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Optimizing the Acoustic and Intelligibility Performance of Assistive Audio Systems and Program Relay for the Hard of Hearing and Other Users

Over 10 % of the population suffer from a noticeable degree of hearing loss and could benefit from some form of hearing assistance or deaf aid. However, little information is available that provides installers and designers with suitable guidelines for the acoustic performance of such systems. The paper reviews the background requirements for achieving good speech intelligibility and in particular shows how the type and location of the assistive listening system pickup microphone(s) affect the resultant sound quality and intelligibility. An observed effect, not previously reported within the literature, is that of the potential disparity of the interaural signal arrival times that can occur in large spaces and auditoria between the natural or amplified sound and the received audio relay signal. The results of a novel pilot study into the effects and disturbance caused by this differential interaural temporal discrepancy are reported and conclusions drawn as to optimal microphone types, siting and signal processing requirements.

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