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Hearing and hearing aid recommendations

Timcognito

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Took my 95 yr old mother to Costco and they have excellent hearing aid program, very good prices, many brands and types, hearing professionals and free tests, and four month return, refund, trial/tuning period with unlimited visits during and after. Your only cost is when you purchase the aids. She uses them everyday and her hearing is much much better. YMMV
 

Ninjastar

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Are there any hearing aids that can also be used as IEMs?
Like for use as personal monitors for stage performing or just listening to music through your mobile device/mp3player?

BTE and RIC/RITE style devices have Bluetooth capability and can stream music/movies/podcasts from your mobile device. But typically, when someone has the more common high frequency sloping hearing loss associated with age and/or loud noise exposure, their low frequency hearing will often still be relatively normal so those people would be fit with open domes so they are not occluded for everyday wear for speech/conversation. But as such, open domes are not great for music fidelity as you will lose/leak bass frequencies.

So if you wanted the best full range sound, either your hearing in the low frequencies would have to be such that required less of an open fitting or you would need to switch domes on your devices when you were listening to music.
 
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middlemarch

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Like for use as personal monitors for stage performing or just listening to music through your mobile device/mp3player?

BTE and RIC/RITE style devices have Bluetooth capability and can stream music/movies/podcasts from your mobile device. But typically, when someone has the more common high frequency sloping hearing loss associated with age and/or loud noise exposure, their low frequency hearing will often still be relatively normal so those people would be fit with open domes so they are not occluded for everyday wear for speech/conversation. But as such, open domes are not great for music fidelity as you will lose/leak bass frequencies.

So if you wanted the best full range sound, either your hearing in the low frequencies would have to be such that required less of an open fitting or you would need to switch domes on your devices when you were listening to music.
So my first thought was, OK, so use the open dome while listening to music, the bass will get through and the device will boost the highs, and we're off to the races...

Then I'm thinking, but wait a second, the highs going thru the device probably don't get through instantly, there has to be some degree of latency going through the DSP, so now we're mixing a signal and a delayed, boosted version of same inside the ear canal. Maybe not the best recipe for ultimate clarity, may well sound not the best.

So what would be the best strategy for optimizing listening to external music, not something being streamed to the device? Or is this bound to always be suboptimal due to, well, physics?

By the way, the University of Washington has a hearing clinic open to the public at their medical school where they train audiologists, I think I'll give them a call.
 

Grumpish

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Are there any hearing aids that can also be used as IEMs?
Those that support Bluetooth will usually work as IEMs. I use mine as IEM's when I am out and about - sound is not great though, which is understandable as hearing aids are intended as speech aids, not for listening to music, and the heavyweight DSP that is built into modern hearing aids is designed very much with that in mind.
 
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middlemarch

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Just to point out that when listening to two speakers, both ears hear both speakers.
Great point, there I go, trying to make simple something very complicated. Now for headphones, there's hope. Only problem is everything I have only does identical EQ on both channels. But I'm pretty happy with my headphone listening as it is...
 

Ken1951

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Shockingly, my hearing at 72 is still really good but my wife wears them. She found an excellent audiologist who carries several different brands and is extremely satisfied with hers. She has top-of-the-line Widex which are adjusted by her iPhone when necessary. Her phone goes straight to her hearing aids and she can also adjust their directionality when in a restaurant or in her convertible. They have made a real difference for her.
 

Barrelhouse Solly

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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.
Thanks for stating the obvious because someone had to. My daughter is a speech pathologist who had to take some audiology classes as part of her degree requirements. I see an audiologist for the same reason I consult others with specialized knowledge I lack. Hearing loss and hearing aids is a complex subject that takes a considerable amount of study to master.
 

Ninjastar

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So my first thought was, OK, so use the open dome while listening to music, the bass will get through and the device will boost the highs, and we're off to the races...

Then I'm thinking, but wait a second, the highs going thru the device probably don't get through instantly, there has to be some degree of latency going through the DSP, so now we're mixing a signal and a delayed, boosted version of same inside the ear canal. Maybe not the best recipe for ultimate clarity, may well sound not the best.

So what would be the best strategy for optimizing listening to external music, not something being streamed to the device? Or is this bound to always be suboptimal due to, well, physics?

By the way, the University of Washington has a hearing clinic open to the public at their medical school where they train audiologists, I think I'll give them a call.

The shape and severity of your hearing loss will be crucial here.

