My First Hearing Aids-Bernafon Veras 9 Costco Fitting Experience

Got lucky with a very good Costco hearing aid specialist with 30 years experience, very laid back and a good listener. He explained everything thoroughly, answered all my questions and did a good hearing test using insert earphones and included speech discrimination, bone conduction and in-situ audiometry. Interestingly, he used a Siemens testing program. When completed he went over the graphs with me, pointed out the components of male (500-1000) and female speech (2000-4000) frequencies (where I have the most trouble) and explained my speech discrimination test which he said was very good.

Are the bone conduction test results listed on the printout? Forgot to ask and don’t know what to look for it on my copy.

Then he opened up the Kirkland box and started pulling out stuff, explaining what came in the accessory kit. I politely interrupted and asked that with this ski-slope graph wouldn’t any of their hearing aids work. He said yes, so I requested Bernafon Veras BTE with Open Fit since I was interested in the ChannelFree technology, one of the newer models, either the 9 or 7, if he thought that would work.

After discussing why I wanted an open fit type he smiled and opened up the Bernafon box and brought out a teeny, tiny model 9. I was awestruck at the size of the BTE (or lack of size). He chose the Micro model which he thought would be very good for me. Then he popped on a 0.9 mm tubing, choose a size 10 dome and placed them in my ears. Awesome, couldn’t even feel them in place! Then he hooked them up to his Hi-Pro box with a single cable (boot not needed) and started the Oasis 11.5 software.

First he imported my audiogram into the software then did an In Situ audiometry to measure comfortable hearing threshold levels (CSL 70) and uncomfortable levels (USL 85). We went through the Life Style settings and I chose one of the four programs (Live Music). After all the basic settings he started manipulating the graph (gain changing). Each time he made a change, we waited 10 secs or so while it was transmitted to the aids, then we would talk and I would evaluate the results of the changes. Each tweak he made resulted in clearer sounds. After about 10 minutes I was satisfied and awestruck that I could clearly hear his voice and mine! How wonderful is a deep male voice :slight_smile:

We then left the sound booth and he smiled at my excitement with all the new sounds I was hearing again (sounds of cart wheels, overhead fan, cash register). He showed me how to use the remote then told me to wander around the store for awhile while he did the paperwork. I played with the volume controls and the 4 programs. First one was auto program that would switch settings based on the environment. Second one was speech in noise. Third was TV/music. Fourth was their new Live Music program. I’m heavily into home theater and wanted to try this out so he swapped out the (T-coil) phone program for this one. Eventually I’ll keep just one of them and put the phone one back in.

Wandering around the store I just struck up conversations with people. Speech sounded so natural! I then went over to the TV section and played around there for awhile with programs 3 & 4. So much clearer than at home.

The only negative I found thus far is if I put my hands up close to my ears I get feedback that only stops when I move my hands away :frowning: The specialist said that was due to the open fit and something he couldn’t adjust with the software.

I am so satisfied with these hearing aids and especially the hearing aid specialist. I was so sorry to have to return the demo ones to him. My aids will arrive next Tuesday, but waiting will be painful! I offered him an arm and a leg but he thought money would be enough :slight_smile:

Breakdown is $1,299 each, $99 for the remote (I may upgrade to Sound Gate after I get used to the aids, not into BT yet). So with tax it was $2,705. It comes with a 3 year warranty, 2 years damage and/or loss (only 1 replacement/ear allowed), 90 day trial.

I do have a question. In the speech discrimination test, it has listed SRT Mask and WRS1 Mask. The WRS1 Mask was the one that listed my scores. What does this mean and what’s the difference between them? Anyone know?

I know this is a long post. I spent more than a week reading everything I could on this site and just wanted to give something back to the next newbie wondering what the experience of getting hearing aids was all about and my initial impresssions of the Veras 9.

I highly recommend this Costco hearing aid specialist to anyone located in the Bloomfield Hills, MI area.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this site and make it such an informative place to learn. I’ll update this after I get the aids. Hugs to all!

Your experience at Costco seems to be the norm. My own experience at Costco here in Ogden, UT is very similar to yours! Much time spent on testing. The tweaking part you describe all happened when my real aids actually were delivered, but sounds the same as you describe, very complete. My audiogram is a little bit different from yours in that my lower frequencies have very little loss and the slope into the higher frequencies falls off steeper. I had originally tested some Oticon Agil Pro’s Mini RITE’s with open fit from another non-Costco audi for a week and was very pleased with the results. During that week I did a ton of research on HA’s and was shocked to find out what the price of the Agil Pro’s was going to be. As I was doing my research I stumbled upon the Bernofon’s and after reading all the positive reviews (seemed like the reviews were especially positive from a music perspective) from those with a similar audiogram to mine I decided that the Bernafons needed to be tried (I also found it interesting that both Oticon and Bernafon are owned by the Demant group). That’s when I found out that Costco had the Bernafon’s.

