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Author: admin | 12.02.2014 | Category: Tinnitus Hearing Loss

Much of this information was presented at an American Academy of Audiology conference and should therefore have authors names listed somewhere on the website. There are many hearing aids available with different shapes, sizes, styles, colors, and features. RITE hearing aids are similar to open fit hearing aids, but they have the receiver in the ear canal instead of in the case of the hearing aid. The electrical components of the instrument (microphone, amplifier, receiver) are housed in a compact case that tucks behind the ear. Electrical components of this instrument (microphone, amplifier, receiver) fit into a shell custom made to fit inside the ear.
Overall, the more sophisticated the hearing aids, the better user performance and therefore satisfaction. Hearing aids can have up to several programs, or "memories." Inside the hearing aids, the circuits work differently in order to maximize the benefit you receive in each listening situation.
Programs can be changed manually by the push of a button, or the hearing aids can adjust to your listening environment automatically.
The number of available programs depends on the manufacturer and level of hearing aids you choose to purchase.
The audiologist manipulates the bands to influence the algorithms and signal processing in the hearing aids.
You can think of bands and channels in hearing aids as the keys and strings on a piano: the white keys represent the channels, and the black keys represent the bands. The more channels hearing aids have, the more natural the sound quality will be to a patient; just as the more keys on a piano, the more increase in sound quality for the listener.
A polar pattern is a plot of a device's sensitivity or efficiency as a function of the angle around the device in 360°.
One of the best ways to improve speech recognition in a noisy environment is the use of a directional microphone (DM). A DM is the only hearing aid option that can improve your speech recognition in noise by improving the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).
Now, let us refer to more complicated polar patterns to help us understand how DMs amplify and attenuate signals, or help improve your SNR.
This pattern is characterized by strong sensitivity (more amplification) to signals from the front, good sensitivity on the sides, and almost complete rejection of sound signals from behind the hearing aid wearer. Theoretically, this pattern offers the most benefit when the signal of interest is in the front, and the noise is behind you. Also referred to as di-pole or a Figure 8, this microphone pattern is virtually equally sensitive (equal amplification) to sound signals from the front and back, but not sensitive to sounds from the sides.
This pattern is characterized by a strong sensitivity (more amplification) to sound signals from the front, minimal at the sides, and a slight amplification to sound signals originating from behind the hearing aid user. Similar to the hypercardioid polar pattern, this pattern is characterized by strong sensitivity (more amplification) to sound signals from the front, minimal at the sides, and a very slight (even less than hypercardioid) amplification to sound signals originating from behind the hearing aid user. As with all features, there are levels of technology within the design of directional microphones. Do you find it difficult to hear certain soft sounds, but loud sounds are often overwhelming or uncomfortable? Hearing aids with noise reduction capabilities change their frequency gain characteristic as a result of analysis of the incoming signal (speech vs. Sophisticated algorithms are used to estimate the nature of the signal and determine it as noise rather than speech. So, the most advanced hearing aids have a noise reduction algorithm that is better at recognizing a signal as noise, acts quickly upon reducing the noise, and makes frequency-specific gain adjustments across multiple channels.
The degree of automatic operation that a hearing aid user chooses to have should be dependent on the amount of control they desire. Bluetooth technology is short-range wireless radio technology that allows electronic devices to connect to one another. Bluetooth compatible devices include: hearing aids, mobile phones, MP3 players, FM devices, and televisions. This feature automatically recognizes when there is a magnetic field and adjusts accordingly, switching to the telecoil setting to pick up this type of energy.
This feature allows for direct connection to other devices such as assistive listening devices, televisions, computers, MP3 players, radios, etc. Learn how Metropolitan NeuroEar Group gives back to the community through numerous philanthropic efforts. Directional ITE hearing aid using dual-input microphone - Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTIONThe invention relates to hearing aids, and more particularly relates to directional hearing aids.
However, all hearing aids need certain components to transmit sound from the environment into your ear. These factors include, but are not limited to, the type and severity of your hearing loss, your hearing needs and desires, your lifestyle, cosmetic concerns, your previous experience with hearing aids, and your budget.
Consider comparing hearing aids to other electric devices that you have purchased in the past, such as a television.
