Well, when I first came on to this forum I found a lot of great reviews that helped me narrow down my search so I think its only fair that I start one of my own with the hope that it might help someone else out there in a similar position.
SOME BACKGROUND INFO
I’ve had my Motion 701 CIC for about 3 weeks now. I chose it because at the time it was the ONLY CIC on the market with wireless technology. Starkey is now making CICs with wireless, but they have yet to release an integrated remote/bluetooth/transmitter setup like Siemens MiniTek. I insisted on getting a CIC or smaller aid primarily because my reverse cookie bite loss allowed me to function quite well without aids (despite the fact that I’m completely deaf in my left ear and have 70 db of loss or greater in my lows and highs in the right). While my loss has been the same since I was two years old, it wasn’t always easy for me to get by. In fact, it took a number of years for me to become quite skilled at lip reading and having a general overall awareness of everything going on around me. I got to the point where I wanted to not have to be so focused as I go throughout my day. The end goal wasn’t to obtain the max benefit possible via any means of hearing aid technology, but simply to ease my day-to-day life by taking some of the pressure off of having to always be ‘dialed in’ to everything going on around me so I don’t end up in a situation where I can’t hear something.
FINDING AN AUDI…SIGH
The BIGGEST hurdle in accomplishing this, surprisingly, was not finding the right hearing aid…but finding the right audiologist. I had worn hearing aids as a child, primarily BTEs and a CIC very sporadically in HS/College…let me emphasize, VERY VERY sporadically. Prior to undertaking my latest foray into HAs, I spent weeks upon weeks educating myself on everything that was out there by all the major manufacturers. I went through about 12 audi and dispenser ‘consultations’ before I finally found 2 that I felt I could work with. To put it straightforward, the others were either technically incompetent, too old and set in their ways to try something new, i.e. fit someone with my loss with a CIC, or too young and ‘all-knowing’ to actually work with collaboratively. I actually almost gave up a few times but my g/f pushed me to keep searching and a few kind audis on this board gave me hope I could find someone…eventually. MY advice for anyone in this position is to keep pushing forward. It’s like any other profession, you have your badasses and you have your idiots…just try to find the people who know what the hell they are doing and share your same mindset with regards to how they should approach solving your problem.
The one thing that I had to ‘coach’ my audis on is the whole concept of gain relative to distance. In other words, these technical data sheets regarding the HA’s are all fine and dandy, but what really matters is how an aid functions in the real world. and more importantly, what the REAL WORLD results actually MEAN. For instance, I had an older CIC HA I ran experiments on…without it in I could hear my air filter at level X standing right next to it. Now when I placed this old aid in my ear, I could hear the Air filter at level Y…but if I stepped 6 feet away I could hear it at level X. Therefor, this particular aid allowed me to hear a sound 6 feet further away at the same volume that I could hear it at with the aid out and standing right next to it. Of course its a stationary sound, but the same concept applies. I personally, was not willing to gain another 3-6 feet and wear some massive Power BTE…it just wasn’t worth it to me. And in reality all sounds travel…which adds the next dimension, time. More often then not, an extra second or so is not going to make a difference for me when it comes to ‘recognizing’ a sound that is traveling towards me or away from me. In the practical world, the extra amplification, while nice, wasn’t all that much more functional in nature. Choosing an aid below my fitting range didn’t prevent me from hearing certain sounds, i just would hear them a fraction of a second later, etc. (when it was closer and therefor louder).
THE HA ITSELF AND MY ONE MAJOR PROBLEM
When I finally got my HA and put it in…Holy shit…the amount of gain this thing has is QUITE IMPRESSIVE. I honestly expected much less considering the fitting range was well below my loss levels by about 10 db on both the lows and highs. I actually found myself keeping it on the lower end of my volume spectrum.
Speech sounds good, I’m definitely happy with it. Music, suprisngly, sounds better than I had been led to believe. From reading a lot of posts on here I expected the speech programs to ruin the music, but its not too bad.
However, there is one thing that is killing me…I keep hearing this same sound whenever a sudden sound takes place. The best way I can describe it is if you had an amp plugged in to a microphone and you tapped on the microphone…that annoying loud ‘thump’ sound, but its almost like a loud crash or bang…very hard to describe. It happens when doors close (whether they are soft closes or hard closes), a pen is being dropped on a table, walking on hardwood floors, 'B’s, T’s, P’s in words, particularly at the beginning or end of a sentence…at first i thought maybe i’ve never really heard this and this is the way things sound but its the same exact sound on a variety of different things so I know its the HA. Also, it never happens when streaming. It seems like these various source sounds get digitally altered into this ‘thump’ sound. It’s almost like everything is just LOUD. I was trying to cook the other day and it was like having explosions go off one after another. My audi wasn’t really able to fix it and seemed to get frustrated by the fact she didn’t have the answer and nothing was working. I plan on just being patient and trying again with her at the next session. My best guess is perhaps I am maxing out the power of this aid and its causing the distortion when louder, sudden sounds are picked up…though my audi said I am not near the threshold for that to happen.
I’ve had the hearing aid for about 4 months now. The boom sounds I described above have gone down slightly after a few adjustments. They are definitely still there, but I’ve grown somewhat used to them. Also, I sort of gave up on the audi because I think she’s out of ideas on how to correct it and gets frustrated easily. I would still buy these again and wouldn’t want this to discourage anyone from trialing these. I make sure I never leave the house without them. In fact, when I take them out at night its a somewhat depressing reminder of just how quiet my world used to be
One more thing, I had an extra program left, so I had the audi take my ‘normal’ program and drop it by a few decibels. Doing so allows me to put the phone up to my ear with NO FEEDBACK whatsoever…this is really convenient because I can use the phone like a normal person and not worry about the MiniTek. It also makes things more seamless at work as well. Highly recommend doing this. Note: Tell your audi NOT to enable the feedback suppression system…you don’t need it for this 5th program, they key is to reduce feedback by reducing the amount of amplification overall. Results will vary depending on your level of hearing loss and speech discrimination level.
THE MINITEK EXPERIENCE
Streaming with the MiniTek is FANTASTIC. The sound is very crisp and clear and honestly, the other bluetooth/streamers on the market kind of suck in terms of size. I really like how Siemens managed to fit everything into such a small package…very convenient.
The one thing I didn’t like about the streaming is that its done in stereo. Therefor if you only have one aid, you are getting that sides signals into that aid and are missing out on the other. I’ve put out some questions to Siemens regarding this via my Audi but I haven’t heard back yet. I do know that there is no way to switch on ‘Mono’ via the software, but there has to be a physical workaround whereby I can convert stereo into mono and then plug that into my transmitter to stream to my single aid in mono. I’ll post an update once I figure this out. Perhaps I’ll start another thread to get ideas. Note that this only applies to the TVstreamer…if your doing bluetooth on your phone, Apple allows you to output the audio in Mono via the Accessibility Settings.
Still no word from Siemens on the stereo/mono issue. Audi dropped the ball on this so I’m going to just contact them myself. Still, this doesn’t take away form the miniTek experience, I love this thing!
Thats all for now. I plan on demoing a Starkey CIC in the next few months and also a starkey IIC. The IIC won’t have any wireless perks but I’m just very curious as to how it would perform.