• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Hearing and hearing aid recommendations

middlemarch

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 4, 2023
Messages
129
Likes
156
Location
Seattle Area
I'm wondering if the whole issue of hearing, and deficiencies in same, isn't sort of the "elephant in the room" surrounding so many of the discussions here and elsewhere, especially when the topic of subjective listening is at issue.

Many threads I've noticed ask about the possibility of introducing frequency response curves to either headphones or sometimes speakers to try to compensate somewhat for hearing deficiencies, with the usual response being that that's not a good idea, which I probably agree with.

As I approach 70 I'm well aware my hearing ain't what it used to be. I can still remember hearing Dalquist DQ-10s for the first time when in my early 20's and having that "ah ha!" epiphany as to what hi fi was all about, "air" and exquisite delicacy. I've spent the intervening years trying to get that feeling back, and have spent a few dollars, especially recently, in the pursuit. To less than stellar results, I'm afraid. And I well know it's not the hardware.

Which has led me to the decision to have my ears tested (not yet done) and explore hearing aids in an effort to make the best of what I've got left.

Under the assumption that many in the ASR community may well have struggled with the same issue, my question to any and all who have gone down the road of hearing aids is: what is the current state of the art in hearing aids, and particularly what can one expect for the purpose of listening to music. I realize that hearing aids have traditionally been optimized for human speech, but can they also help with the higher frequencies?

What has been your experience, both in expectations and results? And, while I realize this has to, by it's very nature, be subjective and individual, what are the best wide band hearing aids available today?

I would love it if Amir could somehow develop a testing regime for these things, and realize the impossibility of doing so. But how does one evaluate the options?
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 5, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
920
I'm your age and in the same boat. FDA recently allowed purchase outside of traditional overpriced model. Waiting for dust to settle and research reviews. Hoping new models with software will answer our prayers.
 

jsrtheta

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 20, 2018
Messages
937
Likes
995
Location
Colorado
I'm wondering if the whole issue of hearing, and deficiencies in same, isn't sort of the "elephant in the room" surrounding so many of the discussions here and elsewhere, especially when the topic of subjective listening is at issue.

Many threads I've noticed ask about the possibility of introducing frequency response curves to either headphones or sometimes speakers to try to compensate somewhat for hearing deficiencies, with the usual response being that that's not a good idea, which I probably agree with.

As I approach 70 I'm well aware my hearing ain't what it used to be. I can still remember hearing Dalquist DQ-10s for the first time when in my early 20's and having that "ah ha!" epiphany as to what hi fi was all about, "air" and exquisite delicacy. I've spent the intervening years trying to get that feeling back, and have spent a few dollars, especially recently, in the pursuit. To less than stellar results, I'm afraid. And I well know it's not the hardware.

Which has led me to the decision to have my ears tested (not yet done) and explore hearing aids in an effort to make the best of what I've got left.

Under the assumption that many in the ASR community may well have struggled with the same issue, my question to any and all who have gone down the road of hearing aids is: what is the current state of the art in hearing aids, and particularly what can one expect for the purpose of listening to music. I realize that hearing aids have traditionally been optimized for human speech, but can they also help with the higher frequencies?

What has been your experience, both in expectations and results? And, while I realize this has to, by it's very nature, be subjective and individual, what are the best wide band hearing aids available today?

I would love it if Amir could somehow develop a testing regime for these things, and realize the impossibility of doing so. But how does one evaluate the options?
I'm 71, so your post holds relevance for me as well.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 5, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
920
I researched today. Looks like Costco with audiologist, 2 year free extended warranty, 180 no hassle return policy, we'll trained, well paid, intelligent employees and 1500 to 1600 price tag is best deal. The internet sites are intrusive and "deals" make used or new car salesmen look like amateurs. Bluetooth tech is still in the Stone Age for Costco products.
 
OP
M

middlemarch

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 4, 2023
Messages
129
Likes
156
Location
Seattle Area
I've also been looking at options and at various "review" sites. It's seems that for the testing Costco is the place to go, and as I am a member, so much the better. It's not clear that their selection of hearing aids necessarily covers all the criteria that is important to us, however.

