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Comparison of speech intelligibility measures for an electronic amplifying earmuff and an identical passive attenuation device.

Byrne DC; Palmer CV
Audiol Res 2012 Jan; 2:(1):17-24
The purpose of this study was to identify any differences between speech intelligibility measures obtained with MineEars electronic earmuffs (ProEars, Westcliffe, CO, USA) and the Bilsom model 847 (Sperian Hearing Protection, San Diego, CA, USA), which is a conventional passive-attenuation earmuff. These two devices are closely related, since the MineEars device consisted of a Bilsom 847 earmuff with the addition of electronic amplification circuits. Intelligibility scores were obtained by conducting listening tests with 15 normal hearing human subject volunteers wearing the earmuffs. The primary research objective was to determine whether speech understanding differs between the passive earmuffs and the electronic earmuffs (with the volume control set at three different positions) in a background of 90 dB(A) continuous noise. As expected, results showed that speech intelligibility increased with higher speech-to-noise ratios; however, the electronic earmuff with the volume control set at full-on performed worse than when it was set to off or the lowest on setting. This finding suggests that the maximum volume control setting for these electronic earmuffs may not provide any benefits in terms of increased speech intelligibility in the background noise condition that was tested. Other volume control settings would need to be evaluated for their ability to produce higher speech intelligibility scores. Additionally, since an extensive electro-acoustic evaluation of the electronic earmuff was not performed as a part of this study, the exact cause of the reduced intelligibility scores at full volume remains unknown.
Auditory-system; Audiological-testing; Hearing-level; Hearing-protection; Ear-protection; Speech-transmission; Ear-protectors; Electronic-devices; Equipment-design; Equipment-reliability; Electronic-circuits; Humans; Voice-communication; Noise; Noise-exposure; Noise-levels; Author Keywords: noise; hearing protection; speech intelligibility
David C. Byrne, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Robert A. Taft Laboratories, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA
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Audiology Research
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division