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J Speech Hear Res. 1992 Feb;35(1):175-85.

Hearing aid saturation and aided loudness discomfort.

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Argosy Electronics, Eden Prairie, MN.


Clinical measurements of the loudness discomfort level (LDL) are generally performed while the subject listens to a particular stimulus presented from an audiometer through headphones (AUD-HP). The assumption in clinical practice has been that the sound pressure level (SPL) corresponding to the sensation of loudness discomfort under AUD-HP conditions will be the same as the corresponding to LDL with the hearing aid. This assumption ignores the fact that the distortion produced by a saturating hearing aid could have an influence on the sensation of loudness. To examine these issues, 5 hearing-impaired subjects were each fit with four linear hearing aids, each having a different saturation sound pressure level (SSPL90). Probe-tube microphone measurements of ear canal SPL at LDL were made while the subjects listened to continuous discourse in quiet under aided and AUD-HP conditions. Also using continuous discourse, real-ear coherence measures were made at various output sound pressure levels near LDL. All four hearing aid types produced mean LDLs that were lower than those obtained under AUD-HP conditions. Those hearing aids with higher SSPL90 produced significantly higher LDLs than hearing aids with lower SSPL90. A significant negative correlation was found between real-ear SPL and real-ear coherence. Quality judgments made at LDL indicated that sound quality of hearing aids with higher SSPL90 was preferred to that of hearing aids with lower SSPL90. Possible fitting implications regarding the setting of SSPL90 from AUD-HP LDL measures are discussed.

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