Discussion:
Calling all geezers: hearing aids and music
(too old to reply)
Peter
2019-07-28 01:11:15 UTC
Permalink
rmc seems to be populated primarily by old coots (whose reference recording is always something a half century ago or older), just about all male, so this is probably a germane question:

Any suggestions for hearing aids that don't interfere too much with music listening?

I have a 10-year old pair by Starkey, and the sound quality is terrible. I have to remove them any time I want to listen to music, and even background music is painful. Hearing aid technology seems to have improved in recent years, especially with "smart" devices that automatically adapt the program to changes in the acoustic environment, but what about music? Two in particular advertise themselves as musically OK, Widex Evoke and Signia Pure. Do any of you have experience with either of these or some other I might not be aware of?

Thanks!
Dave
2019-07-28 01:57:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter
Any suggestions for hearing aids that don't interfere too much with music listening?
I have a 10-year old pair by Starkey, and the sound quality is terrible. I have to remove them any time I want to listen to music, and even background music is painful. Hearing aid technology seems to have improved in recent years, especially with "smart" devices that automatically adapt the program to changes in the acoustic environment, but what about music? Two in particular advertise themselves as musically OK, Widex Evoke and Signia Pure. Do any of you have experience with either of these or some other I might not be aware of?
Thanks!
Peter, I have Widex hearing "instruments" (as my audiologist refers to them, not "aids." I call them hearing aids.) They have what is reputed to be the finest music program of any brand. Obviously, I haven't tried them all, but I can tell you that without these units in my ears (they are behind-the-ear models, not IN the ear), I'm essential deaf above 2500 Hz, which is deadly for classical music (and other musical) enjoyment, to say nothing of social interaction.

I can say without reservation that with these turned to the music program (one of seven different programs), I hear and enjoy music now better than I did when I was a teenager. I'm not exaggerating, because I listen now to the same LPs I had when I was in high school and can hear instrumentation and voice lines that I never discerned before. It's a true miracle for me and I give thanks daily for this technology.

My audiologist has these babies dialed in for me and was able to get that done after only two visits. They're not cheap at ~$6K but my insurance covered some of that and I can write some of it off as unreimbursed medical expense. I've noticed that the music program emphasizes mid-to-high frequencies (obviously), the ones I don't hear when I'm not wearing them. There's also a TV program that brings TV to life ("Thank God!" my wife says, after years of enduring stentorian TV volume on my behalf).

The programs are: Universal (for all-around general use), Music, TV, Comfort (which ratchets down the overall amplification in loud environments), and Relaxation, which I had my audiologist set to zero amplification ("off," IOW) so that I can turn off my aids when my wife is banging pots and pans in the kitchen (and in other very noisy places). There are also two "Zen" programs designed to calm stress and/or treat tinnitus. I also have fairly severe tinnitus but this didn't seem to help me, so I rarely use them.

I have to change batteries about once every ten days, but part of the deal was free batteries for five years (a good deal, since these 312s cost about $20 for a month's worth where I live), after which time, I'll probably get the latest new Widex model. Oh, these can also stream music and phone calls from iPhones and Androids, but I don't use that feature. Incredible sophistication in a tiny, tiny package.

I also have an optional remote control that looks like a tiny car-key fob. It can raise or lower the volume of any of the programs as well as rotate through them. This is very handy when you need to change a program or volume and you don't want to keep reaching up to the aid behind your ear to press the little button, making people think you have head lice. My audiologist threw in the remote as part of my deal. It's a $200 option.

