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Impact of Compression and Hearing Aid Style on Directional Hearing Aid Benefit and Performance

Ricketts, Todd; Lindley, George; Henry, Paula

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Objective To evaluate the impact of low-threshold compression and hearing aid style (in-the-ear [ITE] versus behind-the-ear [BTE]) on the directional benefit and performance of commercially available directional hearing aids.

Design Forty-seven adult listeners with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss were fit bilaterally with one BTE and four different ITE hearing aids. Speech recognition performance was measured through the Connected Speech Test (CST) and Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) for a simulated noisy restaurant environment.

Results For both the HINT and CST, speech recognition performance was significantly greater for subjects fit with directional in comparison with omnidirectional microphone hearing aids. Performance was significantly poorer for the BTE instrument in comparison with the ITE hearing aids when using omnidirectional microphones. No differences were found for directional benefit between compression and linear fitting schemes.

Conclusions No systematic relationship was found between the relative directional benefit and hearing aid style; however, the speech recognition performance of the subjects was somewhat predictable based on Directivity Index measures of the individual hearing aid models. The fact that compression did not interact significantly with microphone type agrees well with previously reported electroacoustic data.

Dan Maddox Hearing Aid Research Laboratory (T.R., P.H.), Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, Nashville, Tennessee; and Towson University (G.L.), Towson, Maryland.

Address for correspondence: Todd A. Ricketts, Ph.D., CCC-A, Director, Dan Maddox Hearing Aid Research Laboratory, Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, 1114 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212.

October 10, 2000

February 16, 2001

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.