The performance of an experimental frequency compression hearing device was evaluated using tests of speech understanding in quiet. The device compressed frequencies above a programmable cut-off, resulting in those parts of the input signal being shifted to lower frequencies. Below the cut-off, signals were amplified without frequency shifting. Subjects were experienced hearing aid users with moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss and sloping audiograms. Their recognition of monosyllabic words was tested using the experimental device in comparison with conventional hearing aids. Of the 17 subjects, eight showed a significant score improvement (p < 0.05), whereas one subject showed a significant score decrease. Some of the improvements may have resulted from the better audibility provided in the high frequencies by the experimental device in comparison with the conventional aids. However, a subsequent study found that increasing the high-frequency gain in the conventional aids did not produce equivalent perceptual benefits.