This post accompanies our presentation “Dynamic Range Compression of Sound Mixtures” at the 2020 Acoustical Society of America meeting and our paper “Modeling the effects of dynamic range compression on signals in noise” in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (PDF).
Nearly every modern hearing aid uses an algorithm called dynamic range compression (DRC), which automatically adjusts the amplification of the hearing aid to make quiet sounds louder and loud sounds quieter. Although compression is one of the most important features of hearing aids, it might also be one of the reasons that they work so poorly in noisy environments. Hearing researchers have long known that when DRC is applied to multiple sounds at once, it can cause distortion and make background noise worse. Our research team is applying signal processing theory to understand why compression works poorly in noise and exploring new strategies for controlling loudness in noisy environments.