Best HA for listening to high quality music

I expect many people have had the same experience as me. I listened to expensive HiFi equipment for years, trying to catch the sound of that live concert. But severe hearing loss forces me to use hearing aids even when listening to my Hifi.

I have tried lots of different ones over the years, but Resound Linx has worked best for me. Currently I’m using Resound Linx Quattros, but the Linx 3D was also good. I have been very disappointed with Widex which sound terrible to me (in ways I could expand on if there is any interest).

What HAs do other HiFi enthusiasts here choose to use?

It’s very individualistic. Some have liked Resound, some Widex, some Oticon and some Phonak. I don’t remember any rave reviews about Signia or Starkey for music, but there’s likely some who like them for music. Setup is key. Some have been better satisfied with a good set of headphones and an equalizer.

Headphones and an equaliser are fine for a mild loss of 10 or 20 dB, maybe even 30dB but they don’t work at all for severe losses. Don’t forget that 3dB is doubling the power, so a 60 dB loss involves a million times the power approx.

There are lots of issues other than just adjusting the frequency response. A really big deal is “entrainment” which in my experience many audiologists don’t understand. If a flute produces a pure tone, an inadequate hearing aid will try to cancel it out with an out of phase tone. When the flute stops, the entrained hearing aid keeps producing the note for a (possibly large) fraction of a second before stopping. Having tried three top Widex hearing aids in the last five years, I found that they are particularly bad in this respect. Resound are very much better than Widex in my experience.

There are lots of other issues. Max SPL of the microphones and input circuits, the handling of large output signals, background noise, low level distortion (which can be especially destructive on quiet music). Also what the fitting software does with residual but compromised hearing at 6kHz and up. Again in my experience Phonak are bad at this, just chucking it away, whereas again Resound will give it a go.

Any other views?

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I recently trialed both the Widex Evoke, the Phonak Marvel, and the Phonak Paradise.

The Widex was the clear winner for music followed by the Paradise. Marvel came in third for me.

Unfortunately the Widex just did not work out as well for speech as the Paradise so I went with the Paradise.

The Paradise is actually pretty good with music, much better than my old Audéo S, but the Widex was better.

Jim

I’d be interested in seeing you post your audiogram up to see what kind of hearing loss you have. To some folks who have bad enough hearing loss, there’s no amount to compensation from even the best hearing aids that is going to allow them to retain the ability to hear and discern “high quality” music.

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Agreed! Most of us have crap for ears.

You misunderstand me. I know about this. I know of course that I can’t hear how I would like to hear, but different hearing aids behave differently in handling music. More than you might believe if you aren’t into music and haven’t tried them yourself.

There is a massive difference between how different HAs handle high quality music and I just want my music to sound as good as it can because regardless of how my hearing is, I still love listening to music.

I recently listened to a £300K system in a manufacturer’s demo room and I could hear the improvement when they swapped in. £150K amplifier for a £50K amplifier. Even with hearing aids and a big hearing loss you can hear things that many other people not into music listening wouldn’t even notice.

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Hi there.
Interesting topic. I think that the music I listen to is of a totally different kind then yours. However I do have the same questions. As for me (I love Rockmusic and play electric guitar myself) I havd always felt limited by my aids.

When going to a concert, the widexes I was testing at that moment turned the sound down, so I ended up with listening without them (lol, rock concerts ard loud enough. Lowering the volume was actually an approriate response, but please, not in a way that ruins the concert).

Also tested Intertons. They randomly turned down whike practicing solo’s.

I have to admit the widexes were 5 or 6 years ago and the Intertons way longer.

The phonaks I have now only perform because the audiologist (is that english?) turned of all shaping, clipping and other stuff for as far as he could, making it basically behave like a non-digital device.

I have the intention to test the paradises now. Read many good things of them.

Yes it is English (!) and yes that is exactly what needs to happen, turn off all the clever stuff. I’m into classical music btw.

Funny. If you look at that paradise, the more expensive the model, the more of that ’ magic’ is in it. But as far as I understood, the hardware is the same. So if music is the primairy concern, one could choose the cheapest model, unless the increased number of channels is important enough to spend a few hundred dollars extra.

