Effects of Slow- and Fast-Acting Compression on Hearing-Impaired Listeners’ Consonant–Vowel Identification in Interrupted Noise

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Abstract

There is conflicting evidence about the relative benefit of slow- and fast-acting compression for speech intelligibility. It has been hypothesized that fast-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 a nearly instantaneous attack time but either fast (10ms) or slow (500ms) release times on consonant identification in hearing-impaired listeners. Consonant–vowel speech tokens were presented at a range of 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 detrimental 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 when compared with slow-acting compression while not substantially affecting the perception of consonants at higher SNRs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Hearing
Volume22
Pages (from-to)1-12
ISSN2331-2165
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing loss
  • Amplification
  • Speech

Cite this

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title = "Effects of Slow- and Fast-Acting Compression on Hearing-Impaired Listeners’ Consonant–Vowel Identification in Interrupted Noise",
abstract = "There is conflicting evidence about the relative benefit of slow- and fast-acting compression for speech intelligibility. It has been hypothesized that fast-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 a nearly instantaneous attack time but either fast (10ms) or slow (500ms) release times on consonant identification in hearing-impaired listeners. Consonant–vowel speech tokens were presented at a range of 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 detrimental 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 when compared with slow-acting compression while not substantially affecting the perception of consonants at higher SNRs.",
keywords = "Hearing aids, Hearing loss, Amplification, Speech",
author = "Borys Kowalewski and Johannes Zaar and Michal Fereczkowski and Ewen MacDonald and Olaf Strelcyk and Tobias May and Torsten Dau",
year = "2018",
doi = "10.1177/2331216518800870",
language = "English",
volume = "22",
pages = "1--12",
journal = "Trends in Hearing",
issn = "2331-2165",
publisher = "SAGE Publications",

}

Effects of Slow- and Fast-Acting Compression on Hearing-Impaired Listeners’ Consonant–Vowel Identification in Interrupted Noise. / Kowalewski, Borys; Zaar, Johannes; Fereczkowski, Michal; MacDonald, Ewen; Strelcyk, Olaf ; May, Tobias; Dau, Torsten.

In: Trends in Hearing, Vol. 22, 2018, p. 1-12.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effects of Slow- and Fast-Acting Compression on Hearing-Impaired Listeners’ Consonant–Vowel Identification in Interrupted Noise

AU - Kowalewski, Borys

AU - Zaar, Johannes

AU - Fereczkowski, Michal

AU - MacDonald, Ewen

AU - Strelcyk, Olaf

AU - May, Tobias

AU - Dau, Torsten

PY - 2018

Y1 - 2018

N2 - There is conflicting evidence about the relative benefit of slow- and fast-acting compression for speech intelligibility. It has been hypothesized that fast-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 a nearly instantaneous attack time but either fast (10ms) or slow (500ms) release times on consonant identification in hearing-impaired listeners. Consonant–vowel speech tokens were presented at a range of 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 detrimental 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 when compared with slow-acting compression while not substantially affecting the perception of consonants at higher SNRs.

AB - There is conflicting evidence about the relative benefit of slow- and fast-acting compression for speech intelligibility. It has been hypothesized that fast-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 a nearly instantaneous attack time but either fast (10ms) or slow (500ms) release times on consonant identification in hearing-impaired listeners. Consonant–vowel speech tokens were presented at a range of 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 detrimental 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 when compared with slow-acting compression while not substantially affecting the perception of consonants at higher SNRs.

KW - Hearing aids

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KW - Amplification

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SN - 2331-2165

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