Effects of Binaural Spatialization in Wireless Microphone Systems for Hearing Aids on Normal-Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Listeners

Little is known about the perception of artificial spatial hearing by hearing-impaired subjects. The purpose of this study was to investigate how listeners with hearing disorders perceived the effect of a spatialization feature designed for wireless microphone systems. Forty listeners took part in the experiments. They were arranged in four groups: normal-hearing, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss. Their performance in terms of speech understanding and speaker localization was assessed with diotic and binaural stimuli. The results of the speech intelligibility experiment revealed that the subjects presenting a moderate or severe hearing impairment better understood speech with the spatialization feature. Thus, it was demonstrated that the conventional diotic binaural summation operated by current wireless systems can be transformed to reproduce the spatial cues required to localize the speaker, without any loss of intelligibility. The speaker localization experiment showed that a majority of the hearing-impaired listeners had similar performance with natural and artificial spatial hearing, contrary to the normal-hearing listeners. This suggests that certain subjects with hearing impairment preserve their localization abilities with approximated generic head-related transfer functions in the frontal horizontal plane.

Published in:
Trends in Hearing, 22, 1-17
Feb 18 2018

 Record created 2018-02-20, last modified 2019-01-04

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