Are directional microphones really that important?

Are directional mics really that important? I am on my third fitting of Phonak ITC HA’s. Started with the half shell and just couldn’t deal with the size of them. I told the AuD right from the get go that I wanted “discreet”. The next pair came as ITC and are smaller as he instructed Phonak to make them as small as possible and they are still too big for my liking. To get to this size I had to give up the “one button sync” and have a button on each which is no problem for me and really don’t care if I have wireless or not. I told the AuD that I’m afraid these are still not going to meet my satisfaction of being discreet enough. I have been pushing all along for the CIC model. The Aud said if I go any smaller I will loose the directional mic. Should I even care about that? It seems logical to me that the farther the HA fites into the ear that the shape and human design of the ear would deal naturally with where the sound wave is coming from and directional mics wouldn’t make any difference anyway. So my question is about the directional mics, do I really need them? Will they really make that much difference? I do not want BTE, as I know I will not like those, so I’m not looking for that as an answer. This is getting really frustrating.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated… Thanks!

Directional mics help some but are not some magic formula for hearing in noise. I went from CICs to BTEs several years ago after after my hearing dropped off and other features are more important, like Telecoil, feedback reduction, multiple programs (normal, phone, in noise, etc) than the directional mics alone.

If you must have CICs you’ll lose all of the above but with your current mild-to-moderate loss, they should work well for you.

I’ve had two or more pairs of CIC hearing aids and I don’t wear them anymore. Mostly because I can’t stand the occlusion and you really limit your features by going CIC. The new mini BTE hearing aids are extremely small and discrete. Most people can’t even see the tiny wire that traces around the edge of your ear and the open fit receiver that is inserted into the ear. IMHO, the mini BTEs are even more discrete than the CICs plus you get a ton of features including highly directional microphones.

Take a look at the new Phonak Audeo S Smart IXs as an example. I’ve attached a picture. The hearing aid body is about the size of a quarter.


I bet this is your first pair of hearing aids.

Even with my Audeo YES IX BTE’s, no one believes I’m wearing hearing aids when I tell them I am until I put them out and say “SEE.” These new BTE’s are virtually invisible. Of course, you have the option of not wearing any aids, not hearing correctly, and looking foolish every time you answer a question with gibberish because you couldn’t understand, or hear correctly, what was asked. Vanity serves no purpose at all, other than making one look foolish.

I have two CIC style aids, different brands, and I hear very well in noise, better than some of my non-impaired friends when we are in loud restaurants. The Rexton Insite and a Siemens model have CIC styles that talk to each other, have a button for changing programs, and communicate with the bluetooth device (Rexton BluRCU).

I don’t see that I’m giving up anything with a CIC style and I don’t see how it could be any easier. I just pop them in in the morning (can’t wait to get them in) and I can’t feel them after a few minutes. They both have vents so there was little occluded feeling at first but now, none. They don’t interfere with my glasses and I use a regular bluetooth headset (Motorola 790) and it fits fine. I don’t have the same brand in both ears so I don’t get the e2e benefits the Rexton has.

I have a hard time getting the Destiny to feedback no matter what I do but I can make the Insite feedback if I wiggle it just right. But in normal situations neither one has feedback.

I have a completely shaved head with BTE’s on each side, and I really think no one notices, unless I stop to show them! I also wear glasses full time. The tiny aids fit nicely behind the ear, between the inner part of outer ear and my glass stems.

At 54, I could care less who sees what (or even what they think, for that matter)!

I even wanted my Audio to give me one red one and one blue one to show my patriotism, but when I told her that, she had already had these shipped and they were on the way.

They are kind of a goldish color.
I’m glad they are not the skin-color type.
I would rather have something dazzling than skin-color!

Hey, GLITTER for HA’s!
What an idea!:cool:

THe only people that seam to notice (or at least say anything) are the ones that have or need hearing aids.

Thanks for the input folks. While I can appreciate that some don’t care what their HA’s look like, not everyone feels that way.

My original post was really trying to seek some thoughts on the directional mics and if they are really the cats meow or if they are just a bell or whistle so to speak. To me, it seems like if the HA is in the canal and not hanging outside the ear, the natural human design of the ear would differentiate where the sound wave was coming from.

Any other thoughts from you folks in the know?

I’m not in the Know and new to all this Hearing Aid malarkey but im my (limited) time with them I find the directional mics are a godsend in noisy places and I thought that they worked due to BTE’s having two sets of mics one for front and one for back so I don’t see how CICS could copy this !? also digressing I find BTE open fit style to be far less visible than CIC (which I was given a choice from by my NHS Audiologist due to my job!) I never fail to notice a CIC in someones ear but a small clear tube I ofton miss…

The short answer is yes: Directional mics and now the latest directional arrays are the only proven way to achieve higher signal to noise at any given level. All other processing tends to detriment the fidelity of the source signal in some way (hence the anti-digital backlash from analogue wearers who want the sound to be left alone).

