Music w/ Oticon Intent: Is some distortion to be expected?

Hi there!

I’m trying out the Oticon Intent 1 (coming from Widex Moment 440) and – while speech-in-noise seems a tad better so far – I’m surprised and frustrated at the significant downgrade re listening on the Music program.

Sadly, the senior, super-experienced audiologist I used to work with has retired and the office now has only a couple of VERY junior (read: recently out of school) audiologists who understandably have little fitting experience.

When one of those folks fitted me for the Oticon Intent earlier this week, I found listening to music even on the Music program unbearable, especially piano; sounded very honky-tonky, warbly, etc.

I went in today and the other audiologist fumbled around with some settings (at least she was patient as I tried and retried listening to a piano piece via my phone speakers) and… it’s about 50% better, but piano – particularly the mid-upper range – still sounds bad.

QUESTIONS

  1. I know the Widex brand is famed for music/musicians, but is the Oticon generally underwhelming for music-listening? Or is this something that a more-trained audiologist would likely be able to fix for me?

  2. I’m braving this audiology office after they got bought out (and all the senior staff left) because it’s the ONLY one around me that is in-network for my insurance… e.g., new hearing aids are free (since I’ve met my out-of-pocket maximum for the year) vs. going to a stellar, experienced audiologist and paying $3K+.

CRAZY IDEA: Could I buy this Oticon hearing aid from this current clinic (again, basically $0) and then move to a more experienced audiologist and just pay them out-of-pocket to fine-tune it for me? Or would that void the warranty or have other bad repercussions?

Thanks in advance for your insights and advice!

Just about all HAs are “underwhelming” for music, although this is something that can be adjusted over time, not everyone is happy with the end result, DIY project is one of the ways you could get some satisfaction, because only you know how you like music to sound, no-one else knows this right, both speech in noise and music are by far the most complained about.
Have a read here and with a better understanding you could quite possibly work with another Audiologist clinic to help you out.

https://musicandhearingaids.org/

https://grandpianopassion.com/category/hearing-music/

Of course you can, you’ll be fine with the warranty, as this is with the manufacturer not the Audiologist.

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The Oticon aids used to have a decent built-in Music program that was simple. Then starting with the More, Oticon introduced a new built-in Music program called MyMusic based on the Harman Target Curve sound that’s usually done for headphones to simulate studio monitors for mixing, which is no longer a flat response like before.

Oticon assumed that everyone will love it (based on some internal survey they did), so they released it and took away the original Music program for good. It turns out that not everybody loves it. Particularly, the musician type folks hate it due to the colorations. Many folks, however, have been able to fine tune the MyMusic program gain curves with their own customization to make it sound more agreeable to their ears. Everybody does it their own way, it seems, there’s no set rule on how to do it.

So if you like the Oticon Intent for its speech in noise performance and hate it for its MyMusic program, it’s possible to tweak the MyMusic program to your liking like some folks on this forum have been able to do, but your HCP has to be willing to do the tweaking for you, or you can try to do it yourself via the DIY approach.

Just my two cents here as a guitar player and someone that had to resort to DIY on Philips 9030’s. The Intent is not the same as the 9030’s but the 9050’s might be closer and while I’m waiting for Costco to carry them I am going to an audi that carries Widex and takes my insurance ($3-3500) coverage. I have doubts that the 9050’s are going to improve much in the way of live music for me while they are said to be much better for noise and artifact noise as well.

Most of what I’ve done to make my guitar sound better to my ears involves all the normal recommendations, no noise or feedback control and not directionality. But the key, at least with the Philips, was to get the gains way way down. They are down so low that they really don’t help much with speech but the do brighten up the guitar over no HA. Right now I have a combination of the std HiFI music program and some changes I experimented with using compression ratios of about 1.3. It’s not ideal and I have to further lowered the volume in the app by two steps or about 5 dB.

