Effects of Dynamic-Range Compression on the Spatial Attributes of Sounds in Normal-Hearing Listeners

Ear and Hearing, 05/04/2012

Fast–acting compression at high frequencies operating independently at each ear can adversely affect the spatial attributes of sounds in normal–hearing listeners by increasing diffuseness, increasing or giving rise to a sense of movement, causing images to split, and affecting the externalization of sounds. The effects are reduced, but not eliminated, when listeners have access to undisturbed low–frequency cues. Sounds containing gradual onsets and offsets, including speech, are most affected. The effects arise primarily as a result of relatively slow changes in ILD that are generated as the sound level at one or both ears crosses the compression threshold. The results may have implications for the use of compression in bilaterally fitted hearing devices, specifically in relation to spatial perception in dynamic situations.

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