Binaural beamformers are super-directional hearing aids created by combining microphone outputs from each side of the head. While they offer substantial improvements in SNR over conventional directional hearing aids, the benefits (and possible limitations) of these devices in realistic, complex listening situations have not yet been fully explored. In this study we evaluated the performance of two experimental binaural beamformers.
Testing was carried out using a horizontal loudspeaker array. Background noise was created using recorded conversations. Performance measures included speech intelligibility, localization in noise, acceptable noise level, subjective ratings, and a novel dynamic speech intelligibility measure.
Participants were 27 listeners with bilateral hearing loss, fitted with BTE prototypes that could be switched between conventional directional or binaural beamformer microphone modes.
Relative to the conventional directional microphones, both binaural beamformer modes were generally superior for tasks involving fixed frontal targets, but not always for situations involving dynamic target locations.
Binaural beamformers show promise for enhancing listening in complex situations when the location of the source of interest is predictable.