I preach the gospel of (high quality) hearing aids all the time to people who have hearing loss. Studies show that hearing loss can lead to depression and dementia due to withdrawal from socialization. I can believe that. These things have changed my life.
Lawrence Kart
2019-07-28 21:16:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave
Post by Peter
Any suggestions for hearing aids that don't interfere too much with music listening?
I have a 10-year old pair by Starkey, and the sound quality is terrible. I have to remove them any time I want to listen to music, and even background music is painful. Hearing aid technology seems to have improved in recent years, especially with "smart" devices that automatically adapt the program to changes in the acoustic environment, but what about music? Two in particular advertise themselves as musically OK, Widex Evoke and Signia Pure. Do any of you have experience with either of these or some other I might not be aware of?
Thanks!
Peter, I have Widex hearing "instruments" (as my audiologist refers to them, not "aids." I call them hearing aids.) They have what is reputed to be the finest music program of any brand. Obviously, I haven't tried them all, but I can tell you that without these units in my ears (they are behind-the-ear models, not IN the ear), I'm essential deaf above 2500 Hz, which is deadly for classical music (and other musical) enjoyment, to say nothing of social interaction.
I can say without reservation that with these turned to the music program (one of seven different programs), I hear and enjoy music now better than I did when I was a teenager. I'm not exaggerating, because I listen now to the same LPs I had when I was in high school and can hear instrumentation and voice lines that I never discerned before. It's a true miracle for me and I give thanks daily for this technology.
My audiologist has these babies dialed in for me and was able to get that done after only two visits. They're not cheap at ~$6K but my insurance covered some of that and I can write some of it off as unreimbursed medical expense. I've noticed that the music program emphasizes mid-to-high frequencies (obviously), the ones I don't hear when I'm not wearing them. There's also a TV program that brings TV to life ("Thank God!" my wife says, after years of enduring stentorian TV volume on my behalf).
The programs are: Universal (for all-around general use), Music, TV, Comfort (which ratchets down the overall amplification in loud environments), and Relaxation, which I had my audiologist set to zero amplification ("off," IOW) so that I can turn off my aids when my wife is banging pots and pans in the kitchen (and in other very noisy places). There are also two "Zen" programs designed to calm stress and/or treat tinnitus. I also have fairly severe tinnitus but this didn't seem to help me, so I rarely use them.
I have to change batteries about once every ten days, but part of the deal was free batteries for five years (a good deal, since these 312s cost about $20 for a month's worth where I live), after which time, I'll probably get the latest new Widex model. Oh, these can also stream music and phone calls from iPhones and Androids, but I don't use that feature. Incredible sophistication in a tiny, tiny package.
I also have an optional remote control that looks like a tiny car-key fob. It can raise or lower the volume of any of the programs as well as rotate through them. This is very handy when you need to change a program or volume and you don't want to keep reaching up to the aid behind your ear to press the little button, making people think you have head lice. My audiologist threw in the remote as part of my deal. It's a $200 option.
I preach the gospel of (high quality) hearing aids all the time to people who have hearing loss. Studies show that hearing loss can lead to depression and dementia due to withdrawal from socialization. I can believe that. These things have changed my life.
I've had a similar experience with a pricey pair (about $4000) of Siemans hearing aids.

LK
MickeyBoy
2019-07-28 22:00:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave
Post by Peter
Any suggestions for hearing aids that don't interfere too much with music listening?
I have a 10-year old pair by Starkey, and the sound quality is terrible. I have to remove them any time I want to listen to music, and even background music is painful. Hearing aid technology seems to have improved in recent years, especially with "smart" devices that automatically adapt the program to changes in the acoustic environment, but what about music? Two in particular advertise themselves as musically OK, Widex Evoke and Signia Pure. Do any of you have experience with either of these or some other I might not be aware of?
Thanks!
Peter, I have Widex hearing "instruments" (as my audiologist refers to them, not "aids." I call them hearing aids.) They have what is reputed to be the finest music program of any brand. Obviously, I haven't tried them all, but I can tell you that without these units in my ears (they are behind-the-ear models, not IN the ear), I'm essential deaf above 2500 Hz, which is deadly for classical music (and other musical) enjoyment, to say nothing of social interaction.
I'll second the hit parade for Widex. Music does indeed sound much better with than without. One of my ears has severe loss starting at 500 Hz, so my battery life is barely more than a day. The distortion standard is 2% (harmonic I suppose;) audiologists can measure it. It is interesting that for the fitting she played Mozart's Requiem, which has a brief passage I thought indicated speaker distortion. With the hearing aids it was still there, but diminished. The ear on that side is my culprit.

