Speech perception by subjects with sensorineural hearing impairment was studied using various types of short‐term (syllabic) amplitude compression. Average speech level was approximately constant. In quiet, a single‐channel wideband compression (WBC) with compression ratio equal to 10, attack time 10 ms and release time 90 ms produced significantly higher scores than a three‐channel multiband compression (MBC) or no compression when a nonsense syllable test (City University of New York) was used. The scores under MBC, WBC, or no compression were not significantly different when the modified rhyme test (MRT) was used. But when overshoots caused by compression were clipped, the MRT scores improved significantly. The influence of MBC on reverberant speech and of WBC on noisy speech were tested with the MRT. Reverberation reduced the scores, and this reduction was the same with compression as without. Noise added to speech before compression also reduced the scores, but the reduction was larger with compression than without. When noise was added after compression, an improvement was observed when WBC had a compression ratio of about 5, attack time 1 ms, and release time 30 ms. Other compression modes (e.g., with high‐frequency pre‐emphasis) did not show an improvement. The results indicate that WBC with a compression ratio around 5, attack time shorter than 3 ms, and release time between 30 and 90 ms can be beneficial if signal‐to‐noise ratio is large, or, if in a noisy or reverberant environment, the effects of noise or reverberation are eliminated by using listening systems.