Speech intelligibility with binaurally linked hearing aids
AbstractConventional compression algorithms in bilateral hearing-aid fittings distort the interaural level differences (ILD’s) due to independent gain characteristics at the two ears. By transmitting signals between hearing aids, the compression can be coordinated and the same gain can be applied to both ears, thus preserving the ILD’s. The present study investigated the influence of such “binaurally linked” hearing aids on speech intelligibility. Hearing-impaired listeners with a symmetric hearing loss were fitted with hearing aids connected to a hearing aid research platform (HARP). Speech reception thresholds (SRT’s) were measured in a loudspeaker setup with the target speech and the masker spatially separated. Slightly, but not significantly better SRT’s were achieved when the hearing aids were binaurally linked and combined with slow compression than when unlinked fast compression was used. The difference between monaural and binaural speech intelligibility was independent of the hearing aid algorithm. Thus, the preservation of the exact ILD information does not seem to be critical for binaural processing and speech intelligibility in the considered conditions.
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