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J Acoust Soc Am. 2011 May;129(5):3134-40. doi: 10.1121/1.3569726.

Distribution of standing-wave errors in real-ear sound-level measurements.

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Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Standing waves can cause measurement errors when sound-pressure level (SPL) measurements are performed in a closed ear canal, e.g., during probe-microphone system calibration for distortion-product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) testing. Alternative calibration methods, such as forward-pressure level (FPL), minimize the influence of standing waves by calculating the forward-going sound waves separate from the reflections that cause errors. Previous research compared test performance (Burke et al., 2010) and threshold prediction (Rogers et al., 2010) using SPL and multiple FPL calibration conditions, and surprisingly found no significant improvements when using FPL relative to SPL, except at 8 kHz. The present study examined the calibration data collected by Burke et al. and Rogers et al. from 155 human subjects in order to describe the frequency location and magnitude of standing-wave pressure minima to see if these errors might explain trends in test performance. Results indicate that while individual results varied widely, pressure variability was larger around 4 kHz and smaller at 8 kHz, consistent with the dimensions of the adult ear canal. The present data suggest that standing-wave errors are not responsible for the historically poor (8 kHz) or good (4 kHz) performance of DPOAE measures at specific test frequencies.

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