Hearing Matters Podcast

"Everyday Sounds Better" feat. Scott Bunnell | Sonic Innovations

June 15, 2021 Hearing Matters Season 2 Episode 29
Hearing Matters Podcast
"Everyday Sounds Better" feat. Scott Bunnell | Sonic Innovations
Show Notes Transcript

About the Hearing Matters Podcast
 
The Hearing Matters Podcast discusses hearing technology (more commonly known as hearing aids), best practices, and a growing national epidemic - Hearing Loss. The show is hosted by father and son - Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS and Dr. Gregory Delfino, CCC-A. Blaise Delfino and Dr. Gregory Delfino treat patients with hearing loss at Audiology Services, located in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg, PA.

Becoming an Audiologist

On this episode Blaise Delfino discusses the emergence of hearing technology with Scott Bunnell of Sonic Innovation. Scott explains that he was in a dead-ed job when he decided to go back to school to become an audiologist. He got a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in audiology. He practiced as a clinician in a hospital for 6 years. He was laid off when the hospital closed its audiology unit.

Moving into Industry 

While looking for another job, he got a call from Sonic Innovations, asking him if he wanted to become a tech support audiologist. He enjoyed learning things that were not part of his job in the hospital. HE was put on a marketing team and is now a senior product manager. 

Sonic in its Early Years

Scott explains that Sonic began with three brilliant scientist-engineers. Dr. Thomas Stockham, who was a pioneer of digital recording and a master of digitizing and processing sound. Dr. Douglass Chabries designed Navy sonar systems and developed algorithms that simulated how the human ear and brain process sound.  Both had lifelong interests in how sound is produced and how the human brain processes it. They were later joined by Dr. Carver Meade, who is considered the father of microelectronics. He reduced a bench-top prototype to a single tiny chip. Using digital technology and the latest microchip manufacturing techniques, they created the first Sonic product in 1998. It was a completely digital hearing aid that fit inside the human ear. The company first tried to manufacture the hearing aids in Utah, but found it was easier to do so in Minnesota. Today R and D is located in Salt Lake City and manufacturing is done in Minnesota.

Sonic’s 4S Foundation

Over the years, Sonic has consistently improved and refined each generation of hearing devices. They developed algorithms that separate speech from noise and bring it to the foreground. They learned how to reduce background noise in many diverse environments. 

Scott says Sonic products and accessories are true to the company’s 4S Foundation: Sound That’s Natural, Speech Understanding in Noise, Simplicity in Everything We Do, and Style That Stands Out 

Sonic is a Leader in Noise Management

Most patients struggle with speech in noise. Sonic hearing aids use two microphones in one. One picks up the sound from the person who the wearer is talking to, and the other picks up other noises and mutes them. These microphones do this every time the wearer moves his/her head. 

Compression is Important.

Scott explains that compression in a hearing instrument is its ability to cut off the peaks of a sound wave that are too high (loud). He uses the example of a sailboat going under a bridge. If the sail is too high, its sails need to be compressed so it can fit. By using just, the right amount of compression, Sonic instruments amplify the soft sounds but keep the loud sounds from being too loud. 

The Cochlea is the Template

Sonic continually studies how the cochlea functions in the human ear to develop new chips. They are experts at developing products that act and sound like the cochlea. 

Blaise Delfino:

You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters Podcast with Dr. Gregory Delfino, and Blaise Delfino of Audiology Services and Fader Plugs, the show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a growing national epidemic: Hearing Loss. On this episode, we have special guest, Scott Bunnel from Sonic Innovation. Scott, welcome to the Hearing Matters Podcast.

Scott Bunnel:

Thanks, Blaise. I'm really excited to be here, and thank you for that warm introduction.

Blaise Delfino:

Absolutely. Scott, I have to say, we have been looking forward to this episode with you for quite some time, you have such an incredible background, you are an incredibly talented audiologist, musician, and just all around awesome human being. So let's dive right into it. Tell us a little bit about how you became to be an audiologist and started your journey with Sonic Innovations.

