For people with hearing loss, the first experience of a hearing aid is vital in setting the direction of their journey to better hearing. If that experience is not right, they often wonder if they should have tried wearing hearing aids at all. That is why at Widex we have developed hearing aid technology that can make them feel more connected to their life than they have felt for years, with a sound so natural that we know they will be simply amazed from the very first moment.
This advanced hearing aid technology is called Widex PureSound™ and forms the heart of our new Widex Moment Sheer™ hearing aids.
What is Widex PureSound?
Widex Moment hearing aids deliver unprecedented clarity by overcoming the poor, artificial sound common in open and vented fittings. They achieve this thanks to a second processing pathway for mild to moderate hearing loss, called ZeroDelay technology. ZeroDelay complements the classic Widex sound pathway for all hearing losses to deliver the fastest sound processing in any digital hearing aid. It eliminates delay-based distortion and gives wearers a uniquely natural sound that we call PureSound1.
Unmatched natural sound through accurate spatial perception
According to hearing aid wearers, one of the things that makes PureSound so natural is that the space around them feels right, with a rich and open sound. This unrivalled spatial perception is confirmed by survey data, where 95% of wearers indicate that, with PureSound, they have the impression of sounds being exactly where they would expect them to be2.
In a new scientific study, we have demonstrated that this experience can be attributed to the fact that PureSound allows for truer acoustic reflections than standard-delay hearing aids. This contributes to the natural experience of the surroundings and enables listeners to distinguish listening positions more accurately3.
“We made it our goal to provide the most natural sound available in a hearing aid, so that when a user puts the hearing aid on, they don’t think about having a hearing loss anymore, they can just live their lives as they used to,” explains Adam Westermann, Vice-President Global Innovation at Widex.
The proven advantage of Widex PureSound
Natural sounds contain cues that inform us about our environment: our location in a room, our position relative to the speaker, the room’s acoustic properties, and much more. Compare, for instance, a hotel’s lobby with its bar – the lobby’s echo and grandeur feels inspiring and welcoming while the more intimate bar with its dampened sound is designed for private conversations.
Much of this difference is driven by room reflections, meaning how the sound is reflected from the surfaces in the room, and how fast those reflections return to the listener. The delay of standard hearing aids may interfere with the timing of these reflections for the wearer, resulting in an unnatural sound that does not match the room. By contrast, the ultralow delay of PureSound means that the timing of the room reflections is preserved for a more natural sound.
A recent experiment investigated the effect of this by asking listeners to discriminate between sounds heard from different listening positions in a room. The sounds were recordings made on KEMAR (the manikin for hearing aid testing) with Widex PureSound and hearing aids from two other leading manufacturers with average delays of 8 ms and 6 ms respectively. Listeners were significantly better at discriminating room locations with PureSound than with both standard-delay hearing aids2. ZeroDelay preserves the natural cues for the listeners, while the longer delays likely smear the initial and early reflections, making it more difficult for listeners to discriminate.
Illustration shows how far the most recent competitor platforms4 still are from matching the Widex delay advantage in PureSound.
More natural sound means better speech comprehension
Spatial perception is not the only measure that shows the benefits of the preservation of the natural, undistorted signal in PureSound. Looking at envelope-following response (EFR), a measure of how the envelope of the signal is represented in the brain, a 2020 study showed a more robust neural representation of the signal for PureSound5 compared to the same leading manufacturers as in the recent spatial perception study6. This is in turn is associated with identifying the speaker’s voice, speech clarity in noise and improved speech comprehension7.
Proven best sound quality even in noise
A range of additional research demonstrate wearers’ clear preference for the sound quality of Widex PureSound over conventional hearing aids.
85% of study participants with hearing loss and 100% of normal-hearing participants indicated an overall preference for PureSound, when evaluating the entire sound experience8. They preferred PureSound to standard delay processing in all of 20 different scenarios, including listening to speech in quiet and in different types of noise, to their own voice, to different ambient noises and to specific sounds in the environment.
Participants in another study agreed to a greater extent for PureSound than for their own hearing aids that the sound was natural and clear, that their own voice sounded natural, and that sounds appeared to come from exactly where they would expect, and their most frequent rating of the sound quality of PureSound was ‘very satisfied9. The research also shows higher satisfaction with PureSound hearing aid technology in noisy environments: 82% were satisfied with PureSound in background noise, whereas satisfaction with their own hearing aids was just 54% in such notoriously difficult situations10. A likely explanation for this advantage is that the naturalness and the ability to localize sounds with PureSound make for better, more pleasant hearing experiences in noise and consequently increased satisfaction.
Importantly, this superior sound quality does not come at the expense of speech intelligibility, which remains on a par with other top-of-the-line hearing aids with no significant differences in signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) performance10.
For more information about all the advantages of Widex PureSound contact your local Widex representative.
1 The PureSound delay of 0.5 ms is well below the threshold of audible delays for wearers with mild to moderate hearing loss, while competitor delays of 5-8 ms are significantly above this threshold (see Stiefenhofer, G. (2022). Hearing aid delay in open-fit devices–coloration-pitch discrimination in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired. International Journal of Audiology, 0(0), 1–9.). For wearers with heavier hearing losses, the Widex Universal delay of 2.5 ms is suitable as delay is likely to be less audible, and they are more likely to have the closer fittings and more powerful amplification that makes delay less of an issue.
2 Balling et al. 2021. Sound Quality for All: The Benefits of Ultra-Fast Signal Processing in Hearing Aids. Hearing Review 28 (9): 32–35.
3 Korhonen et al. 2022. Low Processing Delay Preserves Natural Cues and Improves Spatial Perception in Hearing Aids. Hearing Review 29(6) 20-25.
4 Balling, L. W., & Helmink, D. (2021). Optimizing Sound in Signal Processing and Hearing Aid Fitting. Audiology Practices, 13(4), 12–17.
5 Slugocki, Christopher, Francis Kuk, Petri Korhonen, and Neal Ruperto. 2020. “Neural Encoding of the Stimulus Envelope Facilitated by Widex ZeroDelay Technology.” Hearing Review 27 (8): 28–31.
6 Comparison with the previous platforms from the same two manufacturers as in Korhonen et al. (2022). Since the delays are practically the same for previous and current generations for both these manufacturers, the results remain valid.
7 Song, J. H., Skoe, E., Banai, K., & Kraus, N. (2011). Perception of speech in noise: Neural correlates. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(9), 2268–2279.
8 Balling, L. W., Townend, O., Stiefenhofer, G., & Switalski, W. (2020). Reducing hearing aid delay for optimal sound quality: a new paradigm in processing. Hearing Review, 27(4), 20–26.
9 Balling, L. W., Townend, O., & Helmink, D. (2021). Sound quality for all: The benefits of ultra-fast signal processing in hearing aids. Hearing Review, 28(9), 32–35.
10 Kuk, F., Ruperto, N., Slugocki, C. & Korhonen, P.. 2020. “Efficacy of Directional Microphones in Open Fittings Under Realistic Signal-to-Noise Ratios Using Widex Moment Hearing Aids.” Hearing Review 27 (6): 20–23.