Hey everyone, I wanted to post about my experience with my new Phonak Audeo YES IX hearing aids.
I previously had the Phonak microPower hearing aids. I really liked these and can attest that I hear even better with these than I did with my hearing aids previous to those, the GN Resound Canta 7’s. Of course, the microPowers have a better chipset than the Canta 7’s, but “technically” my hearing loss went beyond what the microPowers could amplify to, in the high frequencies.
However, when talking to my audiologist (still talking about the microPowers), after my audiologist mentioned the regular BTE Phonak Savia (this was years ago and the Savias were the newest aids available), she understood how I wanted a hearing aid that would be smaller than a BTE.
To be blunt, I was sick of the tubing and replacing the tubes and was intrigued by the CRT technology.
She agreed to give me these as she said that due to my profound high-frequency loss, I would probably not be able to be helped more by the regular BTE’s. The benefit she said about the BTE’s is that because of their larger fitting range, experimenting with different amplification at different frequencies would naturally be more flexible.
But she had no problem fitting me with the microPowers.
I had an amazing experience with them and do not regret my purchase in the slightest. I do not feel that I sacrified audibility because of the narrower fitting range as I heard better than I ever had. I have had amazing audiologists and my audiologists have also changes over the years as they have left the practice, etc. so I have had the benefit of working with many audiologists who have different ideas as to how to program hearing aids.
It was fascinating to me to try out different things with the hearing aids because of the different opinions of various audiologists.
Anyway, I had decided a while ago, when I first heard about frequency transposition, that perhaps I might want to try it out. At first, I was doing research and not going to the point of purchasing new hearing aids. I heard of course of the Sonovation hearing aids. (I don’t know if my audiologist sold these as I never brought them up, I just was doing research on my own and looking at studies.)
I also heard about the Widex Inteo… I was intrigued by these as this seemed to be the first application by an established hearing aid manufacturer to incorporate some sort of frequency shifting/transposition.
These seemed to be mentioned briefly and then went away, it seems like. I know the frequency shifting was more primitive than say the SoundRecover Phonak now has. These hearing aids as I recall, just shifted frequencies so they would overlap other frequencies and thus cause a lot of distortion. Bottom line, I heard that for speech understanding they did not help, but to Widex’s credit, Widex never marketed these for increased speech understanding but rather for overall increase in environmental sounds.
I usually buy hearing aids every 5 years or so, and these hearing aids from what I had read at the time and the fact that they were regular BTE’s did not warrant an extra purchase. I kept them in the back of my mind however, but since then I didn’t hear more about them, etc. etc. and just stayed with my Phonak microPower IX’s and adjusting these as I was happy with them.
I continued investigating CRT hearing aids and frequency shifting/transposition/etc. hearing aids. Then, Phonak came out with SoundRecover with their Naida hearing aids.
I was intrigued once again by these.
The thought of wearing a behind-the-ear instrument for “ME” (I am talking about myself, people can make their own decisions), was an option I wanted to avoid if I could. I felt almost spoiled with the CRT hearing aids as they had a thin tube (well, thin wire) and were not really visible.
Nevertheless, I investigated these hearing aids and talked to my audiologist about them. She had fit many people with them. The technology was still new and so there wasn’t much information on how good they were. But almost immediately, I kept hearing about how good they were and how they were changing people’s lives. - who had a large hearing loss.
To clarify, I have mild-to-profound hearing loss. I barely have loss in the low frequencies and the high frequencies as they go up become more and more profound.
I was hoping that speech understanding would be improved as well as my own speech, as your speech is not only what you gain from speech therapy and practice but also what you hear - the cognitive aspect. My audiologist at the time mentioned how patients were loving hearing more in general, but she didn’t know about speech understanding.
Thus, I didn’t want to purchase new hearing aids yet as if I were to purchase hearing aids with SoundRecover or the next generation perhaps of frequency transposition, I wanted speech understanding to improve.
Phonak posted testimonials about how one’s own speech was improved, but I didn’t know whether it was just going to be hype or not. I wanted to know from audiologists who had fit the hearing aids whether speech was improved.
Eventually, actually in the middle between my move from Seattle to Los Angeles, I was able to trial the Phonak Naida SP - SuperPower (the newer ones - originally Phonak just had the Phonak Naida UP - UltraPower. I was a candidate for the SuperPower version and so trialed them. I should mention that I had just gotten off the plane and was going to go back on the plane in about 24 hours so I really got to trial them for just part of a day - and I had plugged up ears from flying. ;-).
