THE USUAL test for loudness perception of pure tones is the audiogram, describing the auditory threshold as a function of frequency. In the case of loudness perception for speech, the usual examination is with the whispered voice or, more recently, the phonograph audiometer. Whatever the type of sound, the examiner attempts to determine the weakest perceptible loudness.
There is, however, another aspect of loudness perception in which threshold data may be uninformative. This is the ability to perceive and judge the loudness of sounds whose intensities are well above threshold. Techniques other than threshold audiometry must be used to explore this aspect of hearing.
It is well recognized that with the normal-hearing person as the physical energy of a sound increases its loudness (as a distinct psychological experience) increases at a different rate. The growth of loudness for the normal ear is now well specified for most pure tones1
HARRIS JD, HAINES HL, MYERS CK. LOUDNESS PERCEPTION FOR PURE TONES AND FOR SPEECH. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1952;55(2):107–133. doi:10.1001/archotol.1952.00710010116002
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