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ACUSTICA· acta acustica

720 © S. Hirzel Verlag· EAA Vol. 84 (1998) 720~ 738

Measuring and Modeling Basic Properties of the Human Middle Ear

and Ear Canal. Part I: Model Structure and Measuring Techniques

H. Hudde
Institut fiir Kommunikationsakustik RUB-lKA Labor fUr Schall-und SchwingungsmeStechnik, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, Ie 1/132, D-44780
Bochum, Germany

A. Engel
St. Elisabeth-Hospital, HNO-Klinik der Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, Bleichstr. 15, D-44787 Bochum, Germany

Dedicated to Prof Dr.-Ing. Dr. techno h.c. lens Blauert on the occasion of his 60. birthday

This is the first of a three part paper dealing with the acoustical and mechanical properties of the middle ear. As a
functional description of the middle ear cannot be separated from that of the ear canal, the external ear is also considered,
but regarding only the sound field inside the ear canal, not outside the head. The cochlea also has to be taken into
account to provide a complete description, but only with respect to its input impedance, because it has the function
of a load impedance of the middle ear. All the measurements (the original data are always complex transfer functions
depending on frequency) were taken using fresh human temporal bones. An attempt was made to obtain all the data
necessary to develop a one-dimensional model representing the "basic" functions of the middle ear and ear canal, i.
e. those functions that are predicted by the one-dimensional model. In reality many fluctuations caused by varying
vibrational modes occur. The measurements indicate that it is actually reasonable to assume a basic function which
is superimposed by fluctuations. Thus a fairly comprehensive understanding of the "basic" effects of the middle ear
and ear canal can be achieved and described by a one-dimensional model. Most elements of the simple model can be
quantified on the basis of the measurements. Some elements (the joint impedances and some elements of the stapes and
cochlea) are estimated on the basis of the measurements, or chosen from within a plausible range. The model reflects
our present knowledge, but may be subject to changes if further measurements are performed in the future.
The organization of the three parts is as follows. In this first paper (I) the "philosophy" of modeling and measuring
is presented. Modeling and measuring together form a whole in that the model comprises solely measurable elements
and all the measuring procedures refer to the model. The basic model structure, which is then extended to include
more detailed circuits in the following parts, is given. Particular attention is paid to the "drum coupling region" at the
end of the ear canal, because this notion considerably influences our measuring techniques. The equipment and its
application is described in part I. Part II [I] gives a complete survey of all the parts of the middle and external ear which
are considered to contribute to the basic function. The corresponding blocks of the model are investigated separately,
assuming a one-port (measuring an impedance) or a two-port (measuring a chain-matrix). The equipment used consists
of an acoustical measuring tube (sound pressure, volume velocity and acoustical impedance), a mechanical measuring
head (force, velocity, and mechanical impedance), a fiber-optic displacement sensor and a hydrophone for picking
up the vestibular sound pressure. The transfer functions and impedances were measured by means of a four-channel
spectrum analyzer, mostly in a frequency range from 160 Hz to 16 kHz. However, due to noise and systematical errors
the upper frequency limit is often lower, usually about 10kHz, but in some cases even about 5 kHz. The measurements
comprise the ear canal (external radiation impedance, propagation losses, and the "drum coupling region"), the tympanic
cavity and the antrum, the "kernel" (the "heart" of the middle ear, consisting of the drum, the malleus, and the incus
including their suspensions), and the stapes and cochlea. In part III [2] the external and middle ear are considered as a
whole, i. e., the subsystems presented in part II are put together. This is done by calculation (using the model) and by
measurement. In this way frequency responses were measured which are redundant with respect to the measurements
presented in part II. The functions are eardrum impedances measured using different conditions and transfer functions
of the middle ear in both directions. Actually all the measurements of parts II and III together were used to derive the
element values of the model. Therefore the model does not always approximate the measured frequency responses of
subsystems in an optimum way. The values are chosen to simultaneously match all the measurements as accurately
as possible. In addition, some model calculations are given in part III which show further interesting details that have
not been measured directly. The model is completely documented in the appendix of part III. It has a form that can be
simply transferred into a computer program by anybody who is interested in doing so. The frequency range of validity
depends on the function to be predicted. In general, the model can be applied up to about 10kHz.
PACS no. 43.64.0a, 43.64.Bt, 43.20.Ye, 43.58.Bh

1. Measuring and modeling "basic" properties tion - to effectively transduce sound from the air in the ear
canal to the water-like lymphatic liquids in the cochlea - is
Compared to the inner ear the middle ear and the ear canal quite obvious. So the middle ear, which is the central object
are fairly simple parts of the hearing organ. The basic func- of our investigations, is often said to be an impedance trans-
former matching the wave impedances Zw = pc (p: density,
c: sound velocity) of the different media. However, it has
Received 7 May 1997, become apparent that this notion is only a very crude inter-
accepted 10 November 1997.
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 721

pretation. When assessed as an impedance transformer, the area Ax and of the pressure Pc within the whole vestibule.
middle ear function is rather poor. The middle ear best ap- In both cases the one-dimensionality is a product of the
proximates an ideal transformer in the mid-frequency range. geometrical dimensions, which are small compared to the
It is necessary to consider the "acoustomechanical system" acoustical wave length in the full audio range up to 20 kHz.
in much more detail to reach a better understanding. Basic In the ear canal only the lateral dimensions (the diameters) are
research on the middle ear is guided by two interconnected small enough. Therefore in the longitudinal direction (middle
approaches. (a) The vibrations and forces occuring in the axis of the ear canal) wave effects occur, which are best
middle ear are modeled mathematically. (b) The acoustome- described as an acoustical transmission line. In the vestibule
chanical properties are investigated by means of appropriate all the dimensions are small. Therefore even a description
measuring techniques. Although the logical order of mea sur- using lumped elements is possible. Consequently only the
ing and modeling is quite obviously to measure first and then piston-like fraction of the stapes movement contributes to
to model on the basis of the data collected, modeling has often the pressure Pc, except if a point very close to the footplate
been attempted despite incomplete data. We believe this is is considered.
not a fault, but actually reasonable. Measuring and modeling The one-dimensionality of the input and output of the sys-
must be combined. Many meaningful measuring procedures tem does not justify the assumption that there must be a one-
can only be defined if the system investigated is not seen as dimensional system in between. Changes in the fundamental
an entirely unknown "black box". Instead special features of mode boundary conditions on both sides of the system can
the system that are already known should be established in have an impact on all the vibrational modes in the middle ear.
the structure of the underlying model. For the investigations On the other hand the conditions do not vary to such an ex-
presented in this paper we use a one-dimensional, linear, tent that this aspect becomes really important. Hence if only
time-invariant system, although the middle ear does not ac- the over-all transmission from the ear canal to the vestibule
tually meet any of these requirements. The reasons for using is to be examined, a one-dimensional model would suffice.
these simplifications will be discussed in the following. The situation changes when the vibrations within the middle
One-dimensionality means that each acoustical and me- ear are also considered. Here the use of a one-dimensional
chanical quantity at any relevant location can be represented model is justified only if it represents the "basic" vibrations.
by a single component with sufficient accuracy. In the case What is meant by "basic" will be elucidated in the following
of small vibrations this does not mean that the mode of vi- and will become clearer when the results in parts II and III
bration must be identical everywhere. For instance, a rota- are discussed.
tional movement of the incus and a translational movement In detail the vibrations in the middle ear are subject to
of the stapes can be combined in a one-dimensional model. strong interindividual changes. But it is obvious that not ev-
However, mixed types of vibrations, as reported by many ery detail of the irregular movements is actually important
investigators (e. g., [3]) require a multi-dimensional model. for an investigation of the middle ear function. Therefore it
The three-dimensionality of the movements is a direct seems to be reasonable to distinguish between "basic" move-
consequence of the biological type of the object: there are ments governing the one-dimensional input-output transmis-
no exact bearings to guide the movements. As a result the sion and additional "irregular" movements. The applicability
movements become increasingly irregular with frequency. of this notion cannot be examined by investigating the mid-
In technical systems such movements are unacceptable as a dle ear theoretically, but by evaluating a sufficient number of
rule. Therefore an engineer tends to postulate approximate relevant measurements.
one-dimensional movements. However, the observations ob- This task is not as strictly specified as prooving a hypoth-
tained using laser-interferometrical methods have revealed esis. The one-dimensional middle ear model can be deemed
that the deviations from one- dimensional movements can be adequate if all its predictions agree within a certain range
huge, particularly near certain resonances and generally at of tolerance, whereby the corresponding results are obtained
high frequencies. The consequences arising from the irregu- using only one fixed set of element values. In that case the
lar movements will not be discussed in this paper. To study model predictions reflect the "basic" behavior. The choice
the effect of such movements, we use a three-dimensional of the model structure and element values is not unique.
model [4] which is still being developed. There is some ev- Furthermore, there is no exact specification for separating
idence that the irregularity has even positive effects on the the movements into "basic" and "irregular" ones. A certain
middle ear properties. model is justified solely by predicting all the relevant transfer
So, what is the use of a one-dimensional model as de- functions in general agreement with corresponding measure-
veloped in this paper? One important argument is the one- ments.
dimensionality of the acoustical fields in the middle section It is important to note that from a practical point of view
of the ear canal and in the vestibule behind the stapes foot- a comprehensive investigation of the middle ear using three-
plate. Therefore the acoustomechanical system in between dimensional measurements is hardly viable. Recording gen-
relates one-dimensional quantities, namely the sound pres- eral mixed translational-rotational vibrations would necessi-
sure P x and the volume velocity qx in a cross-sectional area tate measuring three spatial components at at least two points
Ax in the ear canal to the cochlea input pressure Pc and the of a rigid body. The situation becomes even more compli-
volume velocity qc in the vestibule. The one-dimensionality cated if the forces are also measured, because forces cannot
is established by the invariability of the pressure p x on the be measured without mechanical contact. A force sensor can
ACUSTICA· acta acustica
722 Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

