Over the last few years, directional hearing instruments have experienced tremendous growth in popularity. Whatever the directional microphone configuration, directional hearing instruments have been widely acknowledged as being the most reliable method of increasing signal-to-noise ratios in noisy environments. This section of The Hearing Review is intended to provide readers with an update on the latest available directional hearing aid technology offered by hearing instrument manufacturers. The information presented here was provided by the participating companies upon request by HR.
To obtain more information about the following products, please circle the appropriate number on the Reader Service Card on page 66 of this magazine. Additionally, advertisers in this issue of HR have their Web sites, where more product information can be obtained, listed on the last page of this magazine.
Audina Hearing Instruments, Longwood, Fla, offers a comprehensive product line that includes digital, programmable, and conventional products, all available with the companys directional technology. The companys digital product line includes its top of the line Nueve digital, as well as the Paragon 4 digital. These and other Audina products are also available with the companys directional technology, which uses two microphone inputs along with time-delay circuitry to create a directional response. For more information, contact Audina at (800) 223-7700, or visit the companys Web site, www.audina.net.
Electones AudioAIM directional microphone system is designed to improve speech understanding in the midst of distracting background noise. Its multiple microphone design maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio by attenuating background noise as it arrives at the port(s). While in directional mode, AudioAIM amplifies sounds from the front and provides attenuation of sound from behind and to either side by up to 6 dB. Changing the toggle switch toward the pinna accesses the omnidirectional microphone and provides the patient the full rich spectrum of surrounding sounds. AudioAIM is available on full and half shell models of Class A, Class D, Class D AGC-O, SDM, and Sierra. (800) 432-7483; www.electoneonline.com.
General Hearing Instruments
General Hearing Instruments Inc, has developed a new patent-pending wax protection system called the Dynamic WaxCap.Ý The soft, flexible action of the WaxCap allows the canal tip to fold down and cover the sound port during insertion into the ear canal and reopen it when the device is properly seated. The sound port runs perpendicular to the internal receiver port and allows sound to exit through the top and bottom ports of the canal tip rather than through the traditional canal tip port. The dynamic action of the WaxCap in conjunction with channeled molding of the perpendicular sound port prevents wax from directly entering the receiver while offering unimpeded sound quality. The WaxCap is easy to visually inspect and physically clean with a wax loop or pipe cleaner. The Dynamic WaxCap is available on all soft custom and Ready-Wear hearing devices. (800) 824-3021; www.generalhearing.com.
Gennum Corp offers several DSP products with embedded Frontwave functionality designed to provide enhanced directional performance when combined with two microphones. Up to four memories can be programmed by the manufacturer or dispenser, and a wide variety of directional patterns can be employed, including cardioid, hypercardioid, supercardioid, and bi-directional. Combined with the companys calibration software, Frontwave reportedly compensates for any sensitivity and phase mismatches between the microphones, which is designed to eliminate the need for matched microphone pairs. In addition, the loss of low frequency sensitivity can be corrected for, according to the company. Products featuring Frontwave include the Paragon DSP family of products. (905) 632-2996; www.gennum.com.
GN ReSounds Canta 7 hearing instruments feature adaptive directionality. Adaptive directionality utilizes input from two omni-directional microphones and applies a digital delay to achieve optimum directionality. The adaptive function allows the null point, or point of least amplification, of the system to move in infinite intervals based upon the location of the loudest noise source in the rear plane. The system adapts 250 times per second to provide the user with optimum listening in noise. GN ReSounds Canta 4 hearing instruments feature a fixed directional system. The fixed system is made up of two omni directional microphones and calculates a fixed hypercardiod polar pattern by applying a digital delay. Directional systems are standard in all Canta 7 and Canta 4 BTE, ITE and half shell hearing instruments. (800) 248-4327; www.gnresound.com.
Magnatone offers the DirectVoice directional system, designed to eliminate the problem of dual-microphone drift with its single-microphone design. The sytem is activated by a D-slide switch which is easy for patients to activate. Two modes are available: directional mode, which is designed to maximize sounds originating in front of a patient and minimize sounds from behind them; and omni-directional mode, designed to amplify noise and speech equally from all directions. The system is available in the half- and full-shell models with the companys TruVoice® 100% digitals and DigiPro programmable instruments. (800) 327-5159; www.magnatone.com.
Micro-Tech Hearing Instruments, at the forefront of the recent directional revolution in 1996, holds the US patent on the dual-omni, switchable, directional design. Two current offerings set Micro-Techs directionals apart from the competition, according to the company. First, the Denali, Caballo and Dx3 digital instruments can be built with the directional option (DiRx ) and our Touchless Telecoil in the same instrument. Second, the new high-end Alpine II digital matches microphones digitally in each aid, allowing the fitter to select the preferred directional pattern in each of three memories and supplements that flexibility with an automatic directional switch, which adapts to environmental demands. (800) 745-4327; www.hearing-aid.com.
