Research Article

A Comparison of the Digits-in-Noise Test and Extended High Frequency Response between Formally Trained Musicians and Non-Musicians


Background and Aim: Musical training has been hypothesised to result in enhanced Speech Perception in Noise (SPIN) abilities, but prolonged exposure to music also increases the risk for Music-Induced Hearing Loss (MIHL). The Signal-to-Noise Ratios (SNR) and the Extended High Frequency (EHF) thresholds between formally trained musicians and non- musicians were compared to determine the effect of musical training on musicians’ SPIN and hearing abilities.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included 40 musicians and 39 non-musicians 18–30 years, with mean age (SD) 22.43(2.71) years. EHF audiometry and the Digits-in-Noise (DIN) test were conducted via a smartphone.
Results: Differences found between the two groups regarding the DIN test and EHF thresholds were statistically insignificant. Musicians displayed early signs of MIHL as the musicians reported significantly more (p=0.004) instances of tinnitus than non-musicians. A statistically significant correlation was found only for the non-musician group between the 12.5 kHz threshold left and the SNR obtained in the diotic listening condition (rs=-0.465; p=0.003).
Conclusion: The results suggested that musicians did not display a significant advantage for SPIN and did not appear to have significantly poorer EHF hearing sensitivity. However, slight trends were noticeable in the musicians which gravitated more towards studies that found enhanced SPIN abilities and elevated EHF thresholds in the musician population. In the future, it may be useful to include additional speech tests (open-set) alongside the DIN test (closed-set). The present study suggests that EHF audiometry may be used for the early detection of MIHL.

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IssueVol 32 No 2 (2023) QRcode
SectionResearch Article(s)
Music audiometry hearing loss noise-induced pitch discrimination sound localization

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Dreyer B, Pottas L, Soer M, Graham MA. A Comparison of the Digits-in-Noise Test and Extended High Frequency Response between Formally Trained Musicians and Non-Musicians. Aud Vestib Res. 2023;32(2):145-158.