Authors: Kyriakou K, Fisher HR
Title: Benefits of the fiber optic versus the electret microphone in voice amplification
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2013 48(1): 115-126
Year: 2013
Research Design: Case Series

Background: Voice disorders that result in reduced loudness may cause difficulty in communicating, socializing and participating in occupational activities. Amplification is often recommended in order to facilitate functional communication, reduce vocal load and avoid developing maladaptive compensatory behaviours. The most common microphone used with amplification systems is the electret microphone. One alternate form of microphone is the fiber optic microphone. Aims: To examine the benefits of the fiber optic (1190S) versus the electret (M04) microphone as measured by objective and subjective parameters in the amplification of a patient's voice with reduced loudness caused by neurological and/or respiratory-based problems. Methods & Procedures: Eighteen patients with vocal fold paralysis, Parkinson's disease and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) participated in the study. The study contained a measurement of intensity, amplitude perturbation and signal-to-noise ratio during a sustained vowel production and a measurement of intensity during, conversation with the use of the two microphones simultaneously. It also included the completion of a questionnaire indicating the patient's satisfaction with each microphone. Outcomes & Results: The fiber optic (1190S) microphone had better objective acoustic performance (i.e. lower, amplitude perturbation, higher signal-to-noise ratio and higher intensity) than the electret (M04) microphone. It also had better patient subjective satisfaction (i.e. less conspicuousness, more voice clarity, less acoustic feedback, more loudness and more utilization) than the electret microphone. Conclusions & Implications: Patients with neurological and/or respiratory-based voice problems may more confidently and frequently use the fiber optic microphone to communicate, socialize and participate in occupational activities more easily. Speech-language pathologists may more confidently use or recommend the fiber optic microphone with amplification systems.

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