They are appropriate for individuals with a mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss (normal hearing in the low frequencies). Similar to the open fit design, this style hearing aid is not appropriate for every type and magnitude of hearing loss. An ITE device may be more visible in the ear, though there are several types of ITE hearing aids, such as a Compeltely in the Canal (CIC), and In the Canal (ITC). Programmable hearing devices feature conventional amplifiers and filters controlled by an external digital source. In digital hearing devices, sound waves entering the microphone are converted into digital format. Different internal settings of hearing aids are optimal for different listening situations. Hearing aids will alert you when a program is changed by signaling a number of beeps (corresponding to the number position spot of the program), or they may be able to use a verbal messaging system that will "speak" to you, indicating which program the hearing aids are operating in. As long as there are no significant objects nearby to reflect or diffract a sound, an omnidirectional microphone will respond equally to the sounds from any direction. For an omnidirectional microphone, the polar plot shows the microphone is equally sensitive in all angles. The SNR is the ratio of the desired signal's volume to the unwanted "noise," measured in decibels (dB). Compression is used in order to ensure audibility of sounds while maintaining recognition and comfort for medium and loud level sounds.
Remotes can be used to adjust the volume, change programs, switch between modes (microphones, telecoil), and may indicate battery status.


It is possible to have your hearing aids do everything for you from the moment you turn them on. Bluetooth technology can be used for cross communication where sound processing is synchronized between your two hearing aids. The telecoil also senses any oscillating magnetic field (for FM system and other assistive listening devices). For example, when the hearing aid user picks up the receiver of a telephone, the hearing aids will switch into telecoil mode without having to press a button. Considering how much hearing aids may cost, it is often worthwhile to have a longer warranty period, or extend it if possible. Sanjay Prasad MD FACS is a board certified physician and surgeon with over twenty years of sub-specialty experience in Otology, Neurotology, advanced head and neck oncologic surgery, and cranial base surgery. First and second outwardly-diverging channels are located in the faceplate, to connect the inlets of the microphone to two spaced-apart ports in the faceplate. The hearing aid of claim 1, wherein the microphone has two inlet tubes, each connected to a corresponding one of the inlets, and wherein each of the inlet tubes is located in a corresponding one of the channels.
The hearing aid of claim 5, wherein the ports are spaced apart approximately 6 mm to 12 mm. In its most immediate sense, the invention relates to directional hearing aids of the In-The-Ear (“ITE”) type. Other terms used to describe this mode of operation include: digitally programmable and analog hearing aids with digital control. They are then separated into different frequency bands and channels and converted back to analog format out into the ear canal as a sound wave.
In other words, the microphone is equally sensitive to all incoming sounds, regardless of the direction of the sounds. The farther from center a point on the graph is, the stronger the microphone's signal is at that angle. Traditionally, these microphones pick up and amplify sounds coming from the front of the wearer and attenuate the sounds from the side and behind the wearer.
The ability to understand speech depends on how much of the signal can be heard in the background noise. All are better in some noisy situations than others and the four shown below are considered the most common. During the fitting process, a measurement is made of how much amplification can be given at each frequency without feedback occurring. It adds broadband gain of the spectrum of the input signal level to help overcome internally generated noise. Once it is determined that a signal is noise, gain adjustments across frequencies can be made. The most recent advancement in technology allows the hearing aid user to change the polar plot (see directional microphones) design of their microphones through a remote.
This includes adjusting the volume, changing programs, and changing modes (microphone, telecoil).
Both hearing aids communicate in order to adjust to your listening situation and ensure balance between the ears. This means that the signal alone is transmitted and amplified while noise is rejected, resulting in a clear signal.
In the telecoil mode, hearing aids only pick up sounds from the magnetic field that they sense, such as a telephone or FM system. The same can be done for use with an FM system or other assistive devices that use electromagnetic energy. Assistive listening systems and other hearing assistive technologies can be of great benefit when either working separately from, or in combination with, your hearing aids. If you lose or damage your hearing aids when the warranty has expired, replacement and repair can be quite pricey. He is chief surgeon and founder of the private practice, Metropolitan NeuroEar Group, located in the metropolitan Washington D.C. Your audiologist will guide you in the process of selecting hearing aids that are best fit for you.
For example, if you have a profound hearing loss, Completely in the Canal (CIC) hearing aids are not the appropriate style for you.
With an analog device, sound waves enter through the microphone, are amplified by a chosen circuit, pass through the receiver, and go out into the ear as sound waves. Some programmable systems allow little or no control of the hearing aid characteristics by the hearing aid wearer, whereas others allow the wearer to control performance in certain environments via a remote control carried with them.
