Nine subjects with prelingually acquired, sensorineural, hearing loss were given a three-interval, forced-choice, test of speech pattern contrast perception under two amplification conditions. The first involved adjustment of the low and high frequency outputs of a two-channel Master Hearing Aid to each subject's highest comfortable level, but without compression of the short-term dynamic range of the signal. The second involved the additional compression of a 30 dB input range into the subject's dynamic range of hearing, as measured by the difference between speech awareness threshold and highest comfortable level, in each of the two channels. One of the subjects performed much better with compression than without. Among the other eight, however, there was a small but significant reduction of performance when compression was introduced. It is proposed that the one positive result is due to the increased audibility of speech cues made possible by amplitude compression. It is further proposed that the negative results are due mainly to the distortions of time-intensity cues introduced by amplitude compression. The results suggest that, in terms of potential access to meaningful speech cues, the addition of amplitude compression, to an otherwise optimize signal, is unnecessary, or even detrimental, for most profoundly deaf subjects, but could be beneficial for some.Submitted on February 2, 1987
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