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A Competing Voices Test for Hearing-Impaired Listeners Applied to Spatial Separation and Ideal Time-Frequency Masks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in hearing
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


People with hearing impairment find competing voices scenarios to be challenging, both with respect to switching attention from one talker to the other, as well as maintaining attention. With the Danish competing voices test (CVT) presented here, the dual-attention skills can be assessed. The CVT provides sentences spoken by three male and three female talkers, played in sentence pairs. The task of the listener is to repeat the target sentence from the sentence pair based on cueing either before or after playback. One potential way of assisting segregation of two talkers is to take advantage of spatial unmasking by presenting one talker per ear after application of time-frequency masks for separating the mixture. Using the CVT, this study evaluated four spatial conditions in 14 moderate-to-severely hearing-impaired listeners to establish benchmark results for this type of algorithm applied to hearing-impaired listeners. The four spatial conditions were as follows: summed (diotic), separate, the ideal ratio mask, and the ideal binary mask. The results show that the test is sensitive to the change in spatial condition. The temporal position of the cue has a large impact, as cueing the target talker before playback focuses the attention toward the target, whereas cueing after playback requires equal attention to the two talkers, which is more difficult. Furthermore, both applied ideal masks show test scores very close to the ideal separate spatial condition, suggesting that this technique is useful for future separation algorithms using estimated rather than ideal masks.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • hearing impairment, ideal masks, spatial hearing, speech masker, speech test

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland