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Digital Signal Processing, compression, linear and nonlinear: terminology, measurement and issues. Richard Baker University of Manchester.

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Presentation on theme: "Digital Signal Processing, compression, linear and nonlinear: terminology, measurement and issues. Richard Baker University of Manchester."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Digital Signal Processing, compression, linear and nonlinear: terminology, measurement and issues. Richard Baker University of Manchester

3 Outline A few common misconceptions What is signal processing? Advantages of going digital Analogue to digital conversion Compression – why and how? Measurement issues

4 Common Misconceptions “Only digital hearing aids are signal processing aids” “Digital is better than Analogue” “Wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) = digital” “Nonlinear = digital” “Programmable hearing aids are the same as DSP hearing aids” “Digital hearing aids cut out background noise”

5 What is signal processing? Signal processing is exactly what it says, it may be: –Amplifying –Filtering –Peak-clipping –Compression: output limiting, WDRC, etc –Frequency shifting –… –etc.

6 What is a digital hearing aid? A digital hearing aid simply converts the signal to a numerical form before processing it It’s the signal processing algorithm that is important

7 What is compression? Compression: –the range of input sound intensities is “squashed” into a smaller range of output intensities –e.g. a range of input intensities from 0 to 100 dB SPL may be compressed into an output range of 50 to 100 dB SPL –The output “dynamic range” is reduced compared to that of the input

8 Why do we need compression? Sensorineural hearing loss most often results from damage to outer hair cells in the cochlear This results in: –Loss of sensitivity at low sound intensities –Abnormally rapid growth of loudness (recruitment) –Loss of frequency selectivity (Hearing aids can’t do much about this one at the moment)

9 Loudness Growth Typically, sensorineural loss results in recruitment: –Low intensity sounds are inaudible –Moderate intensity sounds are heard as very quiet –High intensity sounds are perceived as similar in loudness to that normal hearing listener Implications for hearing aids –High gain for low intensity input –Low gain for high intensity input –i.e. reduced dynamic range at output compared to input

10 Compression ImpairedNormal Moderate Weak Intense Non- linear Dillon (2001)

11 Hearing aid goals Audibility - be able to hear important sounds e.g. speech Comfort - sounds comfortably loud Safety - sounds prevented from being too loud Intelligibility - maximise the intelligibility of speech sounds Quality - maximise the perceived quality of the sounds (e.g. little distortion) Consistency - same performance regardless of listing conditions... The same aims apply to both linear and nonlinear aids

12 Linear versus nonlinear Linear - gain is constant irrespective of input level (if we ignore very high levels) Nonlinear - gain changes as input level changes (may be compression or expansion) Remember, when talking in dB terms: Output level = Input level + gain

13 Linear hearing aids Amplify all sounds by the same amount Problem – louder sounds become too loud to be comfortable Solution – use some type of limiting to prevent this e.g. clip the peaks off the waveform when it goes too loud - peak clipping – causes distortion

14 Peak clipping

15 The need for compression The problem with linear aids – the same gain is applied to all levels of input signal we need high gain for low input levels, and low gain for high input levels - compression we need some way of automatically turning down the gain of the hearing aid as the input intensity increases an automatic gain control or AGC

16 Automatic gain control (AGC) AGC parameters Attack-time – The time taken for the AGC to respond to an increase in input level Release time – the time taken for the AGC to increase the gain again when the input level decreases Knee-point – below a certain signal intensity the amplifier behaves linearly, above this intensity the compression operates Compression ratio – above knee-point, output with an increase in input is typically less than 1 dB per dB change in input

17 Automatic gain control

18 I/O functions, output spectra & transfer functions etc. I/O functions - output vs input –at one frequency Output spectra - output across frequency –at one input level input/gain function - gain vs input –at one frequency Transfer function - output/input (i.e. gain) across frequency –at one input level All ways of plotting different aspects of hearing aid function

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20 Input-output function

21 Output spectra

22 Types of compression The main compression strategies fall into two categories: Compression limiting – high knee-point, high compression ratio (e.g. 10:1) – limits MPO WDRC – wide dynamic range compression, low knee-point, low compression ratio (e.g. 2:1) – aims to restore loudness perception in moderate loss AVC - automatic volume control - slow acting compression designed to adjust overall gain when moving from quiet to noisy environment.

23 Output limiting

24 WDRC

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26 Therefore need to test at different levels: –50 dB SPL input - quite speech level –65 dB SPL input - moderate speech level –80 dB SPL input - loud speech level

27 Multi-channel processing Why multi-channel? different hearing losses at different frequencies different compression strategies required for different frequency ranges theoretical reasons for differing frequency response … … e.t.c.

