As a technology company, we’re always excited and proud when we develop a new way to solve problems that have challenged the hearing industry, but we know this means nothing if it doesn’t represent a real, audible difference that positively impacts the lives of the people that wear our hearing aids.
That’s why we invest in so many tests and surveys of our products. And PureSound – arguably our biggest audiological innovation to date – is a case in point.
Our ambition with PureSound was to eradicate the delay-based distortion that leaves so many hearing aid users with the feeling that the tinny, artificial sound they’re experiencing is just the way hearing aids sound. The disappointment and frustration this can result in is a key reason for returned or unused hearing aids.
By giving them a sound that feels natural, we hoped to improve this initial experience, but, as it turns out, the real-life effect was even greater.
From controlled studies to real-world experiencesZeroDelay™ – the technology that powers the PureSound experience – was initially tested in more controlled studies. The data we got from these assessments proved that users preferred PureSound to standard delay, that speech intelligibility was on par with the industry, and that ZeroDelay elicited a stronger and more faithful neural response to speech. But we still didn’t know how people felt about the PureSound experience in real life. To remedy this, we embarked on an international survey of 39 participants with mild to moderate hearing loss who used Widex Moment™ with PureSound in their daily lives. We asked them to rate their experience and satisfaction with PureSound compared to their own hearing aids. Although we didn’t have specific delay measurements for the users’ own hearing aids, PureSound processing is so much faster than all other digital hearing aids that we can assume a difference in delay*.
PureSound delivers across the board
The PureSound advantage was clear throughout the survey but was particularly strong on the questions where we expected delay to make a difference. This demonstrated how well our acoustic measurements translated to real-life experiences:
- 95% found the sound ‘natural’ – The lower delay of PureSound was clearly associated with high naturalness ratings (figure 1.). This result is especially pleasing since the respondents could discern a more natural sound despite being habituated to their own hearing aids and therefore acclimatised to their tinny, unnatural sound.
- 95% find the sound ‘clear’ – Clarity and naturalness are related (figure 2.) and high clarity ratings are also likely due to the absence of comb-filtering (delay-based distortion).
- Own voice perceived as more natural for PureSound than for own hearing aids – This result was especially is interesting – and somewhat unexpected – since these are experienced users who should be very used to how their own voice sounds in their own hearing aids (figure 3.). Yet, more people found PureSound natural.
- 95% indicted good ability to localise sources with PureSound versus 67% for own hearing aids – Again, this is an area where we would expect the user’s habituation to their own hearing aids to deny PureSound the advantage (figure 4.).
- 82% of PureSound users are satisfied with Moment in noisy backgrounds – In addition to the specifically delay-related parameters, the survey also included more general questions about hearing aid experience. Among these was satisfaction with hearing in noise, a crucial factor in overall hearing aid satisfaction. The results showed that 82% were satisfied with PureSound in noisy backgrounds, confirming the appropriateness of the choices made for the programme. This is a very strong result for such a difficult situation and compares favourably to users’ satisfaction with own hearing aids at 54%.
More than we expected, but why?
Two results in particular – noisy backgrounds and source localisation – delivered above and beyond our expectations, but what’s the reason for this? Our theory is that, while PureSound works differently to traditional noise reduction, people are happier with their performance in noisy backgrounds because the sounds are more natural. With the full soundscape being made available to the brain, it’s possible that sound cues are more easily decoded (see Slugocki et al: Hearing Review, August 2020).
All these positive user experiences come together to prove just how well PureSound delivers real results to real users in real hearing situations. We hope they also give you the confidence that our Moment hearing aids and PureSound can make a difference to your clients, too.
* F. Kuk and C. Slugocki, “Quantifying Acoustic Distortions from Hearing Aid Group Delays,” WidexPress, vol. 44, 2021