Communication in military environments – Influence of noise, hearing protection and language proficiency


  1. Nakashima, A.
  2. Abel, S.M.
  3. Smith, I.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre , Toronto ON (CAN)
Military training and international operations require different nationalities to communicate in a common language, where there are potential challenges with non-native (L2) speech communication. An experiment of speech communication in military noise was conducted for co-located (face-to-face [F2F]) and distributed (using communication headsets) talker-listener pairs. Half of the twenty-four participants were monolingual English speakers (native group, NA) and the remaining half had obtained English fluency after the age of eight years (non-native group, NN). Two tests of speech understanding were used: the Modified Rhyme Test (MRT) and the Speech Perception in Noise test (SPIN). In the F2F condition, the participants wore a communication headset (earmuff) with the power off for occluded listening. Three levels of armoured vehicle noise were used, 55, 60 and 65 dBA, for speech-to-noise ratios ranging from - 10 to +5 dB. In the radio condition, the pairs were separated by a visual barrier and used the communication headset for the tests in 80 dBA armoured vehicle noise. The results showed that the NN group had difficulty with the SPIN test in the radio and F2F conditions. This result was attributed to the open-response set of the SPIN. Headset occlusion likely contributed to the lower scores for the NN listeners in the F2F condition. There was a main effect of talker for the MRT in the F2F and radio conditions, and for the SPIN in the radio condition, suggesting that foreign
hearing protection;military noise;speech communication
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2017-P111 — External Literature
Date of publication
01 Nov 2017
Number of Pages
Reprinted from
Applied Acoustics, No 131, (2018): p. 38-44
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