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Sound Localization with an Army Helmet Worn in Combination with an In-Ear Advanced Communications System

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Conventional hearing protection devices result in decrements mainly in the ability to distinguish front from rearward sound sources. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of wearing an earplug with advanced communications capability, in combination with an army helmet, on horizontal plane speaker identification. Ten normal-hearing male subjects were tested in a semi-reverberant sound proof booth under eight conditions defined by combinations of two levels of ear occlusion unoccluded and occluded by the earplug and four levels of the helmet head bare and fitted with the helmet modified to give no, partial and full ear coverage. Percent correct speaker identification was assessed using a horizontal array of eight loudspeakers surrounding the subject at one meter. These were positioned close to the midline and interaural axes of the head, at ear level. The stimulus was a 75-dB SPL, 300-ms broadband white noise. Both degree of ear coverage and ear occlusion significantly determined outcome. Overall percent correct ranged from 93.6 bareheaded to 79.7 full ear coverage with the ears unoccluded, and from 83.4-77.5 with ear occlusion. Both variables affected the prevalence of mirror image confusions for positions 30 deg apart in front and back of the interaural axis. With ear occlusion, front given back errors were more likely than back given front errors, increasing with degree of ear coverage to 49 and 25.4, respectively. These errors also increased with ear coverage with the ears unoccluded, but were similar. Both degree of ear coverage and ear occlusion significantly impacted horizontal plane speaker identification, particularly for sources close to the interaural axis. However, overall percent correct was higher than observed in a previous study with conventional and level-dependent hearing protection devices, using the same array.

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  • Protective Equipment

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