I do realise that hearing well in background noise is more or less the holy grail of hearing aid technology and adjustments, but I still want to have a(nother) go at this. The basic question is very simple: How to get the best possible speech understanding in noise, where the noise consists of other people talking? My current hearing aids are Phonak Audéo Marvel with open domes. I have a speech in noise programme, but I’m not very happy with the way it functions (and have found it hard to get it adjusted, since noisy situations aren’t easy to recreate in the audiologist’s office). I also have access to Roger table mics and a Roger pen. The Roger pen is helpful in noisy situations, but there might be more to do regarding adjusting it too.
A very long background to the above question: I work as a university professor and find myself in lots of challenging listening situations, many of them in my second language (English). Typically, the challenging listening situations consist of trying to understand what one person (or worse, a small group of people) are saying in a background noise created by other people speaking (conferences and other events, meetings in restaurants, less well-organised meetings, the list goes on and on).,To some extent I can control such situations (by chairing meetings and keeping a strict talking order, for example) or just avoid them (conference dinners) - but networking is an important (and interesting and fun!) part of my job, and I do find myself in lots of situations that I cannot really control. I’m in my mid-forties, so hopefully I have a long working-life in front of me, so I need sustainable solutions.
My hearing loss was diagnosed thirteen years ago. Most likely I’ve had some degree of hearing loss since childhood (my parents noticed that I wasn’t able to hear crickets when I was very young and told my pediatrician, but somehow I passed both the pediatrician’s audiometry and the school hearing tests). As a young adult I was aware that I didn’t hear high frequency sounds, but it didn’t bother me (and I didn’t experience any issues with my hearing). My hearing seems to have started to decline further in my late twenties and in my early thirties I was struggling with understanding speech at a distance and speech in noise. Had my first real hearing test and found out that I have a steep ski-slope type of hearing loss (sensorineural). No family history of hearing loss and no childhood illnesses, so the whole thing is (as so often) a bit of an enigma. When I had my first hearing test in 2012 my hearing at 2000 Hz was within the normal range (15/25 dB), slopping to 90/95 dB at 8000 Hz. Today my hearing at 2000 Hz is at 55/70 dB and 1500 Hz have also started to go (35/50 dB). 6000 and 8000 Hz are at about 100/110 dB and I hear buzzing rather than pure tones (indicating dead zones in the cochlea). Hence, my hearing loss is progressing at a relatively slow rate. My word recognition scores are still excellent (right ear 82% at 80dB and left ear 88% at 75 dB). Any sort of advice regarding hearing better in noise are welcome, including hearing aid adjustments, use of assistive technology, and general strategies.