only measure a certain mode of vibration. Different modes formed using commercially available equipment, so some
must be studied consecutively. Furthermore the attachment special devices had to be developed in our laboratory. An
of a force sensor always changes the mode of the move- acoustical measuring tube (AMT) was built to measure the
ment, except when the vibration is really one-dimensional. sound pressure and volume velocity (and thereby also the
On the other hand, measuring only vibrations cannot provide acoustical impedance Zac) in an area in front of the eardrum.
complete information about a system. To obtain impedances With a mechanical measuring head (MMH) the force and
from pure vibration measurements, additional assumptions velocity (and thereby the mechanical impedance Zmech) at
concerning the system have to be made. a point can be determined. Vibrations were measured as dis-
Three-dimensional effects do not only arise in the mid- placements ~ by means of a fiber-optic displacement sensor
dle ear, but also in the innnermost section of the ear canal (ODS). The hydroacoustic sound pressure p in the vestibule
where the acoustical wave interacts with the vibrations of the was measured using a custom-made hydrophone.
ear drum. We call this section the "drum coupling region" The results recorded by various investigators have been
(DCR). The notion of the DCR considerably influences the condensed into various one- dimensional circuit models
way acoustical measurements at the eardrum are performed. [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. Although there are more re-
Therefore the underlying assumptions of the DCR are exten- cent models, we mainly use the model given by Shaw and
sively examined in section 2.2. Stinson 1981 [11] as a reference, because it has a physically
The assumption of linearity is mostly violated in the motivated structure which compares favorable to the one in
cochlea. At very low levels the impedance has to be re- our model. As far as possible all of our measurements are
placed by a nonlinear sound source with a nonlinear internal compared to Shaw's model predictions. In other cases or if
impedance so that the active function of the outer hair cells more recent findings exist, the data of other authors are also
is taken into account. Also the middle ear itself is not linear. included in the figures for comparison.
There are two muscles which can vary the mechanical pa-
rameters of the system. At least the tensor stapedii responds
to auditive stimuli at higher levels ("acoustic reflex") and in- 2. Model structure
creases the effective stiffness of the annular ligament around
the stapes (while changing its position). Little is known about One-dimensional linear time-invariant acoustomechanical
the dynamic properties of the two joints between the ossi- systems can be represented by equivalent electrical circuits.
cles, but we do know that the dynamic vibrations at low levels The model structure must allow all the conditions used in the
differ totally from larger movements at static pressures [5]. various measurements to be simulated. In the next section a
Thus the linear middle ear model should be seen as a low basic structure, which describes the model in terms of a few
level model which has to be extended by nonlinear elements partial systems and an equivalent sound source, is given. The
if higher levels are to be examined. Time-variations of the partial systems are one-ports (impedances) linking the two
properties of the temporal bone preparations are a major acoustical or mechanical quantities at that port, and two-ports
problem. It is very important to keep the preparation perma- which connect the two input and output quantities on both
nently wet. But also in natural circumstances the middle ear sides.
parameters vary with time, e.g., due to swallowing or yawn- In the following sections the contents of the two-ports are
ing, or due to the stapedius reflex. Particular problems arise specified in more detail and necessary assumptions are clari-
if functions are calculated from data which have not been fied. Further elements providing additional details within the
simultaneously measured. Therefore we used a four-channel frame of the basic structure will be introduced in parts II and
frequency analyzer. However, more than four channels were III, so that the measured results can be approximated as far as
sometimes needed. In these cases the measurements had to possible by means of standard circuit elements. In some cases
be performed consecutively. several element modifications will be necessary to match the
A recent review of the available data on the middle ear of data. These modifications preserve an approximate lumped
humans and animals was given by Rosowski [6]. He also pro- element description of the eardrum mechanics although con-
vided a comprehensive list of publications on the middle ear. tinuum effects arise. The complete model, including all the
Rosowski gave information on various aspects of the middle details and element values, is documented in the appendix of
ear, but he also ascertained a general lack of data. Similarly, part III.
Shera and Zweig noted that "measurements are incomplete
and middle-ear transmission not well understood". In a series
2. I . General circuit structure
of papers [7,8,9] they developed a systematical description
of how the middle ear behavior can be treated mathemati- The equivalent electrical circuits are based on the analogy
cally. One of the goals of their "framework" was to provide of electrical and acoustical or mechanical relationships. To
a basis for measurements. avoid misunderstandings some definitions and features of the
With respect to modeling, our intention is very similar, but analogies are briefly summarized in the following.
we focus on actually measuring the elements of the model. The analogous relationships between acoustical and elec-
Of course, a complete set of data cannot be deduced from trical circuits are best described by treating the sound pres-
in-vivo measurements. Therefore we exclusively used tempo- sure p as analogous to the voltage u, and the volume velocity
ral bone preparations. The measurements could not be per- q as analogous to the current i (the alternative choice has only
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Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 723

disadvantages). In the theory of linear circuits the complex and D relates input and output as follows:
notation calculus is usually applied. This means that all the
quantities are expressed by their complex amplitudes (mag-
nitude and phase) as a function of frequency. The complex
quotient of P/ q is called an acoustical impedance Z ac and is It is not the pressure P D in front of the drum that determines
analogous to the electrical impedance Zel = u/i. An acous- the force generated at the drum, but the pressure difference
tical impedance is associated with an area A. Therefore the 61p between both sides of the drum. The pressure just be-
pressure p has to be constant on this area A if an acoustical hind the drum is just as variable as in front of the drum.
impedance is to be defined. The volume velocity q is the To preserve the one-dimensionality of the model, a suitable
integral of the particle velocity taken over the same area A effective pressure Pcav at the rear of the drum has to be as-
(scalar vector product). sumed. This pressure is the input of the acoustical load Zcav
In mechanical one-dimensional systems the vibrations re- given by the middle ear cavities. The pressure difference at
fer to a reference point instead of to an area. We treat the the drum is modeled by a mesh in Figure I representing the
movements as being purely translational, using the point relation
velocity v and the force F transmitted at the point. If the
61p = PD - Pcav· (2)
movement is rotational in reality, it has to be assumed that
the distance d between the rotational axis and the reference The corresponding port is denoted by 61. The volume velocity
point is large enough to ensure an approximately translational at this port flowing into Zcav is identical to the drum volume
movement. Then the torque M and the rotational velocity W velocity qD.
can be converted into a force F = M / d and into a transla- The next port I of our model corresponds to the processus
tional velocity v = 0.d respectively. lenticularis of the long process of the incus. This means that
Again there are two possibilities for defining pairs of anal- we treat the eardrum, the malleus and the incus including
ogous electrical (u, i) and mechanical (F, v) quantities. For the suspension by ligaments and the tensor tympani, and the
the electromechanical analogy both possibilities are actually incudomalleal joint as a unit without using further measuring
in use. We prefer to treat the force F as analogous to the points in between. This part is the very heart of the middle
current i, and the velocity v as analogous to the voltage u. ear and therefore refered to as the "kernel".
This preserves the structure of a circuit when it is converted Of course, it would be desirable to specify further measur-
from the mechanical to the electrical domain, i. e., mechan- ing points within the kernel, for instance, at the umbo (which
ical series connections appear as series connections in the is very often used, because it is so clearly defined and so
electrical circuit, nodes remain nodes, etc. However, if this easily accessible) or somewhere else at the manubrium. But
definition is chosen, mechanical impedances Zmech = F / v in the context of our one-dimensional model these measure-
correspond to electrical admittances Yet = i/u. ments would have little meaning as under natural conditions
no nearby point forces are transmitted at the manubrium. In-
Acoustical and mechanical elements have to be combined
stead the force varies within the manubrium coupling area.
in the model. This is intermediated by a sound collecting or
For this reason a one-dimensional description of the cou-
sound radiating area A which occurs in the form of a gyrator
pling between the eardrum and manubrium is impossible. In
with a gyration constant which equals the area A.
our three-dimensional model we approximate this by imple-
The basic structure of the model used is shown in Figure I. menting a translational force and a torque transmitted at the
A sound wave in the ear canal is excited by a complex external center of the coupling area. For similar reasons the interface
sound field around the head. In spite of many spatial details an between the malleus and incus is not explicitly expressed in
effective source can be assumed to be located at an entrance the model either. As the incudomalleal joint is very rigid (a
area E, because here and in the whole middle part of the ear known fact which is once more confirmed by our own mea-
canal only the fundamental acoustical mode can propagate. surements given in part II), an intact incudomalleal joint can
The source in E is represented by its Thevenin equivalent almost be ignored. This justifies the use of a simple, effective
circuit composed of the internal pressure source PecE and the joint impedance, as will be introduced in part II.
acoustical source impedance ZecE. The impedance equals The kernel two-port K is defined between the acousti-
the radiation impedance of the ear canal at the entrance area cal input (61p, qD) at the drum and the mechanical output
E (out of the ear canal). (FI, VI) at the processus lenticularis (incus). For the sake of
Near the drum the sound field once more becomes com- simplicity, we speak of the incus force and velocity when-
plex, as the vibrations of the drum interact with the sound ever the quantities at the processus lenticularis are meant.
field in front of it. The problem of defining meaningful acous- The kernel chain-matrix, which is also denoted by K, links
tic quantities PD and qD "at the drum" is discussed exten- the acoustical and mechanical quantities at the ports 61 and
sively in the next section. It results in a definition of the DCR I.
(drum coupling region) that has already been mentioned.
For calculations it is convenient to include the DCR in the
two-port between the areas E and D. The two-port can be
represented by various system matrices. We exclusively use The lenticular process is fairly well suited to the task of
the chain-matrix. The ear canal chain-matrix C between E defining a port because the force transmitted to the stapes
ACUSTICA· acta acustica
724 Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

E D 1:1
ZecE qE qD Zcav qD Zis Fs
C ~ K s Zc
PecE! !PE PD! !~P !v, vs!
acoustic ear malleus,
source canal incus stapes cochlea

Figure I. General structure of an acoustomechanical circuit describing the sound transmission from the ear canal into the cochlea.

