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

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Abstract

Objective

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.

Design

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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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