The long answer is here: clicky

Hi Gaz,
Have a look at this previous thread if you haven’t already.
A couple of posters make some interesting comments on this topic, from post 2 onward.

Thank you all for your input and information, I appreciate it all ")

Update; I took the latest ITC HA’s back to my appointment today and talked a lot about my options. The AuD said we could go smaller and get the CIC but again said that I will loose a lot of features and may experience more Occlusion due to the vents needing to be even smaller. We then talked about RIC and small BTE. I have been dead against BTE so far, but after seeing these tiny models and how descreet the micro wires are, I have decided to try the Phonak Audeo Mini V model. Will get them next week. I hope these work well for me. One thing is for sure, the Audiology clinic I am going to is willing to do what ever it takes to get me what works and I appreciate this. The search for the ideal HA is still in gear…

A mini-BTE is a great choice. When I was younger, and had better hearing, I wore CICs for 12 years. I’m in my 5th year of BTE usage and wouldn’t go back even if I could. The hassles of wearing CICs were endless for me and they don’t offer half the “features” of a good BTE aid.

Best of Luck!

I believe you are making a wise choice!
I had Thanksgiving yesterday with old friends of ours (we go back to about 1981 or so) and he has had hearing problems since he was a child, so I understand.

Anyway, we were talking hearing aids and I was trying to describe just how pleased I am with my setup (refer to the bottom line of my signature).

Finally, I took one off just to show him how the rocker switch works, how the wire bends around, how the Recveiver-in-ear works and just how small that speaker is with the dome removed, how I have a tiny tool to remove and replace the wax filter should it get clogged, etc. More than anything, he was really impressed with just how small and light the thing is!

I told him the first few days I was so careful, afraid I might break something, because they are so light and they SEEM fragile, however just because they are light does NOT NECESSARILY mean they are fragile! I explained and showed him how well-made they are and that they are made in Denmark. I was showing him the QUALITY and he finally understood! I think I may have helped to change his mind about BTE’s, probably knowledge he had based on past years of experience and what worked and did not work over 20 years ago! It is clear that the technology has really changed over all this time - partially due to the advent of all kinds of different technologies which are being implemented into this devices we are offered today!

I think the the new breeds of BTE’s will not let you down!

Congratulations on listening to us, and giving it a chance. We are not lying when we say people don’t believe we are wearing aids even when we tell them that we are. These things are virtually invisible. Even the tubes with wires inside them running from the body to the receiver in the ear are not at all obvious, and are never noticed except by other wearers perhaps who are specifically looking for them. And the workings and affects of them are nothing short of amazing. Good luck on your journey to find the ideal aid. :slight_smile:

I’d agree with this. I went 30 years, all through school and early work years with no-one knowing I was deaf. they just thought I was rude, and ignorant because I would ignore people. When I fist had aids, I thought CICs would be least visible, and persevered for years. I now have Phonak Audeo Yes IXs and couldn’t be happier. They are FAR LESS visible than CICs, especially if you forget about the custom shell and just use domes.

Many thanks for this - your loss is quite similar to mine, so I value your comments!

I have always been under the impression that I would have to wear a BTE type aid with chunky tube and fat mould, or a ITE CIC.

Have I been getting bad advice?

Do you think there’s any way I could get one of those micowire BTE models with a more discreet mould?

Could I even get away with a dome instead (but still get the boost to the low-mid frequencies that I need)??

Sorry for all the questions, but I’m really quite clueless!

My Audiogram is:

R 50 250 60 L
R 40 500 65 L
R 40 1kz 90 L
R 70 2kz 85 L
R 55 3kz 75 L
R 60 4kz 60 L
R 50 6kz 45 L
R 55 8kz 60 L

I have BTE (I’ve posted some pics on my profile, see if you can see them in and Imagine if I had a CIC on and how visible it would be) I’m just getting to grips with them now, I’ve had them a month and the directional mics/noise reduction are the BEST feature by far, I spent 34 years being seen as arrogant or stupid - when I went to visit my brother he asked me how I was getting on with the aids and if I wore them much - I had them on and he couldn’t see them from across his dining room table! I have had to take them out for people to see them and I don’t even have the smallest available due to my loss - don’t worry about the stigma, get domes in and they will be pleanty powerful!


Marc Parry.

Thank you for sharing that, Marc. I did look at the pictures. I could not see them. I have shorter hair, lighter colored too … and mine are just as invisible. People do not believe I am wearing them until I take them out and show them. And when I go out in the field to train new clients, the first thing I do is tell tham that I am wearing hearing aids so they know that they may have to grab my attention before asking a question. I prefer that to the client thinking that I may be ignoring them.