Floyd Toole has written that when inner-ear cilia die or become impaired, causing hearing loss, neighboring cilia can take over. I imagine this would harm pitch discrimination, explaining the Requiem passage. CAn anyone opine more about this?
Bozo
2019-07-28 23:01:40 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for this ! I am experiencing some hearing loss ( which does come in handy in certain situations, such as lectures by wives , advice from children, appeals from pastors, etc.) , but not yet justifying the $4k - $6k level. Makes me appreciate mid-late Beethoven even more.
Frank Berger
2019-07-29 00:53:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bozo
Thanks for this ! I am experiencing some hearing loss ( which does come in handy in certain situations, such as lectures by wives , advice from children, appeals from pastors, etc.) , but not yet justifying the $4k - $6k level. Makes me appreciate mid-late Beethoven even more.
I've found this interesting as well. I have severe hearing loss in my
left ear due to an epidermoid cyst being involved with the vestibular
nerve coming out under the brain and which splits to the acoustic nerve
and another nerve going to the cochlea. This affects my balance a very
little, but my hearing in that ear very much. I listen through
headphones most of the time (contrary to logic) but convert the signal
to mono. The amazing thing is that with the same signal coming into
both ears, even though the left year is barely hearing anything, the
brain amplifies what signal there is and the music sounds more or less
centered. That doesn't work with stereo, of course. I plug the
headphones into a stereo to mono plug and then a mono to stereo plug.
This results in the same signal in both channels. The only problem is
those 3 plugs back to back to back make a formidable lever and the
result is an iffy connection sometimes. I saw that the recent Windows
10 upgrade has a mono setting, which I've turned on, so I could listen
through my laptops CD drive and not use the adapter plugs.

Re: the hearings aids. Awfully expensive and I don't know if they work
with neural hearing loss.
Peter
2019-07-29 00:20:05 UTC
Permalink
Thanks, Dave -- this is helpful. Your Widex sounds like one of the models I'm considering. (Signia is ex-Siemens.) Since I never listen to music with my "ears" in, and since my deficit is skewed to higher frequencies, I've wondered how my music perception may have been subtly altered over the years.

The main thing is that it is a real bother to have to take them out, put them in, take them out etc. over the course of a day. If I can be OK in situations with music I can probably just live with them full time.
Post by Dave
Post by Peter
Any suggestions for hearing aids that don't interfere too much with music listening?
I have a 10-year old pair by Starkey, and the sound quality is terrible. I have to remove them any time I want to listen to music, and even background music is painful. Hearing aid technology seems to have improved in recent years, especially with "smart" devices that automatically adapt the program to changes in the acoustic environment, but what about music? Two in particular advertise themselves as musically OK, Widex Evoke and Signia Pure. Do any of you have experience with either of these or some other I might not be aware of?
Thanks!
Peter, I have Widex hearing "instruments" (as my audiologist refers to them, not "aids." I call them hearing aids.) They have what is reputed to be the finest music program of any brand. Obviously, I haven't tried them all, but I can tell you that without these units in my ears (they are behind-the-ear models, not IN the ear), I'm essential deaf above 2500 Hz, which is deadly for classical music (and other musical) enjoyment, to say nothing of social interaction.
I can say without reservation that with these turned to the music program (one of seven different programs), I hear and enjoy music now better than I did when I was a teenager. I'm not exaggerating, because I listen now to the same LPs I had when I was in high school and can hear instrumentation and voice lines that I never discerned before. It's a true miracle for me and I give thanks daily for this technology.
My audiologist has these babies dialed in for me and was able to get that done after only two visits. They're not cheap at ~$6K but my insurance covered some of that and I can write some of it off as unreimbursed medical expense. I've noticed that the music program emphasizes mid-to-high frequencies (obviously), the ones I don't hear when I'm not wearing them. There's also a TV program that brings TV to life ("Thank God!" my wife says, after years of enduring stentorian TV volume on my behalf).
The programs are: Universal (for all-around general use), Music, TV, Comfort (which ratchets down the overall amplification in loud environments), and Relaxation, which I had my audiologist set to zero amplification ("off," IOW) so that I can turn off my aids when my wife is banging pots and pans in the kitchen (and in other very noisy places). There are also two "Zen" programs designed to calm stress and/or treat tinnitus. I also have fairly severe tinnitus but this didn't seem to help me, so I rarely use them.
I have to change batteries about once every ten days, but part of the deal was free batteries for five years (a good deal, since these 312s cost about $20 for a month's worth where I live), after which time, I'll probably get the latest new Widex model. Oh, these can also stream music and phone calls from iPhones and Androids, but I don't use that feature. Incredible sophistication in a tiny, tiny package.
I also have an optional remote control that looks like a tiny car-key fob. It can raise or lower the volume of any of the programs as well as rotate through them. This is very handy when you need to change a program or volume and you don't want to keep reaching up to the aid behind your ear to press the little button, making people think you have head lice. My audiologist threw in the remote as part of my deal. It's a $200 option.
I preach the gospel of (high quality) hearing aids all the time to people who have hearing loss. Studies show that hearing loss can lead to depression and dementia due to withdrawal from socialization. I can believe that. These things have changed my life.
p***@classicalnotes.net
2019-07-29 11:39:24 UTC
Permalink
A few hopefully helpful comments from another Peter:

