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A Curvilinear Transfer Function for Wide Dynamic Range Compression with Expansion

Wide Dynamic Range Compression in hearing aids is becoming increasingly more complex as the number of channels and adjustable parameters grow. At the same time, there is growing demand for customization and user self-adjustment of hearing aids, necessitating a balance between complexity and user accessibility. Compression in hearing aids is governed by the input-output transfer function, which relates input magnitude to output magnitude, and is typically defined as a combination of linear piecewise segments resembling logarithmic behavior. This work presents an alternative to the conventional compression transfer function that consolidates multiple compression parameters and revisits expansion in hearing aids. The curvilinear transfer function is a continuous curve with logarithm-like behavior, governed by two parameters—gain and compression ratio. Experimental results show that curvilinear compression reduces the amplification of low-level noise, improves signal-to-noise ratio by up to 1.0 dB, improves sound quality as measured by the Hearing Aids Speech Quality Index by up to 6.7%, and provides comparable intelligibility as measured by the Hearing Aids Speech Perception Index, with simplified parameterization compared to conventional compression. The consolidated curvilinear transfer function is highly applicable to over-the-counter hearing aids and offers more capabilities for customization than current prominent over-the-counter and self-adjusted hearing aids.


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