Ear molds. Like 'em? Hate 'em? Pros? Cons? Problems? (Phonak Lumity)

I have Phonak L90s.

I am a musician, and I keep the SPL levels under 85dba on stage and in the audience, too.

One day a week, another very loud act follows us. It takes us about a half hour to pack up our gear. With my old closed-dome Oticons, I would just turn the volume all the way down, and they were like ear plugs.

My Phonaks can be turned down, too, but a lot of the loud music still comes in. (They don’t have closed domes.)

My audi says I might want to think about ear molds. The price is $300 and if I don’t like them, I don’t get the money back.

So here I am, asking all of you that use ear molds, especially if you have Phonaks, to share your experience, so I can have more info to make my decision.

If you have them, what do you like about them? What do you dislike? Do you have any problems you didn’t anticipate?

Anything pro or con about your experience will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Bob

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Why not try closed domes on your Phonaks?

Depending on on your audiogram, I went from open domes to ear molds to closed domes and much prefer the closed domes. I am also a musician and use the ear plug feature often.

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I went to Costco for new ear molds in January 2024. I am a member but did not buy my Phonak aids from them. They are a huge improvement over my old molds. Cost is $39 per ear and came with new receivers.

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I have L70’s with ear molds, and I’ve found that too loud is still too loud, even with them in and powered off. (My experience was a high school dance competition in a basketball gym, with the PA turned up to 11)

Your future ability to hear may depend on your use of pro grade noise reduction. Something like over the ear ear cups (3M makes pretty good ones) or good earplugs designed for this (Etymotics makes good ones).

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Thanks.

Psych1: My audi says closed domes are not available for this model

kemyers04: We don’t have a Costco anywhere near here. The closest one is well over an hour’s drive each way.

PlasmaticD: I have Etymotic custom fit ear protection, but the problem is this: When we get done, and the loud person starts up, a lot of our followers want to come up and talk to us while we are packing up. They want to say goodbye and chat a bit. With my Etymotics added to my hearing loss, I cannot understand a word they are saying.

If I wear my old Oticons, and turn them down all the way, her music is attenuated enough. If I move away and turn my aids back up, I can talk to our fans.

I think she runs at about 95dba average, so 10db of attenuation is all I need.

I know I need to protect my ears. That’s why I have the 15 and 25 ear-mold Etymotics, but on the gig they aren’t practical. So with an SPL meter, A weighted, and slow response, I keep the volume on stage under 85db. I do the same for the audience, because I feel it is my responsibility, not to harm the ears of our listeners.

I’ve worn ear protection all my career, and my ears aren’t damaged due to noise. I had an allergic reaction that swelled the flesh around the capillaries enough to almost cut the blood supply off to my inner ear. Now I’m trying to continue my career, and protect what I have left.

It’s a challenge.

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Which receivers do you have? Phonak Target shows that closed domes are available for most receivers for the L90.

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Thanks Herbhornist

Well, they are domes, but they don’t fit snugly like the Oticon domes do.

With the Oticons, external sound is pretty much blocked out, with the Phonaks, not much.

I love my ear molds and the time i was given aids with domes i literally hated them. I believed it was because I was use to ITE aids. There is so much difference in sound in noisy environment between domes and ear molds. Also I believe wind noise is worse with domes.

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If you want them to be useful as ear protection, they’d need to be unvented or pretty close. If you’re a professional musician, you may not want that much occlusion when it isn’t necessary for your loss. (I’m assuming it’s not because it sounds like you’re using open domes now.) That said, I have a setup pretty close to what you’re envisioning here, and I love it! The only downside (for me) is that I have to clean the molds regularly to avoid skin irritation, and it’s fiddly to get the receivers in and out every time I do that. I found well-fitting molds to be much more comfortable than any type of standard dome, plus better suited to my needs.

I second the suggestion for closed domes. There aren’t that many receiver options here, and everything that works with open domes should work with closed ones. Power domes may also work, and cost $10 rather than $300. You can try them out and see if you’re ok with that level of occlusion, then spring for the molds if you want more occlusion.

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I guess it depends on the ear canals. I had to go to the large size domes. When I put them in, I can hear/feel them seal, and the external world of sound goes away before I start my hearing aids up. I play in a community band, and there’s always trumpets or trombones behind me. That protection is necessary.

Everyone is different. I have tried molds. Even with large vents, the occlusion was so bad that I couldn’t hear anything else when I chewed, talked, sang or played my horn. I don’t have this problem with completely sealed domes.

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Thanks again for all of your kind responses

cvkemp: That’s encouraging. It’s what I suspected after talking with my audi.

Are there any downsides to consider?

CombatWombat: What do you clean the molds with? Cleaning isn’t a deal killer.

Before the allergy loss, I used 25dba ear attenuators with ear molds. Of course, it’s not as much fun as no protection, but before the allergy attack, I only had 3db loss in the highs, so the ear protection worked.

As long as I can hear the music at a reasonable volume, I’m good. And with the aids, I can pretty much hear audience comments between songs. I can always change the setting by attaching my phone to the keyboard stand.

Herbhornist: That’s the way my Oticon domes work. They are closed but vented. This gets me thinking of trying larger domes before I go through the expense of ear molds.