In trying to winnow down the list to those that are the best at audio quality, it seems Widex and Opticon are the most highly rated. In fact Widex makes claims that they're good for musicians and even allude to response up to 20KHz (I'll believe that when I can hear it). I don't think either of those is available through Costco. So it doesn't look like the best audio quality is going to be had in the less than $2K price range (but I'd sure like to be shown I'm wrong!).

I know this isn't a really pleasant, fun topic, but anyone out there that has first hand experience in this area, or even more knowledgeable in the technical aspects, it sure would be greatly appreciated if you'd share it with the rest of us.

I'm also hearing that Bluetooth functionality for most hearing aids isn't very good from an audio quality standpoint, probably in line with bluetooth generally. And honestly, it would be seriously discouraging if the best we can do would be streaming directly to our hearing aids. So much for 'end game' sound systems. I have to hope there's something better out there
 

fivepast8

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 26, 2020
Messages
46
Likes
201
Location
Switzerland
Best of luck in your quest for a suitable device.
I was a manufacturer for the PCBs used in most hearing instruments brands, also implantable ones.

Hearing is mostly a "brain" activity. If the ears loose their sensitivity, the brain also switches off and looses the ability to process sound. When the hearing instrument is turned on, often time this results in head ache as the brain is overpowered by all the noise and unable to filter properly. Often hearing instruments end up in a bedside drawer because people don't want to wear them. Therefore, implementing the hearing instrument at the on-set of hearing loss is crucial before most of the brain function associated with hearing is lost.

People who do not hear properly also isolate more as they have trouble following conversation in noisy environment. Most notably, you can also improve other cognitive functions, if the brain does not have to filter out speech from faint signals (S/N) when hearing his weak.

We implemented streaming more than 12 years ago, for teachers to stream directly to students and for old folks to be able to use phones (EM interference) and listen to radio/TV without disturbing the entire neighborhood.

I am not aware of any properly controlled subjective studies to evaluate the ability to reproduce music. The DSP engine embedded in the hearing instrument is rather strong and would allow to cater to individual taste thru PEQ. However, strong filters are in place to improve speech recognition. Some vendors have implemented "self programming" allowing the user to play and program the hearing instrument.

Some hearing instruments are in your ear canal (IEM type) and others (behind the ear BTE) have a part that goes inside the ear canal, thus both will block your ear canal and pick up the sound via microphone, DSP-it and then blast it into your ear. Hence, you will not benefit from "fantastic full range speakers" in your home.
Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to know that we also hear "via skull & gut" and that there are even bone anchored hearing instruments for special hearing loss. Therefore, your large home speakers will add to the sensation of music via the "gut" and "skull" while the hearing instrument will amplify and DSP the sound.

The top brands are:
Oticon (Denmark)
Sonova (Swiss) with brands Phonak, Unitron, Hansaton, Advanced Bionics, AudioNova and Sennheiser
Resound (Denmark)
WSA which is Sivantos (ex Siemens, Singapore) Signia and Widex (Denmark)
Starkey (USA)

Hope this helps and let us know how you go in your selection and experience of clearer sound.
EDIT:
Switching to good head phones with EQ ability is most likely the easiest path.
 
Last edited:

Itsfred

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 30, 2020
Messages
6
Likes
5
I found myself in the exact same situation a few years ago (I'm 76), trying to recapture the magical sound I remember from my twenties, when I sold hifi and had Marantz nines and KLH nines at home.

I currently own Oticon REAL'S and Widex MOMENTS, with the latest hearing-aid tech as recommended by audiologists and market "wisdom." Personally, I prefer the Oticons, but that may not be the case for you.

Ironically, for best music reproduction you have to disable all of the fancy circuits designed for voice cognition. Work with your audiologist to dumb them down by switching off the compression, directionality management, tone shifting, etc. and you have a decent chance of making them sound tolerable. Benefits include such things as higher dynamic range before they overload.