The first time I put them on though, I was shocked when I heard the “s” sound so clearly. I was amazed by these hearing aids. I had never previously been able to hear that and it was an AMAZING experience.
I was still turned off by the large tubing as even though I had good low frequency hearing. Because of the high frequency amplification required, I would not be able to use the slim tubes, most likely. Of course, I could try them if I wanted to, but I was told that the feedback would be an issue with the thin tubing.
In addition, because it was a quick trial, I didn’t have custom earmolds, and thus had to wear foam ones. The tubing really stood out, especially because of this fact.
Also, the hearing aids themselves were large and similar to other BTE’s. I had a tough decision to make… when I went to LA, would I consider trialing the Naidas? Maybe I would get used to the tubing once again?
I saw that Phonak had the Audeo YES but it wasn’t in my fitting range; in fact the fitting range for amplification was the same as the Phonak microPowers.
I wished for a CRT hearing aid that would have SoundRecover that I could wear.
I finally made an appointment to see an audiologist in LA at the House Ear Clinic (part of the House Ear Institute)… on the phone I specifically said I wanted an audiologist familiar with Phonak and the SoundRecover, I also mentioned the Naida name as SoundRecover became synonymous with the Naida (of course I do realize SoundRecover is in so many Phonak aids now, but Naida started the entire “phenomenon”). The receptionist said that I had an appointment with the audiologist there who was the most experienced with the Phonak and Naidas.
I was thrilled, as the SoundRecover is a new aspect of hearing technology and it’s a learning process for audiologists too. So, if I had someone who had fitted patients with SoundRecover, I could ask him questions and get his opinion regarding the technology.
I went in for a full day of appointments at House Ear Clinic, with a doctor who gave authorization for hearing aids, (required in CA as well as WA, I just wasn’t used to it as I had first been fitted with hearing aids when I was very little and had actually gotten the authorization but for Washington). He got rid of excess wax as well.
I also had a hearing test done (it was about time for another yearly exam anyway) so I could have a full audiogram and hearing test on record there. I was prepared with my previous audiogram and my current hearing aid settings, as well as the settings for the 24-hour Naida trial just in case any of these things would be of interest.
They did ask if they could make a copy of my previous audiogram since I had it and they could put it in my file. I of course said yes since I had brought it there just in case they would want to put it in my file. I asked for a copy of my own new audiogram and got it as well.
Anyway, it was interesting and quite convenient that the House Ear Clinic had all these things together, in one place, so I didn’t have to go to another Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor to get the hearing aid authorization and wax removal.
I finally met with the audiologist. He had fit many patients with SoundRecover and really liked the technology. He was perfect as he was interested in helping me and also realized what I was there for. I should mention, I have a tendency to have conversations with doctors/audiologists/etc. that end up cutting into my appointment time so it was good to have someone to keep my mind on track LOL.
I told him my situation about wanting the Phonak Audeo YES because of it’s discrete sizing and the CRT technology. I explained how I had trialed the Naida for 24-hours and had been amazed at what I could hear immediately. It wasn’t an uncomfortable adjustment for me (it was and is an adjustment but not one I cannot handle, which is good because I really wanted the benefit of the SoundRecover).
I explained that my Phonak microPowers were working well for me and they were the best hearing aids I’ve ever had. (I’ve had “super-power” hearing instruments that technically fit my loss better than the microPowers, but I honestly hadn’t had better speech understanding; thankfully I had experience with all kinds of hearing aids to be able to come to this analysis).
I was nervous as I really wanted the Audeo YES hearing aids. I was worried I wouldn’t be a candidate. Just in case, I brought in the fitting ranges for the microPower, the Naida, and the Audeo YES. He had my new audiogram since I had already completed that part of the appointment.
I was thrilled when he said that he would be happy to let me try the Phonak Audeo YES’s. I was so happy! He said that since the very high frequencies were likely cochlear dead regions, not much amplification would do much for me in those areas. Also, those were the frequencies that would be transposed and thus benefit from the SoundRecover. I asked him if the Audeo YES had the same amplification as the microPower except that they had SoundRecover (so basically would they be an upgrade). I asked him this because I noticed a very-slight variance in fitting range when looking at the fitting range of the microPower versus the Audeo YES.
He got a Phonak rep on the phone immediately and asked them if the Audeo YES had the same amplification as the microPower, since I had done so well with the microPowers and wanted to try the SoundRecover. The Phonak rep confirmed I could get the same amplification with the Audeo YES’s. I was so happy to hear this.
