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Comparison of Linear Gain and Wide Dynamic Range Compression Hearing Aid Circuits II: Aided Loudness Measures

Jenstad, Lorienne M.; Pumford, John; Seewald, Richard C.; Cornelisse, Leonard E.

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Objectives: The goal of this study was to test the theoretical advantages of a single-channel wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) circuit fitted using the DSL method for increased dynamic range and normalized loudness growth.

Design: Ten adolescents and young adults with moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss were fitted monaurally with the Siemens Viva 2 Pro behind-the-ear instrument set to DSL 4.0 targets for both linear gain and WDRC processing. Threshold, upper limit of comfort and loudness growth were measured in the unaided, linear gain and WDRC conditions for warble tones, environmental sounds and speech. Twelve adult listeners with normal hearing also were tested monaurally in the unaided condition to provide normative data for comparison purposes.

Results: The WDRC hearing aid provided a greater input dynamic range than the linear circuit for all stimuli. The dynamic range was normalized for more subjects with the WDRC than the linear hearing aid. In addition, exponential loudness growth functions fitted to the loudness growth data showed that, on average, loudness growth was more normalized with the WDRC hearing aid fitted to DSL[i/o] targets than the linear hearing aid fitted to DSL[i/o] targets.

Conclusions: WDRC processing, fitted using the DSL[i/o] method, has potential applications in hearing aid fittings for listeners with moderate to severe hearing loss because it provides an audible, comfortable and tolerable amplified signal across a wider range of inputs than linear gain processing, without the need for volume control adjustments.

National Centre for Audiology, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. J.P. is currently affiliated with Etymonic Design Inc. L.E.C. is currently affiliated with dspfactory, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Address for correspondence: Lorienne M. Jenstad, M.Cl.Sc., National Centre for Audiology, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Room 2300, Elborn College, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6G 1H1.

Received January 12, 1999; accepted October 14, 1999

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