What do cochlear implants sound like? - 1: speech

Noise vocoded speech is sometimes used to simulate what speech would sound like through a cochlear implant. These sound files give an example of normal (well, fairly normal, British) English speech, and the same speech passed through an 8 channel vocoder. The speech is somewhat "rough", but comprehensible with some practice, at least if there is not too much other background noise.

As is explained in chapter 8 of "Auditory Neuroscience", the speech processors connected to cochlear implants may operate in a number of different modes, such as "compressed analog" (CA), "continuous interleaved sampling" (CIS) or any number of variants of these modes. What exactly they sound like will depend in the speech processor setting, and some settings are impossible to mimick by sound delivered to a healthy inner ear. The noise vocoded speech presented here is probably best thought of as a reasonable approximation of CA coding. CIS should have a rather different subjective sound quality which is impossible to mimic with real sounds, but it is not necessarily more informative of the sound source.

"Family viewing" - normal:

"Family viewing" - vocoded:

For more demos of what the world sounds like through cochlear implants, check out the next page, as well as this podcast.