I play in a duo with my wife. I play sax, wind synth, flute, guitar, and vocals on stage, my wife is a great singer and she plays guitar and synth. I also play bass, drums, and some keys, so I make our own backing tracks. Everything goes through the PA, no guitar amps, but amp simulator pedals. I have a small 15watt monitor with a 5" speaker. Since we are behind the PA speakers we don’t get the highs so I use the monitor tor a little fill in. I monitor the volume with an SPL meter.

We’ve been a duo since 1985, we were in a bigger band when we met.

Do you ever get them stuck in your ear? I had an Oticon dome do that, and I learned to cut a slit in it when replacing. My left ear canal is smaller than the right.

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Neither one of these make much sense to me. (1) closed domes. or the double power domes, are absolutely available for the Phonak Lumity. Your audiologist is, for some reason, giving you bad information. and, (2) whats the problem with going an hour away to both save a lot of money and hear a lot better?

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The only downside is the possibility of a bad fit of the ear molds and that can cause issues from being to loose and not staying in place to being too tight and cause pain or even a sore spot
It depends now days how the impressions are done too. The latest process is 3D technology with electronic tools taking a picture of the ears and ear canals. The only fashion way is by a puddy that is put in the ears and ear canals. With the puddy move your jaw like you are eating to get a more comfortable fit.
A properly fit set of ear molds are wonderful once you get use to them. I don’t even notice them being in my ears.

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I have different aids but i personally found that i preferred closed domes to molds when my hearing was not as bad as it is now. As my loss increased, my word comprehension went down. Molds help in that regard, a lot. But music definitely doesn’t sound as good with molds, at least for my loss. Even currently in my better left ear, music sounds much better with a dome than any mold, receiver size or vent size. I require a small vent due to my loss levels to keep feedback at bay.
I self adjust and have molds and domes with different receivers
and programs saved for each of my options and right now i am happy with a closed dome in my left ear and a skeleton silicone mold for my worse right ear because i am on the road a lot and love to listen to music with heavy bass and this is the best combo for me. With molds in both ears i lose to much low end, even when boosting low freqs

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Depends on your hearing loss and what you’re looking for. If you use music there great they keep the base in the ear.

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Psych1: Thanks. My audi seems like she is nothing more than an Oticon salesperson. I go there because my first ENT misdiagnosed my hearing loss, and the ENT in this office nailed it, so I could keep it from getting worse. He retired, they just went corporate, so I think it’s time to move on.

The old ENT was world-famous, but there are plenty of things that can damage ears. He heard hoof beats, expected horses, and it turned out to be zebras. The second one got it right away. Diagnosis is an art as well as a science.

I’m dissatisfied that my audi didn’t tell me about the power domes or suggest a larger size. She’s the second audi to be in that office. The first one was better. She said she could get me Phonaks, and I would assume that she would know about them.

Larger or power domes seems like a step I might take before going to molds. It seems like a halfway solution, and if it doesn’t work, then I can put out the money for the molds.

If going Power Domes, should I get the present size or try one up. Do they fit snugger than the regular domes?

As far as driving to Costco, it’ll take at least 2.5 hours out of my day driving, plus whatever time I need to be there, and 140 miles worth of gas. I’m self-employed, which means I get to work whatever 16 hours of the day I want to. :wink:

I did 25 gigs last month. I transport and set up the PA and gear every gig, and when I’m home I’m working on new songs. I make the backing tracks myself, so I have to lean the drum, bass, and all the other instrument parts except for the ones we will play on the gig just to make the track. It’s a labor of love, but it’s very time-consuming.

cvkemp: A proper fit is important. I know from the years I wore ear plugs with molds. They also have to be long enough to go past the bend in the ear canal, or I will hear my saxophone through bone conduction and it will overpower the low volume monitor.

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mr.smithster: If music doesn’t sound as good, it’s a problem. If the power domes previously suggested don’t work, it’s still an option. Saving what is left of my hearing is most important.

Stargazer: Bass response is essential, unless it masks out the highs. I can adjust and equalize a music program on the app, hopefully to my liking.

Thanks again to all for your kind responses

I’ve used both Phonak power domes (also called double domes), pushed in to the second bend, and Phonak C-Shell molds, acrylic, and i like both, but molds are better for me. Super comfortable and they fit the same way every time, unlike domes that may or may not be pointed directly at the eardrum every time.

Mine are Lumity 90.

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Domes are cheap, eBay or Amazon, try different sizes. But your aid settings may need some tweaking. Adjustments via the app may be enough.

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Thanks for your kind responses

Don: Do your domes ever get stuck in your ear?

I had an Oticon dome come off when I removed my HA. My wife couldn’t get it out, it was after a gig, another gig followed the next day. I had to go to the emergency room to get it out. Since then, I learned to cut a slit into the dome, and take it off at an angle.

Psych1: I have an audi appt next week. I’m losing my confidence with her, but I’ll give her one more chance.

My aids sounded fuzzy, so she sent them back to Phonak for repair, and now the right one goes silent for 15-20 seconds at unpredictable times, so she needs to look at that.

Also my Phonaks used to let me hear high frequency sounds like mouse clicks better than my old Oticons. Now they don’t so I think she needs to readjust them anyway.

At least the tourist season is slowing down, so I won’t be gigging close to 25 gigs per month, only 18 this month, probably fewer next. That gives me more time to spend going to and fro the audi office.