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Sonic Captivate - April 2019

Meet Enchant

Meet Enchant
Erin Reichert, MS
August 21, 2017
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This article is sponsored by Sonic.

This text course is an edited transcript of a Sonic webinar on AudiologyOnline. 

Learning Outcomes

After this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe how SmartCompress technology can control compression in speech-in-noise environments and control gain in non-speech environments.
  • Explain how the new SPiN Noise Management system in Enchant hearing aids coordinates noise reduction and directionality in one adaptive and flexible system.
  • List and describe all the new features on the SoundDNA technology platform.

Overview: Sonic Enchant

Good afternoon. In today's course, we're going to talk about all of the new and innovative technologies included in the Enchant product. I’d like to start by showing a video that provides an overview of Sonic Enchant.


 

Video: There's something inspiring about technology that makes instruments more intuitive, hearing more natural, and moments more magical. It's Enchant, the family of hearing aids that brings brilliance to everyday listening using Sonic's revolutionary platform, SoundDNA. It begins with Speech Variable Processing featuring SmartCompress. This incredibly fast system locates and preserves nuances of speech. It intelligently detects noise, and controls amplification to help patients hear more complete words and vocal expressions. Average hearing aids make all sounds louder; but Enchant is far smarter than that. Multiple speech in noise technologies team up to highlight conversations while keeping distracting sounds to a minimum. Enchant reduces wind, low level and unexpected noises, and naturally balances sounds from side to side. Enchant has the capability to generate broad band and nature sounds to support patients who experience tinnitus.

Every listener will love the convenience of volume and program controls right from their smartphone. There's no intermediary device needed for Bluetooth streaming, and the dual-radio system optimizes battery life. Wearing hearing aids is worry-free with Enchant as well. An outstanding IP68 rating protects Enchant from every day dust, sweat, and moisture. Enchant's abilities will mezmerize, and its inconspicuous models let patients keep their secret to themselves. With three technology levels, Enchant has the features and fit patients love. Brighten your patients' lives with hearing technology that's instinctively smart, intuitively responsive, and that makes every day sounds better. <End Video>

SoundDNA

It all starts with SoundDNA, our new technology platform that has three distinguishing characteristics: it's automatic, it's adaptive, and it's flexible. SoundDNA and Enchant are both aligned with Sonic's commitment to our 4S foundation: 

  • Sound that is natural
  • Speech understanding in noise
  • Simplicity in all we do
  • Style that stands out

Unfortunately, a lot of existing hearing aid technologies do not sound natural. In the new SoundDNA platform with SmartCompress, all of our systems work together in tandem, which produces a high fidelity, natural signal.

Our patients today are more active than they have ever been. Not only do we serve older, active seniors, but we are also reaching a younger population of adults seeking amplification and assistance with difficult listening environments. Speech Variable Processing (SVP) is designed specifically to work alongside SmartCompress. 

SmartCompress

SmartCompress is a configurable adaptive compression system for intelligent amplification in noise. Your patients can enjoy the most natural and clear listening experience from one environment to the next with zero effort. We don't want our patients struggling. We want our patients to simply wear the amplification and proceed with life. 

The principal idea behind SmartCompress is that hearing aids apply gain and compression based on the overall level; that optimizes speech in quiet listening conditions. Most fitting algorithms and speech processing digital signal processors (DSPs) are written for speech in quiet. However, a large portion of the hearing impaired population hears well in quiet on their own; it's in noise that they struggle. Hearing aids shouldn't apply the same amount of gain in quiet as they do in noise. 

Speech Variable Processing was developed to amplify speech in quiet. There are other features to add to the SVP platform to help in noisy environments. But at the core aspect, all digital signal processing systems are written for quiet. SVP measures and applies gain to the wide band acoustic signal. It does not break up incoming signals into separate frequency regions. We use Phoneme Focus and Envelope Focus to address auditory resolution needs. We have used Environment Classification, to assist SVP in identifying all other changing environments (e.g., speech, speech in noise, speech in quiet, noise, quiet, and wind).  

SVP with Environment Classification did a good job, but there were some limitations. Environment Classification uses static, non-adaptive rules to classify the environment. In rapidly fluctuating environments, it can't keep up; changes in performance are rigid and slow. With SVP being so rapidly fast, Environment Classification struggles, because it's challenging and taxing on a DSP that's created for quiet. Unfortunately, what happens is that the hearing aid performance is based on information from the past (there is a 300 millisecond delay). Although the universal program did a good job, there were a lot of people out there that still liked their noise program. As such, the patient often needed to make manual adjustments (e.g., reaching up and pressing a button, using their remote, using their SoundGate or their intermediary device, making adjustments via the app, etc.). Manual adjustment was not a desirable solution.
 
