Acoustic effects of medical, cloth, and transparent face masks on speech signals

by   Ryan M. Corey, et al.

Face masks muffle speech and make communication more difficult, especially for people with hearing loss. This study examines the acoustic attenuation caused by different face masks, including medical, cloth, and transparent masks, using a head-shaped loudspeaker and a live human talker. The results suggest that all masks attenuate frequencies above 1 kHz, that attenuation is greatest in front of the talker, and that there is substantial variation between mask types, especially cloth masks with different materials and weaves. Transparent masks have poor acoustic performance compared to both medical and cloth masks. Most masks have little effect on lapel microphones, suggesting that existing sound reinforcement and assistive listening systems may be effective for verbal communication with masks.



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