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Widex - How do we make hearing aid sound?

Widex hearing aids high wycombeThe best way to make sure that a hearing aid sounds good is to test it… and test it … and test it … and test it …  thousands of times. But whose job is it to create and test the sound that comes out of your hearing aids – and how is it done?

That job belongs to the Widex Research and Development team – a group of engineers who work tirelessly to ensure that the “Widex Sound” is the most natural hearing aid sound around.

The listening test

Jens Peter Holmegaard is one of the faces behind the Widex sound. He’s a hearing aid research and development engineer who has been designing Widex hearing aids for 7 years.

We sat down with Jens and asked how he and his colleagues make sure that sound from our hearing aids is as true to real-life as it can possibly be.

And the answer is simple: he listens.

He listens to everything – from speech, to music, to the sound of a microwave. It’s Jens’ job to make sure that the sounds of your everyday life are perfectly replicated by your hearing aids.

“Our library of sounds includes everything from water running in the sink, to pork chops frying, to birds singing,” says Jens. “They’re all sounds that have characteristics that are important to the hearing aid user.”

But listening to those sounds once isn’t enough. With every small tweak or change comes a new round of testing – which means listening to those sounds hundreds or even thousands of times.

“I become very familiar with those sounds,” says Jens. “They’re often not sounds I want to hear when I get home.”

And it’s not just everyday sounds – it’s music too. A favorite test song at Widex is Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” because of its range of tones and pitches. It also has a steady bass line and a repetitive chorus – all good for testing purposes.

Creating the Widex sound

To find out more about how Widex hearing aids get their true-to-life sound, it’s important to take a step back to where the whole process begins. Developing a new hearing aid can often take five or more years and it all starts with the experiences and wishes of existing hearing aid users which are gathered and transformed into ideas for new products at the engineers´ drawing board.

For example, Widex got the idea to develop its audibility extender after realizing that some hearing aid users were having difficulty hearing upper frequency sounds. The extender moves these sounds to a lower frequency region where it is easier to hear them.

After the brainstorming phase, ideas are scheduled for development. That’s where the sound library comes in. As features like the audibility extender are created, rounds of testing begin. Sounds like birdsong, bells, and timers are used to test upper frequency sounds that the audibility extender helps hearing aid users to hear.

“It gives us a frame of reference for the hearing aid feature we are developing,” says Jens. “We listen to how this feature helps the sound in real-life situations and tweak it to make it sound as natural as possible.”

The final test

After a feature is developed, the technology is added to the physical hearing aid. But that’s not where the story ends. Hearing aids are then tested again by specially-trained sound expert who make sure that the technology is working correctly.

Hearing aids are then produced and shipped to your hearing professional, who will program them to fit your particular hearing loss.

The features

Which hearing aid features have Widex developed over the past years? Here are just a few of the ones found in our devices:

Audibility Extender – The Audibility Extender helps people with high frequency hearing loss to hear upper frequency sounds by moving these sounds to a lower frequency region where it is easier to hear them. The upper frequency sounds are important for hearing the “softer” sounds like /s/ and /t/ in women´s and children´s voices and high-pitched sounds like the “ping” of the microwave.

Telecoil – A telecoil is a small coil inside your hearing aids. The coil works as a small receiver which picks up signals from a loop system that acts as an electromagnetic field. Hearing aids with an activated telecoil can convert this electromagnetic field into a sound signal. Only the signal from the loop system’s microphone is amplified, and background noise is shut out.

Speech Enhancer – The Speech Enhancer is different from simple noise reduction systems in that it doesn´t just dampen noise – it also amplifies speech. When we listen to a sound, we are rarely in doubt as to whether it is speech or noise. The Speech Enhancer in modern hearing aids is able to distinguish the two in much the same way as our brains do – by using the fact that speech consists of a number of varying sound components that follow each other at brief intervals.

If you would like to listen to the latest hearing aids for yourself then why not book in with Henley Hearing Centre, Oxford and test them for yourself, with no obligation. Call us on 01494 765144.

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Widex Zen Therapy - The Benefits & Outcomes

In may 2013, 50 dispensers and audiologists took part in the UKs first Widex Zen Therapy Educational workshop for tinnitus. Chalfont Hearing Centre were one of those select hearing professionals. The material that day was very useful and has furthered significant development of our tinnitus management program. The course gave an overview of how Zen and Widex hearing aids could be utilised in the treatment, reduction and management of tinnitus (ringing and buzzing sounds in the ears). The event was attended by a very prominent figure in audiology from the US Dr Robert Sweetow who gave some really useful lectures and advice on tinintus management.

Widex Zen Therapy is an integrated package for tinnitus management. It is incorporated throughout the widex dream range and and can provide customised fractal tones, noise or both for patients who struggle with tinnitus. We have now utilised this treatment in the rehabilitation of a number of patients. The outcomes have been useful for a majority of patients, however proved less useful for 1 or 2. The main reasons the treatment was reported successful by patients was that it provided distraction, relief and reduced focus of the tinnitus. We feel that as part of a tailored tinnitus management program WZT can provide certain patients with relief from their tinnitus symptoms. But that in isolation the benefits will be less effective.

To find out more about how Widex Zen Therapy and our tailored tinnitus management program could improve your tinnitus symptoms call 01494 765144.

Is the Widex dream the best ever hearing aid?

widex chalfontDream – the new hearing aids from Widex – promise to deliver three things: more sound, more words, and to be more personal. But what exactly does this mean? And is it the right match for your needs? Patients are always looking for the best digital hearing aid, for the best performance in background noise, for the best sound quality, for natural hearing and comfort. According to my patients the results and the performance is exceptional. The Widex Dream 440 seems to stand head and shoulders above other premium aids in comparison tests. Almost all of my patients are premium level patients and therefore demand the best diagnostic service, precision fitting and quality hearing aids.  So far no one has been disappointed. In objective testing conducted in our practice, patients performance on speech tests and speech in noise tests were drastically improved when fitted with the Widex Dream 44o hearing aids. We are offering free trials and demonstrations on the Widex Dream 440. We are confident that this hearing aid will out perform your existing aids and our expert fitting process will surpass our competitors, that until the end of November we are offering free hearing tests (usually £45) and free hearing aid trials to anyone interested in the Widex Dream 440.

To book a hearing test and free Widex Dream 440 hearing aid trial call 01494 765144 or email chalfonthearingcentre@live.co.uk today!