through three sets of aids by two different makers, both WDRC and ADRO,as my hearing loss worsened…
It ain’t easy.
Do not think you can run some music samples through your 2" computer speakers and figure out what you need to change. Don’t think that because you hear something as “harsh” you will be able to pinpoint what EQ band or compressor to manipulate.
I have been in music and music production for a very long time, so I have more or less trained ears, and I have a home studio with a playback system that I can trust as being more or less sonically accurate. I have hardware and software EQ’s that I can use to test adjustments before I make them on the aids, eliminating a lot of the guesswork.
When you adjust aids, you are adjusting response at at least two different volume levels, at (usually) 8 frequency (EQ) points, and the different volume levels interact with each other depending on the loudness of the sound source. IOW, what EQ curve you set for “normal” will not be the same as for “loud”. Complex is the word for it.
My suggestion to anyone that wants to self program is this:
1- develop critical listening skills- what is that sound I find annoying? What is it’s pitch range? How loud or soft is it? Is it also annoying at loud levels as well as at normal levels?
2- listen to a lot of music, especially pianos, trumpets and saxes. A good rule of thumb is that, if a piano sounds good to you with your aids, then the overall sound will be good, also. A piano will help you balance the response, at a “normal” volume level.
3- Study what compressors, limiters, expanders, EQs, etc., are and how they affect sound. Learn how to recognize what an overly aggressive Comp sounds like (it is very obvious, if you know what to listen for)
4- Be prepared to invest in quality sound reproduction gear. Unless you have your computer or CD / DVD player hooked up to a good stereo system that can reproduce real world sound levels, you are wasting your time.
5- Learn to identify common household sounds by approximate pitch. For instance a toilet flushing is around 500hz to 750Hz. a squeaky door is around 2K to 3K. Road noise in a car is close to 500Hz.
Now if I have not scared you by now, and have gotten you interested, I will say that for a person who wants to do all this, the results can be very rewarding. I am in a live performing music environment about every day, the sort of thing that would be impossible to try to relate to an audiologist who can’t be there to hear what I am hearing. And I have my aids dialed in well enough to be able to hear pianos, guitars and horns separately - this is, with out them mushing together. I can also hear the limitations of the aids themselves (they are three years old and I am looking for better aids).
If I have scared you out of self programming, that does not relieve the hearing aid wearer of the responsibility of self education. You STILL have to learn to listen, so you can tell your dispenser what is wrong, and, hopefully, they can accurately understand you and make the proper adjustments. There are great audiologists and there are lousy audiologists. But none of them are mind readers. You have to be able to tell them what is wrong, and they have to have the knowledge and the gear (like an in the ear hearing aid tester) to make proper and accurate adjustments to your aids.
But I came by this knowledge with a fair amount of bruises and blood loss, so, I will say it again- you can self program and I encourage those who are willing to take the time to educate themselves and make the gear investment to do so. However, if you are looking for a quick fix, you won’t find it by trying to do it yourself.