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Laurel J Trainor, Ranil Sonnadara, Karl Wiklund, Jeff Bondy, Shilpy Gupta, Suzanna Becker, Ian C Bruce, and Simon Haykin (2004)

Development of a flexible, realistic hearing in noise test environment (R-HINT-E)

Signal Processing, 84(2):299-309.

Through the use of DSP chips and multiple microphones, hearing aids now offer the possibility of performing signal-to-noise enhancement. Evaluating different algorithms before they are instantiated on a hearing aid is essential. However, commercially available tests of hearing in noise do not allow for speech perception evaluation with a variety of signals, noise types, signal and noise locations, and reverberation. Here we present a flexible realistic hearing in noise testing environment (R-HINT-E) that involves (1) measuring the impulse responses at microphones placed in the ears of a human head and torso model (KEMAR) from many different locations in real rooms of various dimensions and with various reverberation characteristics, (2) creating a corpus of sentences based on the hearing in noise test recorded in quiet from a variety of talkers, (3) creating “soundscapes” representing the input to the ears (or array of microphones in a hearing aid) by convolving specific sentences or noises with the impulse responses for specific locations in a room, and (4) using psychophysical procedures for measuring reception thresholds for speech under a variety of noise conditions. Preliminary evaluation based on the engineering signal-to-error ratio and on human perceptual tests indicates that the convolved sounds closely match real recordings from the same location in the room. R-HINT-E should be invaluable for the evaluation of hearing aid algorithms, as well as more general signal separation algorithms such as independent components analysis.

sound, hearing in noise, speech perception, impulse response