High Altitude Performance of Loudspeakers and Potential Impact on Audiometric Findings

The evaluation of how air rarefaction can affect a loudspeaker performance at altitude implies the need for characterization of earphones during hypobaric conditions. The aim of this study was phonometric analysis at different altitudes of the acoustic output of a widely used earphone model, along with its consequences on audiological investigations conducted under such environmental conditions. The transfer function of a TDH-39P earphone was analyzed with an artificial ear under nine different altitude levels, from sea level up to 35,000 ft, inside a hypobaric chamber. A specific phonometric system not sensitive to environmental pressure changes was used. Other potentially confounding factors, such as environmental temperature and humidity, were continuously monitored. No relevant temperature or humidity changes were detected. The sound pressure level generated by the earphone under hypobaric conditions was found considerably affected by air density changes. These data produced a correction table aiming at recalibrating the earphone’s output at each audiometric octave test frequency within the 250–8000 Hz range. Quite different characteristics of response were observed at different audiometric frequencies. Such findings were particularly evident for altitudes exceeding 12,000 ft. The development of a frequency-selective and altitude-related correction factor for acoustic stimuli is an essential aspect when hearing threshold measurements in hypobaric environments are performed.


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  • Accession Number: 01719580
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 28 2019 11:02AM