Scott Bunnel:

How I became an audiologist. You know, I was in a kind of a dead end job in my mid 20s, had a four year degree. But I have to be honest, I wasn't the greatest student back then. And I started a family and I realized, you know, you're going to have to go back to school and get a you know, a graduate degree if you really want to grow up and live your life and, and be excited about a career. So I did a little research. I live in Minneapolis, and so I'm close to the University of Minnesota, which has a lot of incredible degrees available. So I did some research and I found this degree in audiology, which I didn't know anything about really. But I had been I have been around people with hearing loss. I have a couple of family members who are deaf, and a few that are hard of hearing. And I thought well, this is a great way, this seems like a great field to get into. My only really criteria was have a career where you're helping people in some way. And so I really thought that audiology was a great way to help people. I got my master's degree in my late 20s at the University of Minnesota. I later went on to get my doctoral degree at the University of Florida.

Blaise Delfino:

Wow.

Scott Bunnel:

And yeah, and so I had this career as an audiologist all of a sudden and I was really excited. You know, audiology is it's a clinical degree. The doctoral degree is a clinical doctorate, right. So it's, it's, you've kind of think, well, I'm being trained to be a clinical audiologist. So I'm just gonna get in, you know, in a clinical job, and I did that I really enjoyed my job. I was working at a hospital and we did everything. So it was a lot of variety. We had a vestibular lab, for instance, I don't know if you guys do any vestibular testing, I think you do, right?

Blaise Delfino:

We actually do not. But Dr. Delfino, he is well versed and working with the VNG for many years. So that's incredible. Wow.

Scott Bunnel:

Right, right. And I did literally 1000s of VNG's back then at this hospital. But I also did, and, and we also had, we also had a full diagnostics, we had rotary chair and posturography, machine, we a lot of stuff. And we also had, you know, we also sold hearing aids, and did a lot of diagnostics with hearing, as well. So we had the full gamut of diagnostic audiology, if you will, and I really enjoyed it. I worked there for about six and a half years and I thought, okay, clinical degree, I'm going to be a clinician the rest of my life. That's how I planned it out, right? And as you know, life doesn't always go as planned.

Blaise Delfino:

Never.

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, right. And so, six and a half years, at about six half years into this job, all of a sudden, I was laid off. And and I, Blaise, I forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think that you have a lot of job security in your current position at your company.

Blaise Delfino:

Well, yeah, the pandemic made it a little, little nerve-wracking. Right, yeah, I hppe my mom and dad do not fire me.

Scott Bunnel:

Right. But, you know, I thought I had a lot of I thought, you know, I did a good job. And I was, I was proud of the work I'd done. But, you know, budget decisions and so forth. And they basically just got rid of our audiology program and tell you, if you've never been laid off of any job. It's a it's a bad feeling. I'm still angry about it. So anyway, I did look for another job and I thought, well, I have some clinical, I already had some clinical jobs lined up right away. And all of a sudden, out of the blue, this company called Sonic Innovations recruiter called me and they said, well, we'll have the position open in Eagan, Minnesota at this factory called Sonic Innovations. And I'd heard of the company but I didn't know much about it as a tech support audiologist. And I thought, well, that's never something that I ever thought it would ever want to do. But one of the big draws for me, and this is kind of seems silly, but I had been commuting from the suburbs to Minneapolis for years and years, 15 plus years, including schooling. And this was more in my backyard. This was a real easy commute and I thought, Man, I would just love to have this easy commute finally, so I said, well, I told Mike, I'd like to give it a try. And I said, you know, I'm not one of these people who's into hopping jobs, I want to stay in a job. I'm in a job, I want to stay in it for a long time, right. And so I said, I'll give it my the old college try and I did, did just that. So I started as tech support audiologist and a company called Sonic, Sonic Innovations at the time, it was 2006, I believe. And then I got in to do some different things, I got to be in training, and I got to be in management. And I've considered myself really lucky, because I got, I've been able to do a lot of different things. And what I love about the job is I'm constantly learning, you know, and now I am part of this marketing team and I'm the senior product manager globally, for for Sonic.

