Hi, Phil. It sounds like you’re already several steps through this long slog of reaching an acceptable solution. You did mention that you were re-posting an old post from a while ago. Here’s more detailed info:
In 2013 I bought my first pair of HA’s. They were Phonak Audeo Q90’s. I think your V90’s are just one generation newer than my Q90’s. The biggest problem with the Q90’s is a lack of input headroom that causes the Phonaks to clip at loud volumes before the HA processing even begins. I don’t know if Phonak has increased the input headroom on the V90’s or in subsequent generations, but if not, you are experiencing the same issues I was. This is something that cannot be fixed with an audi’s software.
Widex (and some other brands of HAs) have much greater input headroom and they can withstand much more sound pressure levels before they clip. In 2016 I tried the latest model of Widex and found them far superior to the Phonaks for live performing. But I ended up buying Oticon Opn 1 because they had better iPhone connectivity. The Oticons have good input headroom too. I will strongly consider Widex for my next pair of HAs.
I have never really been able to find an ideal solution to the stage monitoring problem. My best solution was using an IEM in one ear. I tried leaving the non-IEM ear open and unprotected; and I tried using an earplug in the non-IEM ear. Both options caused problems. You have probably experienced the same problems. Mainly the problems were about maintaining the correct vocal volume to blend with the other singers. It’s probably not that big of a problem if you have someone in the audience mixing the mains and adjusting the volumes of the various singers in real time, but most local bands mix the mains from the stage. Also my IEM solutions impeded my onstage verbal communications with band members.
As all this was developing I also noticed that I was having a difficult time hearing the key the band (or my duo) was playing in. It would sometimes sound like an atonal roar coming from my wedge monitor, and especially from my duo partner’s wedge monitor. I could hear his monitor almost as well as my own. Sometimes I would be overwhelmed by that atonal roar and I would lean over to get my right ear closer to my wedge monitor. Then I heard the auditory equivalent of a camera lens coming into focus. It was like "THAT’S the key we’re in?! OMG!). I later realized that my partner’s wedge monitor had been blaring into my bad ear (see below).
One day I was at home and I tried singing a sustained note without my HAs in, while alternately plugging one ear and then the other with my fingers. I noticed, to my alarm, that the note sounded almost a half-step lower in my left ear than it did in my right ear. I also began to notice that the little jingle my HAs played upon start-up sounded about a half-step flat in my left ear. This is called diplacusis. It’s pretty rare.
Not long after that I went to a new audi to look into getting new HAs. He said my word recognition score in my left ear was much worse than in my right ear. In “an overabundance of caution” he insisted that I see an ENT and get referred for an MRI to rule out an acoustic neuroma. The MRI showed an acoustic neuroma at the high range of what’s considered a small size. I had radiotactic (Gamma Knife) treatment and my neurologist said the results were better than could have reasonably been expected. I still have some aidable hearing in my left ear. I’m very lucky. Phil, your difficulty in hearing the key sounds all too familiar. Please consider getting an MRI, especially if my story sounds similar to your experience.
I have been performing much less regularly in the last couple of years, and I have noticed that when I don’t perform for a few days that the diplacusis goes away. But right after a performance and for a couple of days afterward it comes back. I have decided that the diplacusis after performing is nature’s way of telling me to stop playing in rock bands. I could probably continue to perform in bands but I would need lots of accommodations. I would come off as a cross between a demanding diva and a disabled person insisting that I be accommodated. So I have decided to switch from bass to acoustic guitar and play only solo gigs where I have total control of the stage setup.
I hope some of this helps. I apologize for the long post.