Listener performance with a novel hearing aid frequency lowering technique

Benjamin J. Kirby, Judy G. Kopun, Meredith Spratford, Clairissa M. Mollak, Marc A Brennan, Ryan W McCreery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Sloping hearing loss imposes limits on audibility for high-frequency sounds in many hearing aid users. Signal processing algorithms that shift high-frequency sounds to lower frequencies have been introduced in hearing AIDS to address this challenge by improving audibility of high-frequency sounds. Purpose: This study examined speech perception performance, listening effort, and subjective sound quality ratings with conventional hearing aid processing and a new frequency-lowering signal processing strategy called frequency composition (FC) in adults and children. Research Design: Participants wore the study hearing AIDS in two signal processing conditions (conventional processing versus FC) at an initial laboratory visit and subsequently at home during two approximately six-week long trials, with the order of conditions counterbalanced across individuals in a double-blind paradigm. Study Sample: Children (N = 12, 7 females, mean age in years = 12.0, SD = 3.0) and adults (N = 12, 6 females, mean age in years = 56.2, SD = 17.6) with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss who were full-time hearing aid users. Data Collection and Analyses: Individual performance with each type of processing was assessed using speech perception tasks, a measure of listening effort, and subjective sound quality surveys at an initial visit. At the conclusion of each subsequent at-home trial, participants were retested in the laboratory. Linear mixed effects analyses were completed for each outcome measure with signal processing condition, age group, visit (prehome versus posthome trial), and measures of aided audibility as predictors. Results: Overall, there were few significant differences in speech perception, listening effort, or subjective sound quality between FC and conventional processing, effects of listener age, or longitudinal changes in performance. Listeners preferred FC to conventional processing on one of six subjective sound quality metrics. Better speech perception performance was consistently related to higher aided audibility. Conclusions: These results indicate that when high-frequency speech sounds are made audible with conventional processing, speech recognition ability and listening effort are similar between conventional processing and FC. Despite the lack of benefit to speech perception, some listeners still preferred FC, suggesting that qualitative measures should be considered when evaluating candidacy for this signal processing strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-822
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Adults
  • Children
  • Frequency lowering
  • Hearing AIDS
  • Hearing loss
  • Plural recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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