Dynamic range compression is widely used to reduce the difference between the most and least intense portions of a signal. Such compression distorts the shape of the amplitude envelope of a signal, but it is unclear to what extent such distortions are actually perceivable by listeners. Here, the ability to distinguish between compressed and uncompressed versions of a noise vocoded sentence was initially measured in listeners with normal hearing while varying the threshold, ratio, attack, and release parameters. This narrow condition was selected in order to characterize perception under the most favorable listening conditions. The average behavioral sensitivity to compression was highly correlated to several acoustical indices of modulation depth. In particular, performance was highly correlated to the Euclidean distance between the modulation spectra of the uncompressed and compressed signals. Suggesting that this relationship is not restricted to the initial test conditions, the correlation remained largely unchanged both (1) when listeners with normal hearing were tested using a time-compressed version of the original signal, and (2) when listeners with impaired hearing were tested using the original signal. If this relationship generalizes to more ecologically valid conditions, it will provide a straightforward method for predicting the detectability of compression-induced distortions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics