Hearing aids are a valuable method for managing hearing loss and are continuously getting better. As hearing aid technology develops, new features help facilitate better hearing. The directional microphone is one of these new functionalities. Many of todayâ€™s hearing aids incorporate this device, allowing the wearer to enjoy a more natural hearing experience.
Older hearing aids relied on omnidirectional microphones to amplify sound. This type of microphone picks up on sounds from all directions equally. While this method works well in a quiet setting such as a living room, it is not conducive to noisier environments (such as a restaurant). Directional microphones make up for this by focusing on sounds that come from in front of the wearer. This allows you to hear what is being said in front of you while blocking out unimportant noise from the rest of the room.
Because both types of microphones have their own advantages, many hearing aid designers will incorporate both into their devices. Directional microphone usage varies from hearing aid to hearing aid. Some devices utilize a small switch that allows the user to manually flip between microphones. Other hearing aids can automatically determine which method is most effective and switch itself to the optimum microphone.
A third type of hearing aid microphone is the adaptive directional microphone. Instead of focusing in the front or all around, this type of microphone can pick up on the direction that speech signals are coming from and focus its amplification accordingly. If the wearer is in an environment where many people are speaking, adaptive microphones can be troublesome, but they are usually accompanied by a switch that allows the user to access a “forward only” listening mode.
Hearing aids designed for children sometimes utilize directional microphones, but caution is needed when using these devices. Kids learn language by hearing the people around them speaking, but a directional microphone can limit a childâ€™s exposure to this incidental speech. Children may also have difficulty hearing traffic with this type of microphone. Parents should be sure that their child’s directional microphone is only turned on in appropriate situations.
The advantages of the directional microphone outweigh its flaws, allowing it to dramatically increase its wearer’s ability to hear.