Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3941-5185

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)

Department

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Advisor(s)

Ayasakanta Rout

Abstract

This study compared perceptual differences between premium and mid-level hearing aids from a major manufacturer in normal hearing listeners. Limited literature currently exists comparing perceptual differences between premium and mid-level digital hearing aids. This information is highly important in decision-making for clinicians and patients alike. Barry et al. (2018) evaluated four major hearing aid models’ noise reduction properties and determined that one manufacturer’s premium and mid-level devices demonstrated significant differences in noise reduction gain in frequencies associated with human speech. We programmed this device for a mild sloping to moderately-severe SNHL using the manufacturer’s proprietary fitting formula and noise reduction at its maximum setting.

The hearing aid was mounted on KEMAR and ten Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) sentences were recorded with each device (premium and mid-level) at two different signal to noise ratios (SNR): 0 dB SNR and +5 dB SNR. Normal hearing listeners (n = 19) were blindly presented with the pair of stimuli at each signal to noise ratio condition with a three-alternative forced choice paradigm, whereby they indicate which presentation they preferred, or if there was no perceptual differences between the recordings. The preferences were made by each subject on the basis of three different criteria: noisiness, speech intelligibility, and overall quality.

The findings of this study are consistent with previous research and suggest that there is no subjective difference between premium and mid-level hearing aids on measures of noisiness, speech intelligibility, and overall sound quality. Overall, data suggested that participants did not perceive a statistically significant difference between technology levels for either the 0 dB SNR condition or the +5 dB SNR condition. This suggests that in both very noisy and less noisy environments, normal-hearing listeners do not perceive any advantage when listening with premium technology. Future research should examine premium and mid-level technology with objective outcome measures and utilize subjects with hearing loss. It may be useful to examine differences between the devices on measures of listening effort as well.

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