Hearing aid detection of voice from the front, side and back


Most of us have had this problem, but I would like to know if new hearing aids address this problem. At the dentist’s office, the dentist spoke to me from my left side and then the dental hygienist spoke to me from the doorway almost directly behind me. I am wondering about sound suppression. Would most new hearing aids locate the voice of the hygienist whose comment I needed to hear? My current hearing aid did not assist me in understanding her. I saw a post from 2015 in which the poster said he could hear across from him but had to be told about the person conversing with him on his left. My problem is that I heard her voice but could not discern her words.


Your issue is behind the crux of every hearing aid manufacturer’s proprietary…paradigm.

Oticon has been most successful with their OPN line.
Signia has a somewhat similar paradigm, but allows you control. I, personally, dislike Signia’s handling of the fitting. If that part were addressed, they would be toe to toe with Oticon. As it is…not for me.
Resound is more old school in their approach, but are good. With their multi-mic clipped onto a person, it doesn’t matter where they are.
The KS8 is highly thought of on this forum.

Be willing and find an audiologist willing to trial several aids with you.


Kem103 I’m not sure if this is what you are asking, but Widex Beyond HAs smart phone app enables the wearer to adjust their left, right, forward directional sensitivity. Do a search and you will see an image labeled “SOUND DIRECTION Select directionality of microphones.” I trialed these HAs and found that this adjustment worked. But like all HAs I’ve tried, the directionality wasn’t as strong and distinct as I would prefer. Ended up with Oticon OPNs, which of course employ a whole different directionality strategy. Still not certain I made the best choice.


Overoaked: Thanks. I talked to two audi who were not impressed with Widex. I posed this question to them and both said even in normal hearing, you’d need to turn around and ask them to repeat. Good point. I am kind of disappointed (already) in the OPN so your comment about still not certain you made the right mistake is interesting. I guess I’ll post my initial observations and perhaps you can share your thoughts.


It’s too bad that you’re disappointed in the OPN already (although I’m not sure why), because what you’re looking for, the impromptu ability to hear discernable speech from any direction without having to reach out for a phone or buttons to change programs, is probably more readily available in the OPN more than any other hearing aids due to its open paradigm.


with proper microphone settings in a calm environment you should have been able to hear the person in back of you.


Why would that be too bad? Some hearing aids work better or worse for different people. All modern hearing aids would be able to focus on nearby speech. I’m trialing the KS8 and I like their approach. The default is auto, which means it is looking in all directions for speech. If you want it to focus on one broad or narrow direction you can set that, but the default is to look for speech all around.

The other option for the KS8 is 360, which is different than auto. 360 says look all around for all sounds, not just speech.


My understanding is a little different. (a) For my KS7’s & Connexx Smart Remote , using microphone-pattern adjustment in the Automatic program to select ‘360 degree field’, the aids find & amplify ALL speech around me [preferentially over non-speech noise].
(b) If I select the iFocus 360 program, it finds & amplifies the STRONGEST voice anywhere around me [preferentially over other speech and non-speech sounds]. For example, if someone is walking close behind me and then moves ahead of my shoulder, that person’s voice is preferentially tracked and amplified.

I believe a music program uniformly amplifies both speech and non-speech sounds. I don’t know what the directionality is for these.

Maybe others can refine these descriptions.


The Resound/KS7 may fit my needs better. As I said, I am trying out the OPN-1. The OPN-1 bluetooth connection to my iPhone 5 dropped while talking with the latest customer. I called him back (using my Plantronics bluetooth). He said “I can certainly hear you better now.” Hmmm. Plus, on many other calls today, I could barely understand the customer. The disconnects concern me and asking them to repeat themselves is not good. The battery showed low % and I had no warning. After the call(s) were over, I reconnected. Batteries were at 100%. If I test the iPhone conversation while in the house, everything is clear.

My audi is out until July 23 so I’ll have some additional time to test. TV hearing and general conversation is wonderful.


Just housekeeping: …, that would be Rexton/KS7.

This Siemens/Sivantos software that is in the current Costco series (KS7 and later) is likely to be the new KS8’s, as well (with maybe an even slightly better implementation than in my KS7).


On the KS8, Auto does noise suppression. It is looking for speech and favors what it thinks is the preferred speaker. It would suppress air noises from the A.C. The 360 setting would not suppress the air noises. Maybe that is a little different focus than the KS7? Or maybe just a terminology difference.


Simply for the reason I stated, you can hear everything including speech from behind at anytime with the OPN like the OP asked without having to be in any special mode.

Note that I never said that other hearing aids can’t do it. The OP asked which hearing aids can do it and I simply said that the OPN can do it very well. Even if I said I think it can do it more readily than other hearing aids, it doesn’t mean that I said other hearing aids can’t do it. If you think that some other hearing aids can do it as well, I’m sure the OP would appreciate hearing about it.

Too bad he has streaming issues with it on phone calls. I was on a very long streaming call yesterday and I didn’t have any issue with my OPN. But I understand that I was probably lucky that it works for me in my environment and it may not work well for others in their environment. I don’t know what about an environment that triggers such issues. I would guess that maybe my environment has less interference signals than others’ environments.


Volusiano: You have a good point. My environment includes a wireless router that will alternate between 2.4 and 5. But I would assume that is not an issue. When you had a long streaming call, where was your phone and where was the speaker pointed?


Usually my phone is right in front of me with the phone’s mic pointed toward my mouth for phone calls. If I’m at a table then I put the phone on the table but still right next to me.


My understanding is the Costco KS8 is their version of the Signia NX7 line. Many people have been thrilled with this. The app is pretty dang cool. I tried Signia’s branded NX7 and was bitterly disappointed. I think this can be laid at the feet of Signias audiologist that helped my audiologist. She seemed not to really care.


I know this is Oticon’s philosophy but only this evening I had enormous difficulty ordering at the counter of a restaurant and would really have liked to have all surrounding sounds greatly attenuated. Is there any way to do this with OPN1?


Yes, you can have your provider set up a program for you where you can set the Directionality Setting in the OpenSound Navigator menu to Full Directional value. This is supposed to help block out more surrounding sounds and focus on the sound in front. However, in my experience, it is not blocking surrounding sounds as aggressively as other hearing aids. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have your provider set up such a program for you anyway and try to use it.

I would suggest that your provider select the built-in Speech in Noise program, THEN change the Directionality Setting to Full Directional value, thereby making it a more specialized program and not just a built-in program.

I would also suggest that in this specialized Full Directional program that you ask your provider to set up for you, make sure he set the Simple Noise Reduction to max (-3 dB) and the Complex Noise Reduction to max (-9 dB), and the OpenSound Transition to High value, if it’s not already like that from the built-in Speech in Noise program that you use as a basis.

Hopefully with these settings, it’ll help alleviate your issue with noisy surrounding. The only other thing that can help after all this setup is maintaining a positive attitude each time you’re in a noisy environment and learn to ignore the surrounding noise and focus on the speech you want to hear. Instead of having a defeated attitude, a positive attitude will take you a long way on improving your brain hearing which is an integral strategy in the OPN “open” paradigm.


Volusiano: Does this adjustment also provide for better word recognition in a moving vehicle?


The max noise reduction settings as prescribed by the built in speech in noise program should help in any noisy moving vehicle. The full directional setting, not so much, based on my experience, because it doesn’t block out surrounding noise effectively.

But think about it more, in a moving vehicle, depending on where you sit with respect to the speaker, the speaker is usually not always in front of you. So directionality doesn’t always work there and blocking out surrounding sound more than likely will block out the speaker as well.


Yes…In retrospect I should have considered full-on directionality in more detail.