2.2. Ear canal and eardrum impedance

E : entrance area A human ear canal is schematically outlined in Figure 2. In

R: reference area the main section an almost purely fundamental wave exists
D: drum oreo between the two areas E (entrance) and R (reference). The
T : termination point wave front areas are perpendicular to the middle axis of the
DCR: drum coupling
region ear canal. Higher order modes cannot propagate and can thus
be ignored between E and R (this specifies the positions of
E and R). The lowest cut-off frequency, which belongs to an
azimuthal mode is outside the audio range even for larger ear
T canal diameters. The wave fronts are not necessarily planar
as the cross-sectional area varies and the ear canal bends.
The varying cross-section has considerable effects on the
pressure transformation in the ear canal. The simplest way of
estimating the cross-sectional area function A(x) is a stepped
Figure 2. Transmission line model of the ear canal including the
OCR (drum coupling region) and the eardrum impedance Z D. duct approximation using small discs of width 6.i and area
Ai. Then the chain-matrix between E and R can be calculated
as the product of the disc chain-matrices [17].
is well approximated by a (translational) point force. It is
reasonable to assume that in I (at the processus lenticularis) (4)
no torques are transmitted. Of course, the assumption of a
one-dimensional system between 6. and I is not fully justi- Sinhhi6.i)Ztwi) . (PR)
fied, as was mentioned before. The vibrational modes of the coshhi6.i) qR'
drum are to some extent influenced by the loading in I. Ac-
tually the chain-matrix is measured using the extreme cases, Herein Ii denotes the propagation constant and Ztwi the
namely when the incus is clamped or not loaded. Again this tube wave impedance in the disc i. If losses in the ear canal
kind of measuring and modeling can be only experimentally are completely ignored the acoustic tube wave impedance
justified by reasonable predictions taken from the "basic" Ztwi is pel Ai and the propagation constant Ii equals jw I e,
model. where w is the angular frequency 21f f. As losses do have a
The output force F[ of K is transmitted from the incus to certain impact on the sound propagation in real ear canals,
the stapes via the incudostapedial joint modelled by a simple they should be taken into account (see section 2.2 of part
impedance Zis' This implies that no force "gets lost" at the II). At the end of the ear canal the simple form of the sound
joint, i. e., the output force F[ is identical to the input force field dissappears, as the termination by the eardrum does not
Fs of the stapes. The only effect of the joint impedance is a coincide with the acoustical wave fronts.
difference in the movements of the lenticular process and the Furthermore the eardrum forms a very inhomogeneous el-
stapes. The two-port S represents the mechanical properties ement because it is loaded by the ossicles, because of its
of the stapes, including its suspension by the annular liga- oblique position and conical shape, and because of its in-
ment, and the transduction to the acoustic quantities at the homogeneous tissue and suspension. The vibrations of the
stapes footplate. The acoustical load at the footplate, given eardrum produce a complicated sound field very near the
by the cochlea, is denoted as Zc. drum, which is superimposed onto the driving sound field.
A particular advantage of using chain matrices is that the In this way it is influenced by the complicated and highly
overall chain-matrix is simply the product of all the partial frequency-dependent vibrational patterns of the drum. There-
chain matrices. The chain matrices of the ear canal C, the fore we refer to this part of the ear canal as the "drum coupling
kernel K, and the stapes S are considered in more detail in region" (DCR). Obviously the effects taking place in the
the following sections. DCR are essentially determined by spatial effects. Therefore
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
VoL 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middleear properties(part I) 725

a one-dimensional approximation is extremely questionable

at a first glance. mic2 mic1
As a consequence an impedance "at the eardrum" cannot
exist if the usual concept of an impedance is applied. It has
already been mentioned that an acoustical impedance can
only be defined in an area with a constant sound pressure. If
the pressure variations remain small, it can be reasonable to
use the average pressure to define an impedance. But at high
frequencies the pressure variations on the drum surface reach
an order of 30-40 dB. Measurements using scaled models of
ear canals have shown that the wavefronts are almost perpen-
dicular to the surface of the drum [18, 19,20,21]. Obviously
the sound wave does not impinge onto the eardrujTl, but is
guided by its surface in a similar way to the one seen at the
ear canal walls. The main reflection takes place at the in-
nermost point T of the ear canal. This causes sound pressure
distributions on the drum surface which contain transmission
line maxima and minima at high frequencies. The usage of
an average pressure cannot produce a good approximation of
the effects in the DCR. Of course, it cannot be expected that
any other one-dimensional description will produce accurate
results up to 20 kHz either, but we will see that the DCR Figure 3. Two methods of coupling the acoustical measuring tube
(AMT) to the middle ear (only the front section of the AMT is
concept examined in the following gives fairly satisfactory depicted). In the upper panel the AMT is attached in the reference
results. area (which is correct from a theoreticalpoint of view), in the lower
Defining the effective acoustical load impendance at the panel the position "close to the eardrum" (as normally used) is
end of the ear canal by using an average sound pressure depicted. A brass ring matching the AMT thread has to be glued
to the bone. The diameterof the tube is 8 mm.
is surely not the best one-dimensional approach. As the
eardrum does not vibrate like a piston, the pressure acting
near the edges will contribute less force to the manubrium
than the pressure in the central part of the drum. Therefore But it is unclear whether such an impedance can be defined
at least an appropriately weighted average should be used. at all. Stinson and Khanna [20] examined this problem by
The procedure of calculating such an average establishes an using locally reacting impedances, but they were aware that
operation which cannot be simply expressed by the usual the impedances "do not necessarily correspond to real ear
circuit models (although there would be no problem in per- impedances". In their analysis they distributed the eardrum
forming this calculation). A simpler and presumably even impedances instead of using a concentrated impedance. The
more accurate approach is to assume that the pressure acting usefulness of different approaches and assumptions strongly
in the center of the eardrum (at the umbo) will produce the depends on the impedance magnitudes actually found in a
most important contribution. This leads to a notion similar real ear. Therefore the decision as to which kind of model is
to the one proposed by Stinson [19] who used a concen- best suited should be based on measurements in a real ear.
trated impedance at the umbo. This assumption is specified It has already been emphasized that modeling and mea-
in Figure 2: the whole ear canal including the part behind the suring should form a whole. At the beginning of our mea-
reference area R is described as an inhomogeneous acous- surements we mounted the acoustical measuring device, the
tical duct with rigid walls. The effect of the middle ear on acoustical measuring tube AMT described in section 3.2, at
the pressure distribution in the ear canal is exclusively mod- a considerable distance from the drum in order to produce
eled by the shunt impedance ZD, which is called "eardrum correct wave fronts near the drum. The distance was adjusted
impedance" . to match the reference area R shown in Figure 2. Using addi-
The question as to whether this approximation is useful tional equipment for recording some quantities in the middle
or not cannot merely be answered by theoretical investiga- ear or in the vestibule, we tried to measure the transfer func-
tions. If the mobility of the drum were high, the wave fronts tions from the drum to the respective locations. To this end
would be completely altered. Therefore the justification of the acoustical quantities originally measured in the AMT
the DCR concept is, above all, based on the fact that the had to be transformed "to the drum". This transformation
drum forms something like the continuation of the ear canal turned out to have a crucial impact on the results at higher
walls. This fairly rigid guidance of the acoustical wave gives frequencies of above a few kHz. The plausibility and inter-
a first indication that the eardrum vibrations are relatively pretability of the results was considerably improved when we
small compared with the vibrations of the air at some dis- changed the arrangement, as shown in Figure 3. The upper
tance from the drum. The eardrum impedance Z D must be part shows the measurement in the reference area, which is
expected to be high compared to the tube wave impedance the last correct position that maintains enough distance from
of the ear canal. the drum from a theoretical point of view. In the position
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
726 Hudde and Engel: Middleear properties(part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