The lowest level of technology usually has the least amount of standard features, while the highest level of hearing aids have the most standard features. People with a hearing loss require 5-15 dB better SNR than those with normal hearing to equally understand speech in noise.
Fixed directional works best when noise is in a fixed mode (one polar plot that does not change). This system ensures that the amplification can never be increased enough to cause whistling. It produces high gain for low input levels of sound and lower gain for high input levels of sounds. Hearing aids that employ compression limiting apply the same amount of gain to all signals up to a certain input level.
Expansion is often a useful feature when the hearing aid user enters a reverberant environment. While the same basic premise is true of all hearing aids with noise reduction, there are levels of technology within this feature. If you want your hearing aids to be fully automatic or "hands-free", this indicates a high level of technology. One control or push button on the hearing aid or remote can be used to adjust both hearing aids at the same time.
These products allow wireless connection between your hearing aids and other communication and entertainment devices. Some hearing aids also have a microphone and telecoil (M+T) setting in order to receive acoustic and magnetic energy simultaneously. Below is a description of each style, along with some advantages and considerations when choosing a hearing aid. With this technology, the user has volume control, but there is limited fitting flexibility. This device delivers a more natural loudness throughout the wearer's entire listening range without getting too loud or too quiet, as can be the case with conventional hearing aids.
For example, the hearing aids process speech and recognize noise to enhance your listening environment.


Feedback managers range in their level of technology from simple single channel to advanced multichannel systems. A manual telecoil requires the user to change to the telecoil (T) mode by using a toggle switch on the hearing aid or with a remote control.
In other words, the more "bells and whistles" hearing aids have, the more expensive they will be.
Conventional hearing aids represent the most basic type of amplification and are a good choice when finances are the major concern. The sophistication of the algorithm used in the hearings aids varies between levels of technology. Here, the hearing aids use more than one polar plot and change based on where the noise is coming from. Typically, manufacturers employ more than one noise reduction strategy for their hearing aids. Fully automatic hearing aids constantly monitor the listening environment you are in and make adjustments accordingly in order to provide maximum user benefit.
An automatic telecoil will automatically switch from microphone to telecoil mode when near an electromagnetic source. For these reasons, directional hearing aids have been developed.As conventionally implemented in ITE aids, a directional hearing aid has two small (EM size) omnidirectional microphones that are spaced apart by at least 6 mm and by at most 12 mm.
Remember, hearing aids are not for entertainment purposes, but to help compensate for a loss that you have and improve your quality of life. An alternate implementation of an ITE directional hearing aid uses a capsule (sold under the D-MIC mark by Etymotic Research, Inc.) that contains an EM-size dual-input directional microphone and an EM-size omnidirectional microphone together with an appropriate electronic circuit. The inlets of the directional microphone are spaced apart by 4 mm.In both instances, the directionality of the aid comes about because there is a phase shift of the sound pressure near the inlets of the two omnidirectional microphones (and, likewise, near the two inlets of the directional microphone).
Sound will reach one inlet before it reaches the other, and the resulting phase shift in combination with an internal delay of the microphone will determine the polar response of the microphone.These two known directional ITE implementations share a significant reduction of the signal-to-noise ratio, relative to that of a conventional non-directional ITE aid.
When there is a single sound source, the microphones stay in omnidirectional mode and switch to directional mode when there is more than one sound source.
The microphones have polar plots for the different frequency bands (see Bands and Channels) and analyze the spectrum of the signal and adjust accordingly. As a result, for a particular spacing, the phase shift of the sound pressure near the inlets diminishes with decreasing frequency of the incident sound.) This rolloff reduces the sensitivity (and therefore the signal-to-noise ratio) of the aid, and requires significant electrical equalization. Such equalization amplifies the low-frequency noise, and interferes with the patient's hearing in quiet situations.The second factor is that all other things being equal, smaller microphones generally have smaller signal-to-noise ratios. This is because a smaller microphone must have a smaller membrane, which makes the microphone less sensitive since sensitivity increases with membrane size. In quiet situations, smaller (EM-size) directional microphones can be unacceptably noisy.To address the problem of excessive noise in quiet situations, both types of ITE hearing aids are provided with a patient-operable switch. This switch puts the aid in an omnidirectional mode when the internal noise in the directional mode becomes unacceptable to the patient. Such a switch adds to the cost of the components required to manufacture the aid, and also takes up valuable space (“real estate”) on the faceplate.