First, it’s essential to be realistic about what hearing aids can and cannot do (and I’m referring here to conventional behind-the-ear units, not surgical implants, etc.). While I salute Dave’s experience, it seems unrealistic to expect any such device to fully restore your hearing. Modern units can work wonders reducing background noise and boosting frequencies that have become weak. But generally speaking, if frequencies are completely gone, they’re probably gone for good. You can quickly get an idea of your degree of high-frequency loss with an old hi-fi test record or on-line sweep tones. (Do each ear separately, though, by blocking the other.)

At $6K per pair I’m in no position to compare brands so I can just speak of my limited experience of a few months with Phonak. (Consumer Reports published an article in its June issue that has helpful background info but its survey comparing user satisfaction with various brands seems pointless, since reaction is entirely subjective and most users presumably had no wide-spread experience.) Much to my surprise, insurance paid nearly half, which brings the cost down to something closer to reasonable. Vets may do even better, so do check.

My loss is fairly mild (so far) – nothing above 6k or so, a few annoying resonances below that, mild tinnitus and increasing difficulty understanding speech – but the aids definitely help. Be sure your audiologist lets you try whatever pair he/she recommends for at least several weeks before you have to commit to buy it, since results are quite variable and may not meet your expectations. And do use an experienced audiologist - this isn't something you can do on line.

I used a 1/3 octave equalizer to isolate the frequencies of concern to me; that helped my audiologist customize my adjustments for music.

Phonak allows you to toggle among several different settings, each of which can be adjusted for volume within (I think) ten frequency bands, so you can customize them for speech, music, TV, etc. For me, a high midrange boost is good for conversation while a boost of higher frequencies helps for music.

Phonak (and, I assume, other brands) has an accessory that plugs into the audio output of a TV and lets you get the sound directly in your aids with Bluetooth. The result is much more intelligible than amplifying sound from TV speakers and room ambience – well worth the extra $250 or so.

Phonak has an app that enables your audiologist to adjust the aids remotely using a Bluetooth link to your iPhone. This is essential, as it lets you try out a setting in your home environment, request a specific adjustment, try the new setting immediately while he/she is on the phone, explain your reaction, tweak it some more, try that, etc. – far better than having to go to an office for adjustment, go back home, try it out, remember your reaction, go back to the office, and repeat the process multiple times. You can achieve results in a half hour and with far greater precision than countless hours of back-and-forth travel and inconvenient office appointments would provide.

Good luck!
p***@classicalnotes.net
2019-07-29 11:52:58 UTC
Permalink
And two further thoughts:

For music in a fixed location, you may find that a good equalizer works even better than hearing aids, since it not only amplifies but attenuates problem frequencies (to tame the resonances I have) and can isolate those frequencies far more accurately than the broader adjustment bands on the aids.

