Paul Calamia, Christopher Smalt, Shakti K. Davis, Austin Hess

Predicting sound-localization performance with hearing-protection devices using computational auditory models

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Evaluation of the effect of hearing-protection devices (HPDs) on auditory tasks such as detection, localization, and speech intelligibility typically is done with human-subject testing. However, such data collections can be impractical due to the time-consuming processes of subject recruitment and the testing itself, particularly when multiple tasks and HPDs are included. An alternative, objective testing protocol involves the use of a binaural mannequin (a.k.a an acoustic test fixture) and computational models of the auditory system. For example, data collected at the eardrums of such a mannequin outfitted with an HPD can be fed into a binaural localization model. If the performance of the model with such input can be shown to be similar to that of human subjects, the model-based assessment may be sufficient to characterize the hearing protector and inform further design decisions. In this presentation we will describe the preliminary results of an effort to replicate human-subject localization performance for 5 HPDs and the open ear using an acoustic test fixture and three auditory localization models. The task involved localizing the direction of a gun-cocking sound from the center of a 24-loudspeaker ring. Variations among the models, as well as a comparison to the human-subject data will be discussed. [Work sponsored by US Army NSRDEC.]

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