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Microphone-array hearing aids with binaural output .I. Fixed-processing systems

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3 Author(s)
Desloge, J.G. ; Res. Lab. of Electron., MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA ; Rabinowitz, W.M. ; Zurek, P.M.

This work is aimed at developing a design for the use of a microphone array with binaural hearing aids. The goal of such a hearing aid is to provide both the spatial-filtering benefits of the array and the natural benefits to sound localization and speech intelligibility that accrue from binaural listening. The present study examines two types of designs for fixed-processing systems: one in which independent arrays provide outputs to the two ears, and another in which the binaural outputs are derived from a single array. For the latter, various methods are used to merge array processing with binaural listening. In one approach, filters are designed to satisfy a frequency-dependent trade between directionality and binaural cue fidelity. In another, the microphone signals are filtered into low- and high-frequency components with the lowpass signals providing binaural cues and the highpass signal being the single output of the array processor. Acoustic and behavioral measurements were made in an anechoic chamber and in a moderately reverberant room to evaluate example systems. Theoretical performance was calculated for model arrays mounted on an idealized spherical head. Results show that both single- and dual-array systems provided target-intelligibility enhancements (2-4 dB improvements in speech reception threshold) relative to binaural cardioid microphones. In addition, the binaural-output systems provided cues that assist in sound localization, with resulting performance depending directly upon the cue fidelity. Finally, the sphere-based calculations accurately reflected the major features of the actual head-mounted array results, both in terms of directional sensitivity and output binaural cues

Published in:

Speech and Audio Processing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 6 )