Modeling Speech Level as a Function of Background Noise Level and Talker-to-Listener Distance for Talkers Wearing Hearing Protection Devices

Rachel E. Bouserhal*, Annelies Bockstael, Ewen MacDonald, Tiago H. Falk, Jérémie Voix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Studying the variations in speech levels with changing background noise level and talker-to-listener distance for talkers wearing hearing protection devices (HPDs) can aid in understanding communication in background noise.

Method: Speech was recorded using an intra-aural HPD from 12 different talkers at 5 different distances in 3 different noise conditions and 2 quiet conditions.

Results: This article proposes models that can predict the difference in speech level as a function of background noise level and talker-to-listener distance for occluded talkers. The proposed model complements the existing model presented by Pelegrín-García, Smits, Brunskog, and Jeong (2011) and expands on it by taking into account the effects of occlusion and background noise level on changes in speech sound level.

Conclusions: Three models of the relationship between vocal effort, background noise level, and talker-to-listener distance for talkers wearing HPDs are presented. The model with the best prediction intervals is a talker-dependent model that requires the users' unoccluded speech level at 10 m as a reference. A model describing the relationship between speech level, talker-to-listener distance, and background noise level for occluded talkers could eventually be incorporated with radio protocols to transmit verbal communication only to an intended set of listeners within a given spatial range—this range being dependent on the changes in speech level and background noise level.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Pages (from-to)3393-3403
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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