Receiver-in-ear hearing aid comparison on music perception for hearing-impaired listeners

Authors: Kars Tjepkema1, Kauê Werner 1, Johannes Lyzenga1, Jan de Laat2

1Absolute Audio Labs B.V.

2Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC

Background: People value music highly because it provides pleasure, helps them unwind and regulate their moods, and is a crucial component of social interactions. Therefore, it can be very inconvenient and distressing when hearing aids lack the ability to reproduce an enjoyable music experience for those who become hearing impaired. In this double-blinded study two of the leading RiC Hearing Aids (HA) on the market for music streaming were compared to the RiC hearing aid prototype with firmware developed by Absolute Audio Labs (AAL).

Methods: For this study, the music streaming option of three RiC HA (AAL-Amadeus, Oticon More MiniRITE R and Resound One) were compared pairwisely and pseudo-randomized into a 6-by-6 Latin Square design. The music was streamed to the RiC HA using Bluetooth 5.0 and ASHA-compatible phones. The participant was then forced to choose between two identical fragments. Six music song sections corresponding to three different genres were selected to cover all aspects of music. Using a Thurstone Case V model and maximum a-posteriori (MAP) estimation the pairwise comparisons were scaled to one dimension to compare the music perception of the subjects.

Results: Twelve subjects with binaural sensorineural hearing loss were included in this study. Each subject was presented with 108 comparisons divided into three genres. Results showed that subjects preferred the RiC hearing aid prototype of AAL significantly more than the other two hearing aids (p<.001 and p=.004). The AAL-Amadeus was preferred over the other two RiC HA in the genres jazz and popular music and was preferred over the Resound in the genre classical music.

Conclusions: This study showed that the AAL-Amadeus is a well performing RiC hearing aid for listening and streaming of music, which was demonstrated in this music test by outperforming two of the leading HAs currently on the market for music streaming. It demonstrates the need for better music streaming through hearing aids.