Amateur Pianist - hearing aid distorts music


I have new Oticon OPN S 2 hearing aids, with the music program. I have moderate hearing loss in both ears. The music program distorts the piano sounds - the individual notes sound as if they are warbling. It’s very disappointing, and makes the hearing aids useless when I am practicing, which is about 3 hours of my day.

I’m going back to the audiologist soon to try to resolve this. Can anyone suggest what I should ask for? Has anyone else had this problem?


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The problem may be in the feedback suppression. The older technique is to use a notch filter which just kills the offending frequency. That might not be nice to a piano note in that range (typically about 3 kHz). The other newer technique is to identify the offending frequency and offset it by 25 Hz. Again that might not sound nice. Oticon claims to have a more effective technique which anticipates feedback, and I am not exactly sure how it works. Their explanation is confusing. I suspect they don’t really want to say how it works, but they want to make it sound impressive.

My first thought would be to try turning down the feedback suppression in the music program. I suspect the fitter can do that.

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There is a thread elsewhere on OPN S warbling. I thought it was just me, but now that I have read that other string, which suggests Oticon knows some people are having a real problem with this, I am thinking I am one of those people. I tried both the 1s and the 3s and didn’t like the warbling sound of either, although the sound in noise function was terrific. I am much happier with the Widex Evokes I tried next. I originally assumed the problem was that the audiologist hadn’t set the aids up correctly. She didn’t do REM—another reason I moved on.



@Ruth I had the OPN-S1 for about a month and faced the warbling/ fluttering of voices. My Audi tried several settings but later I told her about the rumour of feedback shield problem. When she called Oticon factory, they told her yes there is an issue and Denmark is working on it .
I disabled the feedback shield on the right and kept it on the left . The warbling is now on the left.
Am interested to know more about the Evoke . Can you give more information about sound , 360 voices, sound in noise, phone , battery and it’s size compared to OPN. !



Evoke 440s are 1 inch long but a bit wider than the OPN. The OPN aids worked better with taking glasses on and off, but the Evokes are workable. Widex doesn’t talk about 360 degree hearing, but I hear sounds behind me well. I have had no problem with sound in noise. I get about 6-7 days from the disposable batteries (might get less when I stream more). I have not done streaming with phone calls, but streaming music or pod-casts with my iPhone is ok. I have open domes so the sound is thin—I think I will learn to use direct streaming for functional purposes and over the ear headphones when I want better sound. Streaming is fairly steady from my iPhone and the TV play (connected to my computer). It fades in and out more with my iPad, so I am a bit puzzled about that. The Widex app is much more interesting than the OPN app in that I can control the sound more.

I hope that helps!

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Thanks Ruth. I may consider it as am not happy with trials of OPN-S (although I was with OPN) and in fact don’t want to pay this amount for a 2 years old.



You might ask your audiologist if s/he gets a discount on these until Sept 1st.



Interesting issue. I play mandolin and just moved from Costco Bernaphon aids (Oticon off brand) to OPN 1. I played a gig a day after I got the new ones, my hearing was great and the sound coming back through the monitors and what I was hearing directly from the instrument was great as well. But a couple of days later I was practicing in a small room in my home. The strings all sounded slightly tinny and I was hearing tons more pick noise on the strings. Weird. I will do a bunch more practicing to pin this down better as I have a followup visit in about 10 days for fine tuning.



It have done more experimenting. The warbling or fluttering is most evident on single sustained note. I’ve heard it now with clarinet, oboe, flute and piano. I think the HA thinks the sustained note is feedback and tries to suppress it. Very annoying - I have take them off to practice. The mandolin sound may decay too fast to be affected. I can whistle a single note and hear the distortion clearly.

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Another way to reduce the risk of feedback distortion is to go to a more closed fitting. Feedback is caused by sound leaking from the receiver back to the microphones on the HA’s. If you can limit that leakage feedback can be reduced, and if the HA does not detect feedback it will not take anti feedback measures which may be the source of the warbling.



The Widex Evokes also come with the SoundSense Learn feature, which allows the wearer much more control in the moment over their hearing aid then any other brand. If you don’t like the sound you’re getting in a particularly challenging environment, you can activate the feature and then listen to several A/B comparisons of sound, choosing each time which one is better. With a few of these sequences, you literally “dial in” exactly the sound that works for you and can save it as a preference for future use (if you want). I’ve attached a .pdf overview, if helpful.

I love that I don’t have to go back to Audiologist and try to describe the sound and what wasn’t working for me and then have them try to interpret what I’m saying and apply that to my programming in an effort to help me (that may or may not actually work).

Widex is also known for a natural sound that works really well for music, especially with their music program.

ChrisEvoke_SoundSense_Learn.pdf (786.5 KB)

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4 years ago, when I found it’s essential to have a HA, i got a trial for WIDEX (don’t remember model) and it was really crispy natural sound but I didn’t go with t because I needed the direct IPhone connection (was only available with Resound).
I like all what I read about Evoke and would tend to have to try it. But hesitate it will not give me the same 360 hearing experience of OPN/S!
Hope some one tried both give me feedback !



Success! I think - further real-life testing is needed, but I saw the audiologist today. She was worried when I told her my problem, but when I mentioned feedback that helped. She turned it off in the music program and the warbling immediately disappeared. I had brought my Zoom handheld recorder with me with some slow, sustained tones recorded, so was able to instantly tell when the warbling stopped.

I need to do more testing at the actual piano, but I am happy so far.

Thanks for the help!



I may just take my mandolin with me to my followup appointment after reading your post. I am definitely getting tinny noise and pick-clicks when practicing. The pick noise diminishes if I turn the HAs down, but tinniness remains in the string noise.



Tried it with the piano and it’s working fine now with the music program, so turning off the feedback solved my problem. Of course, now I can hear the piano tone much better - its going to need some adjustment!



I am also amateur musician, piano, various string instruments, and flute. I agree with the heading of your post. Hearing aids indeed do distort music.

My solution, by far the best I have found, is to remove the aids for practice and performance.



I had that digital compression warble/flutter sustained tone issue on an Oticon Opn S trial, and it happened on any high tone - even the microwave ding, or a cat’s voice (drove me nuts)! I ended up being much happier with the Evokes as well.



Yes my grand piano, AND brand new Fazioli and Hoffman in a piano store, ALL warble and “vibrate” unnaturally in the mid frequencies when i trialed the Opn S1s. This issue, and nonexistent speech in loud noise audibility and intelligibility. Otherwise I actually love them (they make bird chirps soooo 3D and other types of non-live-instrument music extremely nuanced and vibrant!!). Have heard other reports of classical music instruments (cello) warbling with this as well. Tackling feedback suppression settings has been discussed other places on this forum as a possible strategy but I understand this does not work in every case. Update - really glad to hear that it works for you!! That’s great.