Musical Sound Quality Impairments in Cochlear Implant (CI) Users as a Function of Limited High-Frequency Perception

Alexis T. Roy, Patpong Jiradejvong, Courtney Carver, Charles J. Limb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to (a) apply the musical sound quality assessment method, Cochlear Implant-MUltiple Stimulus with Hidden Reference and Anchor (CI-MUSHRA), to quantify musical sound quality deficits in CI (cochlear implant) users with respect to high-frequency loss, and (b) assess possible correlations between CI-MUSHRA performance and self-reported musical sound quality, as assessed by more traditional rating scales. Five versions of real-world musical stimuli were created: 8-,4-, and 2-kHz low-pass-filtered (LPF) versions with increasing high-frequency removal, a composite stimulus containing a 1-kHz LPF-filtered version and white noise (“anchor”), and an unaltered version (“hidden reference”). Using the CI-MUSHRA methodology, these versions were simultaneously presented to participants in addition to a labeled reference. Participants listened to all versions and provided ratings based on a 100-point scale that reflected perceived sound quality difference among the versions. A total of 25 musical stimuli were tested. As comparison measures, participants completed four Visual Analogue Scales (VAS) to assess musical sound quality. Overall, compared to normal hearing (NH) listeners, CI users demonstrated an impaired ability to discriminate between unaltered and altered musical stimuli with variable amounts of high-frequency information removed. Performance using CI-MUSHRA to evaluate this parameter did not correlate to measurements of musical sound quality, as assessed by VAS. This study identified high-frequency loss as one acoustic parameter contributing to overall CI-mediated musical sound quality limitations. CI-MUSHRA provided a quantitative assessment of musical sound quality. This method offers the potential to quantify CI impairments of many different acoustic parameters related to musical sound quality in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Amplification
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • cochlear implants
  • music perception
  • sound quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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