A Hearing Aid Solution for Classical Musician-Piano

For many years I had a lot of difficulties with playing piano using digital hearing aid and had to resort to my analogue hearing aids. I also had hearing loss all my life. This is has been an ongoing struggle for over 20 years since the digital hearing aids took over.

Of course, this is “a” solution not the “the” solution, as people’s hearing losses etc… are all different. But I think I would like to share my experience in case it is helpful for someone out there with similar issues.

In my recent journey, I had tried Oticon Xceed, Phonak Naida as recommended by my audiologist. Neither of these were anywhere suitable as there was a severe sound clipping with music. My audiologist also gave me an ear mould with vent by mistake which also led to lots of wasted fitting sessions. I later tried Widex, but while the speech sounds were more natural than Naida, the live music was still very poor even after adjustments.

I also tried Resound Linx Quattro 9 BTE 88. I actually found this hearing aid by looking at people’s experiences online. This was the closest match to analogue hearing aid without any severe clipping of sounds. The audiologist fitted the hearing aid however made several mistakes, putting me as “first time user” and not really following the literature in relation to how to adjust these for live music. So my initial reaction was that music sounded really off and out of tune.

Later on I managed to get Noah wireless device to do the fitting myself. I was surprised to discovered that boosting the bass made a big difference, also the compression ratio of 1 works the best for me. For the first time, I managed to be able to do an entire piano practice of 3 hours entirely on a digital hearing aid. I was also able to hear details in music I did not hear with analogue hearing aid and can hear the wrong notes very clearly.

It is also very easy to program Resound hearing aids using their fitting software. You will just need to buy a Noah wireless device to connect your hearing aid to the software.

I also liked the fast connection to Bluetooth of this Resound hearing aid to Android devices, and speech etc… are really clear. I can hear the nuances much more clearly compared to before.

So this is a potential solution for those of you out there, who might be also looking for a hearing aid that works well with music. I am aware this is a very painful journey that not many will understand or appreciate, but I am hopeful that as technology improves, this will become less of an issue in the future.

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It’d be nice to see you post up your audiogram to get an idea of the kind of hearing loss you have.

The notes sounding out of tune are probably due to one of the feedback strategies that does a slight frequency shift.

Another technology that can cause out of tune sounds is frequency lowering to help with better speech understanding in high frequency loss.

So the first thing to make sure is to turn off those 2 things above.

One of the keys to finding a digital hearing aid model that doesn’t “clip” is to look for those that have a wide enough input dynamic range, like in the 110+ dB range. I think Widex models, Oticon, Phonak have fairly good spec in this department.

Again, without knowing what kind of hearing loss you have, it’s hard to say what else can affect the sound of music. But apparently you discovered that a compression ratio of 1 (of basically no compression) works best for you.

But I think experimentation through DIY fitting is most instrumental to your success because it allows you to try out things so much more effortlessly than having to rely on countless appointments with an audi to get things tuned to your liking.

Congrats on being able to figure it out yourself!

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Thanks for your reply, my audiogram was posted in the other thread (Phonak Naida Marvel/Oticon Xceed setting for musicians?), for those who might want to also take a look!

Widex, Oticon and Phonak still all clip loud sound, and actually quite severely even in the music program. I am not sure however, if this was because of the failing of the audiologist. I had issues with Resound in terms of sound quality initially as well, and it is only after I fit these myself, I resolved it very quickly.

I think my story also highlights the importance of fitting the hearing aid properly. From reading the forums, there are people with success in Oticon and Phonak for music. However, in my case, my Phonak trial was fitted by a senior manager in Switzerland headquarter and this did not work at all either.

It’s best to attach your audiogram to your avatar like what most people do. That way, people can always look it up instantly by clicking on your avatar, and not have to know where you post it in which thread.

Anyway, oh wow, that’s a pretty severe hearing loss. No wonder you had a hard time with many brands/models.

The clipping I was talking about is the input dynamic range. Now that I know about your level of hearing loss, it’s most likely that the clipping you hear is not because of input dynamic range limitation, but it’s the clipping on the output because the drivers for those brands/models you tried unsuccessfully just simply can’t drive it hard enough for you.

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I have a dedicated music program set up in both of my pairs of Phonaks, and I found that it is important to turn off features like whistle block, and any kind of noise reduction. Also I adjusted the microphone direction to focus in front of me.

Any non linear enhancements should be turned off too.

I play classical guitar, and my music program is wonderful. I couldn’t get by without it.