American Institute of Physics for the Acoustical Society of America
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America vol:119 issue:1 pages:515-526
This paper studies the effect of bilateral hearing aids on directional hearing in the frontal horizontal plane. Localization tests evaluated bilateral hearing aid users using different stimuli and different noise scenarios. Normal hearing subjects were used as a reference. The main research questions raised in this paper are: (i) How do bilateral hearing aid users perform on a localization task, relative to normal hearing subjects? (ii) Do bilateral hearing aids preserve localization cues, and (iii) Is there an influence of state of the art noise reduction algorithms, more in particular an adaptive directional microphone configuration, on localization performance? The hearing aid users were tested without and with their hearing aids, using both a standard omnidirectional microphone configuration and an adaptive directional microphone configuration. The following main conclusions are drawn. (i) Bilateral hearing aid users perform worse than normal hearing subjects in a localization task, although more than one-half of the subjects reach normal hearing performance when tested unaided. For both groups, localization performance drops significantly when acoustical scenarios become more complex. (ii) Bilateral, i.e., independently operating hearing aids do not preserve localization cues. (iii) Overall, adaptive directional noise reduction can have an additional and significant negative impact on localization performance.