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Localization of virtual sound sources with bilateral hearing aids in realistic acoustical scenes


Mueller, M F; Kegel, A; Schimmel, S M; Dillier, N; Hofbauer, M (2012). Localization of virtual sound sources with bilateral hearing aids in realistic acoustical scenes. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131(6):4732-4742.

Abstract

Sound localization with hearing aids has traditionally been investigated in artificial laboratory settings. These settings are not representative of environments in which hearing aids are used. With individual Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) and room simulations, realistic environments can be reproduced and the performance of hearing aid algorithms can be evaluated. In this study, four different environments with background noise have been implemented in which listeners had to localize different sound sources. The HRTFs were measured inside the ear canals of the test subjects and by the microphones of Behind-The-Ear (BTEs) hearing aids. In the first experiment the system for virtual acoustics was evaluated by comparing perceptual sound localization results for the four scenes in a real room with a simulated one. In the second experiment, sound localization with three BTE algorithms, an omnidirectional microphone, a monaural cardioid-shaped beamformer and a monaural noise canceler, was examined. The results showed that the system for generating virtual environments is a reliable tool to evaluate sound localization with hearing aids. With BTE hearing aids localization performance decreased and the number of front-back confusions was at chance level. The beamformer, due to its directivity characteristics, allowed the listener to resolve the front-back ambiguity.

Sound localization with hearing aids has traditionally been investigated in artificial laboratory settings. These settings are not representative of environments in which hearing aids are used. With individual Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) and room simulations, realistic environments can be reproduced and the performance of hearing aid algorithms can be evaluated. In this study, four different environments with background noise have been implemented in which listeners had to localize different sound sources. The HRTFs were measured inside the ear canals of the test subjects and by the microphones of Behind-The-Ear (BTEs) hearing aids. In the first experiment the system for virtual acoustics was evaluated by comparing perceptual sound localization results for the four scenes in a real room with a simulated one. In the second experiment, sound localization with three BTE algorithms, an omnidirectional microphone, a monaural cardioid-shaped beamformer and a monaural noise canceler, was examined. The results showed that the system for generating virtual environments is a reliable tool to evaluate sound localization with hearing aids. With BTE hearing aids localization performance decreased and the number of front-back confusions was at chance level. The beamformer, due to its directivity characteristics, allowed the listener to resolve the front-back ambiguity.

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6 citations in Web of Science®
7 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:02 Oct 2012 07:40
Last Modified:16 May 2016 07:16
Publisher:American Institute of Physics
ISSN:0001-4966
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4705292
PubMed ID:22712946
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-64943

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