Fitting Low Ratio Compression to People with Severe and Profound Hearing Losses

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In this study, we aimed to determine the extent to which wide dynamic range compression and compression limiting could benefit severely and profoundly hearing-impaired adults.


Subjects were fitted with multi-memory hearing aids incorporating frequency independent input-controlled compression with a 2:1 compression ratio and output-controlled compression limiting. The input compression threshold (CT) was varied to establish the lowest level that maintained audibility for conversational intensity speech without acoustic feedback oscillation. Where a low (40 to 57 dB SPL) CT was possible, this was compared with a moderate (65 to 74 dB SPL) level. The preferred input compression setting was subsequently compared with linear, compression-limited amplification in the same aids. In the three cases where 2:1 input compression could not be used, because of feedback or loudness insufficiency problems, compression limiting was compared with peak clipping. Field trials were conducted over a 2- or 3-mo period to establish preferences.


Nine of the 16 subjects preferred the inclusion of the higher level input compression, and one preferred lower level input compression. Four subjects preferred linear, compression-limited amplification, one favored peak clipping, and one could not be satisfied with any of the options provided.


2:1 input compression was useful, and preferred by 10 of the subjects, but for nine subjects the preferred CT was relatively high. With a group 4-frequency average loss of 87 dB HTL, the results demonstrate that fast-acting, low compression ratio systems can be useful for losses traditionally regarded as the domain of linear amplification.

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