28 From Killion et al, 1990

29 Test signals Pure-tone - single frequency component Swept-tone - pure-tone swept up or down in frequency Speech-weighted pure-tone sweep - swept-tone following the spectral shape of an average speech signal White-noise - noise signal containing equal energy at all frequencies Pink-noise - noise with energy decreasing with increasing frequency Speech-shaped noise - noise with spectral shape of an average speech signal Modulated Speech shaped noise - spectral AND temporal shape similar to that of speech

30 Test signals Test signals can be either: –Continuous - long(ish) duration with approximately constant amplitude –Fluctuating - varying up and down in amplitude (usually designed to mimic temporal fluctuations in natural speech) Least natural:continuous pure-tone Most natural:fluctuating speech shaped noise

31 Which signal to use? With a linear aid pure-tone test signals should produce the same results as noise signals With non-linear aids, the aid can respond very differently to different signals

32 Which signal to use? e.g. in some situations, pure-tones may produce an artificially high measurement of low frequency gain - “blooming” –Suppose a compressor follows a high-pass filter –A tone is swept upwards in frequency through the cut-off region of the filter into the pass-band –As the tone is in the cut-off region the input to the AGC is low - thus the gain is high –In the pass-band the input to the AGC is high so the gain is low –Result: Using a swept tone it appears that the low- pass filter isn’t working – –use a broad-band signal!

33 blooming! So, use a broad-band signal!

34 Which signal to use? e.g. swept-tone versus noise –Pure-tone - single frequency component therefore level well defined –White-noise - many frequency components - measured level is sum of frequency components therefore level at one particular frequency is lower –Overall level with noise signal also depends on analysis bandwidth

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36 Implications of different signals 1.Output display for broadband signals is lower than tones - use gain display! 2.Output display depends on analysis bandwidth 3.For multichannel aids swept tone gives higher level signal through each band than broadband noise At high levels tone may result in saturation whereas noise doesn’t Nonlinear aids may have different gain for tones & noise even though they are nominally the same overall level

37 “extras” As well as different signal processing strategies modern hearing aids are available with many “extras” designed to improve their performance These also have implications for how the aids are tested and the signals used…

38 “extras” Noise suppression/cancellation –Algorithms attempt to “detect presence of speech” and turn down the gain if no speech is present –Note Need to use realistic speech like signal to perform measurements – continuous noise will be suppressed, so need to have speech- shaped noise with fluctuating envelope (is such a signal available?) Turn the noise reduction feature off

39 “extras” Multi-program/memory aids –Can allow 2 or more different processing algorithms to be used –E.g. a second setting with extra gain for bouts of OME –Note Need to know what each of the memories are supposed to do in order to test aid

40 “extras” Directional/Multi-Microphone technology –Aims to improve signal-noise ratio by “picking out” sounds from the front, and reducing those from other direction –Note Need to be careful how aid is positioned in a test box to get accurate measurements Turn the directional microphone off!

41 “extras” Feedback management/cancellation –Notch-filters or complex feedback cancellation algorithms have been developed that can reduce feedback and allow 10-20dB extra gain. –This can allow additional gain, use of vents where they are normally not possible etc. –Note: awareness of notch-filters is necessary & the feed-back suppression needs to be turned off for measurement purposes (is this possible for every situation?)

42 Feedback Management Dillon (2001)

43 Feedback Cancelling External leakage path Internal feedback path  + - Dillon (2001)

44 Implications conceptual complexity - difficult to understand what the aid is doing complexity & adjustability - many different parameters to adjust to set up the aid lack of user adjustability - some nonlinear aids have no volume control - WDRC, in theory, should do away for the need for it test signal - need to chose the right test signal lack of defined standards - no clearly defined standards for measuring nonlinear aids

45 Ideal vs reality for testing aids Ideal situation: –full test-box & programming facility, ability to turn off “extras”, modulated speech-shaped noise as test signal Likely situation for some (eg outreach or other services?): –“old” test-box, no programming facility, can’t turn off “extras”, only continuous pure-tone or swept pure-tone available

46 Summary Signal processing Compression –Fits dynamic range of sounds into comfortable range of hearing –AGC –Types of compression – output-limiting, WDRC Multi-channel processing Implications –conceptual, complexity, test-signals

47 References –Dillon, H. (2001) Hearing Aids, Thieme –Sandlin, R.E. (2000) Hearing Aid Amplification, Singular –Vonlanthen, A. (2000) Hearing Instrument Technonogy, Singular –Venema, T. (1998) Compression for Clinicians, Singular –Killion, M.C., Staab, W. & Preeves, D. (1990) Classifying automatic signal processors. Hearing Instruments, 41(8), –Seewald, R. C (2001), A Sound Foundation Through Early Amplification 2000, Phonak AG, ISBN: –Seewald, R. C. & Gravel, J.C. (2002), A Sound Foundation Through Early Amplification 2001, Phonak AG, ISBN: Standards –BS EN 61669:2001 Electroacoustics – Equipment for the measurement of real-ear acoustical characteristics of hearing aids –BS ISO 12124:2001 Acoustics – Procedures for the measurement of real-ear acoustical characteristics of hearing aids

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