Classical pianist searching for music program


Music program settings have changed since I began wearing my Starkey S series iQ hearing aids 10 years ago After a lapse of 25 years of not involved in music, I returned four years ago and the Starkeys sounded beautiful and realistic to represent acoustic grand piano sound . I wish I could find out these HA’s Algorithms, programming, architecture— to understand how they worked so incredibly well for the complexity of a grand piano ‘s sound.
Over a year ago I began searching for a new pair of HA’s because of repair issues and needing a new HA for better speech clarity . So far I’ve tried Starkey halo , Muse, Wdex Beyond, Signia, Phonak, and I am currently trying ReSound. All of their music programs sound inadequate compared to my former Starkey iQ.

Currently my audiologist is very open to trying any wayto make the music program produce a sound of the grand piano as I’ve appreciated it from the Starkey model. He chatted with a tech consultant at ReSound to make the music program as analog as possible . The core representation of piano sound is good but there’s strange electronica effects that simply will not work for serious advanced literature live performance .
I did a small search for current analog HAs, found some suggestions , but I would rather not have to have two pairs of HAs. My hearing loss begin with low frequencies , but now includes some higher frequencies also . From reading posts on this forum it seems other musicians have mentioned Bernafon Zerena 9, with its live music program . I’m beginning to suspect that the newest Digital HAs are quite wonderful for speech clarity with 20 to 24 channels . But I’m also hearing musicians highly desiring analog processing for live music and actively playing their instruments.

Is there any hope of finding a single HA that represents Naturally represents the true sound of playing a tgrand piano and also offers current digital technology for speech clarity ?



I haven’t heard you mention Oticon OPN. I don’t really know if you’ll like it better than the others or not, just that it’s one of the major 6 mfgs and it looks like you haven’t tried it yet.

It already runs on a pretty “open” paradigm, trying to allow users to hear everything around them. Yet, with its music program, it sounds even more “open” to me. I think it’s worth a try. At least if you don’t like it either, you’ll have known that you’ve given it a try.

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Thank you for recommending me Oticon OPN. Have you used the music program as a musician playing and instrument ?— or have you used Oticon’s music program for lustening?



There are a number of musicians on this forum. Some mention they are professional. Most talk about piano or guitar. Most of them were able to work out a couple manual programs with their audiologist to be very happy with their aids. These musicians had different aids, not one name brand.
You might get help by searching your subject on this site.



Thank you for the suggestion to search the hearing tracker forum website on this topic. . I have done that search already and found some interesting observations.
I was hoping to attract any new comments or experiences from pianists trying to find digital HAs that give the analog sound quality in a way that makes the acoustic piano sound natural .



The Signia, Rexton, and the recent Kirkland Signature 8.0 HA’s have a choice of three music programs; Listening to Recorded Music, Listening to a live concert, and playing an instrument. Here is a video about the programs.



Thank you Sierra, for mentioning the Signia having three separate programs for different music interaction situations When I first was considering a trial of a Signia HA last year I asked an audiologist to look into why there would be three separate programs for different music situations . He checked the specs from the manufacturer and found virtually no difference between the three situations . My nine year old Starkey S series iQ aids sound beautifully natural in all three of those situations with one music program . Those aids have 16 channels and much are closer to coming from a pure analog design. As I read on this foru, all current digital HAs’ Music programs interact with recorded music relatively well because everything has the same compression . Listening to any recorded music gives no indication of how well the hearing aid can provide realistic sound in a live playing at ones instrument situation .
My requirements of buying a new hearing aid that hopefully “ does it all”, means that their music program has to produce the same realistic sound quality as I am playing a grand piano with 360° of non-amplified sound as compared to my former nine-year-old Starkey aids .



Here are the differences that I can see in the three programs by looking at Connexx (the programing software):

Listening to Recorded Music - All Noise Reduction is off. Microphone is set to iOmni manual. Intelligent feedback is On, and set to Slow.

Listening to Live Music - Auto Classifier and Wind Noise reduction is On. Microphone is set to Directional Adaptive. Noise Reduction Off.

Playing an Instrument - Basically the same as Live Music but the Microphone is set to iOmni.

I am afraid I am not a believe in the “advantage” of analog hearing aids. Many analog hearing aids were simply not capable of any compression, which is unfortunate as many of us have a non linear hearing loss and to a degree compression makes a correction for that.

However, if you want digital aids to behave like that, most have a prescription called 1/3 Gain. It is a pretty old method and was used in linear analog aids. It has no compression. The fitter can fit a digital aid to that prescription and do the REM to confirm the results.



