Peaks in the Frequency Response of Hearing Aids: Evaluation of the Effects on Speech Intelligibility and Sound Quality In a series of experiments, we introduced peaks of 10, 20, and 30 dB, in various combinations, onto a smooth reference frequency response. For each of the conditions, we evaluated speech intelligibility in noise, using a test as developed by Plomp and Mimpen (1979), and sound quality (for both speech ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1996
Peaks in the Frequency Response of Hearing Aids: Evaluation of the Effects on Speech Intelligibility and Sound Quality
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ronald A. van Buuren
    University Hospital VU, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Joost M. Festen
    University Hospital VU, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Tammo Houtgast
    University Hospital VU, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Contact author: R. A. van Buuren, TNO Physics and Electronics Laboratory, P.O. Box 96864, 2509 JG The Hague, The Netherlands. E-mail: vanbuuren@fel.tno.nl
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1996
Peaks in the Frequency Response of Hearing Aids: Evaluation of the Effects on Speech Intelligibility and Sound Quality
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1996, Vol. 39, 239-250. doi:10.1044/jshr.3902.239
History: Received January 24, 1995 , Accepted November 8, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1996, Vol. 39, 239-250. doi:10.1044/jshr.3902.239
History: Received January 24, 1995; Accepted November 8, 1995

In a series of experiments, we introduced peaks of 10, 20, and 30 dB, in various combinations, onto a smooth reference frequency response. For each of the conditions, we evaluated speech intelligibility in noise, using a test as developed by Plomp and Mimpen (1979), and sound quality (for both speech and music), using a rating-scale procedure. We performed the experiments with 26 listeners with sensorineurally impaired hearing and 10 listeners with normal hearing. Signal processing was accomplished digitally; for each listener, the stimuli were filtered and subsequently amplified so that the average speech spectrum was well above the threshold of hearing at all frequencies. The results show that, as a result of the introduction of peaks onto the frequency response, speech intelligibility is affected more for the listeners with impaired hearing than for those with normal hearing. Sound-quality judgments tend to be less different between the listener groups. Conditions with 30-dB peaks especially show serious effects on both speech intelligibility and sound quality.

Acknowledgments
This research was financially supported by Philips Hearing Instruments B.V. We would like to thank Theo S. Kapteyn, of the University Hospital’s Audiology Center, for his kind assistance in selecting the listeners with hearing loss. We thank Mr. Ten Hoeve (at Philips Hearing Instruments, Eindhoven, The Netherlands) and Björn Hagerman (at Teknisk Audiologi, Stockholm, Sweden) for clarifying discussions on the issue of peaks in the hearing aid’s frequency response.
Carol A. Sammeth and two anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for their useful suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.
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