Peak clipping is a common form of distortion in hearing aids and can reduce the subjective quality of the amplified speech. In a previous study involving listeners with normal hearing Kates & Kozma-Spytek, 1994), the effect of peak clipping on speech quality ratings was studied using sentence test materials that were filtered using three different frequency response contours and then clipped at four different clipping levels. The present study extends the quality ratings to include those from a group of listeners having moderate to profound hearing impairments. The experimental results indicate that the clipping level, and the interaction of the frequency-response shaping with the clipping level, significantly affects speech quality. It is also shown that the distortion effects on speech quality for the listeners with impaired hearing can be modeled by a distortion index computed from the magnitude-squared coherence of the speech-processing system in response to a shaped-noise input signal. The distortion-index weights derived for the group of listeners with impaired hearing, however, differ substantially from those derived for listeners with normal hearing, and substantial inter-listener variation was also observed.
KEY WORDS: speech quality, hearing aids, hearing loss, coherence function, distortion perception
Submitted on March 20, 1996
Accepted on July 18, 1996