Comparing pure-, pulsed, and warbled tone thresholds in adults at 3000 and 6000 Hz


Purpose: Pulsed and warbled tones are suitable substitutions for pure tones in hearing threshold measurement according to the 2005 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association guidelines. These guidelines also recommend measuring thresholds at 3000 and 6000 Hz. To date, there is no research directly supporting substitution of pulsed or warbled tones for pure tones at 3000 and 6000 Hz for listeners with normal hearing or with hearing loss. This study compared pure-, pulsed, and warbled tone thresholds at 3000 and 6000 Hz.

Method: Forty-seven adults with normal hearing and 16 adults with sensorineural hearing loss participated in this study. Air-conduction thresholds were elicited with pure tones at octave intervals from 250 to 8000 Hz and with pure-, pulsed, and warbled tone stimuli at 3000 and 6000 Hz.

Results: Small mean differences in thresholds were obtained using each of the 3 stimulus types for both listeners with normal hearing and hearing loss. Some of the mean differences tested were found to be statistically significant. The differences were nevertheless small and in all cases within the clinically accepted 5-dB step size.

Conclusion: Although substitutions did not violate the 5-dB step size, the slope of a listener's hearing loss may be a factor in the inaccuracy of measurement during the substitution of warbled tones for pure tones.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





ASHA guideline, Hearing, Stimulus type, Threshold

Publication Date


Journal Title

American Journal of Audiology