Oticons approach to digital directionality aims to maximize speech understanding in noise. The Oticon directional system has two distinguishing features: Paired microphones and acoustically identical sound input passages along with a matched circuit, which result in a high overall level of directionality; and directionality that is weighted towards the mid to high frequencies where most speech information is located, allowing the system to function with open ear acoustics. Instruments fitted with this digital directional system have AIDI levels of 3.8 for BTE and 4.1 for ITE instruments. This system is implemented in the Adapto, Gaia, and Atlas product families, allowing these instruments to provide superior speech understanding in noisy environments. (800) 526-3921; www.oticonus.com.
Phonak became a leader in directional systems with AudioZoom, using two omnidirectional microphones. Now, Adaptive digital AudioZoom* (dAZ) as found in the Claro and Perseo, is the most sophisticated directional system available, according to the company. dAZ scans the environment to identify the loudest source of background noise, adjusting the polar pattern to optimize signal-to-noise ratio. Also available is the MiniZoom, developed in response to the demand for an effective directional system in custom instruments. MiniZoom is available in Aero and Amio ITE and ITC instruments. (800) 777-7333; www.phonak.com.
Qualitone offers directional listening systems in all of its DSP-based BTE and ITE products. Its flagship product, Marquise, features a choice of four polar patters with dynamic directionality, which automatically switches to directional mode when needed. The three-channel Trilliant allows directional to be programmed into any of its three memories. Similar directional capabilities are found in the Evolution and Quantum as well. Directional systems are also available in all six of Qualitones trimmer-based DSP line, Ultra. (800) 328-3897; www.qualitonehearing.com.
Rexton offers a variety of directional instruments to meet the needs of many hearing losses. Voyage full shell, half shell, and canal digital instruments utilize the latest digital technology to produce superior sound quality. With four memories and 16 bands, Voyage offers extensive fitting options. A directional microphone comes standard on the Voyage BTE. Add a directional microphone to the two channel, four band Emotion full shell, half shell, or canal digital hearing instruments. A directional Emotion BTE is also available. A full shell, half shell, or canal directional microphone can be fit with the popular Sensation digital circuit. A directional microphone option is also available on the trimmer-based gran-D custom digital product. (800) 876-1141; www.rexton.com.
Siemens Hearing Instruments offers the Signia select and Prisma fully digital instruments, and Music® and Infiniti 3 analog programmable hearing instruments. Easy switching between directional and omni-directional modes is designed to give users enhanced understanding of speech in the presence of background noise. The design and multi-microphone capability generate an appropriate delay and subtraction of the signals for precise directional sensitivity. Available in HS, ITE, and BTE models. In addition, the company offers TRIANO, a family of hearing instruments with new directional technologythat includes the Micro-CIC, as well as BTEs, CICs, and ITEs. (800) 766-4500; www.siemens-hearing.com.
SONIC innovations invites you to experience its latest breakthrough in directional technology: NATURA®3 with DIRECTIONALplus. Available on the companys ITC, HS, ITE and BTE models, NATURA 3 with DIRECTIONAL plus is said to provide an unmatched system by combining a switchable directional microphone technology with the companys Personalized Noise Reduction. When combined, these two technologies emphasize speech sounds from in front of the hearing aid and de-emphasize noise originating from all directions. Directionality is also available on the companys NATURA 2 SE, ALTAIR, TRIBUTE, ITC HS, ITE and BTE products. According to the company, directional hearing aids never looked or sounded so good. (888) 423-7834; www.sonici.com.
Starkey Laboratories new Axent II hearing instrument features exclusive dynamic directionality, utilizing digitally configurable dual microphones. The dynamic feature automatically switches the microphone mode between directional and omni-directional when environmentally appropriate. Three different KEMAR-designed polar response patterns can be programmed within PFS to customize the direction of greatest noise reduction offering your patients a greater range of audibility. Audio vision directional options are available for Arista, Sequel, and Endeavour and activated in any memory within PFS. Directionality is also available for Discovery D non-programmable digital hearing instruments. (800)328-8602; www.starkey.com.
Conversa offers advanced solutions to concerns such as understanding conversation in noise. Conversas ClearPath technology utilizes three technologies: 1) 16-channel intelligent noise reduction; 2) Vector directional microphones, and 3) ClearPath processing strategy. Unison is a fully featured accessible digital solution, which includes the choice of four processing strategies and vector directional microphone to optimize hearing in noise. Conversa and Unisons vector directional microphone is available on full shell, half-shell, and canal custom instruments, and standard on Conversa and Unison 4 BTE. (800) 888-8882; www.unitronhearing.com.
The SensoDiva Locator is the first and only dual-mic adaptive directional aid in an ITC model (BTEs and ITEs available), according to Widex. The OptiMic continuously matches the sensitivity and phase of the dual microphones. The Noise Classifier constantly analyzes the inputs so an omnidirectional microphone is assigned in wind noise and in quiet. In other situations, the adaptive microphone optimizes its polar pattern while compensating for the low-frequency. An in-situ directivity index of 4-6 dB is possible. (800) 221-0188; www.widexusa.com.