The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

A compact two-loudspeaker virtual sound reproduction system for clinical testing of spatial hearing with hearing-assistive devices

A compact two-loudspeaker virtual sound reproduction system for clinical testing of spatial hearing with hearing-assistive devices
A compact two-loudspeaker virtual sound reproduction system for clinical testing of spatial hearing with hearing-assistive devices

Exciting developments in hearing aid and cochlear implant technology for linking signal processing across the ears have improved spatial hearing outcomes. This has resulted in an increased emphasis on clinical assessment of the spatial hearing abilities of hearing-assistive device users. Effective assessment of spatial hearing currently requires a large and costly loudspeaker array system, housed in a heavily acoustically treated testing room. This imposes economic and logistical constraints that limit proliferation of array systems, particularly in developing nations. Despite their size and cost, the ability of current clinical array systems to reproduce realistic spatial sound fields is limited, which substantially reduces the range of realistic acoustic scenes that can be used for diagnostic testing. We propose an alternative low-cost, compact virtual acoustics system with just two loudspeakers. This system uses crosstalk cancelation to reproduce pressure signals at the device microphones that match those for real-world sound sources. Furthermore, in contrast to clinical array systems, the system can adapt to different room acoustics, removing the requirement for a heavily acoustically treated testing environment. We conducted a proof-of-concept study in two stages: in the first, we evaluated the physical performance of the system for a stationary listener in anechoic conditions and in a small audiological testing booth with moderate acoustic treatment. To do this, a head and torso simulator was fitted with specially adapted hearing-assistive devices that allowed direct access to the microphone signals. These microphone signals were compared for real and virtual sound sources at numerous source locations. In the second stage, we quantified the system’s robustness to head rotations with and without the system adapting for head position. In the stationary case, the system was found to be highly effective at reproducing signals, such as speech, at all tested source locations. When head rotation was added, it performed well for rotations of up to 2°, even without adapting. However, performance improved markedly for larger rotations when the system adapted. These findings suggest that a compact, low-cost virtual acoustics system can give wider access to advanced and ecologically valid audiological testing, which could substantially improve clinical assessment of hearing-assistive device users.

bilateral, binaural, clinical audiology, hearing impairment, sound field control, sound localization, speech in noise (SIN), transaural
1662-4548
Hamdan, Eric
69b15392-2019-435b-ad1d-8173f8d4a389
Fletcher, Mark
ac11588a-fafe-4dbb-8b3c-80a6ff030546
Hamdan, Eric
69b15392-2019-435b-ad1d-8173f8d4a389
Fletcher, Mark
ac11588a-fafe-4dbb-8b3c-80a6ff030546

Hamdan, Eric and Fletcher, Mark (2022) A compact two-loudspeaker virtual sound reproduction system for clinical testing of spatial hearing with hearing-assistive devices. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 15, [725127]. (doi:10.3389/fnins.2021.725127).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Exciting developments in hearing aid and cochlear implant technology for linking signal processing across the ears have improved spatial hearing outcomes. This has resulted in an increased emphasis on clinical assessment of the spatial hearing abilities of hearing-assistive device users. Effective assessment of spatial hearing currently requires a large and costly loudspeaker array system, housed in a heavily acoustically treated testing room. This imposes economic and logistical constraints that limit proliferation of array systems, particularly in developing nations. Despite their size and cost, the ability of current clinical array systems to reproduce realistic spatial sound fields is limited, which substantially reduces the range of realistic acoustic scenes that can be used for diagnostic testing. We propose an alternative low-cost, compact virtual acoustics system with just two loudspeakers. This system uses crosstalk cancelation to reproduce pressure signals at the device microphones that match those for real-world sound sources. Furthermore, in contrast to clinical array systems, the system can adapt to different room acoustics, removing the requirement for a heavily acoustically treated testing environment. We conducted a proof-of-concept study in two stages: in the first, we evaluated the physical performance of the system for a stationary listener in anechoic conditions and in a small audiological testing booth with moderate acoustic treatment. To do this, a head and torso simulator was fitted with specially adapted hearing-assistive devices that allowed direct access to the microphone signals. These microphone signals were compared for real and virtual sound sources at numerous source locations. In the second stage, we quantified the system’s robustness to head rotations with and without the system adapting for head position. In the stationary case, the system was found to be highly effective at reproducing signals, such as speech, at all tested source locations. When head rotation was added, it performed well for rotations of up to 2°, even without adapting. However, performance improved markedly for larger rotations when the system adapted. These findings suggest that a compact, low-cost virtual acoustics system can give wider access to advanced and ecologically valid audiological testing, which could substantially improve clinical assessment of hearing-assistive device users.

Text
AcceptedManuscipt - Accepted Manuscript
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (8MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 December 2021
Published date: 28 January 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: The salary for both authors and the equipment for this project was funded by the William Demant Foundation. The article processing charge was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the University of Southampton UK Research and Innovation block grant for open access publication. Publisher Copyright: Copyright © 2022 Hamdan and Fletcher.
Keywords: bilateral, binaural, clinical audiology, hearing impairment, sound field control, sound localization, speech in noise (SIN), transaural

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 453095
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/453095
ISSN: 1662-4548
PURE UUID: 088b043b-a287-4a71-bf55-57e8baf55751

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Jan 2022 20:35
Last modified: 14 Jun 2022 16:30

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Eric Hamdan
Author: Mark Fletcher

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×