Also, don't expect hi-fi results if you use direct TV sound to your aids. They basically cut off below 250 Hz or so. The result sounds like it's coming from a 1-inch speaker - nice and crisp, but zero bass and low midrange. (For a plucked bass note, all you'll hear is a few harmonics.) You can compensate somewhat by keeping the TV speakers on and using the aids to augment them rather than substitute entirely.
Bozo
2019-07-29 13:03:51 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for this. Unfortunately,it appears alcohol can also cause hearing loss, so I may have to choose between cheap shiraz and Rachmaninoff.
Ed Presson
2019-07-29 15:59:00 UTC
Permalink
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but Costco hearing aid department
has all
employees on salary, so I got good objective advice (I think). Their "own"
Kirkland
Signature hearing aids are a great value.

Keep in mind, that hearing aids not only compensate for your measured
hearing loss,
but all compensate for "head transfer function" anomalies in each ear canal.
That's
something sound amplifiers do not attempt. All of this should provide
better sound.

I've been happy with Costco's hearing aid service, even when I had to turn
back
a pair after five months and bought a different set there.

Ed Presson
Lawrence Kart
2019-08-02 14:44:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ed Presson
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but Costco hearing aid department
has all
employees on salary, so I got good objective advice (I think). Their "own"
Kirkland
Signature hearing aids are a great value.
Keep in mind, that hearing aids not only compensate for your measured
hearing loss,
but all compensate for "head transfer function" anomalies in each ear canal.
That's
something sound amplifiers do not attempt. All of this should provide
better sound.
I've been happy with Costco's hearing aid service, even when I had to turn
back
a pair after five months and bought a different set there.
Ed Presson
Kirkland hearing aids are re-purposed obsolete (of if you prefer, cutout) models from "name" manufacturers. Doesn't mean that they're bad, just that you're probably getting what you're paying for.

