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Hearing Aid Question

Michael Reilly mcr2582 at ritvax.isc.rit.edu
Sat Jun 7 03:12:26 EST 1997


I have a deaf friend who uses hearing aids to hear some sounds. The other
day another friend was playing with an empty plastic soda bottle pressing
the sides and letting the side pop out again. Well my deaf friend asked
them to stop, because it was bothering her. Later she explained that she
can hear high frequency sounds much better than lower frequency ones, and
for that reason the high frequency sounds are extra amplified by her
hearing aids, too much in some cases. This made sense, I understood that
hearing loss may sometimes be limited to only certian ranges in
frequencies. 

Later however I got to thinking. I participate in theater and I know that
in the sound booth we have 1/3rd octave Equalizers which allows us to
adjust the levels of specific frequency ranges, which as I understand it
is to compensate for the sound equipments ability to reproduce those
sounds, and theater space's acoustics, in order to get all the freqencies
at approximately the same volume. It is also used to turn down the
frequencies at which feedback occurs easily to make it less likely to
occur. 

So I was wondering are any of these capabilities available in hearing
aids? Its probably not a user servicable type thing, but is it possible to
hook them to equipment and EQ them, for example turning up the frequency
ranges that the person finds hardest to hear, while turning down those
frequencies they hear easily, thus approaching a more even volume across
all frequencies? Perhaps this would allow better amplification of the
harder to hear frequencies, by reducing the amplification of the
frequencies that may be too loud under normal, across the board
amplification. In this case it would also be possible to turn down the
levels of the frequencies where feedback occurs most, as it is usually
around the same frequency from what I have heard. Plus maybe have auto
ranging ability, to match the input to the output, from my experience
people spend a lot of time adjusting the volume, it seems like the device
should be able to adjust to some degree on its own. Sort of like another
piece of theater equipment called a Compressor/Limiter which pushes the
sound wave amplitude into a certian range, lowering the high amplitudes
and increasing the low amplitudes.

Please feel free to correct my information stated above, I'm not entirely
familiar with the equipment I mentioned, only with the basic concepts
involved. 

I don't know anything about hearing aids in this respect, I'm just
thinking about my limited knowledge of other sound equipment and wondering
if these concepts could be applied, or maybe they are already. Do these
features exist in some hearing aid models?

                  -Michael



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