Caller: “Hi honey, I just wanted to let you know I’m running a little late.”
Call recipient: “What? I can hardly hear you! Are you at a party or something?”
If you were to guess which one of the two people in this phone exchange was hearing impaired, you might think it was the one who complains of not being able to hear the caller. But that might not be the case at all. In fact, this type of exchange occurs every day even between normal-hearing phone users. The problem is the background noise picked up and transmitted by the cell phone or headset used by the caller. This degrades the signal-to-noise ratio for the call recipient, making it incredibly difficult for the call recipient to hear the caller, regardless of hearing status.
Telephone use is a continuing challenge for hearing instrument wearers. The ReSound Unite Phone Clip offered a way for Alera and more recently Verso hearing instrument wearers to receive their cell phone calls directly to their hearing instruments. While this has proved to be a huge benefit for the hearing instrument wearers, the results have been varied for those who were on the receiving end of their calls. Bothersome noise on the far end of the call has been the most frequent criticism of the Phone Clip.
ReSound is excited to introduce the Phone Clip+, a device that adds functionality to the original Phone Clip, expands the connectivity options with an updated Bluetooth version, and vastly improves the sound quality and speech intelligibility for call recipients. This is accomplished by the effective use of noise reduction for the outgoing signal. How much better is it? We carried out two benchmarking trials to find out.
In the first trial, normal-hearing test participants evaluated the quality of speech that was recorded via the Phone Clip versus the Phone Clip+. The device was hung by a lanyard on a Head and Torso Simulator (HATS), and speech was played through the mouth of the HATS. The voices of male and female speakers were used in quiet and in noise. Cocktail party noise was played from 3 ceiling mounted speakers to simulate the noisy environment. The Phone Clip/Phone Clip+ devices were paired to a Bluetooth connector that fed the signal to a PC, where the sound picked up and transmitted by the Phone Clip/Phone Clip+ was recorded. Then normal-hearing listeners compared recordings made via the two devices, and were asked to judge which was better in terms of speech quality and listening effort for each sample.
The listeners showed a significant preference for recordings made via the Phone Clip+ in quiet. However, the results in the noisy condition were even more striking. As shown in the graphs below, recordings made with the Phone Clip+ were judged as better for speech quality 78% of the time, and better for ease of listening 99% of the time.
In the second benchmarking trial, hearing instrument users fit with Verso hearing instruments compared the Phone Clip and Phone Clip+ in daily use. Half of these 10 participants started with the Phone Clip and switched to the Phone Clip+, while the other half followed the opposite procedure. Subjective ratings of sound quality and speech intelligibility on the near end (what the hearing instrument user heard) did not differ significantly for the Phone Clip and Phone Clip+. And both were rated significantly better than using their cell phones by holding them up to their hearing aids with an acoustic phone program. These results support the benefit of the concept as well as the performance of both the Phone Clip and Phone Clip+ for the hearing instrument user.
To evaluate far-end call quality, participants were also asked to estimate the percentage of those who received calls from them that complained of noise or difficulty hearing/understanding. These results are presented in the chart below. While the real-world results with the Phone Clip were positive, the results with the Phone Clip+ were exceedingly so.
The improved far-end sound quality is just one reason to upgrade to the Phone Clip+. Read more about the Phone Clip+ and remote control app for smartphones.