Blaise Delfino:

That's a huge deal, Scott. I mean, you are in a position that is number one, so cool, and so fun. Right? And, and you have that background, you have to be thrilled to go to work every single day.

Scott Bunnel:

I am I really am and, and now by going to work just means getting out of bed and rolling into my home office. You're totally right. And I love my job and this is a great company to work for we make great products, they treat their employees really well. And I've been just so fortunate to have this, you know, just being on this constant, kind of roller coaster of learning new things. And like I said, I'm part of the marketing team. And it's a lot of training. It's a lot of materials development. It's a lot of product development, working with a software developers, and you know, and I'm learning every day so

Blaise Delfino:

Well, you're doing an incredible job, because just seeing Sonic's marketing materials and how you get the name out there and your incredible products in the hands of the audiologists and licensed hearing healthcare professionals, so important. And you know, Scott, I understand that Sonic has a very interesting origination story, literally the first company to design a digital completely in the canal hearing aid. Can you give us a look into how Sonic became to be a hearing aid manufacturer?

Scott Bunnel:

Yes, it's actually a very interesting story and it started in a place called Utah with two very prominent researchers in their respective fields in the mid 90s. Completely in the canal. The CIC hearing aid was extremely popular, right but it was an analog hearing aid. And so they just started develop all digital hearing aids, but they're the behind the ear hearing aids and they're kind of big and clunky, and a big demand for an all digital completely in the canal hearing aid. So there are these two resources that got that got together. One of them's name was Thomas Stockholm, and Thomas Stockham was actually no actually been called the father of digital audio. He went to MIT. He actually hacked the MIT mainframe when he was going there and recorded his own voice. He won all these awards. Uh, he actually had the first live all digital recording.

Blaise Delfino:

Holy smokes

Scott Bunnel:

I don't know you're a young guy Blaise, but have you heard of Watergate? You know, the infamous Watergate tapes where Nixon had recorded these unreal recordings from the office like 1000s of hours of of his meetings and so forth and he and there were parts of those tapes that were missing. And he's one of the Thomas Stockholm was one of the guys they brought in to kind of look at those tapes and try to evaluate, you know,

Blaise Delfino:

Brilliant gentlemen.

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, he won Emmy, he won a Grammy.

Blaise Delfino:

Wow.

Scott Bunnel:

He won a bunch of other awards in scientific awards. So he was he was at the University of Utah doing research and being a professor 40 miles away. And BYU university or BYU there was someone named Douglas Tabriz and Douglas Tabriz had a very storied career in research. He started off actually working for the Navy, as a civilian researcher to help develop sonar technology, and did that for about 12 years. And then he went to BYU to be professor and a researcher. And he did, he did some simulating of how the human ear and the brain process sound and he developed this mathematical model of the inner ear. So it's actually tied here. So these two guys really brilliant guys and these guys were both 40 miles away, and it was Thomas Stockholms son, who was actually I believe, getting his MBA or is doing I think he might have been his master's project or something, got these two guys together to build an all digital completely in the canal hearing aid. So they got together and built this thing. And you know, they got the signal that they wanted, but they weren't able to fit it into a small ear and it actually fit on top of those little red wagons that you pull your kids around.

Blaise Delfino:

Okay so size size was was a challenge

Scott Bunnel:

Size was a problem. So they had to bring in a third party and this third person, another pioneer in his

Blaise Delfino:

It's cold, though. field is Carver Mead. And I think it was Bill Gates who

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, I've lived here for a long time, Blaise. said, if Carver Mead talks, everybody listens, and he was the father of micro e ectronics at the time. So he t ok this technology and he able t fit it into a very small tiny m crochip that ran on a 1.5 volt c ll battery. So in 1998, they ki d of unleashed this hearing a d all digital CIC into the mark t at the ADA convention n Monterey, California. I think t was at the time the Academy f Dispensing Audiologists, and a l these people that were wanti g this product, right and the tried to start a factory i Utah. And they hired a guy fro Minnesota to be the to be th plant manager, who ha experience, but they couldn't d it orders just sat on, they j st sat on the shelves. So immedi tely this plant manager said, we need to go back to Minnesota, be ause at the time and kinda it s ill is a little bit. Minne polis, Minnesota area is ki d of a mecca for hear ng aid manufacturers. So they'v called so they.

