Cochlear ImplantA cochlear implant (CI) is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Cochlear implants are often referred to as a bionic ear.

As of December 2012, approximately 324,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants; in the U.S., roughly 58,600 adults and 38,000 children are recipients. Some recipients have bilateral implants to allow for stereo sound. However, barriers such as the cost of the device prevent many patients from acquiring the device.

Cochlear implants may help provide hearing in patients that are deaf due to lack of or damage to sensory hair cells in their cochlea. In those patients, they can often enable sufficient hearing to allow unaided understanding of speech. The quality of sound is different from natural hearing, with less sound information being received and processed by the brain. However, many patients are able to hear and understand speech and environmental sounds. Newer devices and processing strategies may allow recipients to hear better in noise, enjoy music, and even use their implant processors while swimming.

(Source: adapted from


Here are some short audio examples to compare acoustic CI simulations to normal hearing. Try to identify the text (German speakers) and the songs on the basis of the simulation first!

After listening to the cochlear implant simulations, you will realize that they sound strange and "tinny". However, after a little practice, you will become familiarized with the sounds and you will be able to understand them almost as well as the unprocessed originals.

Title    CI Simulation    Original Sound   
Female Voice 1      
Female Voice 2      
Female Voice 3      
Female Voice 4      
Female Voice 5      
Male Voice      
Music 1      
Music 2      
Music 3      
Music 4      
Music 4      
Music 5      
Music 6      
Music 7      
Music 9      
Music 10      
Music 11      
Music 12      
Music 8      
Music 14      
Music 15      
Music 9      
Music 17      
Music 10      
Music 11      
Music 20      
Music 21      
Music 12      
Music 13      
Music 24      
Music 14      

Download all sound examples as mp3:

Zip-Archive (30 MB)


(Source of the simulation strategy: Goupell et al. 2008)