SVP with SmartCompress advances our DSP technology beyond any static environment classification system, resulting in a real-time adaptive compression system. We no longer have a delay. This technology is going to be based on short- and long-term signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) analysis. Now there are some products out there that claim to have SNR analysis, but they can only do short-term or they can only do long-term. SmartCompress achieves both short- and long-term SNR analysis simultaneously, resulting in an accurate application of gain and compression in response to rapidly fluctuating environments. Additionally, it's going to be applied according to the level and the environment.
 

SVP is optimized for speech in quiet. SVP with SmartCompress optimizes all other listening environments. Now, we have a hearing system that can do anything. It doesn't matter if you're in a place of worship and you walk outside to a picnic area; or if you're in a restaurant and you need to step outside to answer your phone. You have a hearing instrument that can do it all without having to think twice. SmartCompress allows the system to intelligently overcome the challenges associated with rapidly changing listening environments, providing a natural instinctive hearing experience. We are no longer tethered to the Environment Classification. SmartCompress took down that barrier and pushed things to the next level.

To summarize the qualities of SmartCompress:​

  • It’s effective: Specifically addresses the problem of applying compression in noise.
  • It’s adaptive: An adaptive compression system overcomes limitations of fixed Environment Classification system.
  • Works well with others: Complements SVP, directionality and noise reduction, and any fitting rationale of your choice.
  • It’s accurate: Precisely measures sound changes in the environment. Detects short-term SNR of the signal at phonemic speed. Detects ongoing long-term SNR of the overall environment.
  • It discriminates: Knows what is speech and what is noise.
  • It’s intelligent: Applies different amounts of gain and compression on speech vs. noise.
  • It’s fast: Detects the SNR in real time. Addresses noise that occurs in between speech phonemes and speech pauses. Our hearing instruments can handle both the long-term SNR of the overall level, and also the short-term SNR, at phonemic level.

Two SNR Level Estimators

SmartCompress uses two SNR level estimators, compared to one in traditional systems. As illustrated in Figure 1, the color green on the graph represents the fast, short-term phonemic estimator. The color blue represents the slow, long-term estimator. As the speech sounds are fluctuating, the blue line shows the slow, long-term estimator taking a look at the environment to see how the SNR is occurring, and determining the proper response from compression and gain. With these two estimators working together, providing accurate measurements of environmental changes in real time, Sonic has the upper hand over all other DSP's in the marketplace.

Figure 1. Fast phonemic estimator and slow, long-term estimator.

SmartCompress not only controls compression in speech-in-noise environments, it also adaptively varies the compression in speech-in-noise environments. It's going to determine the degree to which compression must be decreased, or made more linear, for less noise in the output. It controls the gain in non-speech environments. Think about going to a sporting event, such as a football stadium, where there is a lot of noise. It can be extremely difficult to hear. We need to control the gain on our hearing instruments, which makes sure that the patient is comfortable and can hear the speech signal clearly in conversations. SmartCompress is going to adaptively limit the gain when speech is not present, determining the occurrence of quiet and noise-only situations, and applying less gain to the input. 

Video: SmartCompress part of the Sonic SoundDNA platform helps patients enjoy their everyday surroundings by giving speech more clarity and making noisy surroundings more comfortable. The basic premise of hearing aids is to apply more gain to soft sounds and less gain to loud sounds. This type of non linear amplification is called compression. Compression makes soft speech sounds more audible, while taming loud speech sounds that can be uncomfortable when amplified. This works well when people are talking in quiet environments. However, compression alone applies non-linear amplification to background noise too. That's why noise reduction algorithms and directional microphones are important. They help reduce background noise so there's a cleaner speech signal to amplify. If soft background noises are not fully reduced, compression can still amplify these sounds. This degrades the signal-to-noise ratio of the hearing aid output, and makes it more difficult to understand speech. Compression can also amplify noise when speech is not present. This can create listening discomfort. This happens because traditional compression treats all signals as though they are speech-in-quiet signals.

SmartCompress offers a new solution. A uniquely adaptive compression system, SmartCompress accurately detects the short-term and long-term signal to noise ratio of the listening environment. With this robust information about the environment, SmartCompress can accurately identify which signals should and and shouldn't be amplified. It evaluates each signal type and instantly adapts the proper gain and compression.

It's easy to put SmartCompress to work for your patients. In EXPRESSfit Pro first set the gain control to minimum, medium, or maximum, according to patient listening preferences in non-speech environments. Gain control limits the amplification of noise in environments where speech is not present. Gain control can provide up to six decibels less amplification in these environments. Next, set the compression control to audibility, balanced, or comfort. This controls how compression is reduced to fit patient needs in speech-in-noise listening environments. Now, the hearing aid response is linearized, which limits noise amplification following short pauses in speech, or even between phonemes. The result is a better output signal-to-noise ratio.