That puts me at max gains of only maybe 15 dB max (at low and high frequencies with midrange frequencies lower) and STILL I get some distortion/warbling and out of pitch bends on really high notes. Very frustrating and if I turn the HA off, none of that occurs but the guitar is then verry muffled and lifeless…can’t win. I have some hope for the Widex and I’m willing to kick in any extra $3K over my insurance if the 440 Moment or the new SmartRIC sounds good to me. I’m also on edge of needing custom molds but hate the occlusal effect . I get to see this new Audi, who is also a guitar player, on Tuesday and I’m pretty excited about it.

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You can get custom molds with vents, which will eliminate any occlusion, and allow low frequencies, which according to your audiogram, pass through just fine.

Your greatest loss is in the highs, so customs are your ticket!
BTW, I think the Philips HiFi music program is probably the same as the crappy Oticon MyMusic boombox sound.
You’ll most likely find a better result w/widex.

As @Volusiano posted, the Oticon MyMusic program is designed to be listened to by people that still have 1980’s boom boxes, and cartridge tape players!!
Basically people like @e1405 and I have implemented custom music programs using DIY.
Hopefully one of the fitters at your clinic is open to working with you, or you may wish to try another clinic, or as a last resort, go to Widex.

Not crazy at all, as a mattger of fact, there are some audis who understand music, and hearing aids, and as @tenkan pointed out, there are some great on-line links to explore.
Good luck!

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Hey y’all, thank you for the quick and super-helpful replies!

Tenkan, yeah, I’ve heard that it’s best to have low expectations for music-listening with HAs, but I’ve been overall happy with my Widex ones (Evoke, then Moment) for music. Only downsides have been a tendency to have feedback when I get close to other people or walls or even sometimes randomly when playing piano depending on the motion of my head (annoying but not terrible) and what seems to be mediocre help with hearing-in-noisy-environments or even with teammates speaking softly / whispering (more frustrating). So my hope was that the latest Oticon would be close to as good as Widex with music, and noticeably better re speech-in-noise.

I haven’t gotten to test the latter so much, but plan to soon (I have ~3 weeks to try these things out).

Good to know that I can get these (or the new Widex smartRICs) from my current audiologist office and then take them to a more experienced specialist for fine-tuning. The only downside of that, aside from obviously the subsequent cost, is that it’s hard for me to know whether I should buy the Oticon Intent or the Widex smartRIC (I had at least informally narrowed down to these two, though I know the other major brands also have flagships).

Vulusiano, thanks for the bit o’ history re Oticon and their music program. As a tech geek by day, I’m definitely intrigued by the idea of DIY, but I’d need to buy a Windows PC (I presume), acquire the relevant hardware and software (probably not too onerous), learn how to use what I expect is kinda badly-designed software and so on. Hmm.

fbacher1, thank you for the info & guidance! I’ll be really curious to learn what you think about the Moment 440 (which I have and like overall for music) or the SmartRIC (which I’ve heard is equally good for music, and better for speech-in-noise given the mic placements). Either way, hope things work out great with the new audiologist!

flashb1024, I’m dating myself, but… while I have a lot of fond memories of 1980 boomboxes, yeah, I don’t wanna recreate them musically in my ear.

As I whined about in my original note, my audiologist office was bought out, all the senior audiologists retired or fled, and now there are two very junior audiologists left (basically just out of school). So with that (and my visit today), I don’t have any hope whatsoever that they’ll be able to smartly help me further optimize my Oticon HA for music :(. So I’ll either need to go back to Widex (getting the SmartRIC) which I expect is largely great for music out of the box, or buy an Oticon for ‘free’ with this current audiologist and then immediately book some (paid) time with a more experienced audiologist.

My next appt with my current audiologist is on May 28, so I have some time to further research and contemplate and will make sure to provide more of an update here then! (and of course, happy to continue chatting in the meantime).

Thanks again y’all for the helpful replies to my first post here!

