In the framework of the European HearCom project, promising signal enhancement algorithms were developed and evaluated for future use in hearing instruments. To assess the algorithms' performance, five of the algorithms were selected and implemented on a common real-time hardware/software platform. Four test centers in Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland perceptually evaluated the algorithms. Listening tests were performed with large numbers of normal-hearing and hearing-impaired subjects. Three perceptual measures were used: speech reception threshold (SRT), listening effort scaling, and preference rating. Tests were carried out in two types of rooms. Speech was presented in multitalker babble arriving from one or three loudspeakers. In a pseudo-diffuse noise scenario, only one algorithm, the spatially preprocessed speech-distortion-weighted multi-channel Wiener filtering, provided a SRT improvement relative to the unprocessed condition. Despite the general lack of improvement in SRT, some algorithms were preferred over the unprocessed condition at all tested signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). These effects were found across different subject groups and test sites. The listening effort scores were less consistent over test sites. For the algorithms that did not affect speech intelligibility, a reduction in listening effort was observed at 0 dB SNR.
©2010 Acoustical Society of America