What does SmartCompress mean for your patients? Its ability to react and adapt to changing sound situations creates incredibly natural listening experiences. An innovative technology on the SoundDNA platform, SmartCompress helps your patients enjoy natural and comfortable sounds in all listening environments. And that makes everyday sounds better.<End Video>

Enchant: Fascinating Sound All Around

When patients come in to your office, they're usually looking for assistance because they can't hear in noisy environments. Whether they're missing out in their community, or at family functions, people have a hard time hearing in noise. A traditional hearing aid is going to amplify everything. You need to have a hearing instrument that can provide that patient benefit in noise, because that's where they're struggling the most.

SPiN Management System

Our SPiN (Speech in Noise) Management System is a trio of new technologies designed to enhance speech, reduce noise, and optimize the control of it all. This trio includes: SPiN Directionality, SPiN Noise Reduction, and SPiN Engage. 

Let's take a look at speech-in-noise schematics, with and without these technologies. Without SPiN Management, Directionality and Noise Reduction are uncoordinated before SVP amplifies the signal, which is what happens in most systems across the board. With the addition of SPiN Management, we are going to marry directionality to noise reduction, resulting in two systems working together as one to provide excellent comfort and excellent speech understanding (Figure 2, right image). This improves the signal to noise ratio of the input and provides the system with a cleaner signal to amplify.

Figure 2. SPiN Management.

Video: The Sonic SoundDNA platform includes SPiN Management. SPiN for "speech in noise" is a revolutionary take on listening scenarios. SPiN Management puts a trio of technologies to work. In general, hearing aids focus on speech in noise using directional microphones and noise reduction systems. Let's take a look at each.

An Omni-Directional microphone picks up sound from all around the listener's head. In comparison, a directional microphone enhances sound coming from sources in front of the listener. It reduces noise from the sides or behind the listener. Directional microphones improve the signal to noise ratio and deliver better speech understanding in noise. Noise reduction algorithms reduce noise in a different way. They detect unmodulated signals and reduce their gain. This improves listening comfort and reduces the effort it takes to hear speech in noisy environments.

Typically directional microphones and noise reduction technologies are uncoordinated and combat noise independently. SoundDNA with SPiN Management changes that approach. SPiN Management coordinates directionality and noise reduction so they work better together.

SPiN Management involves three components. SPiN Directionality, SPiN Noise Reduction, and SPiN Engage. Let's take a look at each.

SPiN Directionality. SPiN Directionality automatically activates in a speech-in-noise environment. Because it's adaptive, the microphone system tracks and locates moving sound signals in 16 independent frequency bands. This provides extreme accuracy and sensitivity to speech sounds in the environment.

SPiN Noise Reduction. This technology automatically measures the signal to noise ratio in speech-in-noise listening environments. By using ultra fast time constants, SPiN Noise Reduction adapts to speech much faster and with more precision than other systems. SPiN Noise Reduction operates in the same 16 bands as SPiN Directionality, so overall noise is instantly reduced across the frequency spectrum.

SPiN Engage. SPiN Engage brings everything together. As more or less noise enters the environment, SPiN Engage reacts to the signal-to-noise ratio. It synchronizes directionality as well as noise reduction. So both systems are precisely coordinated in all sixteen frequency bands. This optimizes the signal-to-noise ratio across the frequency spectrum.

Here's how to put SPiN Management to work for your patients. In EXPRESSfit Pro, set SPiN Directionality to the proper level (most patients will use medium performance; for people who require more help hearing speech in noise, select high performance). Next, set SPiN Noise Reduction from off to low, medium, or high to provide increasing levels of noise reduction. Finally, set SPiN Engage to low, medium, or high to coordinate the onset of directionality and noise reduction, according to increasing SNR levels.

SPiN Management technologies intelligently work together, adapting to the environment, accurately identifying speech, and reducing noise for incredibly natural listening experiences. Your patients can better enjoy conversations in noisy situations without distraction or discomfort, and that makes everyday sounds better. <End Video>

SPiN Directionality

SPiN Directionality is our brand new microphone system that will activate automatically in response to different noise sources. SPiN Directionality enhances sensitivity to sound via an automatic directional microphone system. The benefit for your patients is that they will be able to better enjoy conversations in noise without distraction, discomfort or annoyance. They're going to be happy with the signal that they are getting from their hearing instruments.

