Widex Sound – PureSound
Widex’s goal is to produce better hearing technology that provides users the ability to hear as well as they did before they experienced hearing loss. To accomplish that goal, any hearing aid needs to deliver three distinct things: audibility (access to sounds); intelligibility, (ability to comprehend those sounds); and comfort,(amplification appropriate to the nature of the sounds).
These three design goals are instilled into Widex hearing aids.
Audibility is the most basic requirement. Widex delivers as much of the present sound environment to its’ user as is possible. It starts with “Sound Capture”, accurately detecting and capturing speech sounds.
All hearing aids have system limits within which they operate. These system limits can either improve or reduce the overall sound quality presented to the wearer. Hearing aids were developed to help people understand speech better. Traditional hearing aid designs focus on the speech levels from 45 dB to 65/70 dB SPL range. Traditional hearing aids don’t provide a lot of attention to softer or louder sound.
95% of what humans need to better understand speech comes from consonant sounds, which tend to be softer or less emphasized speech sounds. Therefore, hearing aids should give users access to these softer sounds. And that is one of the pillars of Widex’s philosophy and technology emphasis. Widex lowered their sound processing threshold to preserve those softer sounds for their hearing aid users. Other hearing aids overlook the emphasis on soft sounds, and their wearers miss out on subtle cues that are critical for speech acquisition and understanding.
Widex technology transitions from capturing sound to processing it
Once sound is captured by the microphone, it flows through to an analog to digital (A/D) converter. This is the opening through which sound is received by the hearing aid. If a hearing aid’s opening is too narrow, not all of the sound can pass through to be processed and made useful to the wearer.
Widex understands the importance of this step and built their own A/D converter with an extended range, of 5 dB up to 113 dB SPL. This A/D converter gives Widex hearing aids a larger opening for sound to enter.
Converting sound to a digital signal
Widex utilizes an 18-bit signal depth, which translates into a 108 dB SPL dynamic range, one of the widest in the hearing aid industry. The Widex A/D converter replicates natural sound more accurately, providing a higher resolution, in the digital format than other hearing aids. This higher resolution is then passed on to the processing technologies in the hearing aid, there is more detail and nuance available for the processor to work with.
Collectively, these two elements are what Widex calls True Input Technology.
Widex PureSound Using ZeroDelay Technology
The new Widex MOMENT hearing aids have achieved a perfected hearing experience by leveraging two distinct signal pathways. The ‘classic’ Widex signal pathway is paired with a second ultra-fast signal pathway that adds extra gearing to the platform.
This Widex ZeroDelay Accelerator reduces the processing delay between microphone and receiver (speaker) to below 0.5 milliseconds (1/2 of one thousands of a second), enabling the two sound signals to arrive at virtually the same time at the eardrum, thereby eliminating any artificial sound quality and creating a more natural sound experience or PureSound.
Once sound is captured, Widex technology facilitates intelligibility
Once sound passes into the hearing aid processor from the A/D converter, Widex separates it into 15 specific frequency channels, which hearing professionals utilize to adjust or customize the sound output for the wearer’s needs.
Widex also includes a “Variable Speed Compressor“, which combines both fast and slow acting compression at all technology levels of their hearing aids. (110, 220, 330, & 440 technology levels). Many other hearing aid manufacturers only offer this technology in their premium technology level hearing aids. Variable speed compression helps shape sound in a way that maximizes intelligibility or understanding, that is the second pillar of Widex better hearing. Variable Speed Compression preserves the qualities of sound without adding distortion in the processing side.
Real-world hearing features, “The Widex Sound”
Widex uses the term “real-life hearing” to describe a number of features combined together that make their hearing aids perform better in the real world.
SMARTWIND Manager helps users enjoy their hearing aids while outdoors by removing wind noise, based on calculations from multiple microphone inputs.
Speech Enhancer works across all 15 channels, looking at sound waves, deciding, “Is that signal speech or Is that not speech?” Wherever the hearing aid finds speech patterns, it enhances their audibility to ensure the client can understand what is being said. Speech enhancer includes a very active noise management system that accentuates speech and takes out disruptive background non-speech noise in real time.
Fluid Sound Technology or Sound Classes as Widex calls them. Widex engineers journey’d out into the real world and evaluated a variety of sound environments that clients routinely experience. For example; houses with hardwood floors verses those with carpeting, restaurants with no one talking versus those with lots of people talking, speech while riding in a car, etc. Widex sound engineers sampled the environments, learned the acoustics, and built a variety of sound profiles, so Widex hearing aids could apply the appropriate fine tuned settings/output to deliver better hearing in that specific environment, providing more audibility, speech understanding, and comfort, seeking a balance between them all.
So that the wearer doesn’t notice when the hearing aids are making changes between these environmental settings, the changes are made smoothly and seamlessly, hence the word “Fluid” in its name.
User goals change from moment to moment. Widex accounts for “Hearing Intentions”
One of the most powerful tools in Widex hearing aids is the real-time machine learning algorithm called SoundSense Learn. If a wearer is in an listening environment where they are struggling to hear/understand, they can use an app on their smartphone to listen to two different sound profiles and decide which one sounds better to them, either the A or B option. The user then just moves a slider either left or right indicating their preference.
SoundSense Learn addresses hearing issues in the moment, directly impacting and empowering wearers of Widex hearing aids to personalize their own better hearing experience.
Widex Achieves PureSound
Widex achieves what is called “PureSound” by combining everything they know about sound, environments, sound processing, the ear and the human brain to achieve a new and never before attained level of hearing correction perfection – PureSound.