Hearing Aid features for Improved Hearing In Background Noise
Background noise is the bane of all people with compromised hearing levels – it can even provide challenges for people with normal hearing. But when you have a hearing loss, your ability to hear speech in amongst all the noise, is impacted in a more negative manner. This is the reason that the main focus of hearing aid technology is to improve the ability of the wearer to hear voices above the noise – that is, to separate these two different signals and improve the signal to noise relationship.
So, what technology in hearing aids will help you hear better in background noise?
Hearing aid manufacturers use this technology in different ways. Most commonly the microphones will boost sound in the front and reduce sound from the side and behind. This works well but can cut the wearer off from some sounds. Microphone technology is continually improving in this area, and some companies having exceptional results. Oticon’s OPN S uses its dual microphones in a rapid noise sampling process to estimate environmental noise.
This enables selective noise reduction, preservation of speech in all directions and a balance of the sound environment for the listener. The new ReSound ONE hearing aids have all access directionality to determine where the most noise is coming from, in relation to the position of your head. On the side where the noise ratio is higher than the speech, the directional microphone mode is enabled.
When the signal to noise ration is good, omni directional microphone mode will take in all signals to ensure you don’t get that isolated feeling.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Many hearing aids now utilise AI to learn how you like to hear in certain situations. Using this technology, along with the accompanying app on your smartphone, allows you to set your hearing aids to how you like to hear, in every situation, including background noise.
Widex was the first manufacturer to use AI or machine learning and still has one of the best algorithms for setting your hearing aid to hear better in noisy environments. And once the hearing aid knows you like a particular setting, in a particular environment, it will automatically adjust to these settings when you find yourself in that soundscape again.
Starkey Edge and ReSound ONE hearing aids also have an added speech enhancer, or boost system, to enable an even greater improvement in the signal to noise ratio. For Starkey, a double tap on the Livio Edge AI hearing aids, will take them into ‘Edge Mode’. This provides a power burst of speech for crisper sound in complex listening environments.
ReSound ONE has a similar feature called the Ultra-Focus Program for a 30% improvement in the speech signal in difficult soundscapes.
Some people’s hearing levels are particularly compromised and may require more assistance, on top of their hearing aids. Accessories such as remote microphones can also boost hearing performance in background noise. Phonak Roger devices are the standout in this category.
These wireless microphones, in various styles, will allow you to follow conversation in noisy restaurants, workplace meetings and classroom situations. No matter how noisy the environment, these devices give a far improved signal to noise ratio, allowing full immersion in the communication process.
If you’re having difficulty in background noise with your current hearing aids, talk to your Audiologist to see if there are any features on your hearing aids that could assist you to hear better in background noise.
If you’re planning to upgrade your devices, investigate the latest technology in this area. We all need a help when it comes to hearing in noisy situations – some of us a little, some a lot.
Find out what hearing aid noise reduction features would be best suited to you and ask for a trial.