Directionality gives us an improved SNR over an omnidirectional mic. However, that success is dependent on a lot of different things. With SPiN Directionality, we take an automatic, adaptive and a multi band approach. We're going to turn on the directional microphone, but only when we need to. Whether it's a full omni or a full directional pattern, however it needs to go based on where that SNR is, we're not handcuffed to the limitations of directionality when it's not required. Many traditional systems out there are stuck and they don't have this flexibility. This is truly an automatic directional system.

Not only is it automatic, it's also adaptive. The polar patterns adaptively change in response to a noise source. Are noise sources ever static? Generally not. Our adaptive system is going to analyze and recognize any continual changes, and it will manage it with null-steering in each frequency band. It is SNR driven.

Multiband Approach

Relative to our previous technologies and to other competitive instruments out there, our new multi band approach has 16 frequency bands -- four times more frequency bands for processing than before This is going to provide an even higher resolution for isolating and suppressing noise with extreme accuracy. They are going to respond as they need to. It's not a static approach. The result is adaptively transitioning the hearing instruments to the optimal configuration. Whatever is the best polar pattern, that's what we're going to select, based on SNR. Because our instruments with Enchant are fully wireless, and since most of the population is fitting with a Binaural system, we've got two instruments working together simultaneously in 16 bands. Continual smooth null steering that can attenuate multiple noise sources. If you have multiple nulls, multiple sound systems, multiple extraneous characteristics of sound, SPiN Directionality is going to handle it effectively.

SPiN Noise Reduction

Noise reduction decreases background noise with special Speech in Noise focus. Patients can better enjoy conversations in noise without distraction or discomfort. Again, if your patient is comfortable with the sounds in their environment, the likelihood that they will accept amplification increases. If they're not comfortable, chances are they not going to be motivated to wear their hearing instruments.

What do we know about noise reduction? Sounds that are highly modulated are often speech. Sounds that have very low modulation are usually noise. The goal is to improve comfort, without sacrificing speech intelligibility. Previously, when we talked about noise reduction, we stated that Sonic's system was better because it can analyze real-time. We go after the signal; we don't have a delay. When we apply noise reduction, we do so at a varying amount, based on that specific SNR. We engage when we need to, and we disengage when appropriate. Some competitors apply flat or one-level attenuation, and unfortunately if you do this, guess what you're also attenuating: speech signals.

SPiN Noise Reduction offers three components: automatic activation in noise, adaptive control in noise, and a multi band design. This is the same framework and structure as SPiN Directionality, because if you remember when we covered SPiN Management earlier, I said that the systems were "married." 

It's Automatic. We're going to detect the modulation rate of that incoming signal. If it's highly modulated, we know it's desirable (e.g., speech). If it has a low modulation, we know that we're dealing with a noise signal. We're going to analyze the modulation depth of the incoming sound, because if we're continuously monitoring the peaks and troughs of the signal, we're going to get a good value of the signal-to-noise ratio. If we've got a large peak-to-trough value, that signifies a high SNR. If we have a high SNR, we need to react. With a small peak-to-trough value, we have a low SNR, and we also need to pay attention and react accordingly. This process estimates the signal-noise-ratio when analyzing the modulation depth and the modulation rate. There are two components behaving automatically. This is going to help provide an accurate representation of speech versus noise. 

It's Adaptive. SPiN Noise Reduction uses extremely fast adaptation speed. Fast time constants are going to give us greater accuracy in estimating speech vs. noise. We're only going to reduce the gain as much as needed. We do not want to sacrifice gain, because gain is what helps us with speech. We're going to efficiently respond to rapid fluctuations in noise, to attenuate noise even between the smallest pauses in speech, down to the phonemic level. 

Multi Band Design. Earlier, we stated that SPiN Directionality and SPiN Noise Reduction are married. Therefore, if one is functioning in 16 bands, the other is going to as well. Within a high resolution framework, SPiN Noise reduction will identify the noise of varying spectral content, providing a high fidelity signal. It will also reduce gain in the narrow bands where noise is detected. Working with SPiN Directionality, the two systems are going to manage speech and noise across the entire frequency spectrum.

SPiN Engage

SPiN Engage optimizes the onset of directionality and noise reduction technologies, providing patients better conversations in noise without distraction or discomfort. Again, it's that third component of SPiN Management and is designed to determine which signal-to-noise ratio SPiN Directionality and SPiN Noise Reduction will adjust to the environment. In this way, SPiN Engage can be viewed as the go-between, or the manager. It's going to work within the same multiband design and coordinate the onset of directionality and noise reduction as the SNR fluctuates in the 16 independent frequency bands. 

