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Hearing Science Laboratory

Engineering Psychology

This object consists of three objects labelled 2012.ep.1.a, b, and c.

Object A is The Hearing Science Laboratory (HSL) System. It is a large, upright wooden laminate and silver aluminum device that has a black rubber three pronged cord to plug into a standard North American outlet. It has two interfaces, one vertical and one horizontal on the front of the machine. The vertical interface has 10 switches, 18 dials, 3 buttons, 30 black outputs, and 26 white inputs, divided among 19 panels with one small analog monitor. The horizontal interface is titled the programmer; it has 6 switches, 1 button, 4 dials, 6 inputs, and 5 outputs, as well as one digital monitor. Additionally, there are 6 patch cords plugged into the device: 4 red, 1 yellow, and 1 black.

Object B is the set of accompanying headphones. The headphones are brown vinyl with a ?dark brown ?black spiral cord. The vinyl is worn and cracked at the top of the head band and the sides of the headphones, revealing an orange material underneath. The headband is connected to the left and right earphones by a steel frame, as well as a black cord. Each earphone has a black dial at the bottom of it.

Object C is a 3-ring brown vinyl binder titled ‘Experimenting in the Hearing and Speech Sciences’, by Barry Voroba. Inside is a complete set of pages. The pages are not numbered, but each page logically follows the other and matches the table of contents.

Accession Number: 2012.ep.1.a-c

Alternative Name: HSL II

Primary Materials: Laminate, Wood, Aluminum, Plastic


No markings were observed, although the bottom and rear of the HSL system was not examined as it was too large and heavy to be handled with care.

Dimensions (cm):

HSL System: Height = 26.9, Width = 60.8, Length = 47.4


The Hearing Science Laboratory system was intended for use by researchers, students, and teachers to produce and measure sounds. It could be used to assess the hearing capabilities of individuals. When connected with a monitor, it can produce graphs of detected or produced sounds. When connected to an amplifier it can produce a range of sounds, including ‘white’ and ‘pink’ noise.

The binder of experiments, 2012.ep.1.c, guides users through the capabilities of the HSL system.


2012.ep.1.a Good: The unit is generally dusty, with some dirt and splatter. The laminate is chipped and worn at the corners and there is a scratch on the front right of the object near the bottom. Some of the dials have grease or residue build-up around the base and some of the inputs are tarnished. According to the manual, there should be a minimum of ten patch cords, there are therefore at least four patch cords missing. The HSL system was not plugged in so it is unknown if it is functional.

2012.ep.1.b Poor: The vinyl is very worn, faded, brittle, and cracked and the exposed orange material underneath the vinyl is fraying.

2012.ep.1.c Excellent: All the pages of the binder are present and undamaged, although they are slightly yellowing.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Starkey Laboratories Inc.

Date of Manufacture: 1978


The Hearing Science Laboratory was acquired in 1980 for $5,500 by the Department of Industrial Engineering. There was the option at the time of sale to purchase the next model up, the HSL II for more money. It is currently unknown who used the object for which experiments at the University of Toronto.

Additional Information and References:

There is an accompanying file that contains documents about the sale and purchase of this piece of machinery including a brochure, as well as a manual for care.

There is also a copy of Dr. Barry Voroba’s “Experimenting in the hearing and speech sciences” in the University of Toronto’s library collection. It is the same as object 2012.ep.1.c.

Voroba, Barry. 1978. Experimenting in the hearing and speech sciences. Eden Prairie, Minn: Starkey Laboratories.
Another article that might be useful in discovering whether this is the original Hearing Science Laboratory or Hearing Science Laboratory II, may be the following article: Marshall, Lynne; Sabata, Rick; Winslade, Jack. Jan., 1983. “Modifications for the Starkey Hearing Science Laboratory”. Journal of Auditory Research, Vol 23(1), p 13-22.

Speaking with Professor Paul Milgram may also be helpful in improving the provenance record for this object.

Historical Notes:


  • Donated to UTSIC