Blaise Delfino:

So they decide they need to go to Minnesota and team up with somebody to fulfill orders?

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, exactly. They had to get the talent and there's a lot of talent in Minnesota. And so they're able to move the factory there and start fulfilling these orders and then just kind of going on from there. So they kept their research and development and corporate office in Salt Lake City. And then the manufacturing was in Eagan, Minnesota. So they went on to develop this CIC all Digital's a nine channel instrument, and then they also started doing research on they were one of the leading researchers on noise reduction expansion in the early 2000s. The thing to products remember, those became popular?

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, yes.

Scott Bunnel:

And then the receiver in the ear products, which is pretty much most of the what sold these days. So 2010 were actually became part of another organizations, many industries have become these multi brand industries, right? We became part of this multi brand strategy for a big parent company. At that time, we had researchers, you know, from Salt Lake City, and then we had to move and some of them actually moved to a new research facility down in Bern, Switzerland. And we had to kind of hybridize this, all this all this technology we had been doing and to the new technology that was already being worked on. And it took us a little bit a little while, but to kind of hybridize that technology and start really get out the products we want. Over time, we're able to finally just put out some fantastic products. And you know, I get to be a part of that now. And to see how that evolution and growth of of really robust, feature rich products has been a fun thing to see

Blaise Delfino:

And a product that helps people hear better, understand speech clear, and affect their overall health and well being in such a positive way, Scott understanding and learning about the history of Sonic Innovations, you speak a lot about Sonic's obsession with providing literally the best sound quality and speech understanding in noise as possible. Which reminds me of the the Sonic 4S foundation that I see in most of Sonic's marketing, training, literature, things of that nature. Can you please just tell us a little bit more about the Sonic 4S Foundation?

Scott Bunnel:

Yes, absolutely. The 4S Foundation was developed, right after that merging, if you will, into this multi brand strategy. We were one of the only companies that started with digital products. Most of the other companies out there, it started with analog products and then moved into digital.

Blaise Delfino:

Sure

Scott Bunnel:

We started right off the bat with digital products. And we start right off the bat with not just that, but this this idea of providing the best possible sound quality by mimicking the cochlea, and how the cochlea works based on Douglas Shabreezes' research. So we want to keep those roots.

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, right.

Scott Bunnel:

And those value systems, especially after were kind of part of this different organization, so it used to be Sonic Innovations. Now, technically now it's Sonic with the tagline everyday sounds better. So that was part of our rebrand as we move forward. And the other part was developing something that we call the 4S Foundation, to make sure that in everything we do, as we develop products, as we develop materials, as we do presentations, that we're we want to make sure that we're kind of sticking to our value system. And this is the 4S foundation is just that our value system. The first S stands for sound quality, sound that's natural. And again, that has to do with how we process sound, doing everything we can to get provide the best possible sound quality. The second S is speech, understanding in noise. I mentioned earlier, we one of the leaders in noise reduction technology and the development of that over time. And we want to do everything we can to make sure that the listener that the user, the hearing impaired, have a better ability to hear speech in noise and understand speech in noise. The third S is really important to us as well. And that's simplicity in everything we do. In this new multi brand strategy, we believe that simplicity is one of our tenants that makes us easy to do business with. Ya know, it was Albert Einstein, who's a good friend of mine, just kidding. But he Albert Einstein, who says in everything you do do it as simple as possible and no simpler. And it was actually Leonardo Da Vinci, who said simplicity is the ultimate and sophistication, you've worked with our software, right?

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, it is very simple to navigate. And it's beautiful

Scott Bunnel:

But it has everything you need.