For example, if you have a relatively flat mild hearing loss, you may be overthinking this because in that case, simply turning up the overall volume on your system (without hearing aids) compared to a listener with normal range hearing will result in a similar auditory experience.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a precipitously sloping high frequency hearing loss (high frequencies in the severe to profound loss range), you are likely to have cochlear dead regions for some high frequencies, in which case normal hearing cannot be restored for those frequencies even with a properly fit high end hearing device. And this would be something you have to learn to accept in terms of not being able to hear the natural timbre of some instruments and also limitations for speech understanding, especially in background noise.

Those are just hypotheticals though, I have no idea what your hearing looks like.

I think getting in touch with that hearing aid clinic would be a great idea. Often university teaching clinics get better pricing with the hearing aid manufacturers, which they pass on the savings to their patients.
 
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Itsfred

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Middlemarch, FWIW Widex is the only supplier I've found who talks about minimizing the delay between the natural sounds you hear through an open fitting and the processed sound through the aids. Time alignment, you might say. I do not know how big a factor this is, but it's an interesting talking point from Widex.
 
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middlemarch

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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...
Good info, have a couple of questions.

Regarding EQ in IPhones, does that only work with Apple headphones, or does it apply to anything you play on the phone, and I assume there's separate EQ for each ear?

You mention good luck with D&D and Buchardt, other than being terrific speakers, what about the DSP is significant here? Have you applied 'hearing correction' to the speakers using the DSP? Would your comment apply equally to any system with DSP in the chain?
 

monophreak

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I have been single sided deaf (left ear) for most of my life and unable to use a hearing aid but due to a working cochlea, had some hearing restored through an older BAHA on a headband. I currently have from about 200Hz to 1.5KHz back with a slope downwards towards 3KHz. I am aiming to get an Osia which I think should extend the hearing upwards to 6KHz which is incredible if this works out for me.

I am very pleased to get some hearing back and I am looking forward to better hearing after the operation. I did find the sound very overwhelming for a while and started off by downloading the BAHA app and running at 2/3s lower the volume and then ramped it up over a few weeks until my brain adjusted.

In case it helps, I initially had problems listening to music due to the Bluetooth implementation (Made for iPhone) but managed to get my hearing aid to sync with another audio device through an intermediary such as the Phone Clip. My Mac would not even identify the hearing aid over Bluetooth. After connecting through the Phone clip, I could adjust the left/right sync through Audio Hijack. I could also add in my own EQ with Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba. (Link)

Pending usage cases, I thought this information would be useful because for me, it wasn't a case of set-up a hearing aid and listen to music with both ears (hearing aid and AirPod/headphones). It is always possible that I have been doing something completed wrong in the first place (as I am very new to this).
 
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pjn

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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.
That was rather my impression - thanks
 

Fahzz

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I've worn hearing aids for several years. I think one adapts to them music wise. Only positives in my experience. The ONLY downside is the expense, and that seems to be decreasing due to competition. My health insurer also paid a good percentage of the cost.
 

Itsfred

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Good info, have a couple of questions.

Regarding EQ in IPhones, does that only work with Apple headphones, or does it apply to anything you play on the phone, and I assume there's separate EQ for each ear?

You mention good luck with D&D and Buchardt, other than being terrific speakers, what about the DSP is significant here? Have you applied 'hearing correction' to the speakers using the DSP? Would your comment apply equally to any system with DSP in the chain?
1. Only with Apple or some Beats. You KNOW Apple wants to keep their tech "in the family" whenever they can.

2. I did actually mean ANY speaker with DSP. The D&D's (which I had for 4 years) and Buchardts (which I have now) are just two good examples. The DSP is just another tool in the toolbox when you don't hear so well. In my listening, the goal is to "sound good to me" rather than follow the Harmon curve with precision.

Fred
 

HoweSound

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I'm in my 70's. My hearing loss is a problem at work in meetings and particularly with soft spoken female voices. I was tested and fitted with hearing aids by an audiologist. My hearing aids are useful at work, less so in noisy environments like restaurants. They help me to understand speech, but the sound quality is poor and annoying with prolonged use. I don't use them to listen to music at home. My analysis is that a hearing aid is nothing more than a miniaturized microphone, coupled to an adjustable equalizer, with amplifier, feeding a tiny transducer/speaker. I do not see any possibility that these tiny components can equal the accuracy, quality and sound reproduction of my stereo components. I assume therefore that the best solution for home listening is the addition of a equalizer to my home setup, adjusted to compensate (to the extent possible) for my hearing loss. Either that, or as I currently do, just appreciate the quality of the limited bandwidth I have left. Even with my diminished hearing, I can still distinguish between good and bad stereo equipment. I also question whether bosting the volume of the frequencies where hearing loss is greatest will actually increase the enjoyment of music, or will just prove to be annoying and painful.
 

ahofer

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My Dad has pretty bad hearing loss (he's 91). His hearing aids are clearly boosted in the 1-2k range, but this makes him exquisitely sensitive to silverware or keys jangling or a baby crying, or a big group of women talking loudly. It's a problem at restaurants. I wish there were ways to switch profiles, or switch directionality.

