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Responses obtained in consonant perception experiments typically show a large variability across stimuli of the same phonetic identity. The present study investigated the influence of different potential sources of this response variability. It was distinguished between source-induced variability, referring to perceptual differences caused by acoustical differences in the speech tokens and/or the masking noise tokens, and receiver-related variability, referring to perceptual differences caused by within- and across-listener uncertainty. Consonant-vowel combinations consisting of 15 consonants followed by the vowel /i/ were spoken by two talkers and presented to eight normal-hearing listeners both in quiet and in white noise at six different signal-to-noise ratios. The obtained responses were analyzed with respect to the different sources of variability using a measure of the perceptual distance between responses. The speech-induced variability across and within talkers and the across-listener variability were substantial and of similar magnitude. The noise-induced variability, obtained with time-shifted realizations of the same random process, was smaller but significantly larger than the amount of within-listener variability, which represented the smallest effect. The results have implications for the design of consonant perception experiments and provide constraints for future models of consonant perception.


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