An electroacoustic assessment is a hearing instrument performance test
Most hearing aids used today have digital features that personalize and enhance the hearing experience. As devices become more complex and newer digital technologies emerge to improve things like directionality, it becomes increasingly important to make sure everything is functioning as intended to enjoy all of the benefits such features are supposed to offer.
One way to do this is to visit an audiologist for an electroacoustic assessment of your hearing aid, especially if you depend on your device’s audio enhancement features on a regular basis.
What Is an Electroacoustic Assessment?
This assessment is done to determine if a hearing aid is performing as per its original specifications. Because most models are digital, an audiologist should have access to data that shows how the device was set when it was first given to the wearer. This information will serve as the basis for a determination of performance.
How Is Testing Done?
As per industry regulations, electroacoustic assessments are typically done on new and repaired digital hearing aids to ensure that all features work as intended. In order to fully evaluate a device’s real world functions with special tools, its digital features need to be activated. Also, the hearing aid being assessed has to be set to the user’s settings that were determined based on hearing test and evaluation results. The device’s unique characteristics need to be considered as well.
Standard testing as per acceptable best practices typically includes coupler and real-ear measurements of all hearing aids. Because of the way hearing aids have evolved, however, additional test procedures need to be included as part of the testing process to provide an in-depth analysis of advanced digital features. This is done with real-ear test equipment that’s capable of testing all of a device’s “multi features.” These include:
- Multi-channel compression
- Multi-channel noise reduction
- Multi-microphone directional patterns/effects
Which Hearing Aid Functions/Features Are Normally Assessed?
Many newer test signals have been developed to sufficiently test today’s current generation of hearing aid models. This can usually be done in an audiology clinic that has the necessary equipment to perform electroacoustic assessments of hearing aids. In addition to a device’s “multi features,” many other key functions and features are tested to ensure that everything is operating as expected. The list of features normally checked changes as newer models with more capabilities or newer technologies are introduced. However, common functions and features evaluated during an electroacoustic assessment include:
- Noise reduction features
- Processing time
- Digital feedback management
- How much of their own voice a wearer can hear (occlusion management)
Electroacoustic assessments of hearing aids can be done when you start to notice issues with your digital device. But this isn’t the only reason to have your hearing aid’s performance checked. If you have a model that has all of the latest bells and whistles with features such as Bluetooth connectivity, direct audio input, and feedback management systems, for instance, you may want to have it assessed more often. An audiologist can also do an electroacoustic assessment if your hearing needs change and your digital settings need to be adjusted.