The influence of informational masking in reverberant, multi-talker environments

Adam Westermann, Jörg M. Buchholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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The relevance of informational masking (IM) in real-world listening is not well understood. In literature, IM effects of up to 10 dB in measured speech reception thresholds (SRTs) are reported. However, these experiments typically employed simplified spatial configurations and speech corpora that magnified confusions. In this study, SRTs were measured with normal hearing subjects in a simulated cafeteria environment. The environment was reproduced by a 41-channel 3D-loudspeaker array. The target talker was 2 m in front of the listener and masking talkers were either spread throughout the room or colocated with the target. Three types of maskers were realized: one with the same talker as the target (maximum IM), one with talkers different from the target, and one with unintelligible, noise-vocoded talkers (minimal IM). Overall, SRTs improved for the spatially distributed conditions compared to the colocated conditions. Within the spatially distributed conditions, there was no significant difference between thresholds with the different- and vocoded-talker maskers. Conditions with the same-talker masker were the only conditions with substantially higher thresholds, especially in the colocated conditions. These results suggest that IM related to target-masker confusions, at least for normal-hearing listeners, is of low relevance in real-life listening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2015 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 138(2), pp. 584-593 and may be found at


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