Medical Physics

Evaluation of Spatial Audio Reproduction Schemes for Application in Hearing Aid Research

Giso Grimm, Stephan Ewert, Volker Hohmann (2015)
Acta acustica united with Acustica 10, PP 842-854; July/August 2015

Loudspeaker-based spatial audio reproduction schemes are increasingly used for evaluating hearing aids in complex acoustic conditions. To further establish the feasibility of this approach, this study investigated the interaction between spatial resolution of different reproduction methods and technical and perceptual hearing aid performance measures using computer simulations. Three spatial audio reproduction methods – discrete speakers, vector base amplitude panning and higher order ambisonics – were compared in regular circular loudspeaker arrays with 4 to 72 channels. The influence of reproduction method and array size on performance measures of representative multi-microphone hearing aid algorithm classes with spatially distributed microphones and a representative single channel noise-reduction algorithm was analyzed. Algorithm classes differed in their way of analyzing and exploiting spatial properties of the sound field, requiring different accuracy of sound field reproduction. Performance measures included beam pattern analysis, signal-to-noise ratio analysis, perceptual localization prediction, and quality modeling. The results show performance differences and interaction effects between reproduction method and algorithm class that may be used for guidance when selecting the appropriate method and number of speakers for specific tasks in hearing aid research.

Link to the publikation