Conference Program

Please note that this program does not show local time at any location. All times are in UTC (GMT). To convert to local time, add 2 hours for Graz, add 10 hours for Sydney, subtract 3 hours for La Plata (Argentina), and subtract 4 hours for Montreal.

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Please note that this is a preliminary program. There will be minor changes before the conference. Changes will appear here first.

Session Overview
S2G: Symposium 2 - Music perception, hearing impairment, and hearing aids
Friday, 27/Jul/2018:
13:00 - 14:30

Session Chair: Kai Siedenburg
Location: Graz_2
This symposium is happening in Montreal and Graz simultaneously.

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ID: 160

Outcomes of an online survey examining challenges and strategies for music listening with hearing aids

Alinka Greasley1, Harriet Crook2, Amy Beeston1, Jackie Salter1, Robert Fulford1

1University of Leeds, United Kingdom; 2Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Department of Neurotology



This paper describes an online survey which asks how hearing impairments and the use of hearing aid (HA) technology affect music listening behaviour. Music perception with a hearing aid is challenging since it must occur through a device that has been optimised for speech perception (Chasin & Russo, 2004).


By providing evidence of the issues currently affecting HA users with regard to music listening, the study aims to explore how music listening experiences are affected by hearing loss and by the use of current hearing aid technologies.


The survey investigates hearing level, use of HA technology, music listening in live and recorded settings, and music-related discussions with audiologists. The survey questions were designed using data collected from almost 200 HA users comprising a pilot survey (n=176) and in-depth interviews (n=22) (Greasley et al., 2015). The resulting online survey was advertised widely via UK and international networks, and a snapshot of almost a thousand responses is reported in the current paper (n=1098; age range 21-95, mean 58.34; 54% female). British Sign Language translations were provided and used by around 5% (n=57) of respondents. Around 8% of respondents (n=83) submitted their latest audiogram, however, there was limited agreement between self-reported hearing loss and pure tone audiometry (< 50% agreement with the 5-band average hearing threshold, BSA 2011).


For many listeners, particularly non-musicians and those with a mild hearing loss, HAs enabled music appreciation. HAs were rated most often as ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ helpful for hearing the melody, bassline, singer, lyrics and individual instruments in recorded music (n=824). Recorded music allowed listeners to exercise control over what they were hearing, e.g. by selecting familiar music and adjusting the volume. Live contexts were generally reported to be more problematic, with HAs now rated most often as ‘somewhat useful’ for hearing lyrics and individual instruments (n=701). In live settings, people reported distortion and discomfort from loud sounds more frequently, and found alternations between speech and music particularly challenging. For some, these problems had seriously impacted their ability to enjoy music, and resulted in them disengaging with musical activities. However, many people had not explored strategies to improve listening such as removing HAs altogether (for a mild loss), adjusting the volume or changing the program, moving in relation to the sound source, and using assistive listening devices.


This study provides wide-scale evidence of the challenges of listening to music through hearing aids, and the adoption of strategies to improve listening experiences. It leads us to suggest the development of a set of resources to improve communication and knowledge sharing between and among hearing aid users, audiologists, and manufacturers of this technology.


British Society of Audiology (2011). Recommended Procedure: Pure-tone air-conduction and bone-conduction threshold audiometry with and without masking.

Chasin, M., & Russo, F. (2004). Music and hearing aids. Trends in Amplification, 8, 35-47.

Greasley, A.E., Crook, H. and Fulford, R. (2015). Hearing aids for music: Exploring initial findings from questionnaire and interview studies. ESCOM, Manchester, 17-22 Aug.

ID: 224

Musical scene analysis of normal and hearing-impaired listeners: Instrument identification with concurrent context tones

Kai Siedenburg

University of Oldenburg, Germany


Despite rapid advances in hearing aid technology, music listening can be problematic for hearing-impaired individuals (Madsen & Moore, 2014). This problem is likely related to poor auditory scene analysis (ASA) abilities. The fundamental importance of ASA in shaping the perceptual experience of music has been acknowledged for a long time (McAdams & Bregman, 1979). It has even been argued that a key component of musical pleasure derives from the successful parsing of musical scenes (Huron, 2001). At the same time, musical scene perception of listeners with moderate to severe hearing loss has not been studied in any depth (although see Kirchberger and Russo, 2015). Therefore, the extent to which hearing impairment affects the parsing of polyphonic musical scenes remains unclear. For instance, can hearing-impaired listeners discriminate instruments or melodies in the midst of an accompaniment?


The goal of this study is to test musical scene perception of hearing-impaired (HI) and normal hearing (NH) listeners. Specifically, this experiment tests the effects of hearing loss and properties of musical masking tones on an instrument and melody discrimination task.


Participants are groups of ten HI listeners (ca. 50 dB HL) and twelve NH listeners (< 10 dB HL).

The experimental stimuli comprise signals (S) that consist of isochronous (250 ms inter-onset interval, IOI) four-note melodies from a diatonic scale. Maskers (M) consist of two triadic tones (500 ms IOI) from the i) piano, ii) cello, or iii) spectrally matched stationary noise. Each trial consists of the mixture (S+M), followed by two alternatives of the signal (S or S’), and listeners decide which one of the two signals was part of the mixture.

In the instrument task, listeners discriminate melodies played by the flute or the trumpet. In the melody task, listeners discriminate between different (order-wise) permutations of sets of tones. For each combination of task and masker, a 2down-1up procedure adapts the signal level to estimate the 71%-correct discrimination threshold, expressed in terms of the signal-to-masker ratio (SMR).


Preliminary results indicate that HI listeners have drastically higher SMRs than NH listeners in all conditions, reflecting worsened musical ASA. NH listeners yield lowest SMRs for the piano masker, suggesting NH listeners’ potential to “listen in the gaps” of the quickly decaying temporal envelope of the piano.


This experiment demonstrates HI listeners’ general difficulty with ASA in musical scenes. Furthermore, it reveals how the properties of masker sounds affect NH listeners’ musical scene perception, deepening our general understanding of musical ASA. The role of the age and musical training of participants is critically discussed.


Huron, D. (2001). Tone and voice: A derivation of the rules of voice-leading from perceptual principles. Music Perception, 19(1):1-64.

Kirchberger, M. J. and Russo, F. A. (2015). Development of the adaptive music perception test. Ear and Hearing, 36(2):217-228.

Madsen, S. and Moore, B. C. (2014). Music and hearing aids. Trends in Hearing, 18:1-29.

McAdams, S. and Bregman, A. S. (1979). Hearing musical streams. Computer Music Journal, 3(4):26-43.

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