"close to drum", shown in the lower part, the wave fronts changes to the DCR area function. The degree of the impact
are completely different from those found in real conditions. largely depends on the impedances to be transformed. There-
However, the impedance measured "close to the drum" also fore real (measured) impedances in the reference area (ZR)
turned out to be "closer" to the mechanics of the middle ear. and close to the eardrum impedance (ZD) are used for these
Therefore we identify the impedance measured "close calculations, although the measured eardrum impedances
to the drum" with the eardrum impedance Z D from the will not be presented until part III in detail.
DCR concept. In other words, we use the measured eardrum The different curves were produced by applying the DCR
impedances to derive model parameters based on the DCR model to slightly varying area functions. The variations were
model. It is the compatibilty of the measured impedances realized as follows. The reference area AR remained entirely
"close to the drum" and the corresponding results obtained unchanged. The other end of the DCR was also constant
by using the DCR model that justifies the concept. This will because the second part of the DCR tapers to a point. The
be demonstrated in more detail in the following. section in between was described by three sample radii in
At first the application of the DCR model in Figure 2 must equidistant positions. These sample radii were changed by
be clarified. The wave front area running through the umbo up to ± 10%. Each possible combination produced by varying
specifies the "drum area" D and thereby the drum pressure one or more sample radii provides another radius function.
PD. It divides the DCR into two parts. The first part rep- Continuous radius functions were obtained by cubic spline
resents the continuation of the ear canal from R to D. Its interpolation. For both directions the same alterations to the
chain-matrix can be calculated in the same way as the chain- DCR shape were made. The practical experience that in the
matrix between E and R, by applying equation (4) to the area forward direction the transformation is extremely sensitive
function between R and D. The eardrum impedance ZD is to changes of any kind, is fully confirmed. The impedance
modeled as a concentrated shunt impedance in D. Therefore phase is particularly uncertain, even at frequencies of as low
the volume velocity splits up into two parts, qD represent- as 2 kHz. At higher frequencies the phase becomes almost
ing the eardrum impedance, and another part representing random (the phase of a passive impedance is within the lim-
the volume velocity in the wavefront area D. Obviously the its of ±900). If the phase is relevant, the calculated eardrum
remainder of the ear canal between D and the termination impedance can only be used up to 1-2 kHz. The magni-
point T causes a further impedance connected in parallel to tude may be acceptable up to 5 kHz. In the backward di-
Z D. Of course, the last section of the ear canal also has a rection, where the reference impedance is calculated from
chain-matrix, in this case linking the acoustical quantities in the eardrum impedance, the behavior of the transformation
D and T is good-natured. The variations of the DCR produce similar
results being to some extent warped along the frequency axis.
(5) The difference in behavior can be explained as follows:
( ~~) = (~~~~~~). ( ~~) .
In the backward direction the eardrum impedance is trans-
As the volume velocity of the drum is defined to be com-
formed via slightly differing inhomogeneous tubes. It is well-
pletely taken into account by qD, the volume velocity qT in
known that inhomogeneities shift the transmission line res-
the innermost comer of the ear canal vanishes. Therefore the
onant frequencies at multiples of a quarter and half wave
impedance ofthe second section ofthe DCR is Zt = tll / t21.
lengths. But in each case the transformation describes a re-
It has little effect at low frequencies, because it mainly repre-
alizable physical situation. In the forward direction the con-
sents a small volume. For convenience it can be treated as a
ditions are quite different. If the DCR area function used for
part of the two-port relating the reference area R to the drum
the calculation is incorrect, a fictive impedance is calculated
area D (DCR two-port)
which would produce the measured impedance in the case
of the wrong DCR shape. This results in impedances which
(~~) = (~~~~~~). (~~) = D (~~ ) . (6) are "synthetic" and do not correspond to existing acoustome-
chanical systems.
In the model structure of Figure 1 the port T does not occur
explicitly. If needed, the pressure PT can be easily determined As a consequence only the attachment of the acoustical
measuring device "close to the eardrum" can be useful at
frompD according to PT = PD/tll'
It has already been noticed that the transformation of the higher frequencies. It remains to be seen whether this method
reference impedance Z R into the eardrum impedance turned of measuring gives useful results, and whether the DCR
out to be crucial. Therefore it is important to examine the model f~rms a basis from which the impedance "close to the
features of the impedance transformation via the DCR in eardrum", i. e., the eardrum impedance ZD, can be linked to
both directions. The relations are the reference impedance Z R and thereby to the sound field in
the middle section of the ear canal. These two items, the use-
Z _ dllZD + d12 fullness of the eardrum impedance and the correctness of the
R - d21ZD d22 + transformation via the DCR, are examined in the following.
d22ZR - d12
¢:} ZD - ----- (7) When determining a meaningful eardrum impedance Z D
- dll - d21ZR'
it is not necessary to refer to the special device used for
In spite of the similarity of the formulae (bilinear transfor- the measurement. The only condition the device must meet
mations), the transformation characteristics are quite differ- is that all the higher order modes near the drum must have
ent for each direction. Figure 4 shows the impact of small evanesced up to the position of the (first) microphone in
ACUSTICA· aeta aeustiea
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 727


normalized magnitude in dB

forward transformation -20

backward transformation
( ZR to ZD) ( ZD to ZR)
160 Hz 500 1k 2k 5k 160 Hz 500 lk 2k 5k

90 90

ZR Figure 4. Impedance transforma-

4.\ 45
phase in degrees phase in degrees tion via the DCR in both direc-
tions. Left: forward direction; the
o eardrum impedance Z D is calcu-
lated from the reference impedance
-45 -45 Z R. Right: backward direction; the
•• reference impedance ZR is calcu-
-90 -90 lated from the eardrum impedance
[60 IJz 500 Ik 2k 5k 10k 16k 160 Hz 500 Ik 2k 5k 10k 16k ZD.

the measuring tube. The AMT fulfills this condition. The frequency limit, and the additive phase is often not known.
originally measured impedance Zl at microphone 1 has to be Therefore the minimum phase must only be used in a mid fre-
transformed to the end of the tube and a little further in order quency range, ignoring a possible constant phase difference.
to obtain the eardrum impedance ZD. The transformation Instead of using the integral in equation (8), the Hilbert trans-
length beyond the end of the tube turned out to be a crucial form was numerically calculated using a procedure based on
parameter as it has a considerable impact on the eardrum a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis [22].
impedances calculated. A surprisingly unique solution was The dependence of the impedance with respect to varia-
found by using the concept of the minimum phase. tions of the assumed position of the drum area D is shown
From general circuit theory it is known that the com- in Figure 5. Magnitudes and phases change greatly if the
plex impedance of a lumped-element circuit has a minimum position is varied. Obviously a criterion for choosing the cor-
phase. This property gets lost if continuum systems are in- rect position of the drum area is essential if a unique eardrum
cluded. As an acoustical duct, like the ear canal, is a contin- impedance is to be obtained. Figure 5 shows that the criterion
uum system, the reference impedance Z R has no minimum "minimum phase" gives a surprisingly well-defined position.
phase. In contrast, the eardrum impedance ZD specifically The optimum transformation length is obtained if the "mea-
represents the middle ear mechanics, which are often approx- sured" phase of the transformed impedance Z D matches the
imated by lumped element circuits. Although the eardrum minimum phase calculated from the magnitude. The right-
itself is a continuum system, it can be assumed that a lumped hand part of Figure 5 shows that the optimal position can be
element model approximates the eardrum impedance, at least found with an accuracy of better than ±O.l mm.
at low and medium frequencies. In fact, our model introduces When applied to eardrum impedances, the position for
some deviations from ordinary circuit elements at higher fre- the best approximation of a minimum phase leads to max-
quencies (see section 4.2 of part II) that destroy the feature imum impedance magnitudes. When searching for the cor-
of a minimum phase. However, it should be possible to find rect position of the eardrum impedance, the criterion "min-
a position in the drum area D where the impedance Z D has imum phase" can be replaced by the criterion "maximum
a minimum phase except at high frequencies. impedance magnitude at high frequencies" without notice-
An important property of a minimum phase function is ably changing the result in most cases. This effect is easily
that its phase can be calculated from its magnitude (and understood if one considers the transformation via a short
vice versa). This relationship is established by the Hilbert acoustical tube of length 6.1 and tube wave impedance Ztw.
transform The normalized measured impedance Z:neas = Zmeas / Ztw

= -

In IZ'(w)
+ 'Poo· (8)
is transformed to the desired normalized eardrum impedance
Zb according to
, ZD Z:neas cosh(r6.1) - sinh(r6.1)
In principle, the natural logarithm of the normalized impe- ZD = Ztw = cosh(r6.1) - Z:neas sinh(r6.1)· (9)
dance Z' (w) has to be integrated over all the frequencies. As
the impedance is only measured in a finite frequency range, If the magnitude of Zmeas is large compared to the tube wave
the Hilbert transform is less accurate at the lower and upper impedance Ztw (Zmeas » 1), the result Zb hardly depends
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
728 Hudde and Engel: Middleear properties(part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

40 40


effect of position of" D" effect of position of" D"

o o
160 Hz 500 Ik 2k ok 10k 16k 160 Hz 500 1k 2k 5k 10k 16k

Figure 5. Impact of the transformationlength (used to determinethe eardrumimpedancesZ D from the impedancemeasuredin the AMT)on
the impedanceZD measured"close to the eardrum".The position"0 mm" refers to the optimumspecifiedby the best agreementbetweenthe
"measured"phase (i. e., the phase obtainedby transformingthe impedancemeasuredin the AMT) and the minimumphasederivedfrom the
magnitudeof this transformedimpedance.The upperpanelsshowthe influenceof the positionon the magnitudeof the impedance(normalized
to the tube waveimpedance Ztw). In the lowerpanels the "measured"phases and the correspondingminimumphasesare shown.Thepairs of
correspondingphases are depictedusing the same linestyle.The measuredphases are more positivethan the correspondingminimumphases.
On the left the transformationlength is varied from - 2 mm to +2 mm in I mm steps aroundthe optimumpositionat 0 mm. On the right the
step length is reduced to 0.1 mm to showthe accuracyfor findingthe optimumposition.

