DIY If I can do it so can you

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.

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Congratulations.
At 81 and still computer savvy.
Impressive.
It’s nice when the wife and others don’t mumble.

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My results have been mixed. The Starkey software is anything but easy to understand, the functions of the settings you can change are not defined anywhere, etc. I have tweaked my audiologist adjusted used hearing aids a few times and found it did not make anything better and sometimes worse. One thing that did save me money is the software and ebay bluetooth programming unit allowed me to copy the programming from one set of aids to a newer set for free myself.

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Hugh,
Checkout audiology online continuing education site. It’s loaded with tutorials that are manufacture specific. I found all kinds of 1 hour presentations regarding programming for phonak. You can sign up for free. The only cost is if you want the credits.

Way to go on self programming. I think it is the only way to get the best results based on your perception of sounds. I have tried professionally fitted aids twice. Once at a local hearing specialist, and recently at the VA. Neither professional fitting was successful. I bought some Phonak aids off eBay and now do all my own fitting. I still have not had good results, but what I have done is way better than either of the professional fittings. Everyone seems to think that REM is necessary, and can only be done by a professional. In one case, REM was performed, but when the aids were programmed to my prescriptive loss, they were so loud as to produce actual pain when I wore them.So, REM isn’t always the answer. I am in my early 70’s and can still do a fair amount of technical stuff. Not everyone loses it all with age. Keep up the self programming and good luck with your used aids.

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I am continuing to make progress both with the hearing aids, and the plastic ear molds. The left side fit well, but the right was causing me some irritation, so I carried some course and fine sandpaper with me today removing material a little at a time. Now it’s comfortable.

Also added some of the optional programs to try, modified the music program (I play some classical guitar kind of poorly), and changed the button functions. I also backed off the sound recovery to eliminate a slight lisp when watching TV. Knowing I would never remember how it all worked, I saved the settings, and used the Target software to print out a patient’s guide to carry with me. It’s convenient being both the audiologist and patient. :+1::+1:

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My wife and I both have Phonak Audeo Marvel M90-R’s. I have the latest Target software installed and I have a brand new Noahlink Wireless to talk to them. I’ve started the software, updated to the latest version, and verified that the NoahLink Wireless works. I’ve yet to go any further.

I’m also a technical type and am also Ham Radio operator, licensed in 1957, 62 years ago. :slight_smile: I’m 77. I worked as a Microsoft Software Engineer so I’m used to working with software and operating systems.

My audiologist has strongly urged me not to do any self adjusting. But it certainly seems to me that I can spend a lot more time with tweaking these Marvels to be exactly what I want them to be than she ever could. I just have to be confident that I’ll know what I’m doing and not screw up my Marvels or what’s left of my hearing.

So how long have you had your “new” Phonaks and what have you done with programming so far?

I’ve registered at Audilogy Online and just need to complete the Phonak courses so I have the confidence to do this.

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I programed them Friday night, and jumped right in. After reviewing the online tutorials, I suggest you save the settings already in the hearing aids, so you can come back to them in case you screw up.

It would pay to make only one or two changes at a time so you can judge what is helping or not.

It’s a lot like ham radio speech processing. The microphone arrays can be chartered on a digital polar graph just like antennas.

Believe me I am no authority, but considering how little I have invested I have no fear.

I don’t think you can actually damage the hearing aids. Just keep saving your sessions to give you a fallback point.

There is a sub menu under New Session to do practice fittings. This is mentioned in one of the tutorials. It’s for newbies to Target. That’s us. :grinning:

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Something I have done is add a new client to try different tuning ideas. That way you have not touched the original programming.
The tutorials are good but the real help is from the pros on this forum. They are absolutely the best for experienced help. When you get stumped try searching the forum for programming help. There is great help from the pros and members as far back as 10 years.

Adding another client is a great idea.

It’s hard to ask or search for solutions until you spend enough time with Target, because you have no idea what questions to ask.

There is a learning curve, but that just makes it more fun. For me it’s a hobby with a personal benefit. I am an incurable tinkerer. I love activities with gear.

dacuttler,
How do you audit audiologyonline.com? They seem to want me to register and pay. I’ve registered. What did you do next?

Click the menu in upper RH of screen, select continuing education, select your hearing aid brand, and a whole bunch of tutorials will be displayed chronologically. Select the one you want and click register. it will be added to your dashboard.
You only need to pay if you take the test for credit.

I viewed a bunch of tutorials while gathering everything I needed. I still keep them on my dashboard for reference.

Also they will send you computer generated emails reminding you to take the test to get credit for the course, just disregard them.

dacuttler, thanks for starting this thread! Your experience is very much appreciated!

KA3DPY here. I am a Pharmacist by training but know enough about audiology to be able to adjust my own HAs. But … I bought Costco Phonak Brio 3 and I BELIEVE the necessary software is proprietary to Costco.

How/where do I learn differently?

The Target software and the Noahlink Wireless should get you going.

My call is KE6YX Advanced class.

My amateur radio call is W9VJ - Extra Class.

Licensed in 1956 at age 14.

Gary,
If you passed the extra back in the day, you should have no problem programming hearing aids.

I could never get to 20wpm reliably to pass the extra, so I remained an Advanced class radio operator, but still like CW.

All the best,
David