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# 7.

Signal enhancement
7.1. Basic concepts
1.1 Average Power and RMS value

To better compare the signal strength of different waveforms, it is
meaningful to give the average power P, which they would provide if the
voltage V would be applied to a resistor R. Since the value of the resistor
R is irrelevant when making relative comparison between waveforms, one
prefers to define a voltage (the RMS voltage) that allows such power-
related comparison, instead of stating a resistor-dependent power.

For this reason, one gives the root-mean-square (RMS) value, also known
as the quadratic mean. The name comes from the fact that it is calculated
as the square root of the mean of the squares of the values. This is
equivalent to the square root of the average power, generated over a
norm resistor (value of 1 Ohm), during a certain period T
2
-T
1
:

By calculating the RMS value of a waveform, its strength can be
compared to the strength of a DC signal with the same value. E.g. 1 V
rms

sinusoid would produce the same heat on a resistor as would 1 Volt DC
signal. RMS values are especially meaningful when defining the strength
of complex, stochastic waveforms (e.g. speech). The voltage amplitude of
a sinusoid can be easily converted to its RMS voltage:

The factor of 0.707 is only valid for sinusoidal waveforms !!!
R
V
I with
R
V
I V P = = =
2
V(t) 1
0
-1
t
( )
peak peak rms
V V V V = = = 707 . 0 5 . 0
2
( )
2 2
2
5 . 0
: ) (
peak
V V
t V of average
=
V
2
(t) 1
0
t
V [V
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
) (
) (
10
) (
) (
10
log 20 log 10
t n RMS
t s RMS
t n
t s
V
V
P
P
SNR
2
) (
) (
) (
) (
|
|
.
|

\
|
= =
t n RMS
t s RMS
t n
t s
V
V
P
P
SNR
1.2 The Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)

Lets consider a a clean signal s(t) and a noisy version of the same
waveform s(t), corrupted by a undesired noise waveform n(t).
The waveform n(t) is the difference between s(t) and s(t):

The similarity between s(t) and s(t) waveforms can be quantified by the
signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The SNR is the ratio between the power of the
signal s(t) and the power of the noise n(t):

Note, some people think that the SNR is the RMS voltage ratio! But this is
wrong: SNR is defined as a power ratio! Luckily, the SNR is usually given
in dB, which can be calculated both ways:

The signal contains usually the desired information, and one is interested
that the relative level of background noise is low. The averaging of the
recorded waveforms from repeated measurements can improve the SNR.
transmission
channel
s(t)
n(t)
s(t)= s(t)+n(t)
) ( ) ( ' ) ( t s t s t n =
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
-0.5
0
0.5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
-0.5
0
0.5
n = 512
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
-0.5
0
0.5
n = 4096
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
-2
-1
0
1
2
v
o
l
t
a
g
e

[
V
]
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
-1
-0.5
0
0.5
1
v
o
l
t
a
g
e

[
V
]
Waveform in average buffer after N repetitions:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 time [ms]
N = 8
N = 1
N = 512
N = 4096
N = 64
= 2
3

= 2
0

= 2
9

= 2
12

= 2
6

12
10
8
6
4
2
0
-2
-4
-6
-8
-10
-12

6
4
2
0
-2
-4
-6

2
0
-2

2
0
-2

2
0
-2

Averaging requires many repetitions of the measurement
(sweep). The recorded waveforms get then averaged:

If the signal s(t) is identical, and the error waveform n(t)
is stochastic (random), the SNR ratio grows (roughly)
linearly with the number N of averaged responses.
SNR
after
= N SNR
before
Explanation: Because the summated signals s
i
(t) are
identical, the amplitude of the sum grows proportional
to N, and its power with N
2
. The noise waveforms n
i
(t)
differ between recording sweeps, and its power growth
in proportion to N. Consequently, the SNR grows with
N ( N
2
/ N = N).

