Global not local masker features govern the auditory continuity illusion.
Tone complexes with positive (m+) and negative (m-) Schroeder phase show large differences in masking efficiency. This study investigated whether the different phase characteristics also affect loudness. Loudness matches between m+ and m- complexes were measured as a function of (1) the fundamental frequency (f0) for different frequency bands in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired subjects, and (2) intensity level in normal-hearing subjects. In normal-hearing subjects, the level of the m+ stimulus was up to 10 dB higher than that of the corresponding m- stimulus at the point of equal loudness. The largest differences in loudness were found for levels between 20 and 60 dB SL. In hearing-impaired listeners, the difference was reduced, indicating the relevance of active cochlear mechanisms. Loudness matches of m+ and m- stimuli to a common noise reference (experiment 3) showed differences as a function of f0 that were in line with direct comparisons from experiment 1 and indicated additionally that the effect is mainly due to the specific internal processing of m+. The findings are roughly consistent with studies pertaining to masking efficiency and can probably not be explained by current loudness models, supporting the need for incorporating more realistic cochlea simulations in future loudness models.