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Noise is a common issue reported by people in reference to speech understanding, both for normal and hearing-impaired people. This study investigated how noise loudness, annoyance, distraction and speech interference impact noise tolerance in normal hearing people while listening to speech. Additionally, a relation between noise tolerance measures and the Weinstein Noise Sensitivity Questionnaire results was investigated. Speech was presented at the most comfortable loudness level in the presence of noise at the noise tolerance threshold. The results showed that from four noise tolerance domains, loudness is the least responsible for the noise not being tolerable. Cluster analysis revealed that the three groups with the highest mean weighted noise domain ratings were annoyance, distraction and speech interference. The association between noise sensitivity and annoyance supported previous findings. This study also showed a positive correlation between noise tolerance threshold and noise sensitivity in contrast to previous research. The authors suggested that this could be a result of slightly different methodology and a larger sample size. This is another study showing that subjective perception of a noise differs significantly between participants. The information about which noise tolerance domain has the largest impact on the perception of the noise may be a useful cue while fitting hearing aids. However, it seems that much more research is needed in this area.

Subjective criteria underlying noise-tolerance in the presence of speech.
Mackersie CL, Kim NK, Lockshaw SA, Nash MN.
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Joanna Lemanska

De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

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