Speech reception in quiet and in noisy conditions by individuals with noise-induced hearing loss in relation to their tone audiogram

J Acoust Soc Am. 1992 Jan;91(1):421-37. doi: 10.1121/1.402729.


Tone thresholds and speech-reception thresholds were measured in 200 individuals (400 ears) with noise-induced hearing loss. The speech-reception thresholds were measured in a quiet condition and in noise with a speech spectrum at levels of 35, 50, 65, and 80 dBA. The tone audiograms could be described by three principal components: hearing loss in the regions above 3 kHz, from 1 to 3 kHz and below 1 kHz; the speech thresholds could be described by two components: speech reception in quiet and speech reception in noise at 50-80 dBA. Hearing loss above 1 kHz was related to speech reception in noise; hearing loss at and below 1 kHz to speech reception in quiet. The correlation between the speech thresholds in quiet and in noise was only R = 0.45. An adequate predictor of the speech threshold in noise, the primary factor in the hearing handicap, was the pure-tone average at 2 and 4 kHz (PTA2,4, R = 0.72). The minimum value of the prediction error for any tone-audiometric predictor of this speech threshold was 1.2 dB (standard deviation). The prediction could not be improved by taking into account the critical ratio for low-frequency noise nor by its upward spread of masking. The prediction error is due to measurement error and to a factor common to both ears. The latter factor is ascribed to cognitive skill in speech reception. Hearing loss above 10 to 15 dB HL (hearing level) already shows an effect on the speech threshold in noise, a noticeable handicap is found at PTA2,4 = 30 dB HL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Audiometry, Speech
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Noise
  • Speech Acoustics
  • Speech Perception*
  • Speech Reception Threshold Test*