The robustness of hearing aid microphone preferences in everyday listening environments

Brian E. Walden*, Rauna K. Surr, Mary T. Cord, Ken W. Grant, Van Summers, Andrew B. Dittberner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Automatic directionality algorithms currently implemented hearing in aids assume that hearing-impaired persons with similar hearing losses will prefer the same microphone processing mode in a specific everyday listening environment. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the robustness of microphone preferences in everyday listening. Two hearing-impaired persons made microphone preference judgments (omnidirectional preferred, directional preferred, no preference) in a variety of everyday listening situations. Simultaneously, these acoustic environments were recorded through the omnidirectional and directional microphone processing modes. The acoustic recordings were later presented in a laboratory setting for microphone preferences to the original two listeners and other listeners who differed in hearing ability and experience with directional microphone processing. The original two listeners were able to replicate their live microphone preferences in the laboratory with a high degree of accuracy. This suggests that the basis of the original live microphone preferences were largely represented in the acoustic recordings. Other hearing-impaired and normal-hearing participants who listened to the environmental recordings also accurately replicated the original live omnidirectional preferences; however, directional preferences were not as robust across the listeners. When the laboratory rating did not replicate the live directional microphone preference, listeners almost always expressed no preference for either microphone mode. Hence, a preference for omnidirectional processing was rarely expressed by any of the participants to recorded sites where directional processing had been preferred as a live judgment and vice versa. These results are interpreted to provide little basis for customizing automatic directionality algorithms for individual patients. The implications of these findings for hearing aid design are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-379
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Directional microphones
  • Everyday listening environments
  • Hearing aids
  • Microphone preference


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