Directionality is one of the determining components in a hearing aid that allows its wearer to distinguish speech from background noise. Hearing aid directionality depends on directional microphone technologies, which vary from device to device.
Hearing aid models may utilize omnidirectional microphones, directional microphones, adaptive directional microphones or a combination of microphone technologies. Read on to learn about the different features and benefits that each type of microphone.
An omnidirectional microphone is a microphone that picks ups sounds from all sides and directions, whether the sound is coming from the front, back or side of the wearer. This type of microphone is the technology traditionally used in hearing aids. An omnidirectional microphone performs well when its wearer is in a quiet environment, such as a home or while hiking in nature. Since this type of microphone picks up sounds from all directions equally, it is not the best choice for noisy settings with high-volume background noise. Omnidirectional microphones are often paired with directional microphones for optimal performance that plays to both microphone technologies’ strengths.
A directional microphone picks up sound from an assigned direction, typically from the front of the individual in the context of hearing aids. This type of microphone is most effective in noisy environments, allowing its wearer to focus on sounds that come from in front of them without the distraction of background noise.
A hearing aid with a directional microphone, for example, enables its wearer to comfortably hold a conversation at a party or at a crowded restaurant. Directional microphones are often paired with omnidirectional microphones and come equipped with a manual or automatic switch between settings that may be adjusted based on environment and noise level.
An adaptive directional microphone will pick up sound from a single direction but can automatically change the direction in which it is pointing based on speech and sound signals, giving its wearer the freedom to comfortably move between environments with varying noise levels.
The objective here is a technology that focuses on improving speech intelligibility while reducing competing surrounding sounds. The adaptive directional microphone is the latest development in hearing aid microphone technology, with its advanced ability to automatically adapt and adjust noise filters and microphone amplification based on setting.