Relating hearing aid users’ preferred noise reduction setting to different measures of noise tolerance and distortion sensitivity
Recently, there has been growing interest in the personalisation of hearing aid fittings. In two previous studies, we investigated preference for different types of noise reduction (NR) processing and found that we could partly explain individual differences based on audiometric and cognitive factors. In the current study, we explored a number of psychoacoustic and self-report measures in terms of their ability to help explain these results. Groups of hearing aid users with clear preferences for either weak (N = 13) or strong (N = 14) NR participated. Candidate measures included maximally acceptable background noise levels, detection thresholds for speech distortions caused by NR processing, and self-reported ‘sound personality’ traits. Participants also adjusted the strength of the binaural coherence-based NR algorithm to their preferred level. Analyses confirmed the basic group difference concerning preferred NR strength. Furthermore, detection thresholds for speech distortions were higher for ‘NR lovers’ than for ‘NR haters’. In terms of maximally acceptable noise levels, there was a tendency for NR lovers to be less tolerant towards background noise than NR haters. Group differences were generally absent in the self-report data. Altogether, these results suggest that differences in preferred NR setting are partly related to individual sensitivity to background noise and speech distortions.
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