I would emphasize that you have a much better chance with high-end aids (rather than OTC bargains) fitted by a patient, knowledgeable audiologist. The technicians at Costco are NOT trained audiologists, and they're likely to have little experience with adaptations for music. Another consideration is that any audi representing Oticon or Widex will let you try them out for as long as a month, fine-tuning them with you over your trial period. This does NOT happen at Costco. Hey, I hate paying $3-4K for my hearing aids as much as the next guy, but there are definite benefits.

Two further things comments...

1. Apple allows you to enter your hearing test numbers into iPhones and iPods, and the results are pretty darn good with AirPod Pro's. Not perfect, but effective.

2. I've had the best luck with speakers that include DSP, like the D&D 8C's and the Buchardts. Since everybody's room is unique and everybody's hearing as well, this type of speaker is your best chance at sounding good to you, especially in conjunction with REW and Roon.

Hope this is helpful...
 
OP
M

middlemarch

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 4, 2023
Messages
129
Likes
156
Location
Seattle Area
Thank you so much Itsfred and fivepast8. Much appreciated! So I gather don't set my expectations too high! Not totally unanticipated but given how rapidly technology advances you never know until you ask.

Just to be clear, in my case anyway, I still get immense enjoyment out of what I have and have gotten significant improvements in a recent upgrade cycle. I just came to the realization that any further improvements aren't going to be found in the equipment but in myself. I just find it ironic that so many people are chasing just that last little bit, or argue about things that are probably indistinguishable, when the real differences, if any, are in their hearing ability.

I will pursue getting my hearing tested and give the folks at Oticon and Widex and possibly others an opportunity to show what they can do. If nothing else improved speech intelligibility will be a great help. To me even $5000 would be money well spent to that end.

Oh, and I already take advantage of good headphones with EQ, and enjoy them very much. Don't fell like I'm missing anything there
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 5, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
920
I am researching hearing aids to understand voices. Should not be complicated to have preset modes for voices and music that can be switched easily. Hearing loss is usually a gradual process. Depressing to read that failure to address loss at early onset causes permanent auditory brain function deficit. I suppose most people don't realize the gradual loss until it's too late. Sounds like I'm way too late.
 
OP
M

middlemarch

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 4, 2023
Messages
129
Likes
156
Location
Seattle Area
I am researching hearing aids to understand voices. Should not be complicated to have preset modes for voices and music that can be switched easily. Hearing loss is usually a gradual process. Depressing to read that failure to address loss at early onset causes permanent auditory brain function deficit. I suppose most people don't realize the gradual loss until it's too late. Sounds like I'm way too late.
You never know until you try, could be pleasantly surprised
 

rubinken

Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2022
Messages
31
Likes
65
I'm wondering if the whole issue of hearing, and deficiencies in same, isn't sort of the "elephant in the room" surrounding so many of the discussions here and elsewhere, especially when the topic of subjective listening is at issue.

Many threads I've noticed ask about the possibility of introducing frequency response curves to either headphones or sometimes speakers to try to compensate somewhat for hearing deficiencies, with the usual response being that that's not a good idea, which I probably agree with.

As I approach 70 I'm well aware my hearing ain't what it used to be. I can still remember hearing Dalquist DQ-10s for the first time when in my early 20's and having that "ah ha!" epiphany as to what hi fi was all about, "air" and exquisite delicacy. I've spent the intervening years trying to get that feeling back, and have spent a few dollars, especially recently, in the pursuit. To less than stellar results, I'm afraid. And I well know it's not the hardware.

Which has led me to the decision to have my ears tested (not yet done) and explore hearing aids in an effort to make the best of what I've got left.

Under the assumption that many in the ASR community may well have struggled with the same issue, my question to any and all who have gone down the road of hearing aids is: what is the current state of the art in hearing aids, and particularly what can one expect for the purpose of listening to music. I realize that hearing aids have traditionally been optimized for human speech, but can they also help with the higher frequencies?