Hearing instrument users have varying tolerance limits with regard to how much noise they are willing to accept. New users don't want to hear any noise whatsoever, because all they want to focus on is speech. Seasoned users, who have been wearing amplification for years, have a higher tolerance for noise. If you give a seasoned user an aggressive instrument, something that attenuates everything across the board, most often that patient is going to be unhappy, because they are accustomed to and comfortable with that fullness of the signal. As the hearing care professional, you are the expert; you know your patients better than anyone. Because of that, we want to make sure you can customize based on your patients' needs and desires. With SPiN Engage, we offer up to three different settings that correspond to the level of help your patient requires in changing listening environments.

When completing a patient's intake form and creating their profile, it's beneficial to determine the extent to which background noise bothers them in their daily listening environments. Within the EXPRESSfit Pro fitting system, our newest software, you have the flexibility to configure the hearing aids exactly to the patient's specifications. A new patient may be extremely distracted or disturbed by speech in noise, whereas a more seasoned patient accepts more noise and prefers more auditory awareness. For the new user who is sensitive to all noise and wants to focus on speech, we can set SPiN Engage to a high level with an immediate onset, to rapidly put an emphasis on the speech signal. For the experienced user, who may want a more gradual onset because they prefer auditory awareness and hearing more sounds, I'd probably put them at a medium or low setting. 

Binaural Noise Management 

Binaural Noise Management balances hearing in noise wirelessly from side-to-side. This balanced listening in noise increases speech intelligibility, and as a result, decreases the patient's listening effort. The ultimate result is that patients are highly satisfied with their hearing aids.

Binaural Noise Management is activated when the SNR becomes significantly different between the ears. It shifts the hearing aid response into a mode where the better ear is emphasized via optimal directionality to maintain full audibility on the ear with the better SNR. Additionally, it also reduces gain and fully activates the noise reduction system on the opposite side. This is the process that the brain follows automatically. With Enchant, the patient doesn't have to think about anything, because we have the hearing instruments working wirelessly together for effortless listening.

Video: The Sonic SoundDNA platform includes Binaural Noise Management, a new way to address asymmetrical listening environments with wireless technology. When wearing hearing aids, understanding speech is easiest in quiet listening environments. When there is background noise, hearing aids help separate speech from surrounding sounds by using directional microphones and noise reduction algorithms. Natural binaural cues let listeners hear speech coming from either side. However, sometimes the source of noise is less balanced. For example, driving with the window down on one side can make it difficult to hear a passenger on the other side. When both hearing aids treat all sounds the same, they lose the potential to fine tune asymmetrical situations, like talking to someone on the street or hearing a phone call in a noisy place. In an asymmetrical environment listeners want to suppress the noise on one side, while prioritizing hearing on the opposite side. Asymmetrical adjustments make listening more comfortable and speech more understandable.

Binaural Noise Management is wireless technology from Sonic that prioritizes speech in asymmetrical situations. With Binaural Noise Management, listeners can better hear conversations, or simply improve listening comfort in the absence of speech. Binaural Noise Management constantly compares the signal-to-noise ratio on each hearing aid. It is only activated when there's an imbalance in the listening environment. Using wireless technology, hearing devices communicate with each other to make the proper adjustments. One side enables maximum noise reduction and limits gain, while the side with the better signal-to-noise ratio enhances audibility with optimal directionality. Together, these actions improve the binaural signal to noise ratio. The listening experience is more comfortable, and helps the listener give more attention to the source of speech.

Binaural Noise Management does not activate when the signal to noise ratio is similar on both sides. Symmetrical scenarios are treated with customary noise reduction technologies.

Here's how to put Binaural Noise Management to work for your patients. In EXPRESSfit Pro simply activate or deactivate this feature according to your patient's listening needs. By recognizing uneven listening environments, Binaural Noise Management provides maximum noise reduction and limits gain on the affected side, while optimizing amplification on the opposite side. This SoundDNA feature helps patients experience more comfortable listening in unbalanced hearing situations. And that makes everyday sounds better. <End Video>

In summary, Binaural Noise Management uses wireless technology to offset unpredictable noises that affect one side more than the other. It analyzes the SNR from each hearing instrument, and automatically applies the optimal noise reduction setting to improve the binaural SNR. Wireless communication between devices is automatic. The listening result is always balanced and in control. This is a premium and advanced level feature, available in our Enchant 100 and the Enchant 80.

