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Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1991 Feb;52(2):52-60.

Subjective evaluation of a prototype earmuff exhibiting flat and nonlinear attenuation characteristics.

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International Business Machines Corporation Inc., Palo Alto, CA 94304.


Subjective user responses were obtained for a test earmuff exhibiting approximately flat (uniform) attenuation of about 25 dB from 500 to 8000 Hz for sound pressure levels (SPLs) less than 120 dB. At SPLs above 120 dB, the test earmuff exhibited nonlinear (level-dependent) attenuation characteristics such that noise reduction increased with increasing sound level. The study population consisted of police officers from the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department as they were performing arms requalification by executing a series of firing programs during two sequential and identical relays. The study subjects wore either the test earmuff or a comparable conventional earmuff during the first relay, then the alternate protector for the second relay with the order counterbalanced. Results indicated a significant preference for the test earmuff in three comparison areas: comfort, perceived hearing protection, and speech understanding. The study demonstrates that ammunition type and level of noise exposure contributed significantly to a preference in favor of the test earmuff. The subjects who used the quietest of the ammunition types rated the test earmuff significantly better than the remaining subjects with respect to speech understanding.

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