on Zmeas (except if the transformation length is very small Finally the resulting impedance ZDR can be compared to
or near a multiple of a half wavelength). It is approximated the eardrum impedance Z D. This is done in Figure 6. A
by perfect agreement between ZD and ZDR could hardly be
expected for several reasons: (a) it has been already demon-
Zb ;:::;! - cothb~l) ;:::;! -j cot(;3o~l). (10)
strated that the forward direction is extremely sensitive, (b)
Incorrect positions are recognized in Figure 5 at high frequen- the area function of the DCR obtained from the mold has an
cies by the corresponding typical decrease in the impedance accuracy estimated to be in the order of 10%, (c) the middle
magnitude, while the phase tends to +900 or -900 depend- ear properties may change during the long interval between
ing on the sign of ~l. the two measurements (in this time the mold has been made
After this unambiguous eardrum impedance Z D has been and the remnant of the ear canal removed).
found, its relationship to the impedance ZDR, the impedance Bearing this in mind, the agreement between Z D and Z DR
obtained by transforming a measured reference impedance is surprisingly good. In fact, an additional "trick" was neces-
Z R to the drum according to the DCR model, can be consid- sary. The area function of the DCR was slightly varied by a
ered. Of course, the reference impedance Z R and the eardrum program searching for the area function that yields the best
impedance Z D have to be measured in the same specimen, agreement for both impedances. The program changed the
and the DCR area function of that individual specimen has to original area function obtained from the mold up to the esti-
be taken into account. This leads to the following procedure. mated tolerance of 10% in the middle section of the DCR (by
First the ear canal of a specimen is resected up to a posi- varying the sample radii). Again, the program did not change
tion which is considered to be the reference area R, and the the area function at both ends of the DCR.
reference impedance Z R is measured. Then a soft mold of A fairly good agreement could be achieved using this
the DCR is made using a two-component silicone material, procedure up to 5 kHz. Above that frequency, the phase, in
which is also used for producing earmolds for hearing aids. particular, becomes increasingly erroneous. Also at low fre-
Then the remnant of the ear canal can also be resected so quencies the agreement is not perfect, which indicates slight
that a measurement "close to the drum" can be taken which changes in the eardrum impedance during the preparation.
provides the eardrum impedance ZD. After measuring the Due to these alterations the frequency of 5 kHz should be
radius function of the DCR by means of the mold, the DCR regarded as a conservative estimation of the validity limit of
chain-matrices, and thereby the impedance transformation the DCR model. This statement only applies to the forward
from the reference area R to the drum area D, are calculated. direction.
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 729

40 q qi Fi F


magnitude in dB
, I

Fj = Aeff P I
160 Hz 500 lk 2k 5k 10k 16k

Figure 7. General acoustomechanical reciprocal two-port. If applied

90 /,'-,
to the middle ear kernel, the elements provide a meaningful descrip-
Ii tion.
phase in degrees

the backward direction. However, although the correctness

of the DCR model was only verified up to 5 kHz in the
forward direction, it can be used for the full audio range
in the backward direction. Again, the high magnitude of the
eardrum impedance is responsible for this convenient feature.
160 Hz 500 Ik 2k 5k 10k 16k It has the effect of making the impedance in the reference
area almost exclusively reflect the ear canal shape in the
Figure 6. Examination of the OCR concept. The eardrum impedance DCR. The difference between the reference impedance in a
Z D measured close to the drum is compared to the impedance Z DR normal ear canal and in an ear canal which is terminated by a
obtained by transforming the reference impedance Z R via the OCR
to the drum area O. The shape of the OCR was measured and addi-
rigid "eardrum" with the same shape is almost impossible to
tionally fitted to improve the agreement. Each impedance is normal- measure above 5 kHz. This will be elucidated in more detail
ized to the tube wave impedance Ztw at the reference area (about in section 2 of part III.
13 . 106 Nsm-5). Obviously, the problems are restricted to determining the
(very small) volume velocity qD at the drum. If qD is derived
from the pressure P D at the drum and the eardrum impedance
When the model is actually applied the frequency limit ZD, no problems arise at all. But if qD has to be estimated
depends not only on the direction of transformation, but also from pressures inside the ear canal or from volume velocities
on the conditions underlying the specific application. The measured some distance away from the drum, the transfor-
problems involved in forward transformation mainly restrict mations become extremely sensitive to errors of all kinds,
the usage of ear canal impedances measured in-vivo. In this because the small volume velocity cannot be distinguished
case the shape of the ear canal, particularly the shape of the from a zero volume velocity.
DCR, is usually completely unknown. Information on the
ear canal can be obtained either by using replicas (but this
technique cannot be applied to the DCR for fear of damag- 2.3. Kernel
ing the drum), or by evaluating acoustic measurements with In its most idealized description the kernel is a gyrator con-
respect to the area function [17, 21]. However, neither tech- verting the pressure difference !:lp into an output force F1
nique will achieve a higher degree of accuracy than assumed and the volume velocity qD into a translational velocity v I.
when calculating the curves of Figure 4. Therefore it must In this case only the (effective) drum area AD is considered.
be concluded that even under ideal conditions an in-vivo de- Compliances, masses, or dissipative elements are ignored.
termination of the eardrum impedance is only possible up
to 2 kHz. At higher frequencies the phase is so ambiguous
that it becomes impossible to distinguish between compli-
ant, inertial, and frictional impedances. Obviously, the DCR
has the effect of obscuring the details of the acoustic load- In contrast to an electrical gyrator, this acoustomechanical
ing by the middle ear. Impedances measured in the reference gyrator represents a reciprocal element. In purely electrical
area, or even at the entrance of the ear canal, are of little circuits reciprocity is recognized by a unity chain-matrix de-
use for estimating the mechanical properties of the middle terminant. The same holds for purely acoustical or purely
ear at higher frequencies. Consequently applying tympano- mechanical two-ports as well. But the chain-matrix deter-
metric methods aimed at obtaining diagnostically valuable minant of a reciprocal two-port with mixed energy forms
information on the middle ear is restricted to about 2 kHz. at both ports can take the values + 1or -1, depending on
The situation changes completely if the DCR model is the definition of positive directions and on the order of the
used to link a known or assumed ear canal to the middle ear quantities specifying the input and output vector. Obviously
model. In this case the DCR transformation is only needed in in equation (II) the determinant has a positive sign. It cannot
ACUSTICA· acta acustica
730 Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

be proved that one-dimensional acoustomechanical systems

are reciprocal in general, but it is reasonable to assume such
systems are reciprocal if there is no particular evidence of a
nonreciprocal element [23]. In reciprocal two-ports the fourth
chain-parameter can be determined from the other three by • k=Afree/Aman
using the determinant condition. As a consequence a recip-
rocal two-port can be represented by any circuit with three t:.p Fr
independent elements. We use the circuit shown in Figure 7
because it describes the basic properties of the middle ear
by means of the interpretable elements Aef f' }';"coust, and
The input sound pressure p, which is the pressure differ-
ence D.p at the drum under normal conditions, generates an
"internal" force Fi via the gyrator according to an effective
area Aef f. This area does not equal the geometric area of
Figure 8. The "kernel" of Shaw's model in our notation (see text).
the drum because the drum cannot move like a piston: it is
fixed along the edge. At higher frequencies the part of the
drum that is directely coupled to the manubrium becomes on loads, the first on the ossicles including their suspension
increasingly decoupled from the other parts. Obviously the (Zdmi, mechanical drum-malleus-incus impedance), the sec-
effective area Aef f is not a constant, but a complex function ond on the impedance Z free which is the equivalent acousti-
of frequency. cal impedance of the free parts of the drum. This is modeled
The same gyrator transforms an "internal" volume veloc- by a transformer (transformer ratio k = Afree/Aman), the
ity qi into the velocity v at the output port (for the kernel above mentioned impedances, and an additional impedance
two-port into the incus velocity v I). The internal volume Zcpl representing a mechanical coupling between the pistons.
velocity is only a fraction of the total input volume veloc- We can transform Shaw's model variables into our two-port
ity because a large portion of the input volume velocity is coefficients by the following:
provided by the vibrations of the outer parts of the drum,
which are only weakly coupled to the manubrium. The cor- A + Afree
Aeff (13)
responding acoustic admittance is denoted as Yacoust. Ifthe man 1+ Zfree/Zcpl'
output port is clamped (v = 0), the total input volume veloc- 1
ity "flows through" that admittance. The generated force Fi Yacoust , (14)
Zfree + Zcpl
cannot be entirely transmitted to the mechanical load of the
A2 ZfreeZcpl
two-port, but it also acts on the drum and on all the mechan- Zmech = Zdmi + free Z
free + Z·
ical parts included in the two-port. These parts are described
by the mechanical impedance Zmech. According to equation (13) the effective area Aef f is strongly
The resulting chain matrix is influenced by the ratio of the two impedances Z free and
Zcpl of the eardrum. At low frequencies the effective area is
Zmech ) determined by the ratio ncpt/nfree. As Shaw assumes this
K - Aeff Aeff .(12) ratio is small compared to unity, the effective area at low
Yacoust A + Yacoust Zmech
frequencies is close to the geometrical area Aman + Afree.
eff A
Aeff eff
At the resonance-like maximum the effective area exceeds the
When applied to the kernel two-port between the drum and geometrical area. The shape and extent of the "resonance" is
incus, it provides a more realistic representation than the sim- governed by the impedance ratio Z free / Z cpl. The expression
ple gyrator matrix of equation (11). Obviously the elements for the acoustical admittance Yacoust is in accordance with
Aef f' Yacoust and Zmech are easily obtained from mea- the interpretation just given. The mechanical Zmech is mainly
sured kernel chain-parameters k11, k12, and k21. Of course, determined by Zdmi, the second term only has a moderate
a detailed circuit description must contain more than three influenc~ at higher frequencies.
elements. When discussing the measured results in section To avoid misunderstandings some remarks concerning the
4.2 of part II, the two-port will be described using a more effective area may be useful. There are several ways of defin-
detailed substructure. ing effective areas. Shera and Zweig [7] pointed out that
As our measurements are often compared to the cor- the area relating the pressure difference and the transmit-
responding predictions of Shaw's model, the relationships ted force at the drum is not identical to the area linking the
should be clarified. Shaw gives a particular interpretation tympanic membrane volume velocity and the velocity of the
of the elements Aef f, Yacoust and Zmech which is shown manubrium. This is seen also in equation (12): the chain-
in Figure 8 using our notation. Two pistons describe the parameter k22 representing the ratio of both types of velocity
eardrum using two sound receiving areas Aman (manubrium does not equal the effective area Aef f. The effective area,
coupling area) and A free (parts of the drum that are consid- as defined in equation (12), is the ratio of the force to the
ered as not directly coupled to the ossicles). Both pistons act pressure difference in the case of clamped ossicles. Other
ACUSTlCA· acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 731

effective areas have been defined so as to characterize the ef-

fectivity of the middle ear as an acoustic receiver in a diffuse
sound field [24, 25]. We do not use this kind of effective area s Fs
in this paper, but will examine the effectivity of the middle
and outer ear as a whole at the end of part III. In any case,
vs lst
equation (13) gives a unique relationship comparing Shaw's
elements (he did not explicitly use an "effective area") to our
effective area Aeff. qC=VSAF
Pc = Fc/AF

