How Reducing Reverberance Improves Speech Understanding

Rooms with hard surfaces like bare walls and marble floors reflect more sound than rooms with carpets, drapes, and similar items that absorb echoes. Merriam-Webster defines this sound reflection as reverberation, a “sound that echoes” and “an effect that is not wanted.” Reverberation can irritate people with normal hearing, but for those with hearing loss it’s more than a nuisance ― it contributes to missing or misunderstanding speech.

Fortunately, our primax™ hearing aids are equipped with EchoShield to reduce reverberance. To better illustrate how it works, let’s take a look at what a day without EchoShield is like for Ginny*, an employed graduate student and traditional hearing aid wearer.

A day without EchoShield

Ginny starts her day by taking the bus to her university for a morning class. She is in the large bus terminal waiting room when an announcement comes over the loudspeaker. Even though it isn’t very crowded she still has to strain to understand, because the voice bounces off the hard surfaces and echoes. She hears parts of the message at different intervals, creating an uncomfortable mix of degraded sound that is almost impossible to decipher. As a result, she has to run to the Information desk and ask whether the message is pertinent to her commute.

Ginny makes it to class, which is held in a large lecture hall. Unfortunately, the cavernous room hasn’t been wired with a hearing loop that would allow her to stream the professor’s voice directly into her hearing aids. Even though the other students are respectfully quiet she has to concentrate extra hard to understand everything her professor says, because the acoustics of the large space create reverberation. By the time class ends, Ginny is concerned she misunderstood when an assignment is due and has to go to the professor to confirm the due date. She worries that she’s given her teacher the impression she wasn’t paying attention.

The next half of Ginny’s busy day is spent working as an intern at a large corporate office. Her manager has summoned everyone into the lofty foyer of the building to make an announcement about a restructuring that will affect many employees. Ginny’s manager has tasked her with taking detailed notes on the announcement for the benefit of anyone who missed the session. She struggles to keep up with her quick-talking manager, who is also using an old microphone that increases the echo effect of the reverberant foyer.  She winds up jotting down question marks next to words and phrases only half-understood, and has to ask one of her co-workers to read over her notes and fill in the blanks before feeling confident enough to send them to her manager.

By the time Ginny gets home for the night, she is absolutely exhausted ― not just from her busy dual life as a student and employee, but from straining to understand speech distorted by reverberance. She can barely concentrate on her homework, and when her roommate suggests going out to the local pub for a nightcap, she turns her down. Just the thought of having to spend even more time struggling to hear and understand makes socializing the last thing Ginny wants to do.

Experience a better day with EchoShield

The primax EchoShield program softens reflected sound for better sound quality and reduced listening effort in places where there is high reverberation ― atriums, hallways, lecture halls, and places of worship. After Ginny gets a pair of primax hearing aids, here’s how her day changes for the better.

Ginny goes to the bus station and an announcement comes on. Her hearing aids reduce the echo so she hears the message without sound degradation. She clearly hears that her bus is leaving from a different dock this morning and has no problem getting to it in plenty of time.

Ginny also has no problem understanding her professor in the lecture hall today. In fact, she feels confident enough to volunteer answers to multiple questions. After class, her professor praises her for her active participation and obvious comprehension of the subject matter.

The next time Ginny’s boss gathers everyone for an announcement in the foyer, she has no problem keeping up with her note-taking. Without having to wait for co-workers to fill in items she missed, she quickly sends the notes to her boss for approval. The boss sends back an approval soon after, along with a compliment on Ginny’s thoroughness and speed.

When Ginny gets home for the night, she has much more energy than she’s used to at the end of a busy day. She finishes up her homework and agrees to go out with friends to see the opening of a new movie. Thanks to primax EchoShield, Ginny’s smart hearing aids have not only helped her hear better ― they’ve reduced the exhaustion from straining to hear and understand speech that affects even people with normal hearing.

 

* We invented Ginny for storytelling reasons but all situations depicted could occur as explained in real life.