One of the most common difficulties for people with hearing loss is hearing in background noise. In these situations people usually rely on trying to face the person who is speaking in order to read their lips. However, in a social situation with multiple people talking and a high level of ambient noise, it can be very frustrating trying to focus on each person speaking and reading their lips. The effort required to cope can increase stress levels often resulting in mental fatigue.1
Some individuals might even avoid participating in social gatherings or not going to noisy environments due to their difficulties hearing. This can leave the person with hearing loss feeling isolated.2 These situations I can relate to with my Grandad who would rather stare at his plate of food in a busy restaurant than avoid the embarrassment of mishearing the conversation.
At Phonak, we recognize that hearing in noise is one of the biggest complaints for hearing aid users. That is why we invest so much time and resources into developing solutions that help overcome this huge challenge. Audéo Paradise 90 devices now have a new spatial noise canceller called Dynamic Noise Cancellation.
What is Dynamic Noise Cancellation?
This new feature can improve the SNR by up to 4dB in noisy environments. Dynamic Noise Cancellation is microphone dependent so it is only activated when the beamformer is fully activated and switches off as soon as the SNR reaches 18dB and higher.
The feature is automatically activated in AutoSense OS 4.0 and the strength can be adjusted not only in Phonak Target but also in the myPhonak app. This allows for the user to make situational adjustments according to their individual preferences. Dynamic Noise Cancellation replaces ‘SNR Boost’ which was previously located on the Speech Focus slider in the myPhonak app.
How does it differ from other Phonak noise cancellers?
The main noise cancellers Phonak uses (other than Dynamic Noise Cancellation) are: NoiseBlock and SNR Boost.
- NoiseBlock is a single channel noise reduction method works also in frequency bands. This feature works well for stationary noise sources and for omnidirectional microphones settings.
- SNR Boost combines our adaptive beamformer and our spatial noise canceller. This is the first version of a spatial noise canceller Phonak used.
What are the benefits of Dynamic Noise Cancellation over SNR Boost?
Dynamic Noise Cancellation reacts faster to the noise components and thus is able to apply stronger attenuation. Dynamic Noise Cancellation a more noticeable noise reduction is achievable compared to SNR Boost.
In the myPhonak app, SNR Boost is present on the last 20% of the Speech Focus slider for Marvel devices in noisy situations. For Paradise level 90 devices, Dynamic Noise Cancellation is present on 50% of the Speech Focus slider in noisy situations and on 100% of the slider in very noisy situations.
How can this new feature be adjusted?
Dynamic noise cancellation can be adjusted from ‘off’ to weak, moderate and strong in Phonak Target and in the myPhonak app. In Target, the Dynamic Noise Cancellation appears on a 20 point slider: 0 is off, 1-9 is weak, 10-16 is moderate and 17-20 is strong. In Target the default is set to weak. The feature is available for 100% Fixed directional, UltraZoom and StereoZoom. We discourage HCP’s from adjusting the strength as Dynamic Noise Cancellation is best adjusted in each situation by the hearing aid user.
In the app the hearing aid user has the freedom to adjust the strength of the Dynamic Noise Cancellation to their hearing preference in a listening situation. This means patients can adjust the strength of this feature regardless of what their HCP has set it to even if it has been turned off in Phonak Target.
Why would a hearing aid user want to adjust this feature themselves?
During my time spent as a clinical audiologist, the most frequent request received from patients was to help them hear better in noise. In a clinic environment, especially with time pressures, this can be very tricky as it is hard to replicate a noisy situation. Tweaks would be made to the hearing aids and we would ask the patient to go back and try the new settings or program and come back if they had any problems. Sometimes these patients would return for several appointments until they were fairly satisfied or had just given up hope. At that time, it would have been a luxury to give each of them the opportunity to adjust the noise cancelling in their hearing aids. That time has finally come.
I can think of so many instances when this feature could be used to ease communication in someone’s daily life – like when having conversations on a busy train. One could use the app to individualize the noise cancellation setting to their personal preference to help ensure comfortable conversations on noisy commutes. Of course, that is just one example. Every person and every listening situation is different. That is the beauty of the Dynamic Noise Cancellation being available in the app, it provides hearing aid users with so much more flexibility.
To learn more about all the new features in Audéo Paradise hearing aids, we invite you to the Phonak website.
- Holman, J.A., Hughes, S.E., Drummond, A., & Naylor, G. (2019) Hearing impairment and daily-life fatigue: A qualitative study. International Journal of Audiology. 58:408-416.
- Weinstein, B. & Woodward, J. (2020). Hearing health and social connectedness. Phonak Audiology Blog. Retrieved from https://audiologyblog.phonakpro.com/hearing-health-and-social-connectedness/, accessed September 24th, 2020.