Experimental Evaluation of Different Methods of Limiting the Maximum Output of Hearing Aids

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A series of experiments designed to test the preferences of people with moderate to profound hearing losses for limiting the output of hearing aids by using peak clipping (PC), fast compression limiting (FCL), PC and FCL, and these three methods in combination with slow compression limiting (SCL) was conducted.


Nineteen participants with moderate to profound sensorineural or mixed losses were recruited. In the first experiment, preferences for either PC or FCL were tested in a field trial in the participants’ usual environments.


A second experiment examined the acceptance of PC, FCL, and FCL + PC, using paired comparisons in a laboratory setting. The third experiment involved further paired comparisons in the laboratory to evaluate whether participants preferred PC, FCL, PC and FCL combined, or the three methods when combined with SCL.


The participants showed no statistically significant preferences for either peak clipping or fast compression limiting in the field trial. In the laboratory trial, both FCL + PC and FCL were significantly preferred over PC alone, and the addition of FCL to PC was most advantageous to participants who required the lowest maximum limiting output. The most dramatic laboratory result was the convincing preference in paired comparison testing of combining SCL with PC and/or FCL.


Slow compression limiting appears to be a desirable feature in hearing aids for clients with a moderate to profound hearing loss. Preferences were not as pronounced when peak clipping, fast compression limiting, and peak clipping plus fast compression limiting were compared, but participants favored the condition that had the least amount of peak clipping.

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