Congratulations to Angeliki Mourgela, winner of the AES Show 2020 Student Competition for developing a MATLAB plugin. The aim of the competition was for students to ‘Design a new kind of audio production VST plugin using MATLAB Software and your wits’.
Hearing loss is a global phenomenon, with almost 500 million people worldwide suffering from it, a number only increasing with an ageing population. Hearing loss can severely impact the daily life of an individual, causing both functional and emotional difficulties and affecting their overall quality of life. Research efforts towards a better understanding of its physical and perceptual characteristics, as well as the development of new and efficient methods for audio enhancement are an essential endeavour for the future.
Angeliki developed a real-time hearing loss simulator, for use in audio production. It builds on a previous simulation, but is now real-time, low latency, and available as a stereo VST audio effect plug-in with more control and more accurate modelling of hearing loss. It offers the option of customizing threshold attenuations on each ear corresponding to the audiogram information. It also incorporates additional effects such as spectral smearing, rapid loudness growth and loss of temporal resolution on audio.
In effect, it allows anyone to hear the world as it really sounds to someone with hearing loss. And it means that audio producers can easily preview what their content would sound like to most hearing impaired listeners.
Here’s a video with Angeliki demonstrating the system.
Her plugin was also used in an episode of the BBC drama Casualty to let the audience hear the world as heard by a character with severe hearing loss.
Full technical details of the work and the research around it (in collaboration with myself and Dr. Trevor Agus of Queen’s University Belfast) were published in;
A. Mourgela, T. Agus and J. D. Reiss, “‘Investigation of a Real-Time Hearing Loss Simulation for Audio Production,” 149th AES Convention, 2020
Many thanks to the team from Matlab MathWorks for sponsoring and hosting the competition, and congratulations to all the other winners of the AES Student Competitions.