Blaise Delfino:

It has everything you need. It's simple in the fact from a user interface standpoint, now, there's a lot of back end that goes into software development, right. But what your team has done is said, okay, let's keep it simple for the audiologist and hearing healthcare professional, but still giving the patient that top notch noise management. Absolutely.

Scott Bunnel:

Right, exactly right. Well said. And so simplicity is huge for us. And you also saw our software, and how we do presentations, we believe in straight talk, we do believe in calling a duck a duck. You know, when we talk about our technology, the fourth S is stylish design. You know, back in the mid 2000s, we we developed the smallest mini BTE ever made at the time and the smallest receiver in the your product, we want to bring stylish design in our products in our branding, and our marketing, and kind of somewhere with that fourth S is this reliability idea, I'm gonna throw that in there with with that fourth S because we have some of the most reliable products on the market.

Blaise Delfino:

Which we will definitely vouch fo,r you absolutely do.

Scott Bunnel:

Thank you.

Blaise Delfino:

So Scott, I personally know that Sonic has been known in the marketplace as a leader when it comes to noise management technology. When we discuss noise management, we know that the majority of our patients that we see struggle to understand speech in noise, tell us a little bit about the noise management strategies and what is available nowadays through Sonic and your incredible products

Scott Bunnel:

Right, and noise management is incredibly important. And I like to say we need to clean the signal before we process it. And that really means improving the signal to noise ratio, but also providing a comfort and ease of listening as well. So how do we clean the signal we use directional microphones, and noise reduction technology. And directional microphones are something we've had it for a while now, but the evolution of this technology has really grown. But the whole idea about a directional microphone, basic idea is that the hearing aid where the listener is facing the speech, the speech source, the person talking by using directional microphone technology, which is essentially two microphones in one, we can kind of focus on what's in front, and then reduce gain and sounds from the side and the back. Currently, what we're using an adaptive beamforming microphone technology. And we're doing it in 24 frequency bands. And so we have a real high resolution when it comes to using directional microphones. And so our metrics on microphones can go from completely omni directional, they're very adaptive, right? So they, they're completely adaptive, you can go from completely omni directional to completely directional. And it uses a thing called focus, no steering, which is a lot of hearing aid manufacturers use this. And it's this ability to kind of move the null points and null points on directional microphone system is where we're going to, we're going to reduce the amplification and then it should be where the noise source is coming from. So we want to create null points in that directional pattern from where the noise source is coming from. So the noise source can be always changing, you know, when you move your head, the noise sources changing. So you need a really complex, sophisticated system to keep up with those changing noise sources. And that's what we have. The other piece of it is the noise reduction right? 10-15 years ago, with headphones with noise canceling technology became more popular, right?

Blaise Delfino:

Oh, huge. Absolutely.

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, and they still are, but those headphones are actually based on hearing aid research. from hearing aid manufacturers, I always say it's not hard anymore to develop an algorithm that's going to reduce noise. Algorithms are modulation based, right. And we know that when there's a lot of noise in the background, it creates this waveform of steady state noise, which is identifiable in speech. Speech has a real distinct waveform and we know we know speech has vowels and consonants. And so we can identify speech and identify noise and we can use subtle, sophisticated technology to reduce that steady state noise. But you have to be able to preserve the speech and he really needed incredibly fast and adaptive system to do that, because this system has to estimate the signal to noise ratio at all times. So by estimating the signal to noise ratio, we can know when this speech is kind of mixed up in the noise and when the speech is above the noise and kind of vary the amount of noise reduction applied with those signals.

Blaise Delfino:

So how fast are we talking, Scott in terms of the Sonic hearing technology being able to scan the environment and make those adjustments?

Scott Bunnel:

Good question. You know, we're talking about processing speeds, it has to be very fast in sampling like sampling at 20,000 samples per second.

Blaise Delfino:

Wow.

Scott Bunnel:

digitizing speed. But the other real key is your attack and release times, attack and release times has to do with compression and how we apply compression. But at Sonic, even from day one, we've had incredibly fast attack and release times. Back in 1998, and you have very fast attack and release times, then you can kind of always know that signal to noise ratio, and be able to estimate it to kind of see where the noise is at and where the speech is at and and be able to apply noise reduction in the best possible way.

