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


  1. Abel, S.M.
  2. Tsang, S.
  3. Boyne, S.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
Introduction: Previous studies have demonstrated that conventional sound attenuating earmuffs and earplugs interfere with sound localization ability. This study examined possible benefits from advanced communications headsets that incorporate limited amplification and active noise reduction (ANR). Method: The ability to localize a 75 dB SPL, 300-ms broadband noise stimulus was examined in twelve normal-hearing males by means of a horizontal array of eight loudspeakers surrounding the subject at a distance of 1 m. Tests were conducted with the ears unoccluded and fitted with conventional Peltor H10 earmuffs and two communications headsets, the Racal Slimgard II in active noise reduction (ANR) and talk-through-circuitry (TTC) modes and the Nacre QUIETPRO in Off (conventional plug) and push-to-talk (PTT) modes. Results: Overall percent correct was highest in the unoccluded condition (94%). A reduction of 24% was observed for the communications devices in TTC and PTT modes, and a reduction of 49% for the conventional 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. Discussion: The results were in line with previous studies and support the conclusion that in situations requiring the use of hearing protectors to minimize high-level noise exposure, communications devices with advanced technologies provide a way to maintain directional hearing. With the devices tested, subjects were equ

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directional hearing, sound localization, auditory perception, hearing protection
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-SL-2007-019 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
31 Dec 2007
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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