) (
1
) (
1
) ( '
1
) ( '
1 1 1
t n
N
t s
N
t s
N
t s
N
i
i
N
i
i
N
i
i avg
= = =
+ = =
7.2. Averaging
A useful rule to remember : a doubling in repetition results
in a 3 dB improvement in SNR (i.e. a doubling in power ratio
of signal to noise). In the illustrated example on the right, the
signal is 1 kHz tone. From one panel to the next, the number
of averaged waveforms N increases exponentially by a factor
of eight. Each such increase improves theoretically the SNR
by 9 dB (8 = 2
3
, i.e. 3 doublings give 3 times 3 dB).
SNR = -15 dB
SNR = -24 dB
SNR = +3 dB
SNR = +12 dB
SNR = -6 dB
Example: if the waveform of a single recording sweep had an
SNR of 1:100 , (i.e. SNR
before
is -20 dB) then the average of
1000 sweeps will have a SNR of 10:1 (i.e. SNR
after
is +10 dB).
The SNR improvement is 30 dB:
N = SNR
after
/ SNR
before
= 1000 = 30 dB
(Note that SNR is a power ratio, and requires the formula:
dB = 10log(P
1
/P
2
) !
7.2.2. SNR growth with measurement time
The number of required repetitions to gain a constant amount of dB in SNR improvement growths exponentially.
The figure below shows the averaging process, illustrated in chapter 7.2 in a different way. It shows of how the RMS voltage
of the averaged noise decreases with the number of averaged sweeps. The RMS voltage of the averaged signal remains
unchanged and is here set to one.
Note that the abscissa has a logarithmic scale. Look at the time scale to see the
exponential increase in required recording time to keep a steady dB-increase in SNR!
1 8 64 512 4096
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
No. of averaged sweeps, N
R
M
S

v
a
l
u
e

(
a
r
b
i
t
r
a
r
y

u
n
i
t
)

-18 dB -9 dB 0 dB 9 dB 18 dB SNR of averaged signal
00:00:01 00:00:08 00:01:04 00:08:32 01:08:16 Recording time (hh:mm:ss)
Noise
Signal
Practical advise: If averaging does not improve SNR, it is
likely that non-linear distortion (overloaded equipment e.g.
peak clipping), not stochastic noise give low signal quality.
(The distortion components are identical in each recording
sweep!)
Conditions for averaging to work:
1. Signal has to be identical from
measurement to measurement
2. I.e., measurements must be exactly
synchronized to the evoking stimulus.
3. The noise must be random.
7.2.3.a Example 1
b) Given the signal is -6 dB SPL, what is the RMS-pressure of the noise (in Pa?)
c) How many times needs the measurement be repeated to get an SNR of +10 dB?

d) Given a single measurement takes 18 ms, how much time takes this SNR improvement?
1.) A single measurement of otoacoustic emission (OAE) has an SNR of -30 dB.
a) Given the noise power is 1 mW, what is the signal power?
7.2.3.b Example 2
2.) A single auditory brainstem response (ABR) measurement takes 10 ms.
The signal has 0.2 mV
rms
. The noise has 10 mV
rms
.
a) What is the SNR of the system (in dB)?
b) Express this SNR as a power ratio.
c) Given an available recording time of 100 seconds, by how many dB can the SNR
be improved by averaging the results of repeated measurements?
d) What is the power ratio between signal and noise now?
e) What is the RMS-voltage ratio between signal and noise now?

7.2.3.a Example 1
b) Given the signal is -6 dB SPL, what is the RMS-pressure of the noise (in Pa?)
c) How many times needs the measurement be repeated to get an SNR of +10 dB?

d) Given a single measurement takes 18 ms, how much time takes this SNR improvement?
1.) A single measurement of otoacoustic emission (OAE) has an SNR of -30 dB.
a) Given the noise power is 1 mW, what is the signal power?
7.2.3.b Example 2
2.) A single auditory brainstem response (ABR) measurement takes 10 ms.
The signal has 0.2 mV
rms
. The noise has 10 mV
rms
.
a) What is the SNR of the system (in dB)?
b) Express this SNR as a power ratio.
c) Given an available recording time of 100 seconds, by how many dB can the SNR
be improved by averaging the results of repeated measurements?
d) What is the power ratio between signal and noise now?
e) What is the RMS-voltage ratio between signal and noise now?