What has been your experience, both in expectations and results? And, while I realize this has to, by it's very nature, be subjective and individual, what are the best wide band hearing aids available today?

I would love it if Amir could somehow develop a testing regime for these things, and realize the impossibility of doing so. But how does one evaluate the options?
I've tried Phonak and Widex. I prefer the Widex Moments by far. Good luck.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 5, 2019
Messages
1,426
Likes
920
I have question for fivepast8. I am a trial lawyer. I have received complaints last few years that jurors having trouble hearing my voice. I passed off to covid restrictions with jurors spread out in the audience, witness chair turned 180 degrees and voir dire conducted in a gymnasium. It seems my hearing loss affects feedback to ears, nasal cavity and skull whereby I talk softly. This seems counter intuitive. One would think I would speak louder with hearing loss. I tried experiment with spouse last week. I asked her what level of voice seemed normal to her. The normal voice to her sounded way too loud to me. It makes no sense.
 

quattro98

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 14, 2018
Messages
164
Likes
159
Location
Chicago, IL
I use Oticon Real hearing aids. These are my first hearing aids and I got them earlier this year. I am in my 40s and have early hearing loss. The aids have limitations, but make speech easier to understand. They have a music mode and I usually keep that on at home. It works well for me. I had to ask my audiologist to add the music program. The app lets you have 4 programs to choose from.

https://www.oticon.com/solutions/real-hearing-aids

 
Last edited:

Grumpish

Active Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
148
Likes
144
I have question for fivepast8. I am a trial lawyer. I have received complaints last few years that jurors having trouble hearing my voice. I passed off to covid restrictions with jurors spread out in the audience, witness chair turned 180 degrees and voir dire conducted in a gymnasium. It seems my hearing loss affects feedback to ears, nasal cavity and skull whereby I talk softly. This seems counter intuitive. One would think I would speak louder with hearing loss. I tried experiment with spouse last week. I asked her what level of voice seemed normal to her. The normal voice to her sounded way too loud to me. It makes no sense.

I think it might be that you feel that you can no longer reliably gauge how loud you are speaking and worry that it might be too loud. I am the same though, my hearing loss is moderate in one ear and moderate to severe in the other ear and I get the same kind of thing, I often get asked to speak up. Although it never bothered my mother, who was always a bit deaf, very deaf in her later years, and always spoke loudly..
 

Barrelhouse Solly

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
373
Likes
358
I have Kaiser which has subsidized hearing aids and in house audiology. I'm currently using Phonak Audeo P70s. I have used lower tier Phonaks and Oticons in the past. I've always gone with the recommendation of my audiologist. The current ones are the best I've ever used. I have precipitous rolloff above 2KHz in the left ear and a less severe profile in the right ear. One thing to consider is that you shouldn't expect much above 8KHz with even the best hearing aids unless the 20-20K models are just way outside my price range. The "microphones" are nowhere as good as a large diaphragm condenser mic. Most hearing aids come with a variety of presets for different conditions like high background noise and direction of sound, which the manufacturers usually call "programs." Many come with what's called a "music" preset. It seems to allow increased background noise but also emphasizes higher frequencies more than the default. The default is speech oriented. The audiologist has software that's like recording post production software minus effects to match the hearing aid to your audiogram. Many come with apps that offer some control over balance, EQ, and compression. Like most mobile apps provided by manufacturers of every kind of device they're far from bug free.
 

Ninjastar

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2021
Messages
61
Likes
171
Under the assumption that many in the ASR community may well have struggled with the same issue, my question to any and all who have gone down the road of hearing aids is: what is the current state of the art in hearing aids, and particularly what can one expect for the purpose of listening to music. I realize that hearing aids have traditionally been optimized for human speech, but can they also help with the higher frequencies?

What has been your experience, both in expectations and results? And, while I realize this has to, by it's very nature, be subjective and individual, what are the best wide band hearing aids available today?

I would love it if Amir could somehow develop a testing regime for these things, and realize the impossibility of doing so. But how does one evaluate the options?
I am an audiologist.

