Intelligibility and clarity of reverberant speech: Effects of wide dynamic range compression release time and working memory

Paul N. Reinhart*, Pamela E. Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of varying wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) release time on intelligibility and clarity of reverberant speech. The study also considered the role of individual working memory. Method: Thirty older listeners with mild to moderately-severe sloping sensorineural hearing loss participated. Individuals were divided into high and low working memory groups on the basis of the results of a reading span test. Participants listened binaurally to sentence stimuli simulated at a range of reverberation conditions and WDRC release times using a high compression ratio. Outcome measures included objective intelligibility and subjective clarity ratings. Results: Speech intelligibility and clarity ratings both decreased as a function of reverberation. The low working memory group demonstrated a greater decrease in intelligibility with increasing amounts of reverberation than the high working memory group. Both groups, regardless of working memory, had higher speech intelligibility and clarity ratings with longer WDRC release times. WDRC release time had a larger effect on speech intelligibility under more reverberant conditions. Conclusions: Reverberation significantly affects speech intelligibility, particularly for individuals with lower working memory. In addition, longer release times in hearing aids may improve listener speech intelligibility and clarity in reverberant environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1543-1554
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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