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This study examined whether differences in reverberation time (RT) between typical sound field test rooms used in audiology clinics have an effect on speech recognition in multi-talker environments. Separate groups of participants listened to target speech sentences presented simultaneously with 0-to-3 competing sentences through four spatially-separated loudspeakers in two sound field test rooms having RT = 0:6 sec (Site 1: N = 16) and RT = 0:4 sec (Site 2: N = 12). Speech recognition scores (SRSs) for the Synchronized Sentence Set (S3) test and subjective estimates of perceived task difficulty were recorded. Obtained results indicate that the change in room RT from 0.4 to 0.6 sec did not significantly influence SRSs in quiet or in the presence of one competing sentence. However, this small change in RT affected SRSs when 2 and 3 competing sentences were present, resulting in mean SRSs that were about 8-10% better in the room with RT = 0:4 sec. Perceived task difficulty ratings increased as the complexity of the task increased, with average ratings similar across test sites for each level of sentence competition. These results suggest that site-specific normative data must be collected for sound field rooms if clinicians would like to use two or more directional speech maskers during routine sound field testing.
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