Using an adaptive strategy, the effects of mild sensorineural hearing loss and adult listeners’ chronological age on speech recognition in babble were evaluated. The signal‐to‐babble ratio required to achieve 50% recognition was measured for three speech materials presented at soft to loud conversational speech levels. Four groups of subjects were tested: (1) normal‐hearing listeners <44 years of age, (2) subjects <44 years old with mild sensorineural hearing loss and excellent speech recognition in quiet, (3) normal‐hearing listeners >65 with normal hearing, and (4) subjects >65 years old with mild hearing loss and excellent performance in quiet. Groups 1 and 3, and groups 2 and 4 were matched on the basis of pure‐tone thresholds, and thresholds for each of the three speech materials presented in quiet. In addition, groups 1 and 2 were similar in terms of mean age and age range, as were groups 3 and 4. Differences in performance in noise as a function of age were observed for both normal‐hearing and hearing‐impaired listeners despite equivalent performance in quiet. Subjects with mild hearing loss performed significantly worse than their normal‐hearing counterparts. These results and their implications are discussed.

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