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The Benefit of Remote Microphones Using Four Wireless Protocols

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Background:

Many studies have reported the speech recognition benefits of a personal remote microphone system when used by adult listeners with hearing loss. The advance of wireless technology has allowed for many wireless audio transmission protocols. Some of these protocols interface with commercially available hearing aids. As a result, commercial remote microphone systems use a variety of different protocols for wireless audio transmission. It is not known how these systems compare, with regard to adult speech recognition in noise.

Purpose:

The primary goal of this investigation was to determine the speech recognition benefits of four different commercially available remote microphone systems, each with a different wireless audio transmission protocol.

Research Design:

A repeated-measures design was used in this study.

Study Sample:

Sixteen adults, ages 52 to 81 yr, with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss participated in this study.

Intervention:

Participants were fit with three different sets of bilateral hearing aids and four commercially available remote microphone systems (FM, 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and Bluetooth® paired with near-field magnetic induction).

Data Collection and Analysis:

Speech recognition scores were measured by an adaptive version of the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT). The participants were seated both 6 and 12′ away from the talker loudspeaker. Participants repeated HINT sentences with and without hearing aids and with four commercially available remote microphone systems in both seated positions with and without contributions from the hearing aid or environmental microphone (24 total conditions). The HINT SNR-50, or the signal-to-noise ratio required for correct repetition of 50% of the sentences, was recorded for all conditions. A one-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to determine statistical significance of microphone condition.

Results:

The results of this study revealed that use of the remote microphone systems statistically improved speech recognition in noise relative to unaided and hearing aid-only conditions across all four wireless transmission protocols at 6 and 12′ away from the talker.

Conclusions:

Participants showed a significant improvement in speech recognition in noise when comparing four remote microphone systems with different wireless transmission methods to hearing aids alone.
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Keywords: Assistive listening devices; frequency modulation; hearing aids; remote microphones; speech perception

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2015

This article was made available online on 15 July 2015 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Benefit of Remote Microphones Using Four Wireless Protocols".

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