De-Noising Audio Signals Using MATLAB Wavelets Toolbox

Adrian E. Villanueva- Luna, Alberto Jaramillo-Nuñez & Daniel Sanche

Based on the fact that noise and distortion are the main factors that limit the capacity of data transmission in telecommunications and that they also affect the accuracy of the results in the signal measurement systems, whereas, modeling and removing noise and distortions are at the core of theoretical and practical considerations in communications and signal processing. Another important issue here is that, noise reduction and distortion removal are major problems in applications such as; cellular mobile communication, speech recognition, image processing, medical signal processing, radar, sonar, and any other application where the desired signals cannot be isolated from noise and distortion. The use of wavelets in the field of de-noising audio signals is relatively new, the use of this technique has been increasing over the past 20 years. One way to think about wavelets matches the way how our eyes perceive the world when they are faced to different distances. In the real world, a forest can be seen from many different perspectives; they are, in fact, different scales of resolution. From the window of an airplane, for instance, the forest cover appears as a solid green roof. From the window of a car, the green roof gets transformed into individual trees, and if we leave the car and approach to the forest, we can gradually see details such as the trees branches and leaves. If we had a magnifying glass, we could see a dew drop on the tip of a leaf. As we get closer to even smaller scales, we can discover details that we had not seen before. On the other hand, if we tried to do the same thing with a photograph, we would be completely frustrated. If we enlarged the picture "closer" to a tree, we would only be able to see a blurred tree image; we would not be able to spot neither the branch, nor the leaf, and it would be impossible to spot the dew drop. Although our eyes can see on many scales of resolution, the camera can only display one at a time. In this chapter, we introduce the reader to a way to reduce noise in an audio signal by using wavelet transforms. We developed this technique by using the wavelet tool in MATLAB. A Simulink is used to acquire an audio signal and we use it to convert the signal to a digital format so it can be processed. Finally, a Graphical User Interface Development Environment (GUIDE) is used to create a graphical user interface. The reader can go through this chapter systematically, from the theory to the implementation of the noise reduction technique. We will introduce in the first place the basic theory of an audio signal, the noise treatment fundamentals and principles of the wavelets theory. Then, we will present the development of noise reduction when using wavelet functions in MATLAB. In the foreground, we will demonstrate the usefulness of wavelets to reduce noise in a model system where Gaussian noise is inserted to an audio signal. In the following sections, we will present a practical example of noise reduction in a sinusoidal signal that has been generated in the MATLAB, which it is followed by an example with a real audio signal captured via Simulink. Finally, the graphic noise reduction model using GUIDE will be shown.