Blaise Delfino:

Scott, I want to dovetail off a term you had just previously said it was digital signal processing. Now, digital signal processing, or DSP does seem to often be overlooked when selecting a hearing aid for a patient. And with all the options available like direct streaming, telehealth, hearing, fitness apps, etc. There's so much out there. Right. So can you speak to the importance of digital signal processing when selecting a hearing aid?

Scott Bunnel:

Yes, and you're right. I do think that digital signal processing is often overlooked. And we spend a lot of money on research and development.

Blaise Delfino:

About $90 million a year, right? Yeah, yeah, it's it's not a it's not a small penny.

Scott Bunnel:

Yeah, right. And that's kind of what people well you know, one of the reasons why hearing aids can be a little pricey research is a development is very important. And you can choose how many what aids kind of like what age you're going to put in which basket? Yeah, and we put a lot of eggs in our basket of signal processing and noise management. Technology has grown so much. And there's a million different reasons for someone to buy hearing aids. I look back to an article doc in 2013 by Zero and Sousa was just about selecting the optimal digital processing for your patient. And it looked at some of the market track research back then. And it's, it's saw that, you know, what, what are hearing care professionals, what factors are they using, select a hearing aid for a patient. And really the top things they were using the price of the hearing aid, so they're choosing a hearing aid based on price, and they were for their patients and choosing a hearing aid, based on how it looked on the patient, you know how small it was. But the digital signal processing was really low on the list. And this article that what they also did was they they wanted to look at digital signal processing, because fast processing versus slow processing, because fast processing is going to have more benefits than most people but sometimes you want slow processing. So I was looking at fast processing and actually processing the attack and release times I was talking about how quickly you can apply a compression and release compression. It looked at the attack release times have a ton of different manufacturers independently in their lab. And to see what kind of numbers we were going to see and how fast people were actually doing attack and release times. And guess who had the fastest attack and release time in the industry?

Blaise Delfino:

Huh, Sonic?

Scott Bunnel:

Good guess! That was back in 2013. I don't know if that's kind of studies ever been recreated. But we still use those that's still very important to us using the very the fastest attack and release times available that we can provide the best possible digital signal processing?

Blaise Delfino:

Absolutely.

Scott Bunnel:

Back 20-25 years ago, we kind of went from this thing like well, maybe we shouldn't just amplify sounds in a linear fashion like so every sound because we have to fit people's dynamic range of hearing aid and I've listened to a lot of your podcast, Blaise, and I know you've talked about this before. But this idea of this patient has a dynamic range that's available to them based on their hearing loss and we want to make sure that we're fitting soft sounds keeping the soft sound soft and loud sounds not too loud. And then the conversational sounds would be about which is about right. So we want to be able to share that we that we do that accurately. And back 20-25 years ago, we did that through multi channel compression channels. Channels are sequential and overlapping frequency bands within fixed bandwidth. And multi channel compression works by splitting the input signal into separate frequency bands and determining at a street level within each frequency band and applying compression in each band based on that level. So it's kind of an average of an average, okay, but it did have some kind of side effects. If you take an average of an average of an average, you can tend to kind of flatten the overall spectrum of the signal, you kind of lose frequency contrast. So the result is an amplification that doesn't sound as natural as it could be okay, sometimes can be a little bit robotic, a little bit distorted in the high frequency sometimes because we'd have the evolution of digital technology and we have more processing power and more memory to use and we're constantly developing new computer chips to be able to do that even better. We've decided to use this wideband signal analysis. Okay, so instead of processing channels, we're still using like a variable compression ratio. But this wideband signal analysis keeps the whole wideband spectrum intact. And if you think about how the cochlea functions with the Bassler membrane, and I don't want to get too deep and because I'm going to get a lot of trouble because it's been a while since I was in school, right, the bassler membrane is kind of topically organized by frequency and it's a very fluid system. You think if we broke up the bassler membrane into little different small bassler membranes by frequency, but that'd be a better system. My guess is would not right? We we want that nice fluid system. So we're trying to develop a system that has that same fluidity. Okay. And what it does is it kind of preserves the frequency contrast.

