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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 55  |  Page : 378--384

Speech understanding in noise with integrated in-ear and muff-style hearing protection systems

Individual Behaviour and Performance Section, Defence Research and Development Canada-Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Sharon M Abel
Individual Behaviour and Performance Section, Defence Research and Development Canada-Toronto, 1133 Sheppard Avenue West, Toronto,Ontario, M3K 2C9
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Source of Support: Defence R&D Canada, Personal Partner Group, Human Integration Thrust, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.90289

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Integrated hearing protection systems are designed to enhance free field and radio communications during military operations while protecting against the damaging effects of high-level noise exposure. A study was conducted to compare the effect of increasing the radio volume on the intelligibility of speech over the radios of two candidate systems, in-ear and muff-style, in 85-dBA speech babble noise presented free field. Twenty normal-hearing, English-fluent subjects, half male and half female, were tested in same gender pairs. Alternating as talker and listener, their task was to discriminate consonant-vowel-consonant syllables that contrasted either the initial or final consonant. Percent correct consonant discrimination increased with increases in the radio volume. At the highest volume, subjects achieved 79% with the in-ear device but only 69% with the muff-style device, averaged across the gender of listener/talker pairs and consonant position. Although there was no main effect of gender, female listener/talkers showed a 10% advantage for the final consonant and male listener/talkers showed a 1% advantage for the initial consonant. These results indicate that normal hearing users can achieve reasonably high radio communication scores with integrated in-ear hearing protection in moderately high-level noise that provides both energetic and informational masking. The adequacy of the range of available radio volumes for users with hearing loss has yet to be determined.


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