More Noise Reduction Technologies

We do have a few more noise reduction technologies, including:

  • Impulse Noise Reduction: identifies and suppresses unexpected sounds, without modifying the speech input (e.g., a referee blows the whistle at a soccer game)
  • Wind Noise Reduction: quickly sets the lowest frequencies to an optimal directional response, applying attenuation across all frequencies that detect wind
  • Soft Noise Reduction: reduces soft background noises (e.g., fans, air conditioning) without changing the amplification of speech

Tinnitus SoundSupport

Tinnitus SoundSupport is a customizable sound and amplification therapy, which will alleviate many of the negative effects of tinnitus. This is configured in our EXPRESSfit Pro Fitting System. It's a sound generator that is integrated into Enchant hearing instruments, and is available in all Enchant performance levels and models. Tinnitus SoundSupport is a flexible system offering various relief sound options, which can be adapted to the patient's individual needs.

Tinnitus SoundSupport offers the following tinnitus relief sound options:

  • Four broadband sounds: White Noise, Pink Noise, Red Noise, and a sound that is shaped according to the patient's audiogram.
  • Three nature-like sounds: Ocean 1, Ocean 2 and Ocean 3.

Broadband Sound. A person's tinnitus can vary from day to day. With Enchant, your patients have different signals available to them, directly from their hearing instrument, configured with the EXPRESSfit Pro Fitting System.

The fact is that broadband sounds are the most commonly used signal in tinnitus therapy. They have very stable and neutral characteristics. If you have a sound generator in the hearing instrument, it doesn't attract attention. They are not annoying or bothersome. If you've ever listened to either pink, white, or red noise, they are soothing. They do not provoke a negative reaction. 

Ocean Sounds. Nature sounds, such as water and waves, can have a positive emotional impact. It evokes peace and tranquility. Ocean Sounds make people less stressed and more relaxed. They make people comfortable. It provides a rhythmic and soothing sound. 

Synchronization of Sounds. Relief sounds are synchronized to offer the same relief signal to both ears. The result is that the patient will experience a balanced perception of sound. This is particularly important when sounds are modulated. For example, if the ocean rhythm is not synchronized between the two ears, this may cause discomfort or vertigo. If required, synchronization can be deactivated using the EXPRESSfit Fitting System, as well as through the app that we will discuss shortly.

Wireless Streaming. A couple items of note, the first of which is that Sonic does not currently provide a proprietary tinnitus app. There are, however, a lot of existing apps available for download. Another thing is that direct-to-ear 2.4 GHz streaming is currently possible only with iPhone products. 

Frequency Transfer

With Frequency Transfer, we've improved the access to high-frequency speech sounds for patients with severe to profound high frequency losses. Patients with high frequency losses are going to experience higher satisfaction with speech intelligibility. With Frequency Transfer the clinician is able to configure the settings using one of three controls: Destination, Intensity and High Frequency Attenuation. Additionally, we now have 10 destination options; it's going to adjust the source and the destination range. Also, we now have seven intensity settings that can be adjusted right in the EXPRESSfit Fitting System. This will adjust the strength of the high frequency sound when mixed with a low frequency sound. Finally, we have a new high frequency attenuation option. It comes on by default and it turns the gain in high the frequency bands above the destination to on or off. 

Feedback Canceller 

For those of you who haven't worked with our products before, our Feedback Canceller has a memory component. If a signal re-enters the microphone within five milliseconds, it is recognized as feedback.  We automatically have that signal memorized and we're going to push it through already inverted so it isn't offensive. To ensure the best solution for the patient, it is important to measure the feedback properties of a fitting (via Feedback Manager from the navigation bar in the Fit Instrument screen). If your patient doesn't have any feedback, the prescriptive fitting is great. 

Impressive IP Ratings 

Our Enchant hearing instruments offer an IP (International/Ingress Protection) rating of 68, which is the best rating you can receive. The first digit (the 6) indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against the ingress of solid foreign objects (e.g., dust, wax, etc). The solids rating is based on a scale from 1-6, and we received a 6, indicating that Enchant hearing instruments are dust tight. The second digit (the 8) indicates the level of protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water/liquid. The liquid rating is based on a scale from 1-8, and we received an 8, indicating that the equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. 

The miniRITE, miniRITE T and the BTE 105 all have an IP rating of 68. Since Sonic's Enchant IP rating is so high, it only follows that we have the lowest repair rates in the industry. Our patients are not sending their instruments in for repair because they don't break down. Let it be noted that continuous immersion in water is not something we encourage; however, if a patient happens to jump into the lake, rest assured their hearing instrument is going to be in fine condition with that IP 68 rating.