Thank you Sarah for clarifying how the Signia differentiates between those three music interaction situations. But I must refer again to my nine-year-old Starkey aids as being able to beautifully represent all three of those separate music situations with one program . Practically speaking I would Find it cumbersome to have three settings to switch between on a hearing aid for music prigram. Most hearing aids only have four possible different program switchings.
My wish for analog is pertinent only to the music program setting . I have read threads on this forum Of musicians longing for a way to have analog for interaction with live music performance . Digital processing obviously has increased possibilities of speech clarity .

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Sorry I didn’t check for the typo of misspelling your screen name —Sierra!



Since I don’t play an instrument, and don’t often attend concerts, I just use the listening to recorded music program. My HA’s have a max of 6 programs, so this just occupies one of them.

I think how well you can hear with hearing aids is significantly impacted by one’s degree of hearing loss. I would like to tell you that my KS8 (Signia) aids do a perfect job. They don’t actually. Probably close to perfect for my right ear, and not great at all for my left ear once the volume levels go up. At modest volume levels they work fine, but at a certain point, the left ear tanks. It may be feedback, but not sure. It may be just the limitation of my ear.

I think the only real way to determine what works for you is to try the hearing aid in the real situation you want to use them for.



Here are a couple of suggestions for your audi to try for your music performance program: Set the feedback-blocking feature to the lowest possible setting. You probably won’t be able to turn that feature off entirely because you will experience feedback. When the feedback-blocking feature hears a sustained musical note it thinks it is hearing feedback and it tries to disrupt the perceived feedback by trying to slightly vary the pitch of the note. You will hear this as a warbling sound. The higher the setting on the feedback control the more pronounced this warbling will be.
Turn off or minimize all speech comprehension enhancements. These enhancements are there to help you to understand speech but they make music sound unnatural.
Check on the input headroom of any HA you are considering. Some brands, at least in the recent past, have inadequate ability to react to the dynamic range of live music, especially when the sound source is close by, as it is when you’re playing. You will experience inadequate input headroom as distortion. Imagine a singer trying to perform with a cheap microphone intended for dictation.
Widex is well-known for its great input headroom. My Oticon Opn 1’s seem ok too. My previous HAs, Phonak Audeo Q90’s, had inadequate input headroom. Your audi may not know what the amount of input headroom is for any particular HA. You need to insist that the audi find out for you. It is a crucial issue for you as a performer.
Hope some of this helps. Good luck.

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WOW—Ziploc you stated so incredibly clearly the issues I’ve been aware of through articles written by Marshall Chassin! Thank you for your clarity and taking time to post . I’m printing out your reply and highlighting topics to take to my audi next Monday .
The ReSound Linx that I’m currently trying has a good core to the music program as representation of the sound of acoustic grand piano But it still has what I referr to as weird digital effects when playing forte chords and is especially noticeable when the chords increase in volume. Seems like there’s a clamping down flattening affect to the volume., The grand piano I’m currently playing Is a Grotrian-Steinweg with a very very rsuper sustain . Also acoustic piano sound begins to have resemblance to electronic digital piano sound style.
The speech perception of this ReSound is quite good and all tweaking so far has improved speech in different environmental situations .
Thank you so much for helping me to bring pertinent considerations to my Audi .



Signia has an excellent music program with settings like recorded music, instrument music, live music etc, and its 3D sound too. I have them and it’s the best sounding music of 3 brands I’ve tried, at least to my ears.



Here is a link to an article called A Hearing Aid Solution for Music. Basically they make the case that the problem with digital hearing aids is that the input analog to digital conversion does not have sufficient dynamic range to cover the range of live music, and that the fundamental problem is the 16 bit A/D chips used. They limit dynamic range to 96 dB. However, their “solution” sound a bit dodgy. They manipulate the input rather than using a 24 bit A/D chip, which would sound like the real solution. Be aware when you read this that it is essentially a promotion of the Widex HA’s. Does it really work? Some are skeptical. Here is another article, The Effects of Extended Input Dynamic Range… which basically concludes that the standard input range is not a limiting factor in the real world. This is essentially by Oticon. So, they obviously decided that the technology was not worth it.

In any case the proof is always in the pudding, and you might want to give Widex a listen to see what it does for you. I believe their current top of the line model is the Evoke 440 or something like that. Widex does seem to put some effort into sound quality, but is it just hype or real?

It kind of reminds me of the evolution in recorded music. Tape never really worked that well except for the studio quality reel to reel ones. Vinyl records have stood the test of time, and some claim they are better than CD quality. I have not found that to be the case. I have a very expensive vinyl playback system, and it does not stand up to a CD. Some thought the CD was not good enough and the Super Audio CD was developed, mainly to address the same problem that Widex claims to exist. CD’s are 16 bit and get about 90 dB of dynamic range. SACD was said to be good up to 105 dB. Listeners were not as impressed, and SACD never took off. In fact the market went the other way to iTunes on line quality which is substantially poorer than the 16 bit CD.

This all said, you may want to give Widex a try and see what your ears think.