Unfortunately, he can't really use the iPhone controls he used to have, it's beyond him now. But there are clearly two modes he needs 1) general awareness, 2) group conversation in noisy environment.
 
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middlemarch

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1. Only with Apple or some Beats. You KNOW Apple wants to keep their tech "in the family" whenever they can.

2. I did actually mean ANY speaker with DSP. The D&D's (which I had for 4 years) and Buchardts (which I have now) are just two good examples. The DSP is just another tool in the toolbox when you don't hear so well. In my listening, the goal is to "sound good to me" rather than follow the Harmon curve with precision.

Fred
I looked more deeply into Headphone Accommodations for IOS and they list the original Earpods using the 3.5mm headphone jack as being included. Since these are purely passive devices, it seems headphones connected via that jack would be included as well. I wonder if anyone has experience with this? I have several older phones with the 3.5mm jack still.

For an instant there I pictured Medicare paying for a set of D&Ds as Assistive Devices. Yeah right...
 

LGD_

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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 am 73, and have been wearing my older Phoneak hearing aids for 9 years. It took awhile to get them adjusted right, in the beginning, but I am enjoying my music system daily with them. The Phoneak's have a "music program", that the audiologist will set up - it required several visits for her to get it right, but I am enjoying full-range (to about 8Khz) music, low distortion and very enjoyable. Without the HA's my hearing drops like a rock above about 1 Khz. I guess I have open domes, because my speakers have very solid bass response and I hear that perfectly. My audiologist told me that the HA's operate from 170 Hz to 8 Khz.

It may seem that 8Khz isn't enough for music, but I hear plenty of high-freq detail.
Since my HA's are 9 years old, I expect to have to replace them before too long. I would not hesitate to pay top dollar for new ones, from a good audiologist, so I can continue to enjoy my music. I do wonder how much better the current music programs are.

My listening is 80% classical and 20% rock, and I listen to my stereo daily - but couldn't use it at all without the HA's.
With the HA's, I have to resist the temptation to crank the music up loud - it actually sounds better at a moderate volume, where the detail is most apparent - especially with rock/pop music, with it's mostly constant volume. With Classical, the loud passages sound great, because they're mostly short in duration.

I have found that that listening to sub-par audio (specifically my car stereo) sounds lousy with the HA's because the IM distortion (that normal people probably don't hear) is amplified by the HA's, and that's annoying. But my home system, which is very clean, sounds great.

Basically, my advice is get a good audiologist, and keep going back until they are adjusted right for you. And don't cheap out. ;).
 
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monophreak

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It may seem that 8Khz isn't enough for music, but I hear plenty of high-freq detail.
Since my HA's are 9 years old, I expect to have to replace them before too long. I would not hesitate to pay top dollar for new ones, from a good audiologist, so I can continue to enjoy my music. I do wonder how much better the current music programs are.
In relation to the 8KHz, I found that even with my new limited range of 200Hz to 1.5KHz tailing off to 3KHz, listening through headphones in stereo gave me a sense of space that I am not accustomed to and my brain has been pretty good at filling in blanks from the working ear on the right.

For this effect to work, it is really important to remove latency. I was surprised that it was a lot easier to dial in an accurate synchronisation manually than I thought. Through Audio Hijack, I found it possible tune in the ms similar to focusing the lens on a microscope.
 

LGD_

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In relation to the 8KHz, I found that even with my new limited range of 200Hz to 1.5KHz tailing off to 3KHz, listening through headphones in stereo gave me a sense of space that I am not accustomed to and my brain has been pretty good at filling in blanks from the working ear on the right.

For this effect to work, it is really important to remove latency. I was surprised that it was a lot easier to dial in an accurate synchronisation manually than I thought. Through Audio Hijack, I found it possible tune in the ms similar to focusing the lens on a microscope.
Interesting...
I listen with speakers, and have never noticed any latency problems.
In fact I've never even thought about latency, until reading this thread.
 
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