Because of the real estate required by the switch and the two separate microphones that must be spaced apart by at least 6 mm, certain patients e.g. Such a directional aid would not require a patient-operable mode switch, would be less expensive to manufacture, and would use less real estate on the faceplate.In accordance with the invention, the two small (conventionally, EM size) individual microphones that are conventionally used in an ITE aid are replaced by a bigger (advantageously, EL size) conventional dual-inlet microphone (similar, but not identical, to that presently manufactured by Knowles Electronics, Inc. And, in further accordance with the invention, the inlets of the microphone are connected to two spaced-apart ports in the faceplate of the aid via two outwardly diverging channels that are located in the faceplate.
As a result of this structure, the ports are spaced sufficiently far apart so that the aid can be directional with maximum possible signal-to-noise ratio, without taking up valuable real estate on the faceplate of the aid.Although dual-inlet microphones are conventionally used to make directional hearing aids of the Behind-The-Ear (“BTE” ) type, the inventor is unaware of any use of such a microphones to replace the two individual microphones previously used in ITE applications.
This comes about because of the inherent characteristics of a dual-inlet EL type microphone.
The cost of a single dual-inlet microphone is substantially less than the cost of two individual microphones having matched characteristics, and it requires less labor to connect one microphone to the hearing aid electronics than to so connect two microphones (and a mode-selection switch).Furthermore, because a dual-inlet microphone is less bulky than two individual microphones, the savings in faceplate real estate make it possible to build a directional aid in a smaller volume.
3 schematically illustrates a third preferred embodiment of the invention.DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTSDirectional aids that use two omnidirectional microphones have a poorer signal-to-noise ratio than those that use a directional microphone of the dual-inlet type. This is because in such a dual-inlet directional microphone, both sides of the diaphragm are open to the air. The sensitivity of such a microphone is about 5 dB higher than for two omnidirectional microphones spaced the same distance apart.
Another noise reduction—of about 3 dB—comes about because a two omnidirectional microphone design requires two preamplifiers, while a design utilizing a dual-inlet microphone requires only one preamplifier.As stated above, the signal-to-noise ratio of a directional hearing aid increases with increasing spacing between the two ports of the aid. If, for example, this spacing is increased from 4 mm (as in the above-referenced D-MIC device) to 12 mm, microphone sensitivity will increase by about 8-10 dB. The aid therefore becomes much quieter.The signal-to-noise ratio of the aid is further improved by using a single larger microphone (EL size with a larger membrane area) instead of EM size microphone with smaller membrane. Using an EL-size microphone instead of EM-size microphone increases the signal-to-noise ratio of the aid by another 3-5 dB.The drawings are illustrative and are not necessarily to scale.
The same element is always indicated by the same reference numeral in all the Figures, and corresponding elements (e.g. The housing 2 may be of the “half shell” type.A receiver 4 and a hearing aid circuit 6 are contained within the housing 2. A faceplate 8, having outer and inner faces 8a and 8b, respectively, seals off the exterior end of the housing 2. The microphone 10, the receiver 4 and the hearing aid circuit 6 are all operatively connected together.The microphone 10 may advantageously be a modified version of a microphone now manufactured by Knowles Electronics, Inc.
In the EL-3085 microphone as manufactured, spouts are attached to the side walls of the cartridge, and a wire mesh acoustic resistor is mounted inside each spout.
The acoustic resistors 14-1, 14-2 provide a) a correct time delay to compensate for the time required for a sound wave to travel between the hearing aid ports and b) protection of the membrane from foreign particles.Two ports 16-1 and 16-2 are located in the faceplate 8. The ports 16-1 and 16-2 are spaced apart by a distance that is at least 6 mm and that is at most 12 mm. Each of the ports 16-1 and 16-2 is connected to a corresponding one of the inlets 12-1, 12-2 by a corresponding one of two outwardly diverging channels 18-1, 18-2.
In this example, the channels 18-1? and 18-2? are shaped to mate with the shapes of the inlets 12-1? and 12-2?. The microphone 10? may advantageously be made by substituting angled spouts for the existing spouts on the above-described model EL-3085 microphone, and moving the angled spouts towards the faceplate 8?.In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the channels 18? and 18? are formed by spaces between the face plate 8? cavity, the microphone 10? and a rear cover 32. The rear cover 32 (which is of the same material as the face plate) is sealed by adhesive to the microphone 10? and the face plate 8?.Although one or more preferred embodiments have been described above, the scope of the invention is limited only by the following claims.



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