COVID-19: Acoustic Measures of Voice in Individuals Wearing Different Facemasks

Ashwini Joshi, Teresa Procter, Paulina A. Kulesz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Aim: The global health pandemic caused by the SARS-coronavirus 2 (COVID-19) has led to the adoption of facemasks as a necessary safety precaution. Depending on the level of risk for exposure to the virus, the facemasks that are used can vary. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of different types of facemasks, typically used by healthcare professionals and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, on measures of voice. Methods: Nineteen adults (ten females, nine males) with a normal voice quality completed sustained vowel tasks. All tasks were performed for each of the six mask conditions: no mask, cloth mask, surgical mask, KN95 mask and, surgical mask over a KN95 mask with and without a face shield. Intensity measurements were obtained at a 1ft and 6ft distance from the speaker with sound level meters. Tasks were recorded with a 1ft mouth-to-microphone distance. Acoustic variables of interest were fundamental frequency (F0), and formant frequencies (F1, F2) for /a/ and /i/ and smoothed cepstral peak prominence (CPPs) for /a/. Results: Data were analyzed to compare differences between sex and mask types. There was statistical significance between males and females for intensity measures and all acoustic variables except F2 for /a/ and F1 for /i/. Few pairwise comparisons between masks reached significance even though main effects for mask type were observed. These are further discussed in the article. Conclusion: The masks tested in this study did not have a significant impact on intensity, fundamental frequency, CPPs, first or second formant frequency compared to voice output without a mask. Use of a face shield seemed to affect intensity and CPPs to some extent. Implications of these findings are discussed further in the article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Voice
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • COVID-19—FacEmasKs—ACousTics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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