2.4. Stapes two-port

Figure 9. Equivalent circuit of the stapes two-port between the me-
The heart of the stapes two-port S is the transduction of
chanical port S (stapes head) and the acoustical port C (cochlea).
mechanical quantities to (hydro-) acoustical ones. This is The mechanical port F refers to the stapes footplate. The acousti-
modeled by a gyrator with a gyration constant which equals cal impedance Zc loading the stapes two-port denotes the input
the effective stapes footplate area AF. As long as the stapes impedance of the cochlea measured in the vestibule immediately
behind the stapes footplate.
acts like a piston, the effective area is almost identical to
the geometrical area. The annular ligament of humans is so
small that its movement contributes little to the total volume
velocity qc generated in the vestibule. possible in terms of a one-dimensional model. For this aim
The force Fs acting on the stapes head is not entirely live middle ears are unsuitable. The middle ear has to be
transduced into the cochlear pressure Pc in the vestibule, be- accessed not only from the ear canal, but also from within
cause again a certain fraction Fst gets lost, in this case due to the tympanic cavity and from the stapes footplate as well. But
driving the stapes and its suspension (annular ligament and even if temporal bone preparations are used it is impossible
musculus stapedius). These considerations result in the sim- to find an order of measuring which allows all the model
ple equivalent circuit given in Figure 9. The corresponding elements to be determined using only a single specimen.
chain-matrix is Most of the published results deal with vibrations (dis-
placements or velocities) at different points in the middle
(16) ear. However, a complete set of data requires that forces be
measured. In principle, it would be possible to avoid measur-
Under normal conditions the stapes two-port is loaded by the ing forces by evaluating the change in vibrations caused by
acoustical cochlea input impedance Zc. In this case the total altering the load. But in practice, this procedure is not appli-
mechanical load at the stapes head (port S) becomes cable for several reasons. Attaching an additional impedance
in a well-defined manner is very difficult or even impossible.
Zsc = Fs/vs = Zst + ZcA}. (17)
Furthermore the impedances must have appropriate magni-
In Shaw's model only the total impedance Zsc is given. tudes. They have to be comparable to the other participating
Therefore the model cannot predict the vestibular pressure. impedances, but must be different enough to produce suf-
If the incudustapedial joint is assumed to be entirely rigid, ficiently large changes in vibration. Therefore the use of a
the combination of equations (12) and (16) yields the chain- proper force sensor is necessary to determine mechanical
matrix parameters in a direct manner.
All the measurements were performed at moderate levels
(18) where no nonlinear effects were to be expected in a prepara-
tion (and actually were not noticed). In linear systems all the
properties can be determined by measuring transfer functions
between different types of physical quantities. These quanti-
ties are sound pressures and volume velocities (in air and in
perilymph), translational forces and velocities, torques and
rotational velocities. So far we have measured the following
This matrix represents an ideal transformer with an area ratio • sound pressures at different locations in the ear canal, at
Ae!! /AF (eardrum to footplate) and the additional effects the eardrum, in the tympanic cavity and in the antrum,
caused by the elements Yacoust, Zmech, and Zst. • the volume velocity at different locations in the ear canal,
• forces at the processus lenticularis, at the stapes head, and
at the stapes footplate,
3. Measuring techniques
• velocities at the same positions, and
3. I. General considerations • the hydroacoustic pressure in the vestibule.

One of the main goals of this study was to derive a set of To obtain all the elements of the one-dimensional model,
data describing the middle ear properties as completely as three main types of physical quantities have to be mea-
ACUSTlCA· acta acustica
732 Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

sured: acoustical impedances, mechanical impedances, and source very precisely (determination of its Thevenin or Nor-
hybrid acoustomechanical chain-matrices (consisting of four ton equivalent circuit), particularly at higher frequencies.
transfer functions). To measure acoustical impedances in the An improved version of the method using a second mi-
ear canal, we developed an acoustic measuring tube (AMT) crophone has been published in [27]. In the apparatus pre-
which has to be coupled to the ear canal (next section). A sented in that paper, the CSM is combined with a measuring
custom-made measuring head for mechanical impedances tube method. But in spite of good results using this mea-
(MMH) is described in section 3.3. The tip of this MMH has suring head on various technical objects, the measurements
to be rigidly attached to the point where the impedance is in temporal bone preparations remained unsatisfactory. The
to be measured. Both types of impedance measuring device humidity of the temporal bone preparations, which must be
include the stimulation. In fact, the acoustical or mechanical kept moist, was recognized as the cause of these problems.
stimulation was realized by exclusively using the AMT or The sensitivity of the microphones varied by up to 15% due
the MMH. A hydroacoustical impedance measuring device to the humidity. One solution to this problem could be to
(including stimulation) would also be desirable, but has not ensure constant humidity by performing the measurements
yet been realized. Instead only a hydrophone designed to in a measuring chamber. However, this is hardly practicable
pick up the pressure in the vestibule has been built (section because the preparation must be easily accessible from all
3.5). Also the chain-matrices were measured using both types sides.
of impedance measuring device. For these measurements a A closer look at the errors showed that (a) the errors are
device capable of measuring vibrations without loading the smaller for the TFM because the humidity changes the sen-
object is also necessary. We used a fiber-optic displacement sitivity of all the microphones uniformly (the transfer func-
sensor (ODS), as described in section 3.4. The measurement tions are influenced less than the pressures), and that (b) the
of acoustomechanical chain-matrices is described in the final change in sensitivity can be treated as being independent of
section 3.6. frequency, if the frequency range chosen is sufficiently nar-
All the data that were originally measured represent trans- row. This has led to an acoustic measuring tube (AMT) being
fer functions that are complex ratios of the Fourier Trans- used that only relies on the TFM, but incorporates humidity
forms of different acoustical and mechanical quantities which corrections (Figure 10).
occur at various locations. A four-channel FFf spectrum an- Four microphones are used to measure the three transfer
alyzer was used to measure the magnitude and phase of the functions P4 / PI, P3 / PI, and P2 / PI, simultaneously using
transfer functions in a frequency range from 20 Hz to 16 kHz the four-channel spectrum analyzer. The spacings between
with a frequency separation of 20 Hz. The vibrations were the microphones are chosen to obtain a uniform distribution
excited using random noise. To improve the signal-to-noise of the frequency ranges for the pairs 2-1, 3-1 and 4-1. The
ratio the cross power spectra were averaged 500-10000 times admittance in the plane of mic 1 is
depending on the particular conditions.
y; _ Pi/PI - cosh(r~lil)
I - sinh(r ~lid '
3.2. Acoustical measuring tube (AMT)
where the ~lil denote the distances between the micro-
Some time ago one of the authors measured the eardrum phones i and 1and r the propagation constant in the mea-
impedance of living humans using three probe tube micro- suring tube.
phones [26]. This method may be classified as a measuring The four microphones are necessary to cover the desired
tube method using fixed microphone positions. Since then it frequency range from 160Hz to 16kHz with sufficient accu-
has been standardized and is now referred to as the transfer racy, because the evaluation of equation (19) becomes very
function method (TFM), because the terminating impedance inaccurate if the microphone distance ~lil is close to multi-
is determined from pressure transfer functions measured be- ples of a half wavelength. The nominal frequency ranges as-
tween the microphones. As a special feature of the mea- sociated with the pairs of microphones are 160 Hz -742 Hz,
surements published in [26], the ear canal itself served as 742Hz - 3450Hz, and 3450Hz - 16000Hz. As at the end
a measuring tube. Since the ear canal's cross-sectional area of the tube often a sudden change of the cross-sectional area
function was unknown, it also had to be derived from the occurs (depending on the measuring object) the first mi-
pressure transfer functions. crophone must have a distance which ensures a sufficient
The main disadvantage of the TFM is the lower frequency suppression of possible higher order modes which evanesce
limit which is unavoidable when using a transmission line depending on frequency and distance [28]. The first micro-
method. The tube must have a length of at least >"'/20 to pro- phone should be placed not too far from the end of the tube
vide reliable results. Therefore we initially developed a mea- in order to avoid too long transformation distances. But this
suring head working on the principle of a calibrated sound aspect is not very critical. Thus the distance of 7.3 mm was
source (CSM, calibrated source method). The acoustical load chosen mainly with respect to higher order modes. The de-
is directly determined from the pressure generated at the un- gree of accuracy finally achieved is strongly influenced by the
known load. The advantage of this method is that the device microphone calibration. A special arrangement which termi-
can be realized as a very compact and simple apparatus com- nates the tube rigidly was used to this end. The microphones
prising only a small speaker and a single microphone. A to be calibrated are inserted into lateral openings. Thus a
critical point in using the CSM is the need to calibrate the very accurate basis calibration can be achieved. It turned out
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 733

for static
Figure 10. Design of the acoustical mea-
suring tube (AMT). It allows acousti-
cal impedances, absolute pressures and
volume velocities in any desired cross-
tube sectional plane to be measured according
to the transfer function method (TFM).
All the dimensions are given in mm. The
7.3 electret microphones are Sennheiser KE-
loudspeaker 4. The inlet for static pressure was not
190 used (air-tight sealing) during the mea-
surements reported.

