In this chapter we review the main techniques for error concealment in packet audio. As explained in Chapters 7-10, forward error correction (FEC) or repeat request solutions are often adequate for streaming media and broadcast. These can virtually eliminate information loss, guaranteeing every bit is actually received at the decoder side. Nevertheless, these techniques will also require the introduction of additional delay, and the higher the protection level desired, the higher the delay required. Real-time communication (RTC) applications are very delay sensitive, and will not be able to fully exploit these techniques to reduce 100% of the losses. For this reason, RTC needs are quite unique. We need error concealment, and we need FEC techniques that can be applied without excessive increase in delay. In this chapter we look at some of the techniques used in error concealment for speech and look at media-aware FEC techniques, with particular interest in RTC.
Compression and error concealment are tightly related. Compression tries to remove as much redundancy from the signal as possible, but the more redundancy is removed, the more important each piece of information is, and therefore the harder to conceal lost packets. More specifically, speech is a dynamic but slowly varying signal; the key way of compressing speech is by only transmitting signal changes in relation to the previous or expected state. Nevertheless, only transmitting these changes in a differential form, means if you loose some information (e.g., due to a packet loss), the decoder does not know the current state of the signal anymore. It is always expected that the segment corresponding to the missing data will not be properly decoded. But differential coding, subsequent frames may also be affected. Furthermore, it is easier to replace any missing speech segments if have the correct signal around the missing segment. For all these reasons, error concealment may significantly depend on the compression technology used.
We will start this chapter by looking at some of the basic ideas behind packet loss concealment for speech. With that objective, in section 3.2 we introduce the basic concealment techniques used in non-predictive speech codecs. The job of concealing losses becomes harder as the codec removes more and more redundancy from the signal. In section 3.3 we discuss some of the techniques used to reduce the impact of the feedback loop in CELP and other predictive codecs. In section 3.4 we present some recent results in loss concealment for transform coders, which are used both in speech and audio applications. Finally, in section 3.5 we discuss recent research in media-aware FEC techniques. Particular attention is paid to speech, due to its importance in RTC, but many of the recent advances in loss concealment techniques will discuss apply also to audio. For example, the same principles used in the overlapped transform concealment techniques can be used to most audio codecs, and the media-aware FEC can be applied to most audio or video coders. We also point out that this chapter is closely related to the ideas presented in chapters 25 and 16.
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