Effects of slow- and fast-acting compression on hearing impaired listeners’ consonant-vowel identification in interrupted noise

Borys Kowalewski, Johannes Zaar, Michal Fereczkowski, Ewen MacDonald, Olaf Strelcyk, Tobias May, Torsten Dau

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There is conflicting evidence about the relative benefit of slow- and fast- acting compression for speech intelligibility. It has been hypothesized tha tfast-acting compression improves audibility at low signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) but may distort the speech envelope at higher SNRs. The present study investigated the effects of compression with nearly instantaneous attack time but either fast (10 ms) or slow (500 ms) release times on consonant identification in hearing-impaired listeners. Consonant-vowel speech tokens were presented at several presentation levels in two conditions: in the presence of interrupted noise and in quiet (with the compressor “shadow controlled” by the corresponding mixture of speech and noise). These conditions were chosen to disentangle the effects of consonant audibility and noise-induced forward masking on speech intelligibility. A small but systematic intelligibility benefit of fast-acting compression was found in both the quiet and the noisy conditions for the lower speech levels. No negative effects of fast-acting compression were observed when the speech level exceeded the level of the noise. These findings suggest that fast-acting compression provides an audibility benefit in fluctuating interferers ascompared to slow-acting compression, while not substantially affecting the perception of consonants at higher SNRs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research: Adaptive Processes in Hearing
EditorsS. Santurette, T. Dau, J. C.-Dalsgaard, L. Tranebjærg, T. Andersen, T. Poulsen
Number of pages8
PublisherThe Danavox Jubilee Foundation
Publication date2017
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-990013-6-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInternational Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research - Hotel Nyborg Strand, Nyborg, Denmark
Duration: 23 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research
LocationHotel Nyborg Strand
Internet address
SeriesTrends in Hearing


  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing loss
  • Amplification
  • Speech


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