Acceptable Noise Level Measured using Monitored Live Voice: A Pilot Study


Objective: Background noise is a significant contributor to poor speech understanding for listeners with normal hearing. It creates an even greater challenge for listeners with hearing loss. Those with hearing loss who use hearing aids often complain of background noise. Specifically, background noise is the main complaint among hearing aid users when trying to follow a conversation. Half of the conversations occur in environments with some background present. The acceptable noise level (ANL) is a measure that attempts to quantify listener preference of background noise when listening to speech. Its use can contribute to clinicians and those with hearing loss by predictively differentiating full time hearing aid wearers from part time wearers or those who reject hearing aids. Thus, the ANL can be a valuable tool for the fitting of and counseling related to hearing aids. However, the ANL is not widely utilized by clinicians in the field. One of the possible reasons for this may be a factor of convenience in performing the ANL measurement with an audiometer alone, as a test easier for clinicians to administer may be more acceptable. Methods: This pilot study compared differences in ANLs from eighteen listeners with normal hearing obtained using a commercially available recorded monologue with a monitored live voice (MLV) presentation of the same monologue. Results: Statistical procedures for data analysis included a Paired Samples T-test to look for differences between the means of the data collected with the two signal types. Additionally, regression analysis using the Pearson Product Correlation was implemented to provide an illustration of the relationship between the two groups of data. Results indicated a strong correlation, but significant difference between the two presentation modes. Conclusion: Although the means differed to the level of statistical significance, the difference may not be considered to have reached the level of minimal clinical importance. Since the ANL has the potential of being a valuable clinical tool, further research into the ANL measure obtained with MLV presentation will be needed.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





acceptable noise level, monitored live voice, hearing, hearing loss, hearing aids, MLV

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Phonetics & Audiology