Multichannel Compression: Effects of Reduced Spectral Contrast on Vowel Identification

Bor, Stephanie; Souza, Pamela; Wright, Richard
October 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2008, Vol. 51 Issue 5, p1315
Academic Journal
Purpose: To clarify if large numbers of wide dynamic range compression channels provide advantages for vowel identification and to measure its acoustic effects. Methods: Eight vowels produced by 12 talkers in the /hVd/ context were compressed using 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 channels. Formant contrast indices (mean formant peak minus mean formant trough; maximum formant peak minus minimum formant trough) were developed to quantify spectral changes. Twenty listeners with mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss identified the compressed vowels in an 8-alternative forced-choice procedure. Results: Formant contrast measures revealed significant spectral flattening for 6 of the 8 vowels as channel number increased. A significant decrease in vowel identification performance was also observed as spectral contrast decreased. Conclusions: Increasing the number of wide dynamic range compression channels may not be beneficial for all speech signals, and individual vowel identification performance can vary greatly for listeners with similar hearing loss.


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