First I must confess that I have been lurking here for awhile, and was at first surprised by how many people have paid large sums of money on hearing aids, only to be disappointed with the end results.
Back in 2011, I had my hearing checked, and found that it was about 15 db down in both ears until about 4000 hz, then it dropped like a rock. I expected this considering my age 81, and all the time spent in factories and automotive service departments exposed to the noise of impact wrenches and machinery.
Recently I had my hearing checked again at Kaiser Permanente, and found that while my hearing had not changed too much, my left ear was now dropping off at 2000 hz, which had me thinking about hearing aids.
In my opinion the price of new hearing aids is prohibitive, with no guarantee the end results will justify the cost. Then I looked into purchasing used hearing aids, and programming them myself. After reading many of the Phonak tutorials and signing up to take some audiology continuing education online courses for free (no credit), it didn’t appear to be rocket science.
I also acquired the 2nd edition of Harvey Dillon’s book, and being an amateur radio operator for over 40 years, and still working in a technical engineering field everything I read made sense.
I now understand why there is so much disappointment out there. Today’s hearing aids while being very expensive are incredibly capable if dialed in correctly. I suspect that in a typical commercial setting it would be difficult to find someone with enough time to spend with a patient to achieve results justifying the high cost of the hearing aids. The high cost generates very high expectations, that may be difficult to meet.
I already took impressions of my ears, had custom earmolds made, and decided to bid on a used pair of Phonak Bolero V70M hearing aids. The target software arrived a few days ago, and is loaded on my computer. I also purchased an ICube ii programming interface and went to to work. The first thing I did was check for software and firmware updates. The lcube ii firmware needed to be updated which I did. The hearing aids were up to date. The Target software updated to 6.1 Everything was plug and play with no surprises.
Working with Phonak Target is like Photoshop or Microsoft Word, where you can make adjustments, and if not satisfied with the results hit the back button, and change it.
Another nice thing about Target and the Icube ii is the ease of playing Phonak sound clips, making programming changes, and hearing the results in real time.
After factoring in the modest costs of the programming hardware, and having the time and interest, self programming appears to be the way to go.
In an ideal world the consumer would be able to purchase hearing aids new over the counter at a reasonable price, and use a smartphone app to make changes on the fly. Until that day comes (which it will) I will use my windows 10 computer and do it myself. I have already made some minor changes after the first fitting like increasing the vent diameter, and doing a recalibration. Over the next few weeks as I become acclimated to the aids, I will be taking notes and have lots of fun fine tuning them.
As I write this, I am wearing my used ebay $257.00 Phonak Bolero V70M aids, and hearing sounds I have struggled to hear for a long time like trees rustling in the wind, or a jazz drummer’s light brush strokes. Oh my wife isn’t mumbling anymore.