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Music and hearing aids

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 13:12 by Marshall Chasin, Frank A Russo
Historically, the primary concern for hearing aid design and fitting is optimization for speech inputs. However, increasingly other types of inputs are being investigated and this is certainly the case for music. Whether the hearing aid wearer is a musician or merely someone who likes to listen to music, the electronic and electro-acoustic parameters described can be optimized for music as well as for speech. That is, a hearing aid optimally set for music can be optimally set for speech, even though the converse is not necessarily true. Similarities and differences between speech and music as inputs to a hearing aid are described. Many of these lead to the specification of a set of optimal electro-acoustic characteristics. Parameters such as the peak input-limiting level, compression issues—both compression ratio and kneepoints—and number of channels all can deleteriously affect music perception through hearing aids. In other cases, it is not clear how to set other parameters such as noise reduction and feedback control mechanisms. Regardless of the existence of a “music program,” unless the various electro-acoustic parameters are available in a hearing aid, music fidelity will almost always be less than optimal. There are many unanswered questions and hypotheses in this area. Future research by engineers, researchers, clinicians, and musicians will aid in the clarification of these questions and their ultimate solutions.

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