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Sierra, thank you immensely for such substantial info about the input DB range of a HA. Your info coincides with the above quote from another Forum member “Ziploc.” This will definitely be a topic I discuss tomorrow with my Audi .
During my hearing aid life I have tried Widex two times. When I had my first hearing loss diagnosis and audiogram it was low frequency loss . Over the past 15 years I’ve accumulated also some high frequency loss. My first trial of Widex was a molded fit . Last year I tried Widex Beyond and had a similar overall impression of how their algorithms gave an impression of fuzzy woolly thickness of sound! I even brought a digital piano keyboard into the office of the previous Audi and we tried adjusting while I played I have been familiar with this electronic piano sound which was quite good from Yamaha , so it was a “ Constant of which I could use as a familiar gauge . Strange affect wearing Widex— piano sounded like a clarinet or flute of some kind !
The Audi I’m currently working with is quite tech savvy,. Patient , Open to trying solutions. I wrote a letter explaining my serious priority of finding a Music program that sounded as realistic of live acoustic piano as my former Starkey aids. He responded with sincere commitment to find something that works for me . But his interaction with live music is from amplified music soon . His own hearing loss comes from a job with loud machinery and a rock band.
So I will put questions to him about DB range of input of A/D, discuss Oticon, Sugnia, and Widex.

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I just got my latest set of custom molds yesterday and gave them a test this morning by listening to a Glenn Gould CD on my home stereo. My hearing aid is a Costco KS8 which is essentially the Signia 7Nx. I have had a nagging issue with a distortion noise in the left year which is the one with the greatest loss. My suspicion was that it was feedback, and the new molds were to address that. It appears so far that it has worked, and I can honestly say that these aids now do a good job with music using the music program.

This is not as difficult as real piano, but the Gould recording is pretty good and my stereo is also pretty good; Marantz CD player, David Hafler Pre Amp, and Power Amp, with Bowers and Wilkins speakers, and HSU powered subwoofer. My Smart Direct app showed a maximum level of 95 dB, and the hearing aids seemed to handle it very well. What I did notice is that with all the noise reduction off in the music program, I could hear the refrigerator which is in another room as well as a clock ticking during the quieter parts of the music. I think it would be best to listen to music in a quiet area with no background sound.

I would say the Signia aids are worth a listen. Your ear with your personal loss is always the final test. My aids now use quite closed molds and they are set up with REM testing and adjustments.

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Thank you so much Sierra, for a really excellent useful report of your new your new ear molds testing through listening of a CD with Glenn Gould . I find his recording of the Goldberg. Variations to be breathtaking!
These resound linx HAs work rather well and all speech Settings except the music program , which has a good core representation of acoustic piano sound I played around with changing bass , middle , and treble through the app , but there is still some sort of disturbing effect , which essentially makes the music program not function for me actively playing the instrument and making interpretive decisions based on balancing voices in a chord. My appointment last Monday went well enough . My Audi said he can change the DB of mpo and he did increase the range . But our discussion of which route to take next for me to find a new HA did not go so well .
This Audi is very very ethical and wants the maximum best service he can offer it to his patients . So he does not want to deal with Starkey because of the incident of their top execs embezzling . When I mentioned Unititron he warned that there are current midel’s Don’t offer enough control through the software to turn down noise in the environment as compared to the ReSiund. As I strongly requested he turn down the noise sounds in general , Voice in traffic , Voice jn restaurant settings because noise was so interfering with my ability to focus on speech .— so he cannot recommend trying the unit Tron because it had less control over dampening noise in environment .
Finally his solution was as he had mentioned another time to use my former Starkey S series Music program whenever I’m playing . He also offered that Starkey can refurbish former models in case my current older Starkey breaks down . Basically he was saying that a former programming of music from Starkey happened to be well working at that point in time . And as manufacturers change their product , One might not find a current model with programming of music that works for them to purchase now.

So my husband and I discussed whether one could have hearing aid progras custom designed ? Perhaps I should discuss this in a phone call with Starkey tech help phone line —-?

I’ll have to have another discussion with the Audi about his resistance to two major manufacturers — as far as my giving them a try .

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Yes, it was the Goldberg Variations BWV 988 from a 1981 20 bit digital master. The Signia 7Nx has adjustable noise reduction in 7 steps. For the music program it is turned off.



ESierra, thank you for all of your observations from personal experience as a seriously listening music appreciator ! I’m adding that model of Signia to my list that I’ll be discussing with my Audi— next Monday .
Now I’m remembering hehas a qualification about recommending Signia Products to his patients because he finds the repair time of two weeks is unacceptable . (I don’t have a problem with that repair schedule myself )
Do you find that your vocabulary coming from being an astute enthusiast of audio equipment for listening to music has provided you with understanding of how the technology of hearing aids process ?