Larry Kart
Gerry
2019-08-04 12:30:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
For music in a fixed location, you may find that a good equalizer works even better than hearing aids, since it not only amplifies but attenuates problem frequencies (to tame the resonances I have) and can isolate those frequencies far more accurately than the broader adjustment bands on the aids.
Also, don't expect hi-fi results if you use direct TV sound to your aids. They basically cut off below 250 Hz or so. The result sounds like it's coming from a 1-inch speaker - nice and crisp, but zero bass and low midrange. (For a plucked bass note, all you'll hear is a few harmonics.) You can compensate somewhat by keeping the TV speakers on and using the aids to augment them rather than substitute entirely.
Thanks to all! May I ask what brand, model, features do you recommend in the kind of equalizer have you found most helpful. Many thanks!
p***@classicalnotes.net
2019-08-04 12:47:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Gerry
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
For music in a fixed location, you may find that a good equalizer works even better than hearing aids, since it not only amplifies but attenuates problem frequencies (to tame the resonances I have) and can isolate those frequencies far more accurately than the broader adjustment bands on the aids.
Also, don't expect hi-fi results if you use direct TV sound to your aids. They basically cut off below 250 Hz or so. The result sounds like it's coming from a 1-inch speaker - nice and crisp, but zero bass and low midrange. (For a plucked bass note, all you'll hear is a few harmonics.) You can compensate somewhat by keeping the TV speakers on and using the aids to augment them rather than substitute entirely.
Thanks to all! May I ask what brand, model, features do you recommend in the kind of equalizer have you found most helpful. Many thanks!
I'm sure there are plenty of others, but the one I happen to have is an ART (Applied Research and Technology) model EQ-355 which I got from Sweetwater for about $200. It's dual-band with sliders every 1/3 octave from 20 Hz to 20k with a range of + / - 12 db, continuously adjustable high- and low-pass filters and - important - bypass that works even when the unit is off (so you don't have to waste power if you're not using the adjustments, as many other units require if it's connected between a preamp and power amp). Also, the connections accept standard RCA plugs, since some require balanced XLR in/out connections that seem a waste with standard stereo setups. The only disadvantage I've found is cosmetic - you can't remove the rack mount ears which are part of the face plate (although I suppose you could saw them off if you really wanted to). And speaking of cosmetics, this one beneficially doesn't bother with LEDs on the sliders, which I find annoying (and look bad as they burn out).
p***@classicalnotes.net
2019-08-04 12:55:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
Post by Gerry
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
For music in a fixed location, you may find that a good equalizer works even better than hearing aids, since it not only amplifies but attenuates problem frequencies (to tame the resonances I have) and can isolate those frequencies far more accurately than the broader adjustment bands on the aids.
Also, don't expect hi-fi results if you use direct TV sound to your aids. They basically cut off below 250 Hz or so. The result sounds like it's coming from a 1-inch speaker - nice and crisp, but zero bass and low midrange. (For a plucked bass note, all you'll hear is a few harmonics.) You can compensate somewhat by keeping the TV speakers on and using the aids to augment them rather than substitute entirely.
Thanks to all! May I ask what brand, model, features do you recommend in the kind of equalizer have you found most helpful. Many thanks!
I'm sure there are plenty of others, but the one I happen to have is an ART (Applied Research and Technology) model EQ-355 which I got from Sweetwater for about $200. It's dual-band with sliders every 1/3 octave from 20 Hz to 20k with a range of + / - 12 db, continuously adjustable high- and low-pass filters and - important - bypass that works even when the unit is off (so you don't have to waste power if you're not using the adjustments, as many other units require if it's connected between a preamp and power amp). Also, the connections accept standard RCA plugs, since some require balanced XLR in/out connections that seem a waste with standard stereo setups. The only disadvantage I've found is cosmetic - you can't remove the rack mount ears which are part of the face plate (although I suppose you could saw them off if you really wanted to). And speaking of cosmetics, this one beneficially doesn't bother with LEDs on the sliders, which I find annoying (and look bad as they burn out).
Also, for more casual listening on a system in my den (e.g., for background music when I read the morning paper), I use a $70 Behringer "mini FBQ" unit with one-octave sliders from 64 to 16kHz that's installed in the tape loop of an integrated receiver and does a remarkably good job and may suffice for some purposes.
Gerry
2019-08-04 22:14:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
Post by Gerry
Post by p***@classicalnotes.net
For music in a fixed location, you may find that a good equalizer works even better than hearing aids, since it not only amplifies but attenuates problem frequencies (to tame the resonances I have) and can isolate those frequencies far more accurately than the broader adjustment bands on the aids.
Also, don't expect hi-fi results if you use direct TV sound to your aids. They basically cut off below 250 Hz or so. The result sounds like it's coming from a 1-inch speaker - nice and crisp, but zero bass and low midrange. (For a plucked bass note, all you'll hear is a few harmonics.) You can compensate somewhat by keeping the TV speakers on and using the aids to augment them rather than substitute entirely.
Thanks to all! May I ask what brand, model, features do you recommend in the kind of equalizer have you found most helpful. Many thanks!
I'm sure there are plenty of others, but the one I happen to have is an ART (Applied Research and Technology) model EQ-355 which I got from Sweetwater for about $200. It's dual-band with sliders every 1/3 octave from 20 Hz to 20k with a range of + / - 12 db, continuously adjustable high- and low-pass filters and - important - bypass that works even when the unit is off (so you don't have to waste power if you're not using the adjustments, as many other units require if it's connected between a preamp and power amp). Also, the connections accept standard RCA plugs, since some require balanced XLR in/out connections that seem a waste with standard stereo setups. The only disadvantage I've found is cosmetic - you can't remove the rack mount ears which are part of the face plate (although I suppose you could saw them off if you really wanted to). And speaking of cosmetics, this one beneficially doesn't bother with LEDs on the sliders, which I find annoying (and look bad as they burn out).
Also, for more casual listening on a system in my den (e.g., for background music when I read the morning paper), I use a $70 Behringer "mini FBQ" unit with one-octave sliders from 64 to 16kHz that's installed in the tape loop of an integrated receiver and does a remarkably good job and may suffice for some purposes.
Much appreciated!

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