Common Sound Scenarios: A Context-Driven Categorization of Everyday Sound Environments for Application in Hearing-Device Research

J Am Acad Audiol. 2016 Jul;27(7):527-40. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.15105.


Background: Evaluation of hearing-device signal-processing features is performed for research and development purposes, but also in clinical settings. Most people agree that the benefit experienced in a hearing-device user's daily life is most important, but laboratory tests are popular since they can be performed uniformly for all participants in a study using sensitive outcome measures. In order to design laboratory tests that have the potential of indicating real-life benefit, there is a need for more information about the acoustic environments and listening situations encountered by hearing-device users as well as by normal-hearing people.

Purpose: To investigate the acoustic environments and listening situations people encounter, and to provide a structured framework of common sound scenarios (CoSS) that can be used for instance when designing realistic laboratory tests.

Research design: A literature search was conducted. Extracted acoustic environments and listening situations were categorized using a context-based approach. A set of common sound scenarios was established based on the findings from the literature.

Data collection: A number of publications providing data on encountered acoustic environments and listening situations were identified. Focus was on studies including informants who reported or recorded information in field trials. Nine relevant references were found. In combination with data collected at our laboratory, 187 examples of acoustic environments or listening situations were found.

Results: Based on the extracted data, a categorization approach based on context (intentions and tasks) was used when creating CoSS. Three intention categories, "speech communication," "focused listening," and "nonspecific" were divided into seven task categories. In each task category, two sound scenarios were described, creating in total 14 common sound scenarios. The literature search showed a general lack of studies investigating acoustic environments and listening situations, in particular studies where normal-hearing informants are included and studies performed outside North America and Western Europe.

Conclusions: A structured framework was developed. Intentions and tasks constitute the main categories in the framework, and 14 common sound scenarios were selected and described. The framework can for instance be used when developing hearing-device signal-processing features, in the evaluation of such features in realistic laboratory tests, and for demonstration of feature effects to hearing-device wearers.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Environment*
  • Hearing
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Humans
  • Speech Perception