Objectives: The goal of Experiment I was to quantify the SPL entering the ear canal via a secondary pathway created by a vent in the earmold and/or a slit leak around the earmold. The goal of Experiment II was to determine the validity of a real ear to coupler difference (RECD) procedure under conditions that are likely to produce errors (e.g., when hearing aid gain in the low frequencies is minimal and large negative RECD values occur as a result of venting or a loosely fitting earmold). Design: In Experiment I, the SPL entering the ear via the secondary pathway was measured in 61 hearing-impaired children and 13 normal-hearing adults. In Experiment II, traditional probe microphone measures of real ear SPL were compared to the SPL predicted using the RECD procedure in five normal-hearing adults with loosely fitting earmolds. Results: Results of Experiment I indicated that sound entered the ear canal unattenuated at 250 and 500 Hz, regardless of earmold fit, vent size, or subject age. In Experiment II, the largest differences between traditional probe microphone measures of SPL and predicted measures were noted when hearing aid gain was 0 dB and large negative RECD values were present. When hearing aid gain was minimal and the RECD was in the -10 to -22 dB range, predicted values underestimated the real ear SPL by an average of 14 dB. Conclusions: Although the results of this study apply only to a limited range of conditions found in clinical practice, in those cases, the errors may influence clinical decisions about the type of hearing aid fitted and the amount of gain provided. Potential solutions to this problem are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing