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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 37  |  Page : 101--107

Sound localization with communications headsets: Comparison of passive and active systems

Individual Readiness Section, Defence Research and Development Canada Toronto, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Sharon M Abel
DRDC Toronto, P.O. Box 2000, 1133 Sheppard Ave. W., Toronto, Ontario M3M 3B9
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.37426

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Studies have demonstrated that conventional hearing protectors interfere with sound localization. This research examines possible benefits from advanced communications devices. Horizontal plane sound localization was compared in normal-hearing males with the ears unoccluded and fitted with Peltor H10A passive attenuation earmuffs, Racal Slimgard II communications muffs in active noise reduction (ANR) and talk-through-circuitry (TTC) modes and Nacre QUIETPRO TM communications earplugs in off (passive attenuation) and push-to-talk (PTT) modes. Localization was assessed using an array of eight loudspeakers, two in each spatial quadrant. The stimulus was 75 dB SPL, 300-ms broadband noise. One block of 120 forced-choice loudspeaker identification trials was presented in each condition. Subjects responded using a laptop response box with a set of eight microswitches in the same configuration as the speaker array. A repeated measures ANOVA was applied to the dataset. The results reveal that the overall percent correct response was highest in the unoccluded condition (94%). A significant reduction of 24% was observed for the communications devices in TTC and PTT modes and a reduction of 49% for the passive muff and plug and muff with ANR. Disruption in performance was due to an increase in front-back reversal errors for mirror image spatial positions. The results support the conclusion that communications devices with advanced technologies are less detrimental to directional hearing than conventional, passive, limited amplification and ANR devices.


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