Hard real-time onset detection of percussive instruments

Luca Turchet
DAFx-2018 - Aveiro
To date, the most successful onset detectors are those based on frequency representation of the signal. However, for such methods the time between the physical onset and the reported one is unpredictable and may largely vary according to the type of sound being analyzed. Such variability and unpredictability of spectrum-based onset detectors may not be convenient in some real-time applications. This paper proposes a real-time method to improve the temporal accuracy of state-of-the-art onset detectors. The method is grounded on the theory of hard real-time operating systems where the result of a task must be reported at a certain deadline. It consists of the combination of a time-base technique (which has a high degree of accuracy in detecting the physical onset time but is more prone to false positives and false negatives) with a spectrum-based technique (which has a high detection accuracy but a low temporal accuracy). The developed hard real-time onset detector was tested on a dataset of single non-pitched percussive sounds using the high frequency content detector as spectral technique. Experimental validation showed that the proposed approach was effective in better retrieving the physical onset time of about 50% of the hits detected by the spectral technique, with an average improvement of about 3 ms and maximum one of about 12 ms. The results also revealed that the use of a longer deadline may capture better the variability of the spectral technique, but at the cost of a bigger latency.