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Multichannel Fast-Acting Dynamic Range Compression Hinders Performance by Young, Normal-Hearing Listeners in a Two-Talker Separation Task

Because of the well-known benefits of dynamic range compression, sound engineers routinely use this tool as a normal part of their professional activities. Hearing aid designers also use compression. However, compression can impede perception of independent sound sources in a complex aural environment. When normal young listeners were given the task of recognizing keywords from two simultaneous talkers, their performance worsened when compression was applied to the mixed signal. Even when performance remained unchanged, the cognitive load, as measured using a secondary task, increased significantly. The results indicate that excessive compression can lead to increased listening effort.

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JAES Volume 57 Issue 7/8 pp. 532-546; July 2009
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