Honestly, the primary concern you should have is not on the specific hearing aid brand or the device, but that the care provider fitting your device is following best practices. Unfortunately, this is not a given for every audiologist or hearing aid specialist/dispenser. They need to be fitting your device using real ear measurements, which involves not just loading your audiogram results into the device, but also measuring the response in your ear using probe microphones. This is the only way to properly verify that the devices are fit for your prescription. This cannot be accomplished using an over-the-counter device, but only with prescription grade devices purchased through a professional.

There is no "best" hearing aid available today since patients have such differing needs and type/shape/severity of hearing loss and there is no one size fits all.

You will hear about other people's experiences with a certain brand or device whether positive or negative, but there's not much you can gather from that as that person's hearing loss may be much different from yours and the person fitting their device may or may not have used best practices.

The best thing to do would be to consult with your hearing care professional.
 

Emlin

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 8, 2018
Messages
783
Likes
1,102
I am an audiologist.

Honestly, the primary concern you should have is not on the specific hearing aid brand or the device, but that the care provider fitting your device is following best practices. Unfortunately, this is not a given for every audiologist or hearing aid specialist/dispenser. They need to be fitting your device using real ear measurements, which involves not just loading your audiogram results into the device, but also measuring the response in your ear using probe microphones. This is the only way to properly verify that the devices are fit for your prescription. This cannot be accomplished using an over-the-counter device, but only with prescription grade devices purchased through a professional.

There is no "best" hearing aid available today since patients have such differing needs and type/shape/severity of hearing loss and there is no one size fits all.

You will hear about other people's experiences with a certain brand or device whether positive or negative, but there's not much you can gather from that as that person's hearing loss may be much different from yours and the person fitting their device may or may not have used best practices.

The best thing to do would be to consult with your hearing care professional.
Are there any hearing aids that can also be used as IEMs?
 
OP
M

middlemarch

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 4, 2023
Messages
129
Likes
156
Location
Seattle Area
Many thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Especially to Ninjastar, who's proving the adage that, first, take care of the room. I've been trying to find a good audiologist, but at least at first glance, it seems many are tied to a specific brand of hearing aids. Any suggestions for finding one that provides the widest variety of options? Or just get busy on the phone...

Second, I'm intrigued by a comment above that the hearing deficiencies in the two ears can be very different. This makes sense, but sure seems to have broad implications for our perceptions of "imaging and soundstage", where getting a set of speakers to match FR to within ½ dB is seen as critical for getting this right. I'm pretty much resigned to not getting that last octave back, REW has told me my ears run out of gas before 10KHz, at least at levels I'm willing to subject my tweeters to. But if we could improve differences in response between the two ears below that point, that could be huge in terms of enjoying what we can.
 

Emlin

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Jul 8, 2018
Messages
783
Likes
1,102
Many thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Especially to Ninjastar, who's proving the adage that, first, take care of the room. I've been trying to find a good audiologist, but at least at first glance, it seems many are tied to a specific brand of hearing aids. Any suggestions for finding one that provides the widest variety of options? Or just get busy on the phone...

Second, I'm intrigued by a comment above that the hearing deficiencies in the two ears can be very different. This makes sense, but sure seems to have broad implications for our perceptions of "imaging and soundstage", where getting a set of speakers to match FR to within ½ dB is seen as critical for getting this right. I'm pretty much resigned to not getting that last octave back, REW has told me my ears run out of gas before 10KHz, at least at levels I'm willing to subject my tweeters to. But if we could improve differences in response between the two ears below that point, that could be huge in terms of enjoying what we can.
Just to point out that when listening to two speakers, both ears hear both speakers.
 

RenPa

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2022
Messages
20
Likes
6
First find a professionnel member of his board of audio logist. Second speak a lot whith him after your audiogram. Teh best aid depend a lot of your probelm. Mine is the most difficult a v shaped at 4 000Hz and top at 2000 ant top at 8000. I am 66 with Widex moments. Good but it will never replace a healthy hear.
 
Top Bottom