Speech in Noise Testing

Speech in noise testing is your audiologist’s assessment of your ability to hear speech in the presence of competing sound.

This test identifies both your functional hearing ability and your ability to sort out the difference between meaningful speech and irrelevant sounds in your environment. 

Your audiologist can get a lot of useful information from this single, inexpensive test.

Speech in noise testing is suitable for patients of all ages, from children to adults. It can be done in just a few minutes and doesn’t require you to do anything other than listen.


What happens during a speech in noise test?

The most common speech in noise test in English is called QuickSIN. The adult version consists of 12 sentences played with four male and female speakers babbling in the background.

Some of the sentences are read at the same volume as the nonsense speakers, that is, with an intensity difference of 0 decibels.

Some of the sentences are read with nonsense speech in the background that is 25 decibels louder than the sentence you are trying to hear. 

The target speech is read by a woman narrator, while the babbling is done by two men and two women. 

Reading the whole list only takes 60 seconds. Your audiologist rates your ability to understand speech in a noisy environment on the basis of the last two or three sentences you were able to understand.

There are also BabyBio and Pediatric Speech Intelligibility (PSI) tests for pediatric patients.

These tests involve asking the patient to point at pictures while listening to the name of the picture with a single competing talker.

What does sound in noise testing reveal that pure tone audiometry cannot?

The major difference between sound in noise testing and pure tone audiometry, asking you whether you can hear a single tone, is the presence of background noise.

Pure tone audiometry detects hearing loss caused by damage to the bones in the ears or blockages in the ear canal. Speech in noise testing reveals hidden hearing loss, which may involve the nerves, not just the mechanical structures in the ears.

Pure tone audiometry can reveal whether you need a hearing aid and how much amplification it must provide.

Speech in noise testing can reveal where the microphones in your hearing aids need to be placed in a way that gives you the highest quality sound from both ears.

hearing-loss causes

If you need a hearing aid, speech in noise testing can tell your audiologist what kind of hearing aid you need.

If you have hearing loss without evidence of your ability to detect speech in noise, your audiologist is likely to recommend a more basic hearing aid which acts as a microphone for the world around you. 

Thankfully most modern hearing aids have programs that can be set up to filter out, or dampen down, background noise making understanding in noise much easier.

If your speech in noise testing reveals a deficit, then your audiologist may consider additional factors such as:

  • Whether you need directional microphones.
  • Whether you would benefit from remote microphone technology.
  • Whether you would benefit from FM system technology or hearing aids with a t-coil.
  • If you need an additional assistive listening device (ALD) to work in tandem with your hearing aids. 

Speech in noise testing can also reveal whether you have hidden hearing loss in both ears, or in just one ear.

People who have a condition called schwannoma, a kind of benign tumor on the nerve carrying messages from the ear to the auditory brainstem, may need these kinds of in one ear but not in both.

Sound in noise testing helps audiologists help patients who have one-sided hearing loss. If you have a condition for which your ENT recommends surgery, this test can help your audiologist and your doctor predict how much the operation will help you.

Until recently, sound in noise testing had to be conducted in a sound booth. New technology allows your audiologist to conduct the test as part of your regular hearing exam, without the need to shuffle from one room to another.

For patients with mobility challenges, this is much more pleasant and convenient. 

Do you have hidden hearing loss?

If you can’t follow a conversation in a noisy room, it is possible that you do. If you can’t have a quiet talk with your family when the TV is on it possible that the problem is hidden hearing loss.

But people with hidden hearing loss don’t get better until they get a complete exam from their audiologist.

The hearing specialists at Harbor Audiology can provide you with the hearing care you need to achieve the best hearing possible.

We can help you choose the best of the most advanced hearing aids.

Contact Our Audiologists Today

Harbor Audiology is experienced in filing for VA benefits, and we work with all major insurance plans. We are open most evenings and Saturdays. Harbor Audiology has offices in TacomaGig HarborSilverdale,  SequimPort Angeles, and Federal Way.  Request your appointment online today!