Subjective methods developed for rating passive hearing protectors are inappropriate to measure active noise reduction of earphones or headphones. Additionally, assessment using objective means may produce misleading results, which do not correlate well with wearer experience and do not encompass human variability. The present paper describes application of “loudness balance” methods to the estimation of active attenuation of consumer headphones and earphones. Early results suggest that objective measures of the active reduction of pressure report greater attenuations than those implied by estimates of perceived loudness, particularly at low frequency.
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