Extended Dynamic Range

Our Extended Dynamic Range is for clarity of loud speech. It is going to improve fidelity with high input levels. Listening environments can get loud and can change quickly in intensity. If you were attending a sporting event or a concert, all of a sudden that environment can get incredibly loud. Presence of loud speech signals can have peaks that exceed 95 dB A. Digital hearing instruments limit peaks at 95 dB SPL. If you have a signal that exceeds 95, but your instrument can only handle the input level at 95, you're going to get distortion. Fortunately, our Extended Dynamic Range is specifically designed for signals with high levels. It is adaptive, and it's going to expand the dynamic range of sound up to 113 dB SPL. As sound grows in intensity, Extended Dynamic Range ensures superior clarity. The days of having that distorted signal are gone. This is especially helpful at movie theaters, performances, auditoriums -- any place where there are sudden dramatic sounds.

Extended Dynamic Range delivers improved overall sound quality, extending that input limit up to 113 dB SPL. It works in conjunction with a 10 kHz bandwidth, so that is why it is a premium level feature. It is available only the Enchant 100. Loud sounds will not be distorted. 

SmartMusic

People want to enjoy music. The demographic of people wearing hearing instruments is getting younger and younger. These people are going to concerts, they're going to music festivals. Traditional hearing aids tend to struggle in these situations, because they were developed for speech in quiet. You need to have a system that can handle it all, like Enchant. With SmartMusic, music enthusiasts and musicians alike can enjoy an undistorted music signal.

There are four essential components at play within SmartMusic:

  1. Fixed extended dynamic range: Increases limit at the input to a fixed 113 dB SPL.
  2. Speech Variable Processing: SVP is going to be fast, in order to maintain the balance between all the different harmonics.
  3. Wideband Frequency Response: Will reach up to 10 kHz in the Enchant100, up to 8 kHz in the Enchant80/60; Important for perceived naturalness of music. 
  4. Controls: A fixed hypercardioid polar setting is ideal for music; The position of the null does not change, because if you're listening to music you're usually facing the source of the music; We're going to eliminate noises from behind, because we are concentrating on what is on stage and what is in front of us. 

True Directionality

True Directionality is a brand new premium Enchant feature. This is going to provide a special fixed directional microphone setting in only the high frequencies, to achieve a microphone behavior similar to the external ear. If you're using a BTE, True Directionality can be of great benefit to you. With a BTE, the receiver is up at ear level, not in the ear; so this is something that can benefit users of Enchant 100, our premium level feature with True Directionality in that BTE 105.

Two Ears Working as One

Enchant offers Binaural Coordination, Binaural Synchronization, and Non-Telephone Ear Control.  With Binaural Coordination, information is automatically shared between the right and left devices.  So, you have both sides analyzing the signal with SmartCompress, analyzing it with SPiN Management, and adjusting accordingly. Binaural Synchronization enables simultaneous adjustments for volume and program changes between the ears.  Non-Telephone Ear Control reduces the gain or mutes the ear on the opposite side of the phone to minimize distractions. 

Dual-Radio System

In addition, Enchant features our Dual-Radio System that is fast, direct wireless transmissions with optimized battery life. The benefit is that patients can stay connected to their SMART world.

With our new SoundDNA platform we have a new chip set, the benefits of which are summarized in Figure 3. We offer a Bluetooth 2.4 GHz communication and a power-efficient Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) protocol. So, we now have Dual-Radio transmission, that is two systems, without a significant increase in power consumption. This chip provides a high transmission rate of sound for a higher fidelity of the transmitted signal. And, with 2.4 GHz direct-to-ear streaming, no intermediary device is necessary.

Figure 3. Benefits of new chip in SoundDNA.

Connectivity Portfolio

The Connectivity Portfolio is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Connectivity portfolio.

The portfolio includes the SoundLink 2 app that offers direct streaming.  For iPhones we have direct streaming to stream calls, stream movies, etc.  For the Android we do not currently offer direct streaming but you can use the Android app to change programs, change the voice commands, and access other features.

We also have a new TV box called the TV-A, TV-A Adapter. We have unlimited amounts of pairings to one TV box. We have a new remote control called the RC-A that provides basic remote control functionality, exactly what your caregivers need. FittingLINK 3.0 gives you the ability to program Enchant wirelessly, without having to be cabled to a HIPRO or cabled to a NoahLink. 

Regarding Internet Connect with IFTTT, the Enchant instrument is active on the Go Channel. Your Sonic sales reps and your audiology team are happy to walk you through any of these connectivity features.  Our AudiologyOnline course library includes courses exclusively on connectivity.

EXPRESSfit PRO

EXPRESSfit PRO is our new fitting system with a new look, and a new feel, and yet it continues to be easy to use and robust. We have our Real Ear Fit also embedded with some new updates in the EXPRESSfit PRO fitting system.  We also have our Sound Studio capabilities. The new software features include: Streamlined design and fitting flow; more fitting bands and graph views options; audible indicators for easier sound recognition; a Firmware Updater; and, a Software Updater.  Visit our AudiologyOnline course library for courses specifically on EXPRESSfit Pro.

