Control of hearing-aid saturated sound pressure level by frequency-shaped output compression limiting

Hugh J. McDermott*, Michelle R. Dean, Harvey Dillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To fit a hearing aid successfully, it is important to set the Saturated Sound Pressure Level (SSPL) or Maximum Power Output (MPO) appropriately. The SSPL should be low enough to prevent sounds from being amplified to uncomfortable loudness, and yet high enough to maximize speech intelligibility and signal quality. To help attain an optimum SSPL setting, a novel output compression limiting scheme, with shapable MPO (ShaMPO), has been devised. In ShaMPO, the SSPL is shaped across frequencies in accordance with the individual user's loudness discomfort levels (LDLs). The contributions of different frequency regions to loudness are controlled by summing the amplified signal power relative to the LDLs across frequencies, and using this signal to control a wideband compressor. This scheme and a conventional output compression limiting (AGCo) scheme have been implemented in a digital hearing aid. Ten subjects, with moderately-severe to profound sensorineural hearing losses, participated in a study comparing speech intelligibility and listening comfort for the two schemes. Results showed that there were no significant differences in the speech perception scores between AGCo and ShaMPO, even when the speech was presented at 80 dBA, at which level both schemes were in compression much of the time. However, an examination of how subjects selected the SSPL for the two schemes revealed that, in many instances, AGCo would permit some sounds with compact spectra to be amplified above LDL, whereas ShaMPO would not. Thus the ShaMPO scheme can improve listening comfort for some intense sounds without a loss of speech intelligibility. In contrast, half the subjects found speech at 80 dBA to be uncomfortably loud when listening through their own aids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Audiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Compression
  • Hearing aids
  • Loudness perception
  • Output limiting
  • Speech processing


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