Effects of Compression on Speech Acoustics, Intelligibility, and Sound Quality

Pamela E. Souza*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


The topic of compression has been discussed quite extensively in the last 20 years (eg, Braida et al., 1982; Dillon, 1996, 2000; Dreschler, 1992; Hickson, 1994; Kuk, 2000 and 2002; Kuk and Ludvigsen, 1999; Moore, 1990; Van Tasell, 1993; Venema, 2000; Verschuure et al., 1996; Walker and Dillon, 1982). However, the latest comprehensive update by this journal was published in 1996 (Kuk, 1996). Since that time, use of compression hearing aids has increased dramatically, from half of hearing aids dispensed only 5 years ago to four out of five hearing aids dispensed today (Strom, 2002b). Most of today's digital and digitally programmable hearing aids are compression devices (Strom, 2002a). It is probable that within a few years, very few patients will be fit with linear hearing aids. Furthermore, compression has increased in complexity, with greater numbers of parameters under the clinician's control. Ideally, these changes will translate to greater flexibility and precision in fitting and selection. However, they also increase the need for information about the effects of compression amplification on speech perception and speech quality. As evidenced by the large number of sessions at professional conferences on fitting compression hearing aids, clinicians continue to have questions about compression technology and when and how it should be used. How does compression work? Who are the best candidates for this technology? How should adjustable parameters be set to provide optimal speech recognition? What effect will compression have on speech quality? These and other questions continue to drive our interest in this technology. This article reviews the effects of compression on the speech signal and the implications for speech intelligibility, quality, and design of clinical procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-165
Number of pages35
JournalTrends in Amplification
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Compression on Speech Acoustics, Intelligibility, and Sound Quality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this