Hearing aids are made of several components, including the microphone. There are several types of microphone: omnidirectional microphones, directional microphones, adaptive directional microphones, or a combination of microphone technologies. It is an essential component, because the directionality of sound ensures a unique listening experience for the user in a noisy environment. Modern ones, almost always have both types of microphones.
Directional microphones in hearing aids serve several important purposes, which enhance the listening experience for users. Here are some reasons why they are beneficial:
The aim of ADMs is to provide users with a more dynamic response to varying sound environments, particularly in challenging listening situations. Here are some key points about adaptive directional microphones:
An adaptive directional microphone is able to decipher both a sound from one direction, but can also automatically change the direction in which it is pointed and also automatically adapt and adjust the noise filters and amplification of the microphone according to the settings.
Simple directional microphones must have two audio ports, front and back, which allow the user to hear background noise on both sides of the microphones at the same time. Simple directional microphones amplify sounds coming from a specific direction (typically the front) while attenuating sounds from other directions (like the sides and back).
With the dual-microphone system the hearing aid can calculate the difference between the sounds reaching each microphone, emphasizing the sounds from a particular direction and also might be more affordable than those equipped with adaptive directional technology, making them a potential option for those on a budget. The choice between simple and adaptive microphones should be based on an individual's needs, preferences, and budget, with guidance from an audiologist.
Automatic directional microphones monitor noise levels around the user. The hearing aid is able to automatically switch modes, activating the omnidirectional mode, if it detects noise that may overpower the speech signal.
This microphone allows the user to experience every noisy situation at its best, thus avoiding having to activate the directional microphone every time. In summary, automatic directional microphones offer a dynamic listening experience that adjusts to the user's environment, making them highly versatile.
An omnidirectional microphone picks up sounds from all sides and directions, front, back or side. This type of microphone is suitable for users who do not frequent noisy places, but rather for those who prefer days spent in chance or in nature.
To achieve a better listening experience, the two technologies (omnidirectional and directional) are often used together. Directional microphones focus on sounds coming from a specific direction (usually the front). The use of this microphone is preferred in noisy environments, because it precisely allows the person wearing the hearing aids to focus only on the sounds in front, eliminating almost all background sounds.
The main advantage of directional microphones is therefore the quality of the listening experience, which is clear even in noisy places.
The brain is able to isolate and focus on specific sounds, to focus on specific voices in the midst of many other voices. It is because of this ability that cocktail party effect occurs, that is, placing attention on one specific sound (voice) in the midst of many other sounds (other voices).
When one suffers from hearing loss, the ability to distinguish and isolate his or her own becomes increasingly difficult. Listening in noise becomes increasingly difficult because the brain does not receive the same clarity of sound information.
Omnidirectional microphones, which pick up and amplify all sounds equally, can make the listening experience more difficult in noisy environments such as restaurants. Directional microphones, on the other hand, can distinguish the voices of the people sitting around the user, which makes a conversation inside a bar or restaurant pleasant for those with hearing loss.
Directionality is an important feature of hearing aids. Having a hearing aid with a directional microphone can be very important for users to be able to understand and distinguish the voices of the people around them in a noisy environment.
It is important that people with hearing loss never feel excluded from conversations, or from all those everyday situations that can become difficult in noisy environments. It's worth noting that not everyone may benefit from directional microphones in the same way. The effectiveness can depend on the individual's hearing loss, the specific hearing aid technology, and the listening environment. Consulting with an audiologist is essential to determine the best hearing aid features for any individual's needs.