This study examined the effect that signal processing strategies used in modern hearing aids, such as multi-channel WDRC, noise reduction, and directional microphones have on interaural difference cues and horizontal localization performance relative to linear, time-invariant amplification. Twelve participants were bilaterally fitted with BTE devices. Horizontal localization testing using a 360° loudspeaker array and broadband pulsed pink noise was performed two weeks, and two months, post-fitting. The effect of noise reduction was measured with a constant noise present at 80° azimuth. Data were analysed independently in the left/right and front/back dimension and showed that of the three signal processing strategies, directional microphones had the most significant effect on horizontal localization performance and over time. Specifically, a cardioid microphone could decrease front/back errors over time, whereas left/right errors increased when different microphones were fitted to left and right ears. Front/back confusions were generally prominent. Objective measurements of interaural differences on KEMAR explained significant shifts in left/right errors. In conclusion, there is scope for improving the sense of localization in hearing aid users.
- Behind-the-ear device
- Directional microphone
- Front/back confusions
- Horizontal localization
- Interaural difference measurements
- Multi-channel wide dynamic range compression
- Noise reduction