Updated: Oct 4
My choice of hearing aid for patients with single-sided hearing loss is Widex. Continue reading to learn why.
Today I fitted a Widex Moment Sheer sRIC 440 for a musician with single-sided hearing loss. We had a conversation at length about the choice of hearing aid and in the end, he picked Widex. This article is a brief on the sound latency in hearing aids and why people with single-sided hearing loss should choose Widex. Please read this article in conjunction with Puresound, the latest sound processing technology by Widex.
Why does latency processing matter?
For people who wear hearing aids, sounds are transmitted into the ear canal via two different paths. In the first path, sound travels around the hearing aid or past the earmold directly into the ear canal. The more “open” the fitting and the more normal the hearing, the greater the contribution of this pathway. In the second path, the signal passes through the hearing aid, is processed, and is then delivered into the ear canal.
Academia and research agree that if the processing delay (or latency) is more than 5-6 milliseconds one would hear the sound with echo (source).
Such a problem is much less when the patient has severe hearing loss and the fitting is closed, meaning the ear canal on both sides is sealed by earmould or power dome and the patient receives only processed signal. But what about patients with single-sided hearing loss?
The problem of sound processing in hearing aids can be even more challenging. A patient with single-sided hearing loss and open fitting could notice the echo in the side with hearing loss and in comparison with the side with no hearing loss. If the fitting is closed still the patient would notice the latency of the sound on the side with hearing loss, compared to the side that doesn't have hearing loss.
Musicians who naturally have a sharper hearing in feeling notes and timbre of the sound need to have a virtually zero latency time if they have to use hearing aids in one or both ears.
To make things a bit more complicated the latency is not the same for all frequencies. This simply introduces distortion to the processed sound in hearing aids, making it more noticeable for the wearer the difference between the ear with a hearing aid and the one without (in patients with single-sided hearing loss). That is why in addition to the sound process and latency, the fitting of the hearing aids also makes a big impact on the quality of the sound for people with single-sided hearing loss. The distortion in the process sound is what some refer to it as robotics or mechanical.
As an audiologist and someone who has seen the backstage of most of the premium hearing aids, I can assure you that Widex offers the most complete range of fitting elements for different profiles of hearing loss.
The good news
The good news is that the issue of latency and feel of robotics of the sound of hearing aids is a problem of the past as almost all the premium hearing aids nowadays have latencies around 3-5 milliseconds so the latency is not noticeable to most of the people, and most of the time.
Based on my experience patients with single-sided hearing loss could notice the latency more when they have moderate to severe and higher hearing loss (versus mild to moderate hearing loss).
When will the sound processing latency be more noticeable?
The latency due to processing and associated distortion in hearing aids is much more noticeable when you listen to music, play a musical instrument, listen to a live concert or take part in a gig. No surprise that Widex is the choice of hearing aid for musicians and music lovers.
Have a question about single-sided deafness and hearing aids? Talk to our audiologist over a Zoom meeting.