Blaise Delfino:

And again, what you were saying earlier is, essentially, your thought process behind that research and development is to try your best to introduce products to patients that act and sound like the cochlea, essentially. Right, Scott, you mentioned compression, can you tell us a little bit more what compression actually is, when it comes to hearing aid processing, and really what Sonic's doing differently when it comes to applying compression and a hearing aid?

Scott Bunnel:

Right. And compression is something that we first used in the industry, because the outputs of hearing aids once they got loud, this system would cut off the peaks. And they call that peak clipping. And it was extremely annoying and a horrible way to do things. And it sounded made the hearing aid sound terrible, right. And the best analogy I had and I had this when I was in graduate school, but there is a say if you think about a sailboat, if a sailboat couldn't get out of the bridge, if they can reduce the mass and the sale and they can get under the bridge. So that's that's the first kind of ways we use compression in hearing aids was to kind of push the sailboat under the bridge by by compressing the sounds once they got too loud, as wide dynamic range compression started evolve. We use compression also to make sure that that soft sounds were being amplified appropriately. We use compression ratios that were much lower that allowed soft sounds to still be amplified a little you know a little bit more. But make sure those loud sounds were getting over amplified. And one of the things Sonic is doing differently with compression is we found over time, that compression can have a real effect on a speech and noise environment.

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, yes.

Scott Bunnel:

So Blaise, think about the fitting rationales that you that you have available to you as a hearing care professional. Right, you have generic fitting rationales like NAL two and DSL, and you have proprietary fitting rationales with a brand you're using. So we call our proprietary fitting rationale best fit fast. Those fitting rationales are designed for speech and quiet environment, when you think about it, and they work great. I think you might agree with me that you could put you can use any hearing aid manufacturer, any manufacturer's hearing aids is going to sound good in a speech and quiet environment, you can bring him into the booth and do your real ear that you're doing and fitted to the patient's hearing loss as best you can. And they're gonna say, okay, this, I'm sitting in a sound booth, everything sounds great, right?

Blaise Delfino:

It's gonna sound great.

Scott Bunnel:

Right? But what happens when they go out in the real world where there's complex listening environments, everywhere you look and, most people are going from one complex listening environment to the next, the number one problem that you occur when it comes to hearing aids, and processing speeches, speech in noise continues to be difficult. But in a speech in noise environment, we're tend to over compress the signal, especially in the high frequencies, and we're causing distortion and a less than desirable result when it comes to listening to speech in noise and kind of the research showed that actually having less compression in a speech in noise environment was going to be a better way to do it. So we developed a compression algorithm a few years back, we call it smart compress. So what this algorithm does is it kind of estimates the signal to noise ratio at fast and slow speeds, and to always know when there's speech and when there's noise. And when there's a speech and noise environment, we're going to reduce the amount of compression.

Blaise Delfino:

Just to dovetail off what you're saying the in house case study that I shared with with you, actually Mike Greco sent it your way. Shout out to our good friend Mike. When it comes to Sonic's ability to increase speech understanding and decrease listening effort. It really is incredible what you and your team have done with the hearing technology that you have and continue to develop.Tthe research findings that we had my myself and Dr. Delfino absolutely amazing. We had patients who presented with severe speech in noise scores. And with the Sonic we actually tested the Sonic Captivate 100s increased overall speech understanding significantly in noisy situations.

Scott Bunnel:

That's great to hear that and we hear that a lot but it's nice that you were able to like document it in your

Blaise Delfino:

Yes, absolutely

Scott Bunnel:

Your own little case studies, it's fantastic.

Blaise Delfino:

Scott, I want to thank you again for joining us on the Hearing Matters Podcast for those tuned in, Please tune in next week because Scott is going to be joining us again, talking about Sonic's newest hearing aid, the Radiant. Until next time, hear life's story.