First fitting appt: What are some good tests that I can perform before I leave?


#1

Greetings forum members,

I have an appointment at Costco this coming Thursday to try out the vaunted KS8 HA’s. I have a severe high frequency loss. It was caused by unprotected shooting as a child and I have lived with it and the slight tinnitus ever since. Nevertheless, I’m highly functional and only have problems where the high frequency sounds are necessary such as in noisy environments. Word recognition is aided by context and after a lifetime of this, I’m pretty good at it.

Now times are a little harder. My hearing deficits are beginning to annoy me and others. I often watch TV with both hands cupped behind my ears to pick up speech and higher frequency musical instruments. I always use captioning when available.

My goal is to walk out of Costco with optimized KS8’s. The issue is how? Yes, I know it requires several tuning trips but I don’t want to suffer with something needlessly for weeks if I can circumvent it on the first visit. Specifically, what are some good tests that I can do during my fitting appt to identify and isolate any problems before I leave? Any tips or suggestions? (My deaf wife suggested walking about the store and conducting some yet to be defined tests and then tell the tech what’s wrong before we leave so he can fix it)

FWIW:

  1. I use Android (Nexus 5x) and don’t yet feel inclined to invest in an Apple or high end Android phone. I’m open to a clip later if and only if the HA’s work for me - I can use the phone just fine now without any aids.
  2. I’m a serious jazz musician - it’s been a life long joy for me. I don’t play anywhere near rock levels - think piano bar with conversations. I want to avoid any harmonic distortion or clipping if possible.
  3. The tech I’m seeing Thursday also worked with my very hard of hearing/deaf wife last year with Cala 8’s. She and I worked hard to identify and notate any problems she was having and he took our inputs seriously. We saw him maybe four more times till he got the Cala’s working just right for her. As an aside, early this year, an insurance claim came through from last year, and she was approved for a pair of OPN1’s with no out of pocket. They’re really nice, but she says even though she likes the quality of the OPN1 sound better, if she had to pick only one pair, she’d go with the Cala’s because her speech comprehension is slightly better. This is a long winded way of saying I know the tech is competent and he’ll work with me, but I’d like to expedite the process and hence, my questions.
  4. This is not a request for what’s the best HA. For cost reasons I’m only considering the KS8 and if I have to go up another $800+, I’d probably just live without.

#2

You have high expectations. My only thought that might be useful is that since music is so important to you to make sure you leave with at least one music program. I think there are 3 available (for listening to live music, playing live music and listening to recorded music)


#3

I have a somewhat similar, sloping hearing loss for a similar reason. You might want to ask for the frequency compression, where the high frequency sounds are moved to lower frequencies. It really works well and I’m hearing things I haven’t heard in a while. It was not turned on at first. I had to ask for it. May be called bandwidth compression.

For music you will need a music program. Also maybe a restaurant/party program. The x-Phone program works well also. When using a regular phone it sends the sound to both ears.

I have had to ask for soft speech to be raised twice, and may ask for that to be raised again. Soft speech can be raised independently of medium or loud speech.

Those are the basics that might get you going and cut down on the number of visits.


#4

Also, you didn’t mention which type of fit you are interested in but with your low frequency being not too bad you will probably find the occluding double-domes to be uncomfortable. But vented comes with some compromises. The hearing aid can’t suppress noise that comes into your ear through an open vent, so some of the high-end features are not going to work as well as they would with a closed fit.

But, having a vented fit is not bad. I just wanted to point that out. Sometimes they start off with double-domes unless you complain about occlusion.

I recommend the vented click-sleeve. They are very comfortable and stay in place for me when pushed in deep.


#5

Thanks MDB and Don for your replies.

What prompted my query was my experience with my wife’s Cala 8’s and previous HA’s. When we left the first Cala 8 fitting we were blissfully unaware of problems she would experience needlessly the next week: pain with nearby coughing or sneezing, wind noise, feedback from close objects like hands and even hats, and other issues. All were corrected but we could have tested for them on the first fit and avoided or considerably reduced them so she wouldn’t have to go an entire week before relief. Admittedly other issues need time to iron out such as ear canal pain from domes if any, volume adjustments as one gets used to the device, etc…

Yes, I do plan to ask for music programs if the KS8 has any. I’m leery of bandwith compression as it can change the pitch of musical notes. I’m certainly open to any type of dome/sleeve, but I don’t know enough to judge them.

What we hope to accomplish in the limited fitting time allocated is to perform the sneeze/cough test, listening to my wife at near and far distances in both a quiet and a noisy environment (Costco snack bar), listen to ambient noise in the store, phone test, and a few more I’ve forgotten (which reminds me to write them down before the fitting).

It’s probably my inexperience, but it seems that this would/should be an important corrective process that would be oft discussed.


#6

Sadly, there is no way to really avoid all this. It an acclimatization period that can last even more than a week. The mind hears all these new sounds and reflects them. In time, it establish a new normal. Just know it is a normal process that most can adopt to fairly rapidly.


#7

Thanks KenP for your reply.

I do understand that new HA’s are 95% acclimatization which requires time, but in my wife’s example, we could have tested and eliminated a lot of problems in the first fitting. For example had I known to make a sharp transient noise like a cough or even clapping my hands her issue could have been addressed then and there. Holding one’s hands over one’s ears would be another, and maybe blowing across the ears would be useful.

