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Use of the 'real-ear to dial difference' to derive real-ear SPL from hearing level obtained with insert earphones.

British Journal of Audiology
Informa UK (Informa Healthcare)
Publication Date
  • Musicology
  • Physics


The electroacoustic characteristics of a hearing instrument are normally selected for individuals using data obtained during audiological assessment. The precise inter-relationship between the electroacoustic and audiometric variables is most readily appreciated when they have been measured at the same reference point, such as the tympanic membrane. However, it is not always possible to obtain the real-ear sound pressure level (SPL) directly if this is below the noise floor of the probe-tube microphone system or if the subject is unco-operative. The real-ear SPL may be derived by adding the subject's real-ear to dial difference (REDD) acoustic transform to the audiometer dial setting. The aim of the present study was to confirm the validity of the Audioscan RM500 to measure the REDD with the ER-3A insert earphone. A probe-tube microphone was used to measure the real-ear SPL and REDD from the right ears of 16 adult subjects ranging in age from 22 to 41 years (mean age 27 years). Measurements were made from 0.25 kHz to 6 kHz at a dial setting of 70 dB with an ER-3A insert earphone and two earmould configurations: the EAR-LINK foam ear-tip and the subjects' customized skeleton earmoulds. Mean REDD varied as a function of frequency but was typically approximately 12 dB with a standard deviation (SD) of +/- 1.7 dB and +/- 2.7 dB for the foam ear-tip and customized earmould, respectively. The mean test-retest difference of the REDD varied with frequency but was typically 0.5 dB (SD 1 dB). Over the frequency range 0.5-4 kHz, the derived values were found to be within 5 dB of the measured values in 95% of subjects when using the EAR-LINK foam ear-tip and within 4 dB when using the skeleton earmould. The individually measured REDD transform can be used in clinical practice to derive a valid estimate of real-ear SPL when it has not been possible to measure this directly.

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