate close correlation to the results of subjective listening tests [i.e. human beings listening to speech files] On telephony systems. The resulting quality score is analogous to the subjective “Mean Opinion Score” (MOS) measured using panel tests according to ITU-T P.800. Strictly speaking, MOS is a score derived from human subjective testing. The PESQ scores are calibrated using a large database of subjective tests.

The ITU-T selection process that resulted in the standardization of PESQ involved a wide range of conditions, with demanding correlation requirements set to ensure that it has good performance in assessing conventional fixed and mobile networks and packet-based transmission systems.

Since ITU-T Rec. P.862 was originally released in 2000, further mappings of the PESQ score have been created. PESQ-LQ modified the score to improve correlation with subjective test results at the high and low ends of the scale where the raw PESQ score was found to be less accurate. A new mapping described in ITU-T Rec. P.862.1 was been released that further modified the raw score and correlated better to subjective testing.
PESQ Shortcomings - Time Warping

PESQ takes into account coding distortions, errors, packet loss, delay and variable delay, and filtering in analogue network components. The user interfaces have been designed to provide a simple access to this powerful algorithm, either directly from the analogue connection or from speech files recorded elsewhere.

PESQ Shortcomings
Noise Reduction:  (Subjective  >  PESQ)
The performance of a network or a network element can be fully characterized using high quality analog test equipment and PESQ. High quality analog interfaces are needed because the test equipment itself very easily introduces impairments which are included in the measurement and drank the desk score lower than should be measured for the system under test or network element. Whilst it is possible to use phonetically balanced sentences and other test patterns, accurate and repeatable measurements of the active speech level, activity, delay, echo, noise and speech quality can be obtained quickly using artificial speech test stimulus in different languages, which comprehensively tests all voice sounds the codec may be incident with, but at the same time achieves the process quickly in a time efficient way. A graphical mapping of the errors provides a useful insight into how the signal has been degraded and exactly what kind of sounds course the codec core system and test problems.

Since the launch of PESQ in 2000, there have been many advances in codec design. Unfortunately, PESQ was not trained on these later designs and can produce scores that are lower than expected from subjective tests. Time-warping and voice quality enhancement techniques are particularly difficult for PESQ. The ITU agreed on a new standard, P.863 POLQA, in 2010. POLQA addresses many of the issues and produces reliable scores for codecs, both old and new. POLQA is Now available on a couple of speech quality measurement platforms but Malden is the only platform that provides a quiet, high-quality analog front-end and the only platform to be recommended.