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Hi Musicguy, from an OldMusicGuy. Whose hearing loss is similar but worse than yours probably because I subjected myself to stupidly loud music for longer… :wink:

I posed exactly the same question a little while back (well about music capabilities in general) in this thread: OMGs initial question about music reproduction

Here’s the thread explaining why I chose Oticons over others, despite the poor music handling: OMGs choice reasons

Bottom line: I really disliked the Intents built in MyMusic program and I suspect you will because it is very bass and mid-heavy, and you don’t have low frequency loss. However, I still went with them.

If you go with Oticons you will need a very good audiologist that understands the needs of musicians (mine has a degree in sound engineering and acoustics) and also the ability to self program at home. After two tweaking sessions with my audi I have the MyMusic program almost in a very good place. It’s still not quite as good as my previous ReSounds but it’s nearly there. I will be doing the final tweaking at home in front of my studio monitors.

If you mix and produce your own music and can handle a DAW, I would strongly recommend you get the Noahlink capability at home so you can do DIY adjustments. There are a lot of people on here who will help you get up and running.

I will also add that with the program tweaking I am really happy with the streaming sound I am getting on the Intents using BT LE audio.

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Yes I knew that customs can be vented but don’t you then get right back to the equivalent of open domes by the time you eliminate the oclusal effect? And I realize I’m right on edge of needing custom domes. Probably with a newer audiogram I’m ready for custom. But I can barely tolerate the gains I currently have in the general program. I’m at 100% but have dropped mid freq by 2 dB and high by 4 dB. I could not stand 80% when I first started so this is progress!

So is it the fact that the customs seas up perfectly the advantage of getting customs where the venting is also custom set? I do get some feedback with my open domes if my hand comes near my ear or my ear comes near something but it’s just a momentary thing and I’ve tried to use the “measure” routine in the program to adjust the feedback control. I don’t get any feedback playing music and of course it’s because of the very low maximum gain settings I have.

I know I have hyperacusis as well which makes larger gains harder for me to tolerate. And I’m not sure how much of the distortion I hear when playing guitar is me or my HA. I met another HA user that had all the same complaints about music that I had. We both agreed that we never seem to know if we sound is too trebly or bass heavy or how to properly adjust our amps and guitars to equalize. At this point I don’t even know if my acoustic guitars sound good to others or if they suck, lol. I’m hoping the Widex will be the answer and I can get them for no more than $3K along with my insurance of $3-3.5K. I can use this benefit once every 3 years too.

I can’t help you with the issue of taking the units elsewhere, but I’m a quasi amateur musician (folk- and country-rock mandolin) and my Intent 1s serve me well. That said, I think I mostly just use the general program when playing or practicing and am quite happy with it, or sometimes speech-in-noise (if only to damp down the bass, drums and a really bad banjo behind me while on stage.) I like what I’m hearing out of the monitors or mains in both settings. I need to fool around a bit more with the music program, but my recollection is it’s a bit of an improvement over the Real 1s which elevated vocals at the expense of the instruments. I don’t sing that Real feature was a minus for me.

Please do let us know how this works out for you.

Yes I will report back after my Tuesday visit.

Not quite sure what you mean here, but usually the venting size is determined by your audiogram results.
Even if you think you’re on the border, believe me, custom molds are far better for overall fit, and sound.

This is something you really need an expeerienced audi to be able to help you with.
Proper REM and gains fitting needs to be programmed.
If you go the Widex route, you’ll have a good chance of getting an experienced audi, hopefully.

You need to shoot the banjo player!! I know you mentioned that in another thread.

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Yes, like Costco they do REM but probably a much better result. I meant that the molded custom is a perfect fit unlike domes so the actual amount of venting can be controlled better…no unknown leakage. I already have issues with the sound of my own voice due to bone conduction and could not even use the double domes because of that. It was not so bad until I got up 100% of the prescribed gains. Some days it’s not terrible and other days or times it is and maybe that’s the variability of the way the domes fit, can’t be a perfect fit. I will ask about customs and no doubt when they do a new audiogram they’ll recommend the customs.

