OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the speech intelligibility in noise with a new cochlear implant (CI) processor that uses a pinna effect imitating directional microphone system. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective experimental study. SETTING: Tertiary referral center. PATIENTS: Ten experienced, unilateral CI recipients with bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss. INTERVENTION: All participants performed speech in noise tests with the Opus 2 processor (omnidirectional microphone mode only) and the newer Sonnet processor (omnidirectional and directional microphone mode). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: The speech reception threshold (SRT) in noise was measured in four spatial settings. The test sentences were always presented from the front. The noise was arriving either from the front (S0N0), the ipsilateral side of the CI (S0NIL), the contralateral side of the CI (S0NCL), or the back (S0N180). RESULTS: The directional mode improved the SRTs by 3.6 dB (p < 0.01), 2.2 dB (p < 0.01), and 1.3 dB (p < 0.05) in the S0N180, S0NIL, and S0NCL situations, when compared with the Sonnet in the omnidirectional mode. There was no statistically significant difference in the S0N0 situation. No differences between the Opus 2 and the Sonnet in the omnidirectional mode were observed. CONCLUSION: Speech intelligibility with the Sonnet system was statistically different to speech recognition with the Opus 2 system suggesting that CI users might profit from the pinna effect imitating directionality mode in noisy environments.
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