Your article, ''Annoyance and Hearing Aids'' suggests several sources of user annoyance with amplification. How might digital signal processors impact ''annoyance'' issues?
Annoyance with amplification is driven by the fact that the impaired ear (and brain) has to work harder than the normal ear (and brain) to receive maximal auditory information from the acoustic signal. Therefore, circuitry and amplification options which provide better, easier, higher-quality signals can be expected to result in reduced fatigue and reduced annoyance.
Digital signal processors (DSP) in and of themselves would not be expected to reduce annoyance. However, smart audiologic solutions available via DSP platforms will help.
Solutions available on DSP platforms are theoretically more effective and more efficient than their non-DSP analog origins. DSP solutions can be effectively combined as needed and should result in decreased annoyance.
For example, DSP driven Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC) effectively lessens the strain required to hear soft speech and reduces the overall level at which moderate to loud speech will be presented to the ear. DSP driven directionality is expected to significantly reduce annoyance because the direct signal-to-noise ratio improvement afforded by DSP directionality will make it easier to listen to speech in noise for extended periods of time. Another DSP feature is the ability to amplify high frequency sounds with significantly less feedback than analog technology. Additionally, DSP technology allows greater high frequency emphasis than analog technology resulting in ultimately better word recognition and better sound quality. DSP solutions allow compression and expansion in the same hearing aid to produce more of what we want, with less of what we don't want.
Therefore, as DSP technology continues to evolve, I expect annoyance to be reduced as theoretical advantages become proven advantages.
Donald J. Schum, Ph.D./CCC-A
Vice President, Audiology & Professional Relations
29 Schoolhouse Rd.
Somerset, NJ 08875
1-800-526-3921, Ext 535
Don Schum currently serves as Vice President for Audiology & Professional Relations for Oticon, Inc. Previous to his position at Oticon in Somerset, Don served as the Director of Audiology for the main Oticon office in Copenhagen Denmark. In addition, he served as the Director of the Hearing Aid Lab at the University of Iowa School of Medicine (1990-1995) and as an Assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (1988-1990). During his professional career, Dr. Schum has been an active researcher in the areas of Hearing Aids, Speech Understanding, and Outcome Measures. ( B.S. in Speech & Hearing Science, University of Illinois; M.A. in Audiology, University of Iowa; Ph.D. in Audiology, Louisiana State University.
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