I’ve been fitting aids for some years.
Each new model promises great things for my clients!
However, lately most of the progress seems to be with the ‘extras’ such as Bluetooth.
So … has the ‘core’ speech processing heart of hearing aids improved markedly in the last years?
If so, which brand/model should I be looking at?
It is what personally works for you, our hearing is very personal and everyone is different with different needs, likes, and dislikes. For me it is Oticon, but that is just me because Oticon works best for me, some of my friends prefer Phonak, others Starkey, others Widex. I hope you get the picture.
Speech understanding may be at the core of what hearing aids should do, but I would expect them to be able to do that and improve overall hearing, determining the direction of sounds, etc. etc. etc. I wouldn’t be too terribly interested in hearing aids that improved speech spectacularly but were mediocre in other areas of the auditory experience.
As a “registered provider” you surely aren’t just interested in improving your clients’ speech understanding, but addressing their overall auditory needs, no?
However in this Plague I feel that I have been focussing possibly too much on remote tuning, remote updates, Smartphone streaming etc … so I may have missed a significant improvement in the core speech processing which has quietly snuck in with a new model in the last year or so.
I have worn, Siemens and Sonic, and Oticon, my friends most of the others. They all seem to be designed for speech. Most for only speech. Truly being able to hear goes beyond just speech. Our brains needs the stimulus of all of the sounds in our environments, this is something I have learned. The better the aids the better they cannot only give you speech understand, but also the other environmental stimuli that we needed. For me Oticon More1 aids are doing this I enjoy my environments, birds singing, the wind in the trees, the sound of the water flowing in the creeks, the ceiling fans in the room the AC fans, and of all things the refrigerator running. But as soon as someone starts a conversation all of that goes to the far background and the conversation becomes what is important and at the far front. That is what all hearing aids should do but most don’t do it well.
I have worn ReSound aids for years, most recently Preza aids from Costco. I recently got a pair of Jabra aids (rebranded ReSound One) from Costco. I tried the KS10s, and immediately felt like the sound was too mechanical, and too focused on speech. It was like I stuck my head in a sound bubble.
When I put my Preza aids back on after trying the KS10s, it’s like the sound world opened up again. I could understand speech, but didn’t lose the ability to hear other sounds around me. The Jabra aids take that ability to hear speech AND environmental sounds to the next level.
G’day TrueBrit and great to hear your opinion from someone that is an actual provider. I say “great” because for me, and this is just my experience after having had a few sets of hearing aids now, I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said in that each new model or updated model does seem to promise better things, and I agree that the focus does seem to be on the peripheral stuff such as bluetooth and other features.
For me, at the end of the day, and I’ve said this to the audiologist, I don’t really care about all of that other stuff such as bluetooth, the number of peripherals you can connect to at once, accelerometer sensors, air taps etc etc, but what I care about primarily is being able to interpret speech and hear in noise. Seriously, get that right and I’d be a really happy chappy!
Related to this (and it’s been said a million times over) is that for a patient/customer it’s so difficult to compare in written form (ie researching on the net) apples with apples in terms of the ability one hearing aid has to process background sound, for example, compared to another. Particularly with all the marketing “labels” each company has and applies to things. It leaves us going through the motions of needing to try the different aids, of course.
Anyway, in my own experience with hearing aids over the last years and in answer to your question of “… has the ‘core’ speech processing heart of hearing aids improved markedly in the last years?” my answer would be no. Not for me. But you’d certainly get a different answer from other people here with their own experiences.
In saying that, my use of hearing aids has only been over the last 16 years or so, but I’m guessing if you go back to hearing aids that were around say 25 years ago then today’s speech processing part of hearing aids I’m guessing are remarkably better with improvement in overall technology and chips.
Which brandmodel should you be looking at?.. absolutely no idea