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NIST System for Measuring the Directivity Index of Hearing Aids under Simulated Real-Ear Conditions



Randall P. Wagner


The directivity index is a parameter that is commonly used to characterize the performance of directional hearing aids, and is determined from the measured directional response. Since this response is different for a hearing aid worn on a person as compared to when it is in a free field, directivity index measurements of hearing aids are usually done under simulated real-ear conditions. Details are provided regarding the NIST system for measuring the hearing aid directivity index under these conditions and how this system is used to implement a standardized procedure for performing such measurements. This procedure involves a sampling method that utilizes sound source locations distributed in a semi-aligned zone array on an imaginary spherical surface surrounding a standardized acoustical test manikin. The capabilities of the system were demonstrated over the frequency range of one-third-octave bands with center frequencies from 200 Hz to 8000 Hz through NIST participation in an interlaboratory comparison. This comparison was conducted between eight different laboratories of members of Working Group S3/WG48, Hearing Aids, established by Accredited Standards Committee S3, Bioacoustics, which is administered by the Acoustical Society of America and accredited by the American National Standards Institute. Directivity measurements were made for a total of six programmed memories in two different hearing aids and for the unaided manikin with the manikin right pinna accompanying the aids. Omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional response patterns were measured. Results are presented comparing the NIST data with the reference values calculated from the data reported by all participating laboratories.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) - 118.005
Report Number


acoustical test manikins, directional hearing aids, directional response of hearing aids, hearing aid directivity index, hearing aid directivity measurements, hearing aid standards, manikin measurements, simulated real- ear conditions


Wagner, R. (2013), NIST System for Measuring the Directivity Index of Hearing Aids under Simulated Real-Ear Conditions, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 17, 2024)


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Created January 24, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018