Spectral Characteristics of Speech at the Ear: Implications for Amplification in Children

Pittman, Andrea L.; Stelmachowicz, Patricia G.; Lewis, Dawna E.; Hoover, Brenda M.
June 2003
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2003, Vol. 46 Issue 3, p649
Academic Journal
This study examined the long-and short-term spectral characteristics of speech simultaneously recorded at the ear and at a reference microphone position (30 cm at 0° azimuth). Twenty adults and 26 children (2-4 years of age) with normal hearing were asked to produce 9 short sentences in a quiet environment. Long-term average speech spectra (LTASS) were calculated for the concatenated sentences, and short-term spectra were calculated for selected phonemes within the sentences (/m/, /n/, /s /, /∫/, /f/, /a/, /u/, and /i/). Relative to the reference microphone position, the LTASS at the ear showed higher amplitudes for frequencies below 1 kHz and lower amplitudes for frequencies above 2 kHz for both groups. At both microphone positions, the short-term spectra of the children's phonemes revealed reduced amplitudes for /s/ and /∫/ and for vowel energy above 2 kHz relative to the adults' phonemes. The results of this study suggest that, for listeners with hearing loss (a) the talker's own voice through a hearing instrument would contain lower overall energy at frequencies above 2 kHz relative to speech originating in front of the talker, (b) a child's own speech would contain even lower energy above 2 kHz because of adult-child differences in overall amplitude, and (c) frequency regions important to normal speech development (e.g., high-frequency energy in the phonemes /s/ and /∫/) may not be amplified sufficiently by many hearing instruments.


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