Adaptation Manager. Adaptation Manager is a highly requested feature now availabe that gradually increase the gain settings over time, to provide a higher acceptance of amplification. We have often told patients, "Well, you're just going to get used to the sound of your hearing aid, your voice sounding different, and everything sounding odd." Sometimes wearers do indeed adapt or they get enough benefit from their hearing aids that they put up with the sound but they really don't like it. They may become a part time wearer or reject amplification altogether.  It is very important to make the patient comfortable with the signal. With EXPRESSfit Pro's Adaptation Manager, it's a three step process - from 80% to 90% to 100% of target gain. There are automatic and manual options.

FittingLINK 3.0.  This is new firmware in a wireless fitting dongle. No intermediate neckloop device is needed and it's a direct two way transmission using the 2.4 Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, the BLE protocol. 

Feature Overview 

The handout provides a nice summary of which features are available in which technology levels, and I will review it briefly here.

Taking a look at new and improved sound quality with SmartCompress, there are 10 options available in the Enchant100, six in the Enchant80 and two in the Enchant60. The Extended Dynamic Range feature is a premium level feature. Low Frequency Enhancement is designed for open fittings when streaming, giving a boost to the low frequency harmonics and is available in all three technology levels. Frequency Transfer and Tinnitus SoundSupport are available in all three levels.

In terms of noise mangement, with SPiN Noise Reduction there are four options in the Enchant100, four options in the Enchant80 and three in the Enchant60. With the SPiN Engage there are three options in the 100 and 80 levels, and 2 options in the 60 level. Best in class Adaptive Feedback Cancellation System is available in all levels across the board.

SPiN Directionality offers 2 options in programming the 100 level, and 1 option in the 80 and 60 levels. Overall with Enchant, we've gone from four frequency regions to 16. The True Directionality is a premium feature, available in Enchant100.

Binaural Coordination for volume and program change is available in all three technology levels. Binaural Noise Management is available in the 100 and 80 levels.

Programming options. We have more programming handles than we've ever had before. In the Enchant100 there are 16 fitting bands, in the 80 there are 14 fitting bands, and in the 60 there are 12 fitting bands. SmartMusic Program and Adaption Manager are available in all three technology levels.  FittingLINK and Real Ear Fit are optional within the EXPRESSfit Pro Fitting System.

Patient conveniences and Dual-Radio System using 2.4 GHz Bluetooth as well as our Near Field NFMI are also part of Enchant. 

Model Overview  

Enchant is available in three different technology levels: Enchant 100 (premium), Enchant 80 (advanced), and Enchant 60 (mid-level). With Enchant, we are introducing three models: the miniRITE, the miniRITE T, and the BTE 105 (Figure 5). 

Figure 5. Enchant models: miniRITE, miniRITE T, and BTE 105.

Figure 6 provides an overview of these models. The miniRITE, miniRiTE T and the BTE 105 are available in the styles and models necessary to serve a variety of your patients' listening needs. Enchant is available in all the colors that you expect from Sonic, with the addition of gold in the miniRITE in the Enchant 100 technology level. All other models are available in the six typical colors: beige, taupe, dark brown, gray, dark gray, and black. Taking a look at our model overview again. The miniRITE and the miniRITE T use a 312 battery. The BTE 105 uses a size 13. In terms of domes and receivers, Enchant uses the MiniFIT domes and receivers that is used for Celebrate and Cheer, so you do not need an additional kit. The BTE 105 has a thin tube configuration, and uses the miniFIT thin tubes in either the 1.3 or the .9 sizes. All three instruments have an IP68 rating and all offer Tinnitus SoundSupport.

Figure 6.  Model overview.

 

 

Summary

Sonic's mission is to improve lives with enhanced hearing. All the new and innovative features available with Enchant enable us to do that better than ever before. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact AudiologySupport@Sonic, call us at 888-423-7834 or visit www.sonici.com.

Citation

Reichert, E. (2017, August).  Meet Enchant. AudiologyOnline, Article 20558.  Retrieved from www.audiologyonline.com

2019 NIHL series | 4 Advanced Level Recorded Webinars | Guest editor: Brian J. Fligor, ScD, PASC |

erin reichert

Erin Reichert, MS

Director, Professional Services

Erin Reichert is the Director of Professional Services at Sonic and is responsible for Audiology Services as well as Customer Care. Her primary focus is to create world-class support and service in every interaction with Sonic. Prior to her current position, she held various positions of increasing responsibility within the company, most recently having been Manager of Audiology Services. Prior to joining Sonic in 2006, Erin worked at a private practice serving south-eastern Minnesota. Erin received her Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison - Go Badgers!



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