Acoustic and perceptual effects of amplitude and frequency compression on high-frequency speech

Joshua M. Alexander, Varsha Rallapalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study investigated how six different amplification methods influence acoustic properties, and subsequently perception, of high-frequency cues in fricatives that have been processed with conventional full bandwidth amplification or nonlinear frequency compression (NFC) - 12 conditions total. Amplification methods included linear gain, fast/slow-acting wide dynamic range compression crossed with fixed/individualized compression parameters, and a method with adaptive time constants. Twenty-one hearing-impaired listeners identified seven fricatives in nonsense syllables produced by female talkers. For NFC stimuli, frequency-compressed filters that precisely aligned 1/3-octave bands between input and output were used to quantify effective compression ratio, audibility, and temporal envelope modulation relative to the input. Results indicated significant relationships between these acoustic properties, each of which contributed significantly to fricative recognition across the entire corpus of stimuli. Recognition was significantly better for NFC stimuli compared with full bandwidth stimuli, regardless of the amplification method, which had complementary effects on audibility and envelope modulation. Furthermore, while there were significant differences in recognition across the amplification methods, they were not consistent across phonemes. Therefore, neither recognition nor acoustic data overwhelmingly suggest that one amplification method should be used over another for transmission of high-frequency cues in isolated syllables. Longer duration stimuli and more realistic listening conditions should be examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-923
Number of pages16
Journaljournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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