to be very important to ensure the microphones were posi-

tioned identically in the calibration arrangement and in the
tube. Therefore the microphones are glued into caps which
are carefully fixed by small screws.
Alterations due to humidity are taken into account by
multiplying the originally measured calibration functions
by three real factors (close to unity) in the three frequency
ranges. This only changes the magnitudes of the calibration
functions. Measurements proved that no phase corrections vibration exciter
are necessary. The largest corrections (only up to 1dB) occur piezo element
(force FpJ
in the low frequeny range from 160 Hz - 742 Hz. Although ax = jw Vx J
the three correctional factors cannot be uniquely calculated,
because the actual humidity is not known, the practical de-
termination is astonishingly unambiguous. The factors are M
chosen using an interactive program that aims to obtain a
good match for the measured impedances at the range limits.
In most cases the procedure of finding the optimum correc-
tional factors takes no more than a minute. Figure II. Design and simple equivalent circuit of the mechanical
It is reasonable to consider not only the impedance Z (or measuring head (MMH). The object investigated has to be glued to
admittance Y = 1/ Z), but also the corresponding reflectance the tip (as an example, the attachment to a stapes head is shown
r. Some properties are more easily recognized by looking
at the impedance, others by looking at the reflectance. The
impedance is closely related to mechanical elements (compli-
ance, mass, and friction), whereas the reflectance represents well known or not well defined, a common situation when
the ratio of the reflected and the incident acoustical wave. measuring in the ear canal.
Thus impedances are best suited to representing lumped ele-
ment systems and reflectances are advantageous if acoustical
3.3. Mechanical measuring head (MMH)
transmission lines playa role (such as the ear canal at higher
frequencies) . A mechanical measuring head (MMH) is used to excite the
The reflectance r is easily obtained from the normalized middle ear at a certain point, while simultaneously measur-
impedance Z' = Z / Ztw or the normalized admittance Y' = ing the force transmitted to the ear and the resulting veloc-
Y Ztw (Ztw is the tube wave impedance of the measuring ity. MMHs are commercially available, usually combining a
tube) according to vibration exciter, a force sensor and an accelerometer. How-
ever, the commercial equipment is designed for larger in-
Z' -1 1- Y' put impedances than those in the middle ear. In particular
r=---=--- (20)
Z' + 1 1+ y,. the force sensor of a commercial MMH is encapsulated in
masses that are much larger than the masses occuring in a
The reflectance has two important properties. The square middle ear. Therefore the force to be measured would only be
of its magnitude Irl2 gives the energy reflection coefficient. a small fraction of the total force. As a result the sensitivity
Furthermore, the magnitude frf2 is independent of the dis- would be too poor for measurements in the middle ear.
tance to the load if the conduit is homogeneous and lossless. The custom-made MMH is shown in Figure 11. As usual a
The last property is advantageous if the exact location is not piezoelectric element is used to measure the force. Looking
ACUSTICA· acta acustica
734 Hudde and Engel: Middleear properties(part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

at the simple equivalent circuit, it is easy to see that only the

mass between the piezo element and the load determines the
systematical error in measurement. The force accelerating MMH impedance limit
the masses M of the exciter, the accelerometer and all the -20 -
magnitudein dB
re INs/m
parts in front of the piezo element do not influence the force
being measured. Therefore the base under the piezo element
can be solid enough to avoid the piezo element being bent,
which would produce nonlinear distortions. The mass rno in
the equivalent circuit represents the tip mass and half of the
mass of the piezo element. In principle, the systematic error
can be compensated by subtracting the impedance jwrno
from the total measured impedance Zx + jwrno. But, of
course, the mass rno should be as small as possible, at least
Figure 12. Minimum impedanceto be measured using the MMH
not much larger than the masses occuring in the middle ear. under favorableconditions.The impedancemagnitudeof a simple
The aluminium tip is glued to the piezo element with vibrator with a mass of I mg and a resonant frequency of I kHz
an electrically conducting adhesive. It is very important to (qualityfactor 5) is givenas a reference.
provide the piezo element with good electrical screening.
Therefore the front tip is electrically connected to the base
by a shield that entirely surrounds the piezo element. The Obviously rno can be determined without knowing the sen-
base and shield are grounded. The back of the piezo element sor sensitivities. Finally the measured impedance can be cal-
is isolated from the base and connected to the cable carrying culated from a measured voltage transfer function HaFx
the output voltage of the piezo element. according to
The commercial piezoelectric accelerometer has a mount-
ing thread under its base. In order to be able to use it as a link (25)
in the chain between the exciter and load, a special holder
had to be built. As the accelerometer determines the accel- The influence of the mass rno on the measured impedance
eration at its base, the measured acceleration matches the is not crucial, as it occurs as a real factor. Therefore a sin-
acceleration Vx at the load well, if the tip between the piezo gle calibration measurement using the known mass rnk is
element and load is made stiff enough. The piezo element sufficient. However, small changes in the force transducer
and the base were undoubtedly stiff enough. sensitivity between measurements can produce big changes
The two output voltages of the force sensor and the ac- in the difference occuring in equation (25), if very small
celeometer are impedances have to be measured. For this reason the no-load
measurement H aFO is frequently repeated between measure-
UF = kFFp, (21) ments at different loads. Fortunately little effort is required
(22) for this measurement.
Ua = kaax =jwkavx·
The internal impedance jwrno determines the minimum
If suitable equipment is used, the factors kF and ka are suf- impedance that can be resolved by the MMH. If the no-load
ficiently independent of frequency and do not introduce any calibration transfer function H aFO is measured carefully,
phase shift. Thus they are real numbers. The load impedance impedances of a much lower amplitude than the internal
is obtained from the transfer function HaF = UF /ua be- impedance can be measured. The MMH has an effective in-
tween the two voltages ternal mass of about 100mg. The (commercial) accelerom-
eter has a sensitivity of 62mV/(mls2), the (custom made)

Z x = FxV
- Jwrno = JW
. (kkf HaF
- rno
. (23)
force sensor has a sensitivity of about 2.4 VIN.
The lower limit of measurable impedances of the MMH is
shown in Figure 12. On average the impedance limit follows
If only impedance measurements were to be made, it would a 20 dB/dec increase caused by the internal impedance jwrno.
be sufficient to determine the internal mass rno and the sen- The impedance magnitude of a simple vibrator with a mass
sitivity ratio ka/ kF for the calibration. However, in order to a
of I mg, resonant frequency of I kHz, and a quality factor
also measure chain-parameters, force and velocity had to be of 5 is shown for comparison. The smallest ossicle is the
measured separately. This requires that the sensitivities ka stapes weighing about 3 mg. Thus the impedance limit of
and kF be determined separately. To determine the internal the MMH is just sufficient, although a reduction of the noise
mass rno of the piezo element and the tip, any known mass would be desirable. Some care is necessary to avoid pre-
rnk can be used. The mass rno is obtained from the ratio of tension caused by an improper coupling of the MMH tip
the voltage transfer functions HaF measured with this mass and object. In such a case the load would stiffen and would
(HaFk) and without load (HaFO). result in too high impedances being measured. To realize a
tension-free coupling a micrometer caliper is used. First two
rnk small drops of adhesive are placed on the tip of the MMH
rno=------- (24)
HaFk/HaFO - l' and on the object. Then the MMH is slowly shifted towards
ACUSTlCA· acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 735

vibrations an operating point which provides high sensitivity

has to be used. The sensitivity is given by the slope of the
bundle of
tangent in the operating point. The highest sensitivity is ob-
OPtiC~~R T R R tained at the positive slope of the characteristic, at a relative
intensity of about 0.5. It occurs at about half the distance
R R dmax, i. e., at a distance of about a half fiber diameter. As
cross-section we used fibers with I mm diameter, the optimum operating
vibrating surface distance was about 0.5 mm. Sometimes this small distance
can complicate the positioning of the sensor. In these cases
the operating point could be placed in the decreasing part
1m" relative light intensity of the characteristic using distances above dmax. However,
as the resulting sensitivities are considerably lower, we only
characteristic used operating points near dmax/2.
of the ODS
After each new positioning of the sensor, the resulting
sensitivity first has to be determined by slightly varying the
distance by means of a micrometer screw (this is the main
2 3 drawback compared with laser-interferometry). The sensitiv-
ities obtained were in the order of 5 V/mll. The minimum
detectable displacement is given by the signal-to-noise ra-
Figure 13. Principle of the fiber-optic displacement sensor (ODS). A tio of the sensor and the number of averages performed by
bundle of one light transmitting fiber and six receiving fibers is used
to pick up the displacement of a vibrating surface. At the bottom the
the analyzer. The need for averages is greatest at high fre-
resulting characteristic of the ODS is shown. quencies, as the displacement decreases with a slope of at
least 20 dB/dec due to inertial effects. Often the slope is even
higher. In practice the limit is given by the total measuring
the object by means of the micrometer screw until the two duration, which should last no longer than some minutes, to
drops join together. The resulting connection is almost free ensure constant conditions. With the available analyzer this
of pre-tension. The best result can be achieved by adjusting corresponds to a few thousand averages when measuring in
the position to obtain a minimum low frequency impedance. the full audio range. Displacements in the order of I nm can
be resolved this way.

