Audiology Testing & the MP3

Compact discs containing WAV files have been considered a superior way for audiologists to test patients for many years. That is because WAV files are high quality, but this file type has a drawback. Although it can be saved to computers, it tends to be too bulky to conveniently import to certain devices. That is why the general public quickly latched onto the MP3 file type. However, it has a drawback too. In order to make the file size smaller, the audio is actually compressed. Some in the audio industry believe the compression on MP3 file types compromises quality. That presents a big question for the audiology community: Would the quality of MP3 files produce different test results?

Recent research by Jennifer M. Brace and Robert W. Keith gives audiologists more confidence to use MP3 audio file types for testing. The study was based on twenty normal listeners using Auditec’s NU-6 Ordered by Difficulty Version II and found no significant difference between testing using a compact disc (WAV files) or MP3 files. This finding allows audiologists more freedom to test on their preferred devices.

Does this mean you should ditch your CD player or computer and trade it for an MP3 player? Maybe or maybe not. Since CDs are high quality and easy to use, it may be worthwhile for some audiologists to continue to use them. Other audiologists may need to travel and find smaller devices work best. Auditec permits customers to make one backup of purchased recordings for their own personal use. Customers now have a choice to make their backup as a WAV file or MP3.

Audiology Equipment Advice

Occasionally, Auditec receives questions about purchasing audiology equipment. Does Auditec sell equipment? What CD player should I buy? Will your CDs work with my audiometer? What equipment do you recommend? fb VU Meter Info web page Auditec does not sell any equipment and does not endorse any brand. This affords us the opportunity to offer some unbiased advice on buying equipment.

To start, consider how your equipment can satisfy your specific needs. Ask yourself some questions to evaluate your needs. How much physical space do I have for my equipment? What is my budget? Will I need portable equipment? What is the age range of my patients?

Auditec compact discs play in all CD players and everywhere else you can play standard audio CDs (like computers). CD players sound pretty much the same no matter how expensive they are so you can save a few dollars by purchasing a relatively inexpensive CD player. Since CDs can degrade when you leave them in the player, we do not recommend buying a multi-disc changer. If you may need to test in other locations, you may consider purchasing a portable CD player. (This article was edited on March 23, 2017 to include recent research by Jennifer M. Brace and Robert W. Keith.) Recent research has concluded normal listeners tested using the mp3 audio files of speech discrimination tests produce the same valid results as when tested using the wav audio files on compact discs.

There are a variety of audiometers on the market. Regardless of what brand you choose, make sure you purchase a two-channel audiometer. Even some of the most basic Auditec recordings have different information recorded to the left and right channels. For instance, a word list may be recorded to the left channel while noise is recorded to the right. If you want to use the word list in quiet, you could use your left channel only. If you want to mix it with noise, you would use your left and right channels. Be sure your equipment is set up properly from the very start. If possible, spend some time getting to know your audiometer dealer and hold onto his or her contact information in case you have questions in the future.

Some of the best audiologists are not skilled in technology use. If that’s you, make sure the audiometer you select is easy to operate. Some audiometers come with speech already loaded on them. Unfortunately, we have heard some horror stories about the quality and clarity of these pre-loaded recordings. Make certain that your audiometer does not limit your test selection so that you can improve, expand, and update your test library in the future.

If you plan to accept pediatric patients, it may be useful to have a computer in the testing room. Some tests for young children (like NU-CHIPs) include pictures as pdf files so patients can view the pictures on their computers. Some Auditec customers have reported that the use of a computer engages children better than the use of a book. However, convenience or a lack of space may cause you to prefer simply purchase a classic NU-CHIPs picture book or use the picture CD-Rom to print the pictures and put them in a three-ring binder.

Ultimately, the evaluation of your specific needs and preferences should shape your decisions about the best audiology equipment for you. Whether you are just starting out or considering a change, Auditec wishes you the very best luck as you shop for audiology equipment that is appropriate and easy to use.

Are MP3s Appropriate for Auditory Testing?

Auditec, Inc. is proud to be a small business with a long history. We have been serving professionals with auditory test materials in a variety of formats since 1972.
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Long before the Sony Walkman was invented, Auditec sold its auditory test recordings on reels.

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Next, Auditec sold auditory test materials on cassette tapes. Believe it or not, we still get requests for this discontinued format. At one point in time, Auditec even made its recordings available on digital audio tapes (DATs).

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Now, Auditec provides quality audio recordings on compact discs. Customers can combine multiple recordings to one disc and play it using their CD player or computer.

MP3s are a convenient next step for professionals who want to use portable equipment that does not take up a lot of space like iPods, iPads, and MP3 players. (This article was edited on March 23, 2017 to include recent research by Jennifer M. Brace and Robert W. Keith.) Recent research has concluded normal listeners tested using the mp3 audio files of speech discrimination tests produce the same valid results as when tested using the wav audio files on compact discs.