Best hearing aid brands for musicians?

I have starkey Muse because their aids stressed music ability. Also, Widex has music claims in ads. And, I hear claims about Signia concerning dynamic range of their aids for music.
Does any musician on here have specific brands to recommend from experience?
Ta ta ta TAH.

Traditionally, Widex has usually been the most satisfying choice for most musicians. Widex HAs have had better input headroom than other brands. This nay have changed in the last few years. If the HAs can’t handle the input volume of live music your ability to hear live music is ruined before the sound even gets to the HAs’ processing circuitry.
If you are considering new HAs you should ask your audi about the HA’s input headroom and how it compares to Widex’s. If your audi doesn’t know, insist that he/she call the manufacturer and find out. It’s crucial for musicians.
Also programming is really important. You should have your audi set up a dedicated program for live music performing. The program should have the feedback-blocking feature at the minimum possible setting that will still prevent the HA from feeding back. You probably won’t be able to turn off feedback control altogether because you will experience feedback But the higher the feedback control is set the more you will hear a “trill”-like effect when playing, and especially while singing. All speech enhancement features and compression should be turned off in the live music program… Otherwise music will sound unacceptably unnatural. Good luck.

@rcwalshe Music has been underappreciated as a real target for hearing aids for a long time. After the focus on gadgets for sound streaming directly from sound systems, it became apparent that a lot of people found the music rather badly reproduced. So now they are marketing for that feedback from the market and improving the listening to music.

Live music and aids geared towards people making music are another issue, but also is given more attention now due to the mainstream marketing. Marshall Chasin has been at a forerunner in his Musician’s clinic and has published a lot on the issue. Read some of the shorter articles from the list to get a grip on the matter.

Personal history
When I got hearing aids for the first time, about 7 years ago, it turned out the audiologists didn’t know which would be good for live piano, nor how they should program them. They gave me Widex Dream 440 and they were great at a café or restaurant: I could understand people talking 10m away. However, the piano became unplayable: too much distortion. It could have been too small a receiver in the aids, it will have been the programming, too. Music programs weren’t that good at that time.

Another option was the channelless approach of Bernafon. They would dedicate their processing power there where it was needed, which was thought to be perfect for piano. Also they already had a live music program and a microphone that had shifted it’s input from 0-100dB to 10-110dB.* Of course the live music program had some distortion here, too and after I returned to the audiologist (Specsavers) about 10 times, I had a good chat about the amount of time it cost us and the possibility of programming them myself and he got his old serial Hi-pro from the attic at let me have a go at it. :slight_smile:

Been quite happy since. Following parts of Chasin’s advice I have been able to program the aids to allow for a beautiful sound from the piano. At times it fails. Sometimes the slimtubes wear out. Sometimes my audiogram changes (due to a cold or allergies probably). Sometimes the piano is not tuned well (especially during the fall).

Brands for musicians
I’ve found that larger receivers are better for piano. However, after trialing and programming only 9 hearing aids this remains a generalization. I found that focusing on brands isn’t a sure fire way to get an aid that is easily tuned for musicians. Last year I trialed an Oticon Nera2, an Phonak Naida B70, a Resound Verso 7, an Oticon OPN 1 and a Phonak Bolero B90 SP. Programmed them all to an optimum and found most generating slight (and painful) distortions. I had high hopes for the OPN1, but the Bolero B90 turned out to be the best fit for me.

A lot has changed since I started demanding that the hearing aids both allow me to understand people and play the piano. A lot of audiologists have told me it can’t really be done and it is all marketing. When I confronted them with Chasin’s article it was clearly above their competence. Nowadays, when I talk to them and mention a constant compression of 1.3, a crest factor of 18dB instead of 12dB, they react positively: That are things they know of or heard of during their education. I wouldn’t press an audiologist who fails to program for music correctly. I would tell them they failed to program correctly, return the aids after a few tries and try another audiologist.

Search the forum. I’ve written about it in the last months at least two times. The information is there.

*The analog to digital converter of the microphone has a limited range. If your sounds are louder than that range, it will distort the louder sounds because of inability to properly convert to loudest parts. Shifting the input range away from the 0dB which nobody needs to 10dB gave more room at the top. I think @ziploc refers to this with the term headroom.


@Markismus I wear Oticon Opn1. Is there an adjustment somewhere in the programming software that would allow you to adjust the input range from 0-100 dB to 10-110 dB? I have always been under the impression that that range was set by the manufacturer and was not adjustable. If so, do you know where in the Oticon software that adjustment is located? Thank you.

It’s a design decision, so not tunable via Genie, sorry.

A low tech solution is to mask the microphone entrance(s) with a (few) layer(s) of cellophane/scotch tape. This effectively shifts the range, too. If it helps, you’ve at least nailed the point at which the hearing aid fails. (Again this is something Chasin mentioned.) If you’re handy you could make a sleeve to cover the aids while playing.

IIRC, the OPN1 already has a changed range for the live music program, but I haven’t seen Genie since September ‘18.

I’m pretty sure the OPN has an extended dynamic range.

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I am a musician who has been wearing hearing aids for nearly 30 years. It’s interesting to have been able to upgrade and experience tech advances. I wore Phonak top line products for many years before I did a demo of several brands. My most recent, 2 years ago, trials involved top line Starkey, Oticon, and Widex hearing aids. All were very good but the Widex 440 Beyond hearing aids had the best sound by far. My instruments haven’t sounded this good to me in years. I hope you have a good audiologist to help you with your search.

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It’s already set to over 15dB to accommodate the noise floor of the mic.

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