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Partial masking

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A noise, one critical band wide and centered at 980 c/s, was used to mask a tone. The tone, at one or another of five frequencies that ranged in steps of one critical band from 690 to 1355 c/s, was presented at 25, 45, 65, and 85 dB SPL. Its loudness level was measured as a function of the SPL of the masking noise. The results showed that as the SPL of the noise was decreased, tones lying below the frequency range of the noise increased in loudness from threshold level more slowly than did tones lying above the noise. For the low frequency tones, loudness did not reach full value until the SPL of the noise had been reduced about twice as much as for the high frequency tones. The noise thus partially masked (reduced the loudness of) the low frequency tones more effectively than the high frequency tones, but the noise more completely masked (raised the threshold for) the high frequency tones. This difference between partial and complete masking does not mean, however, a difference in their underlying processes. An analysis of a simple model of the excitation patterns within the auditory system shows that the same asymmetrical spread of excitation may account for the course of both partial and complete masking.

The relation between partial masking and loudness summation is discussed. It appears that the partial masking measured in the present experiments was insufficient to account entirely for the fact that at high intensities the over-all loudness of a complex sound is usually less than the sum total loudness of its components.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1964

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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