Audio mixing for hearing-impaired ears: A literature review

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Television audio is usually mixed by normal-hearing sound engineers, and on average, hearing-impaired listeners prefer different balances (Shirley et al., 2017). Relatively clean tracks of speech, music and sound effects are typically available at the later stages of production, and may even be delivered to consumers in the form of object-based audio (Herre et al., 2015). Although object-based audio was motivated towards greater flexibility in spatial reproductions, it also paves teh way for personalised audio mixes, raising questions about strategies to mix for hearing-impaired ears.
Off-line remixing lacks the flexibility and re-time reactivity of hearing aids, but where it is feasible, it offers considerable advantages in terms of compute power: the processing need not be low-latency or even real-time and, with a continuous power supply, algorithms could use more power-intense algorithms and higher quality audio. An offline processor would have the advantage of being able to plan ahead for the full dynamic range of the track. Furthermore, where there is access to clean tracks, they could be compressed independently as appropriate while avoiding comodulations between tracks. Signal-to-noise ratios could be improved for hearing-impaired ears, potentially affecting different frequency bands independently, to some extent.
The development of strategies for mixing audio is limited by the extent to which the goals of mixing are understood and can be modelled.
Here, I review the psychoacoustical models used by those engaged in automated mixing, and the tests of these models (e.g., Ma et al., 2015). I also review sound-engineering books, both for explicit links to the psychoacoustical literature but also for implicit knowledge of psychoacoustical principles demonstrated through practical advice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 04 Sep 2017

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