Not sure how you’re fitted, but that loss screams ‘open’ in terms of domes generally or at least a single power or tulip dome.

Stuffing your ear up completely really isn’t going to work.

If you’re struggling, REM (REAR) using Live Speech Mapping is probably key with a music source sound to see where the aid is saturating and causing the feedback manager to walk over the sound. On a 20-24 channel aid you can be quite judicious about only reducing the channels causing the peak resonance and the fluttering.

I’m fitted with the Oticon/Philips Open Bass domes, 8mm. They accidentally gave me the older open domes and while they worked they did feedback a bit more. The open bass domes are much more difficult to keep clean but the HealthSuite program doesn’t even support the older open domes for the 9030. I think they might have been used on the 9020 or earlier models.

For music all feedback is turned off and noise control as well. No feedback issues with my DIY music program but the gains are very low so that’s not surprising. It’s not bad until I start bending note up at the 12th fret or so and then it’s…“am I bending half pitch, full or what” and just sounds so out of tune to me so I ended up lowing the gain another 5 dB with the app. It’s better but still not ideal. And playing with my trio my guitar always sounds way too thin and bright only to me as well. But when I play alone under the same conditions and room the guitar sounds better to me, fatter and more bass tone…not thin. I’m so confused about what is real when it comes to my playing now and while I think the new and soon to be released Philips 9050’s will have better noise/wind control than my 9030, I have doubts that music will be much different so I’m going to try Widex on Tuesday and and a real audiologist (this one also plays guitar) so I’m hoping she has some experience with this.

Oh I was going to say when the Costco fitter was doing REM I could see she was having major issues around 1000 hz or so and could not adjust things closer than 10 dB so I don’t have a lot of faith in Costco. And they are even more lost when it comes to music adjustments.

Sounds like the MPO is limiting the peaks when it detects the average ambient gets above certain levels and the bass is getting lost too. Due to the Lombard effect you expect your output to go up too, like how you raise your voice in a pub, but, what’s happening is that only the mid-high are retained in the canal and the lows are lost to the environment.

The only real way to combat this is to either occlude the canal or use a set of monitors. The problem with hearing aids is that your normal hearing situations benefit from leaving the canals more open, but you want the opposite for your group playing.

Why not switch to a pair of double domes when you’re playing ? It’ll screw the general acoustics a bit, but if you’re in the music program, the gain will be much reduced anyway. Technically there’s no reason why the aids can’t be set up (and REM’d in that program) on the understanding that you’d swap them to the more occluded domes when needed.

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That’s a good suggestion and will get some double domes to try that. I think the fitter originally set me up with double domes at one time but for the general program the occlusal effect was too much for me. I don’t think the program allows for one to use different domes than another one but I’ll ask about that. My DIY music program is so far from the general program that speech is not enhanced that much anyway. Yeah I have tried just removing the HA for music and that eliminates these issues but also most of the treble too. I’ll just drop by Costco today and get a couple of sets of more restrictive domes today. I try out the Widex tomorrow and who knows…might be coming home with a set.

I’m jumping in late to a lot of good suggestions, but I wanted to add my experience in case it might help. I started with Oticon Reals back in December (my first HAs so I’m not very experienced) and I couldn’t bear to play the piano while wearing them. Listening to digital music was okay on the My Music program, and I could hear some high-pitched birdsong that I hadn’t heard in a while. But I was hoping for more. So my audi had me try a pair of demo ReSound Nexias–bright crisp bird sounds and at higher frequencies than the Oticon seemed to provide) but everything else sounded shrill and awful (especially music).

So I asked her for a trial with Widex and they’re the ones I’ve decided to go with–the open dome helps and the Pure Sound program (with pitch changing and feedback reduction and the other features that need to be turned off) is working very well for me. I also needed to have the volume reduced quite a lot on that setting, but the piano sounds MUCH better than with the other HAs I tried and much clearer and richer than with my addled ears. I also like to be able to tweak some things myself and the app lets me do that. Hope you find what works for you!

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