Danish hearing aid specialist Widex has developed a new signal processing technology that promises to overcome the issue of poor sound quality, which prevents thousands of people from pursing hearing assistance.
The company said its Widex PureSound technology features two signal processing pathways — a ‘classic’ version and a new ZeroDelay Accelerator pathway that dramatically changes how hearing aids sound.
“Sound quality and the ‘naturalness’ of sound remain among the most-cited reasons people don’t pursue hearing assistance, despite the great strides in hearing aid innovation made over the last decades,” said Widex head of Audiology Lise Henningsen.
“When hearing aids went digital, drastic improvements in noise reduction and advanced signal processing came at a price, but Widex has figured out how to overcome it.”
Taking an analogue sound wave, converting it to a digital signal, processing it, then re-converting into a sound wave takes anywhere from four to eight milliseconds. Studies have shown that a processing delay of that length can adversely affect sound quality, especially if processed sound and unprocessed sound mix in the ear canal of a hearing aid user, creating what is called a comb filter effect.
“When that happens, the perceived quality of the user’s own voice becomes tinny and artificial,” Henningsen said. “Environmental sounds come out distorted and unusual and, overall, the resulting sound becomes strenuous to listen to over time.”
The new Widex ZeroDelay Accelerator reduces the processing delay in its WIDEX MOMENT hearing aids to below 0.5 milliseconds.
For the second, accelerated pathway in Widex PureSound-based hearing aids, signal processing is adapted to the ZeroDelay design to deliver the purest sound quality.
The two pathways — ZeroDelay and ‘classic’ — exist side-by-side on the Widex PureSound platform. Depending on the needs of the wearer, a hearing care professional can program one or the other as the default mode. From there, the PureSound platform is adaptable to each user’s situation and preferred hearing experience.
“The wearer of hearing aids with the two distinct pathways can switch between them based on where they are and what they want to hear, thereby enjoying far greater sound quality and a more natural experience in most situations,” said Henningsen.