To investigate the influence of an algorithm designed to enhance or magnify interaural difference cues on speech signals in noisy, spatially complex conditions using both technical and perceptual measurements. To also investigate the combination of interaural magnification (IM), monaural microphone directionality (DIR), and binaural coherence-based noise reduction (BC).
Speech-in-noise stimuli were generated using virtual acoustics. A computational model of binaural hearing was used to analyse the spatial effects of IM. Predicted speech quality changes and signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) improvements were also considered. Additionally, a listening test was carried out to assess speech intelligibility and quality.
Listeners aged 65-79 years with and without sensorineural hearing loss (N = 10 each).
IM increased the horizontal separation of concurrent directional sound sources without introducing any major artefacts. In situations with diffuse noise, however, the interaural difference cues were distorted. Preprocessing the binaural input signals with DIR reduced distortion. IM influenced neither speech intelligibility nor speech quality.
The IM algorithm tested here failed to improve speech perception in noise, probably because of the dispersion and inconsistent magnification of interaural difference cues in complex environments.