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

I tried the Widex SmartRic for the first time today. The audi set them up for my current audiogram that is almost 2 yrs old, no REM and just a quick sound check to outside of a booth. It was just a free demo. But I loved the first of the SmartRic right off the bat. My Philips 9030’s have a decent sound but the Widex was better and more clear to me. I didn’t get to try with my guitar but music also sounded pretty good from the youtube video we watched and the program did an automatic switch, recognising music. Zero feedback and I can it sometimes with the Philips. No hair noise or any artifact noise either with the Widex.

And the Puresound mode was even better which is what I preferred. I went outside to listen to about 50 construction workers putting in rebar and making a loud racket on a big project and while I could hear them and the traffic, it was not obnoxious and didn’t have to switch to a noise program like my Philips. Have to have the top tier, 440, as that is where you get the better wind noise reduction. Cost is $6900. less my $3k insurance coverage, wow!!! So a lot more than costco so now I have to decide…but I think I already have. The 9050 Philips if they ever get sold at Costco might be a lot like the Oticon Intent and much better at many things than my 9030’s but probably won’t do much better for music. And I have yet to really test out the Widex with music and just day to day stuff and will get 60 days to trial them out. It will take 2 months to get approved and ordered, etc once I say go…which will probably be tomorrow…but man, $4K is much more than Costco. But I think the Widex will be worth it. Wish the Oticon/Philips was just a bit better, less artifact noise and wind noise and really had a strong rep for live music.

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I’ve never tried Widex, though I constantly read very good reviews of them from musicians and music enthusiasts. I just want to share my experience with the Intents – and Oticon hearing aids in general. The stock MyMusic program is awful, especially if you play the guitar or any other string instrument. Even when fine-tuned, MyMusic does not sound that great.

I’m using my custom program with the Intents and they sound absolutely fantastic. I write about crafting a music program here. My guitars resonate right and beautiful, making it such a pleasure.

It seems Widex has a better first fit for music and perhaps better hardware, but all Oticon hearing aids with the “clear dynamics” option (starting with the OPN) can sound pretty decent for music.

A word of caution, though: I use a fitting formula that I like only for music (DSL v5) - I prefer either NAL-NL2 or VAC+ for everything else. Philips hearing aids won’t allow you to have programs with different fitting formulas, but I suppose you can craft one to your taste with the formula you choose.

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Yes you’re right about the Philips not allowing the different fitting formulas. I’m not sure I can do all that you detail in your link or even understand it. But I can see why most audi’s don’t know what to do. I have a modified program that works but like you said, I’m never sure about when I feel my guitar sounds thin and shrill that normal ears are hearing the same thing. It’s very frustrating. For me it might be better to start with something like the Widex if they get me much closer with minimal tweaking. I think my DIY program probably works because the gains are much lower and that means I’m probably far from optimal with it. I’ll look at your link and maybe comment some more there, thanks. I wish that Costco had the Philips 9050’s now but I’m stuck with the inferior 9030’s for the time being. Thanks

It is a sound approach. However, if you still want to tweak your music program, I guess the “Calibration tool for Headphone + Hearing capability” should be able to get it sounding “flat” for you. This is what I end up using to make my custom music program sound right. You will only need a Windows PC and good audio monitors or headphones - assuming you’re able to self program your hearing aids or your HCP is willing to help you with that. Let me know if I can help you in any way. Good luck!

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Okay, an update!

I trialed both the Widex SmartRIC and the Oticon Intent for a few weeks in parallel… at crowded restaurants, in airports, on a plane, listening to music, playing piano, at a workshop, etc.

In every single instance, the Oticon sounded significantly less natural, slightly compressed / warbly, especially when compared back-to-back in the same context with the Widex.

Switching to the Music preset of the Oticon improved this a bit, but not to 100%.

The Oticon was slightly better with all speech-in-noise contexts, with the relevant voices being slightly louder / clearer.

And the Oticon does have a significant advantage with the on-device buttons that can actually perform multiple functions! (press to adjust volume, press-and-hold to change program, press-and-longhold to turn off)

But I just couldn’t take the artificial day-to-day sound (especially with any car or microwave chimes sounding particularly warbly, etc.). And my Widex integrates wonderfully with my Apple Watch, so it’s just two taps to change a program or volume.

So in the end, I decided to go with the Widex and I’ll be trading in my demo model for the real thing this coming week.


I suspect that I did not get a fair trial of the Oticon, since the person fitting me is not many years out of school and has – by her admission – never fit the Intent before and hasn’t fit many Oticon HAs.

But this is the only place within 30 miles that is in-network with my insurance, which means I get any premium HA for free (since I’ve hit my in-network OOP maximum for the year).

In contrast, it’d be thousands of dollars for me to go somewhere else to test and buy a HA :(.

All that said… I am considering paying a super-well-reviewed and very experienced local HA out-of-pocket to do another hearing test + adjustments on my upcoming Widex just to be reassured that I do have it set optimally.

And then in another year or three, depending on my insurance at that time, maybe I’ll try Oticon again.

Anyway, thank you again for the helpful and interesting commentary, and apologies that in the end, I wasn’t able to give these hearing aids a particularly fair test :\

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No offence here, but that’s hardly a fair ‘like for like’ comparison: at least get them fitted by people who know what they are doing.

That said, I’ve found the standard P1/ Automatic/‘Dynamic’ program doesn’t suit everyone: for some losses, the flatter un-modified MyMusic works better as there’s less compression, less AI interference and less noise control. This is especially true for long established users with flatter 50-60-70-80dB possibly mixed losses. Less so for new users, less so for sloping losses and less for purely sensorineural losses.

Also the Bernafon might have suited you better.

Not everyone likes or wants to ‘learn’ the AI function of hearing aids and there’s an argument to be made outside of extreme noise in retaining the ‘original quality’ of the sound.

I have heard a fair number of reports where the audiologist got help from an Oticon resource to get things right. Was this possibility ever discussed?

WH

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I haven’t been able to enjoy music in a long time, but yesterday I pulled out some of my beloved albums and songs, from when i did enjoy music, think 1960-1975 music. With my INTENT1 aids in my default general program, I don’t have any other programs, I was enjoying the music both streamed to my aids and from the entertainment center speakers, nothing special just a good system my stepson has left with us. We also have a Bose system with speakers and I have a set of Bose headphones. I dug it all out. I was in tears that I could enjoy it. Now I am not a musician or someone with a music ear. I am just enjoying music again.

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Did you compare the music and phone bluetooth streaming for the Oticon and Widex HA’s?

I’m in a similar situation as you with the Widex smartric vs Philips 9030/9040. No matter how I tried tweaking the Philips (I diy) I could not get the Philips to approach the natural sound I get from the Widex with my guitar playing. There is just less note distortion and better pitch accur@cy with the Widex. I think the Philips does noise reduction better and streaming music slightly better. I own the 9030 and had a $3k insurance benefit for the Widex which the only cost me $1500. For the pair. I have found a music oriented Audi in Beverly Hills. Lots of excellent reviews and rock stars in her clientele base and a 2 hr drive for me she says we can do the initial fitting in person and the follow up remotely for the next 90 days for $400. Earmolds, which she says I should have are expensive at $500. But it is hard to find a qualified Audi that I am thinking this is all well worth it. Sent me a private message and I will sent you a link to her website