Back to Basics: Directional Microphones

Back to Basics: Directional Microphones

What are Directional Microphones

Directional microphones are used in virtually all current hearing aid models to prevent some background noise from entering the hearing device, depending on the location and volume of the “noise” versus the desirable signal (e.g. speech).  On a basic level, there are multiple different microphones, which along with digital signal processing, work together to help improve how much of the desirable signal you hear over the noise signal.

Directional microphones are designed to change where they are “looking”. Commonly, a directional program is used to amplify sounds you are facing, and to ignore sounds behind you.

The most advanced directional systems uses advanced signal processing in order to improve speech understanding in noise. But it works only in situations when it will be beneficial so it does not get in the way in any other situation. The system analyzes the pitch where noise occurs, the level of noise, the direction of where a noise originates, and the type of sounds around the listener. The net effect is a system that is beneficial while being less noticeable and more natural.

What does it mean for the user?

For a hearing aid user, if the directional microphones are activated, the overall benefit will be better reception of the speech signal in the presence of background noise.

Tips on using directional microphones:

  • Ask your audiologist for a directional program. Try this program out in situations where there is an important signal in front of you, and noise around you. An example of this would be in a restaurant, facing your dining partner with your back to a noisy kitchen. In the directional program, the hearing aid will not amplify the noise behind you and will act as an acoustic spotlight on the person you are facing.
  • When using a directional program, position yourself so your back is near the annoying sounds, and you are facing the desirable sounds.
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