Bell, Steven L., Creeke, Sarah A. and Lutman, Mark E.
Measuring real-ear signal-to-noise ratio: application to directional hearing aids.
International Journal of Audiology, 49, (3), . (doi:10.3109/14992020903280146).
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Due to individual characteristics such as head size, earmould type, and earmould venting, the directional benefit that an individual will obtain from a hearing aid cannot be predicted from average data. It is therefore desirable to measure real ear directional benefit. This paper demonstrates a method to measure real ear hearing aid directivity based on a general approach to measure the broadband output signal-to-noise ratio of a hearing aid. Errors arising from non-linearity were tested in simulation and found to be low for typical hearing aid compression ratios. Next, the efficacy of the method to estimate directional benefit was demonstrated on KEMAR. Finally the variability of directional benefit was explored in real-ears. Significant differences in signal-to-noise ratio between directional and omnidirectional microphone settings were demonstrated at most azimuths. Articulation-Index-weighted directional benefit varied by more than 7 dB across ears at some azimuths. Such individual variation in directional benefit has implications when fitting hearing aids: it should not be assumed that all users will receive similar directional benefit from the same hearing aid.
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