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Moving past the obscenity of spending that much money on audio gear…it goes to my little theory. As we mature and hopefully have accumulated some wealth, our ears also mature and start to fail. So while we spend ever increasing amounts of money chasing musical nirvana, all the while our ears are betraying us.

I am often frustrated listening to long-familiar music. My memory tells me “hey there should be a sound there” but my ears, even aided, are saying “I got nuttin’”. I check with the spouse to verify my memory and they say “yeah I hear it”. Sigh.

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Depending on one’s hearing loss, feedback and aggressive feedback management may or may not be a big issue. Frequency shifting is one of the key feedback management strategy (beside phase inversion and gain control). If aggressive feedback management is necessary for your type of hearing loss, frequency shift can easily cause a warbling effect on pure tonal sounds. Gain control reduces the headroom which limits the dynamic of the sounds.

I’ve seen many posts on this forum where discerning music listeners wearing hearing aids swear by turning off feedback management to improve their music listening experience. Of course those with heavier hearing loss that is heavily dependent on feedback management are not so lucky to be able to disable feedback management to enjoy music better. They’d just have to make do with what they can because feedback management has priority over music enjoyment.

The latest Oticon OpenSound Optimizer technology available on the OPN S line places heavy emphasis on feedback prevention up front (as opposed to feedback management down the line). Oticon argues that for some who don’t rely of heavy feedback management for their hearing loss, using this new feedback prevention technology can replace the need for feedback management altogether. For others whose hearing loss relies more heavily on feedback management right up front, at least when used in conjunction with feedback prevention, it should alleviate the need for heavy feedback management.

So to the discerning hearing aid user who wants to minimize their dependence on heavy feedback management for the better enjoyment of music listening, this seems to hold some promise. Alas, this feedback prevention technology may not be mature enough yet, as many OPN S wearers complain about strange whistling effect possible caused by the OpenSound Optimizer (the new feedback prevention technology). As far as I can tell, Oticon hasn’t been able to fix this whistling issue for those users who experience it yet.

Higher tech level goes with handling speech in more difficult environment. Channels aren’t important, features are, like when aids use all 4 mics to decipher the back / forward sound and use one to cancel it whilst pushing another.

Lowest tech level oftentimes don’t have 2 mics per aid.

Just to say, there’s more to tech level than channels and also, aids are focused on speech, not music, so features are about helping comprehension.

If you don’t need speech in anything more difficult than quiet, nor other gimmicks, then i totally agree with you, lowest tech level should work for music when you shut down those few features left.

Who can afford, I think it’s perfectly fine solution to have one aid for music, lowest tech maybe, and another for speech comprehension if one aid cannot cover it all.

No one says you have to have one pair of aids that are ‘the one’.

Switch off all the features called “speech” and etc. Switch to music program and test your fitting with pure tones and acoustic instruments. for example piano, violin, tubular bells etc.

I’m just guessing that if you can’t get good speech with hearing aids, then music is hopeless?

Not really… music is about hearing ( and feeling) but speech is about understanding. Hearing is only the first step in understanding speech.

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Not necessarily. They’re very different things. One (speech) depends on lots of filtering and noise reduction and frequency manipulation. The other (music) depends on eliminating a lot of these particular processing for good speech in order to hear the authenticity of the music. Music also depends on good specs on input range of the mics while good speech does not because speech is usually not so loud like music.

I’ve noticed that the “high tech” models of hearing aids often have a higher frequency range. Some “low tech” models max out at 6K, while the higher tech aids usually reach up to 8K or even 10K. Although there’s not much speech energy at 8K or 10K, those high frequencies are important for music fidelity. Of course, whether a person can be helped much at those high frequencies depends on the amount of one’s hearing loss.

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I’ve found that the type of domes can have a big impact on music.

For normal daily functions, I wear open domes on my Phonak Marvel’s. But if I stream music, I lose a lot of the lower frequencies ie… bass in the music.

My audi suggested that I swap to vented closed domes when streaming music. It’s been a perfect option for me.

Dave

https://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/programming-hearing-aids-for-listening-12915

This is from 2014, but the same principles apply.
Widex, Starkey, and Oticon all list Input Headroom at 105dB+
Phonak does not show theirs.