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J Am Acad Audiol. 2006 Feb;17(2):141-6.

The effect of speech presentation level on acceptance of background noise in listeners with normal hearing.

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, AR 72204-1099, USA.


A method has been established to measure the maximum acceptable background noise level (BNL) for a listener, while listening to speech at the most comfortable listening level (MCL). The acceptable noise level (ANL) is the difference between BNL and MCL. In the present study, the ANL procedure was used to measure acceptance of noise, first, in the presence of speech at MCL and, then, for speech presented at much lower and higher levels in listeners with normal hearing. This study used the term ANL to describe the results obtained at MCL and also at other speech presentation levels. The mean ANL at MCL was 15.5 dB, which is comparable to results obtained by previous investigators. ANL increases systematically with speech presentation level. Mean ANLs ranged from 10.6 dB when speech was presented at 20 dB HL to 24.6 dB when speech was presented at 76 dB HL. The results indicated that the acceptance of noise depends significantly on speech presentation level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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