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J Am Acad Audiol. 2005 Feb;16(2):85-100.

Estimates of loudness, loudness discomfort, and the auditory dynamic range: normative estimates, comparison of procedures, and test-retest reliability.

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University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The purpose of this series of experiments was to establish normative reference values for absolute and relative judgements of loudness discomfort and for the auditory dynamic range (DR), and to evaluate intersubject variability and intra-subject test-retest reliability for the respective measures of loudness discomfort. To establish the normal auditory DR, audiometric thresholds and loudness discomfort levels (LDLs) were measured from a group of 59 normal-hearing adults without sound tolerance problems. The resulting estimates of the LDL and DR were on the order of 100 dB HL and 95 dB, respectively. A subset (n = 18) of this larger group participated in further studies in which loudness growth functions and the upper limit of the auditory DR were measured by categorical scaling judgments. The findings revealed no significant differences between the test methods for absolute (LDL) and relative (categorical scaling) judgements of loudness discomfort, intersubject variability, or intrasubject test-retest reliability, and suggest that the simple LDL estimate of loudness discomfort is an efficient and valid clinical measure for characterizing the "threshold of discomfort."

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