Binaural technology for application to active noise reduction communication headsets: design considerations

Christian Giguère, Sharon M. Abel, G. Robert Arrabito


This article examines the fundamental basis and the technical aspects involved in integrating two emerging technologies in the design of communication headsets for use in noisy environments. The first technology, active noise reduction (ANR), can improve signal detection and speech intelligibility by reducing the amount of interfering noise from the environment. The second technology, known as binaural technology, allows the creation of 3D auditory displays, which can improve signal detection and speech intelligibility in noise, and situational awareness, over monaural listening. For an optimal integration of binaural technology into ANR headsets, digital devices are preferred over analog devices. The complexity of the integrated system, particularly the features of the binaural simulation, is found to be largely dependent on the specific demands of the application targeted. Two extreme cases relevant to an aircraft cockpit environment are analyzed. The greatest benefit is likely to be found in situations of divided attention listening in relatively low signal-to-noise environments.


Acoustic noise; Signal detection; Signal to noise ratio; Speech intelligibility; Three dimensional; Active noise reduction; Headsets

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