My audiogist proceeded to say he would have no problem fitting me with the Phonak Audeo YES and in fact because of the better feedback suppression, if I needed to, I could perhaps get more gain than what I currently got with the microPowers.
I said I would call him the next morning with a confirmation and I ended up buying them!
My audiologist said that because they were newer than the microPowers, the components and wire would be improved, etc. He had never seen the Phonak Audeo YES before; he had fit people with the original Audeos. And of course, he had fit many people with the Phonak Naidas and had gotten wonderful results.
Before purchasing, I asked him whether my speech understanding would improve and whether my own speech would improve and he said yes. He said that because of the increased audibility due to the SoundRecover, these two factors would definitely improve.
I can honestly say, in the short time I’ve been wearing them (less than a week; it seems longer!!!), that yes I do understand conversations more and the “k” and “p” sounds are more distinct.
I am on break right now, but I attend an acting conservatory. At this acting school, we learn the fundamentals of vocal production and work to get to a “Standard American” dialect. Basically, once you are able to get this dialect, you can work in stage/film without any dialect and in second year (which I have been invited back to!!!), you begin work on dialects. I should state that you do not “lose” your natural dialect, but you’re able to speak in a neutral way… think of the way actors and actresses spoke in the 1950’s, etc. Of course, these days, the dialect taught is not as “strong” as it used to be… the way it used to be is referred to Stage Standard / Elevated Standard.
I’m trying to make this part of my post concise as it is difficult to describe in a short way the vocal training, etc.
We also learn the International Phonetic Alphabet. It is essentially a new alphabet. If something is written in IPA, you know EXACTLY how to say it. If you need to have a dialect, you can write your lines in IPA and know exactly how to pronounce everything. If you are at an audition and you are told your character name is such-and-such and you are told that it is pronounced a certain way, then knowing the IPA really does help as you can make a note to yourself, writing down the word as you heard it in IPA so you can refer to it and not make a mistake.
Anyway, I made an appointment to see one of the Voice and Speech teachers there who has an amazingly sharp ear. I was waiting in the room as she was finishing her session with another student and I already realized I was able to understand more of what they were saying! When she worked with me a little and we got to the “p” and “k,” I mentioned how distinct these sounds were with the SoundRecover (I had told her about my new hearing aids).
For me as well as so many other people, working on speech with a therapist is exhausting and I want to achieve the neutral dialect if I can and I Know I can! Doing so requires hours and hours of daily work. My thought is if I work on my speech further, I will be able to continue training my brain with the new sounds available with the SoundRecover and thus be able to progress even more and more and not regress as much if I get sick and am unable to practice at length. This is because the cognitive aspect of my brain will benefit from hearing, for example, the “s” sound rather than guessing each time I say it.
Thus, I look forward to speech that is more consistant.
To everyone who struggles with speech, even when an audiologist-based speech therapist says that you have gained all you can, if you want to, you should continue to work and stand your ground! I am speaking from experience! Speech therapists have been amazed at how far I’ve gone and they say that most of the time they wouldn’t continue working with me, because I can be understood which is usually the goal, but many have been supportive and have seen my drive and have been willing to work with me more. I’ve gotten better and better and with SoundRecover, I only see this improving!
This has been a long post. I wanted to share with everyone my experience and share details.
It is my hope that at least one person will be able to benefit from what I’ve written. I’ve surpassed many challenges (I prefer challenge over obstacles). I’ve fought for my rights the entire way and I want people to benefit from hearing about my own experience.
I will get Standard American speech no matter what people say.
When I was very little, my parents were told by a very well-respected doctor (actually, I don’t remember what position she held) that I might as well give up trying to speak and learn sign language as I would never be able to speak). I’ve worked all my life, ever since I was 2 years old in a school for the hard of hearing before being successfully mainstreamed to work through my struggles.
I won’t lie and say I haven’t had bad days where I ended up crying; but that is part of life and I’m proud to say I’ve made it this far. Are my struggles over? No, not by a long shot. Everyone has struggles but I choose to work through them and become an actor and dancer. I’m considering becoming an advocate for the hard-of-hearing community because I want so much to inspire others and tell people to not give up!
I’m never giving up being an actor. Never. Mark my words. I promise. I may do other things such as even become an audiologist if I have the time, but acting will be a part of my life.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate your time!