Exploring the limits of frequency lowering

Pamela E. Souza, Kathryn H. Arehart, James M. Kates, Naomi B.H. Croghan, Namita Gehani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examined how frequency lowering affected sentence intelligibility and quality for adults with postlingually acquired, mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Method: Listeners included adults aged 60-92 years with sloping sensorineural hearing loss and a control group of similarly aged adults with normal hearing. Sentences were presented in quiet and babble at a range of signal-to-noise ratios. Intelligibility and quality were measured with varying amounts of frequency lowering, implemented using a form of frequency compression. Results: Moderate amounts of compression, particularly with high cutoff frequencies, had minimal effects on sentence intelligibility. Listeners with the greatest high-frequency hearing loss showed the greatest benefit. Sentence intelligibility decreased with more compression. Listeners were more affected by a given set of parameters in noise than in quiet. In quiet, any amount of compression resulted in lower speech quality for most listeners, with the greatest degradation for listeners with better high-frequency hearing. Quality ratings were lower with background noise, and in noise, the effect of changing compression parameters was small. Conclusions: The benefits of frequency lowering in adults were affected by the compression parameters as well as individual hearing thresholds. The data are consistent with the idea that frequency lowering can be viewed in terms of improved audibility versus increased distortion trade-off.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1349-1363
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • Amplification or hearing aids
  • Frequency lowering
  • Hearing
  • Hearing loss
  • Intelligibility
  • Noise
  • Quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the limits of frequency lowering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this