Large-Scale Pre-Training of End-to-End Multi-Talker ASR for Meeting Transcription with Single Distant Microphone

Interspeech 2021 |

Transcribing meetings containing overlapped speech with only a single distant microphone (SDM) has been one of the most challenging problems for automatic speech recognition (ASR). While various approaches have been proposed, all previous studies on the monaural overlapped speech recognition problem were based on either simulation data or small-scale real data. In this paper, we extensively investigate a two-step approach where we first pre-train a serialized output training (SOT)-based multi-talker ASR by using large-scale simulation data and then fine-tune the model with a small amount of real meeting data. Experiments are conducted by utilizing 75 thousand (K) hours of our internal single-talker recording to simulate a total of 900K hours of multi-talker audio segments for supervised pre-training. With fine-tuning on the 70 hours of the AMI-SDM training data, our SOT ASR model achieves a word error rate (WER) of 21.2% for the AMI-SDM evaluation set while automatically counting speakers in each test segment. This result is not only significantly better than the previous state-of-the-art WER of 36.4% with oracle utterance boundary information but also better than a result by a similarly fine-tuned single-talker ASR model applied to beamformed audio.