In a former life I used to be an engineer and with every design, we stress tested it to find the problems quickly. I have that mindset because it was not only useful, but mandatory. We didn’t ship the product off to let the customer discover problems over time although some problems could only be discovered that way. The point being most problems could be uncovered rapidly with a systematic testing approach.

A list of informative tests would be quite useful IMO and it surprises me that it’s not part of the collective wisdom here, or at least I haven’t found it yet.


#8

I am pretty much in the same boat as you with regard to type of loss and how I got it. You could also add loud rock concerts for me. Like you, I have severe high frequency loss, and like you I have learned to adapt. I also have problems with speech, especially in noisy situations. My lip reading isn’t too good and there have been times when I guessed wrong and was embarrassed by my seeming non sequitur.
I have Phonak aids, and they haven’t really helped much, if at all. I only wear them when I think I will encounter a problem involving people. You already know to bring the palm of your hand toward your ear slowly until it touches to see if feedback is an issue. Going to the Costco snack bar would be a good test, but don’t expect miracles. Speech in noise is something aids don’t do well. Mine don’t anyway. I haven’t noticed frequency lowering technology lowering the pitch of musical notes. I think it looks for frequencies and patterns found only in speech. I have tried the frequency lowering technology, both sound recover 1 and 2 and neither seem to be of much help. It might be just what you need though. Unfortunately, it will most likely take more than one visit to get your aids dialed in properly. That seems to just be a part of getting aids.


#9

You can have the bandwith compression on all your programs but you can get it turned off on the music program.

I don’t wear the KS8 but I’ve done the same on my hearing aids.


#10

If the musical instrument you play is portable, bring it in so that you can listen to it in the music program and give feedback.


#11

If you experience no benefit after having been to your current provider a few times, see if you can find a new provider to readjust them at a reasonable cost. With a hearing loss like yours I would expect hearing aids to help considerably unless you have speech in noise deficits that greater than predicted by your audiogram (certainly possible). Although consistent wear is a big part of success with hearing aids, too.


#12

The music program would not have frequency lowering. There are 6 programs slots altogether, with program 1 reserved for the all-around, general program. The KS8 has 3 kinds of music programs and you can have all 3 if you want to use your program slots for that.


#13

I think you have recognized the most important point – “95% acclimatization which requires time”. I’m also an engineer and have always looked for real time solutions to perceived problems, but after 15 years and 4 hearing aids (the latest a pair of KS8s) I’ve come to force myself to go with “first fit” parameters (confirmed with REM) for at least a month before I try to make changes. After 4 months with the KS8s, I’ve only tweaked the music settings (both on the music program and on the auto-music adaptation) and am very pleased with the results.


#14

I received the KS8’s last Thursday, 7/12. I created a test list which I published in another thread. It seemed to help speed up the process.

The technician only gave me one program, the automatic program. His reasoning was that I needed to go through an acclimatization process first.

I had problems with my phone being incompatible with the KS8’s. It connected acoustically but only thing it could adjust was overall volume, nothing else.

That night, at home I discovered that the automatic program severely distorted musical notes by adding out of tune artificial frequencies. It was so bad that pitches were hard to recognize, and I have excellent pitch discrimination. That was a showstopper for me.

The next day, I scheduled the earliest appt available which was three days later, today. I had a list of issues and we worked through all of them.

My phone now works somewhat with the KS8’s, but has no streaming. I did not expect streaming and am pleasantly surprised that my phone can even talk to the KS8’s.

I have several programs now, but only the music program seems to make any difference and it’s only a small improvement over the distortion created by the automatic program.

We added an outdoor program which I will test on my morning walks. The problem was wind noise. I will confess that wind noise without HA’s can be much louder so I’m not complaining.

My settings were adjusted upwards to the “experienced” level which I’m told is the full prescription for my loss. It will undoubtedly require tweaking over time but already I’m able to watch TV at lower volumes without captioning. My voice is more natural now too, which was something that was bugging me.

So far, I would describe the effect of the KS8’s as “subtle”. My low frequency hearing is in normal range so the only changes I’m hearing are some higher frequencies that I haven’t heard since early childhood.

Bottom line is I think I’m adjusting very quickly. My greatest concern is music and I’m hoping that can be corrected with tweaking and some calls to the Rexton office.


#15

Would you mind telling me what tweaks you had done for your music programs? I play music and the KS8’s severely distorted musical pitch by adding off tune sounds. Was that your problem too?


#16

Make sure “bandwidth compression” is turned off – that feature folds high frequency sounds back into the lower spectrum. However, my problem was that high notes (violins, female singers, etc) were “screechy” and distorted. I was never able to find an audiologist that was particular good with music settings so I did the following. First, I set up my computer speakers to do some tests; I downloaded an equalization program (I used “Peace Equalizer” and then played music through my computer speakers while trying lots of different equalization schemes (not great but it gave me an idea of what worked); my specific problem was helped by reducing gain between 1KHz and 2KHz by about 6db but leaving the frequencies above 2KHz untouched. I think there are probably more sophisticated things to be done, but that was a simple tweak that I could explain to the audiologist and it helped my problem quite a bit. By the way, she changed both my specific “music with speakers” program as well as the music class in the “Auto” program’s smart automatic equalizer.


#17

Thanks for explaining that. It will give me something to work with the Costco tech. I intend to bring my guitar to the appt too, it they’ll let me. That way we can test your idea and others.

I had previously asked the tech about turning off bandwidth compression and he wasn’t sure he could do that. I will relay that your Costco tech did do that - maybe he should talk with her?