3.4. Fiber-optic displacement sensor (ODS)

Optical methods are prefered for measuring vibrations (dis-
3.5. Hydrophone
placements or velocities), as no direct contact between the
object and sensor is necessary. By using interferometric tech- The over-all transfer function of the middle ear under normal
niques the natural reflectivity of the tissue and bones is suf- conditions was measured by means of a custom made hy-
ficiently high to avoid any loading or alteration to the object drophone. The hydrophone is designed to measure the sound
being tested. The measurements presented here were ob- pressure in the perilymphatic liquid in the vestibule of the
tained by means of a fiber-optic displacement sensor (ODS) cochlea (pressure Pc). Similar hydrophones have been used
which could be built at low cost. The principle and theory in [30, 31,32,33,34,35]. Some earlier results obtained with
of this sensor were demonstrated in [29]. Therefore only the our hydrophone are published in [36]. The vestibule is easily
basic function has to be described here. accessed by drilling a hole at a point between the arcuate
The ODS consists of a bundle of seven optical fibers, a eminence and the internal acoustic meatus. The stimulation
white light source, and a photo diode and some additional is provided by the AMT, which is also used to determine
electronics. The light illuminates the vibrating surface via the the drum pressure PD. In this way the middle ear pressure
middle transmitting fiberT (Figure 13). If the sensor is placed transfer function Pc / P D is directly measured.
at a distance d from the object surface a certain circle area on To reach the vestibule, the hydrophone must have a probe
the surface is illuminated. Varying the distance (statically or tube of about 2 cm length and an outer diameter of I mm.
due to vibrations of the object), the illuminated area varies The inner diameter of the tube used was 0.6 mm. The acous-
and thus the light intensity measured via the six receiving tic input impedance of the hydrophone must be high to avoid
fibers R varies, too. an abnormal load and a corresponding reduction of pressure.
The resulting static light intensity characteristic is also For this reason a piezoelectric transducer is best suited. The
shown in Figure 13. The intensity is measured via the voltage design of the hydrophone is fairly simple (Figure 14). Any
of the photo diode. As the voltage (and the signal to noise unnecessary constructive element should be avoided, because
ratio) depends on the reflectivity of the vibrating surface, a it can reduce the total stiffness or even cause nonlinear ef-
small mirror of about 2 mm diameter made of reflecting foil fects. Therefore no screws were used in the critical parts of
was used. The weight of this mirror was totally negligible. the hydrophone. The piezo element is laterally supported by
The maximum light intensity occurs at a distance dmax a tube made of polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) and at the back
which approximately equals the fiber diameter. To measure by a steel rod which also provides the electrical connection
ACUSTICA· acta acustica
736 Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) Vol. 84 (1998)

jar, the water soon begins to boil and the filling procedure
piezo element is stopped. Boiling reduces the remaining air solute in the
back SUPP0rl hydrophone water. However, it takes some time for the air
to entirely disappear from the hydrophone. During this time
top the frequency response changes considerably. A steady state
is not reached in less than about two hours. The resonant
frequency is typically shifted from 2 kHz at the beginning
probe tube to about 7 kHz in the steady state (Figure 15). To calibrate
, the hydrophone a known hydroacoustic pressure has to be
, \
generated. This is done using a vibrating water column as
10 pre-
I'fi proposed by Nedzelnitsky [31]. Therefore a cylinder of 4-
mp/2 I mp/2
amp' er
5 cm height and a diameter of about 1 cm is mounted on
a vibration exciter. The acceleration a at the bottom of the
cylinder is measured by means of an accelometer. If the
water filling height is h and the opening of the hydrophone
probe tube is placed at a depth d under the water surface, a
hydroacoustic pressure
Figure 14. Design and equivalent circuit of the cochlea hydrophone.

is generated, where Pw denotes the density of water, Cw the

speed of sound, and the wave number in water at a frequency
cochlea hydrophone steady state f. This pressure was used for calibrating the hydrophone.
-]0 transfer function
magnitude in dB
-20 re lmV/Pa 3.6. Measurement of chain-matrices

-30 Chain-parameters were measured between the acoustical pOit

D at the drum and the mechanical ports I and F (processus
lenticularis and stapes footplate, respectively). Theoretically
they can be measured by using either an acoustical stimula-
]00 200 Ik 2k 'ik I OJ..
tion in D (using the AMT), or a mechanical stimulation in I
or F (using the MMH), or even by using a mixed stimulation.
Figure 15. Changes to the hydrophone transfer function during the According to equation (3) the kernel chain-parameters can
first two hours after filling with water. be obtained as

kll = (D.P/FI)VFO' k12 = (D.P/VI) FFO'

to the preamplifier. Pressing simultaneously the piezo ele-
k21 = (qD/FI)VFO' k22 = (qD/VI) . (27)
ment, the steel rod and the PTFE coating into the circular FI=O
canal turned out to be better than using any other mounting
This corresponds to an acoustical stimulation using two me-
element. The front surface of the piezo element is electrically
chanicalload conditions (VI = 0 or FI = 0). In both cases
connected to the housing to provide good shielding.
the eardrum pressure difference D.p, the volume velocity
The importance of realizing very stiff elements is seen
qD, and one mechanical quantity have to be measured: in the
by regarding the equivalent circuit in Figure 14. If some
clamped case the force FI, and in the no-load case the veloc-
elements are too compliant the low-pass filter structure of the
ity VI. If the chain-matrix with respect to the stapes footplate
circuit causes a reduction in sensitivity at high frequencies.
is to be determined, the procedure is the same, but applied
Unavoidable compliances occur in the probe tube (nt, caused
to the stapes force and velocity (using the load conditions
by the finite compressibility of water), in the small chamber
Fst = 0 and Vst = 0).
in front of the piezo element (nch, caused by the water and
Alternatively the middle ear could be mechanically stim-
mainly by the lateral walls of the PTFE tubing), in the piezo
ulated at the incus. In this case the situation is ~escribed by
element itself (np) and in the steel rod backing the piezo
the inverse kernel chain-matrix. As reciprocity can be pre-
element (nb).
supposed the inverse chain-matrix provides the alternative
The hydrophone is filled with water in a vacuum without
disassembling. The hydrophone is put in a vacuum bell jar,
whereas the probe tube is immersed in a small water reservoir.
If the vacuum pump is activated the air flows out of the kll = (VI/qD) ~p=O
, k12 = (FI/qD) ~p=O
probe tube and the pressure chamber and the hydrophone are
filled with water. Due to the decreasing pressure in the bell k21 = (vr/ D.p)
, k22 = (Fr/ D.p) qD=O . (28)
ACUSTICA . acta acustica
Vol. 84 (1998) Hudde and Engel: Middle ear properties (part I) 737

In this case corresponding acoustical conditions at the drum for the chain-parameters. The first chain parameter becomes
have to be met. For two reasons we exclusively used the
AMT as a stimulator (applying equations 27) when mea- (p'lv') - (p" Iv")
kn------- (29)
suring chain-parameters. The acoustical stimulation is more - (F'lv') - (F" Iv") ,
natural and therefore avoids unnatural modes of vibrations.
Furthermore, the mechanical load conditions (FI = 0 and the others are composed similarly.
v I = 0) can be realized more accurately than the acoustical Different conditions can be realized by using the AMT
ones. Therefore equations (28) have not actually been used. and the MMH simultaneously. We have actually performed
measurements of this kind. The main problem is to real-
Measuring the pressure difference f::1p at the drum would
ize sufficiently different conditions in the whole frequency
have required much effort because two pressures had to be
range, otherwise the differences occuring in equation (29)
picked up. Therefore the tympanic cavity was opened wide
become very inaccurate. In comparison with the direct mea-
when chain-matrices were measured. In this case the pressure
surements the results of this method were more distorted by
Pcav behind the drum can be neglected with respect to the
systematical errors and will therefore not be reported.
pressure P D in front of the drum. The AMT, which also serves
The results obtained using measurements according to
as the sound generator, allows both acoustical quantities PD
equation (27) have been fairly satisfactory up to about
and qD at the drum to be determined. It is used under both
10kHz, as will be reported in part II. The changes of the
mechanical load conditions without any alteration.
vibrational modes caused by changing the load conditions
To determine the chain parameters kn and k21 according seem to be acceptable when aiming at "basic" properties.
to equation (27), the incus must be rigidly clamped (VI = 0)
and the force FI has to be measured. Since the piezo element
is very stiff, the condition V I = 0 is well fulfilled if the piezo References
element itself is clamped at the back. It was proved that
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of the human middle ear and ear canal. Part II: Ear canal,
because the internal mechanical impedance of the MMH is
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[2] H. Hudde, A. Engel: Measuring and modeling basic proper-
To measure the chain-parameters k12 and k22, the ve- ties of the human middle ear and ear canal. Part III: Eardrum
locities v I have to be measured without a mechanical load impedances, transfer functions, and model calculations. Acus-
(FI = 0). This was realized by measuring the vibrations by tic a - acta acustica (1998) accepted for publication.
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