When I went to Costco I was thinking I also wanted the Veras 9 Nano’s. After my testing the audi said that where my hearing currently was would work for the Nano’s, but if my hearing worsened there wasn’t much headroom for tweaking them in the higher frequencies. He suggested that I might want to consider the Bernafon Verite 9 because it had more headroom in the higher frequencies for later tweaking should that be required down the road.

Bottom line is I took his advice and have had my Verite 9’s now for a week and really couldn’t be any happier. They seem to do everything as well as all the reviews I read said they would and from my perspective seem to be every bit as good as the Agil Pro mini RITE’s I tried for a week. The icing on the cake is the price, the Verite 9’s from Costco were about 60% less than the Agil Pro mini RITE’s!

Deleted post since OP figured out how to break it into paragraphs.

Thanks jay_man2. Finally got it figured out, as well as my signature formatting. There are several editors so I switched to another one and it worked.

w3wilkes
Glad to hear that you also had a good experience at Costco!

How do you evaluate your Verites regarding music and/or movies? Have you tried the Live Music program?

I couldn’t find much info about usage of aids with home theater equipment. Most of our expensive equipment is not BlueTooth capable. I’m hoping the aids will work well with a 7.1 sound system.

Doc1368,

I didn’t get any of the accessories, but did have the audi do 3 additional programs besides the “normal” program. One that is quieter, one louder and the one for TV/music. So far I’ve not really played with the quieter or louder (haven’t been in a situation that seemed to need anything other than the “normal” program), but have done the TV/music program a bit for both listening to the stereo and watching TV (haven’t done a movie on the surround system yet). From my listening it seems that this TV/music program is about the same volume as the “normal” program, but seems like it doesn’t attempt to “mask” (for lack of a better term) any of the sound. I do find that it works well for both TV and music. On the music side I hadn’t realized just how much of the high frequencies I’ve lost over the years! A couple of notable albums, Led Zeppelin I and Big Brother and the Holding Company - Cheap Thrills have sound in them that I haven’t heard in years and boy howdy do those big old ADS L810 speakers sound great! Other notable sounds I hadn’t realized I’d lost are things like the turn signal clicker in the car and the squeaky wheels on the lawn mower. The one sound I haven’t heard much of this last week is me saying “what?” to my wife. I think she’s VERY happy with the improvement in my hearing!

One other comment on the Bernafon Channelfree technology vs the Oticon multichannel technology. Battery life. With the Oticons I had to change the batteries towards the end of the 7th day. I’m at the end of the 8th day with the Bernafon’s and have yet to hear the “battery alarm” tone. Don’t know if this is a different brand of batteries (both use 312’s) or a difference in the signal processing (looks like the Oticon miniRITE and the Verite 9’s have exactly the same RIC so I doubt it’s the speaker), but so far this would equate to about 14 fewer batteries per year.

w3wilkes,

You mean car turn signals make a noise?? :slight_smile:

The only accessory I got was the basic remote. With the self-learning the aid does and data tracking, the changes made to the programs with the remote can be downloaded by the hearing aid specialist and programmed so you don’t have to use the remote anymore. Sweet! He can also see which programs you use the most and which ones you don’t use so he can make recommendations on which program to get rid of and you can choose additional ones to try.

The first program is the one that I think has an environmental optimizer, adaptive feedback manager, adaptive noise monitoring, adaptive directionality and frequency. I was told it will switch settings automatically depending on the amount of noise, speech levels, direction of speech etc. This is the one that should be used with your volume controls as needed.

The other program slots are for special circumstances. There are 12 programs including Live Music Plus and you can have 3 of them (in addition to the first program) setup so you choose as you wish.

Usually the 2nd is set up for “speech in noise” useful for restaurants, meetings, family parties. etc (I believe that is your 3rd program). The 3rd program normally is the for the telephone (uses your t-coil). Normally the fourth one is set up for TV/music and is as you explained, same volume but music frequencies aren’t cut off (like they would be in the other programs).

From the Bernafon Topics in Amplification about Live Music Plus:

“Speech has a relatively uniform spectrum (the range of frequencies produced) due to the fact that the human vocal tract is the source…Music, on the other hand, has many sources (instruments) which are highly variable and the resulting spectrum can resemble noise in some cases and speech in others.”

“…we typically consider soft speech as being 50 dB SPL, conversational speech as 65 dB SPL and loud speech as 80 dB SPL. Shouted speech is around 83 dB SPL. Music on the other hand is quite different and can easily reach 105 dB and can have peaks of 120 dB”

“The crest factor can be described as the difference between the peak level and the average …level, in other words the instantaneous difference between the peak of a signal and the overall level. Speech has a fairly consistent crest factor of 12 dB while music has a crest factor of up to 18–20 dB for many instruments. This acoustic characteristic is very important for the dynamic impact of music.”

“From this discussion of the differences between speech and music, it is quite easy to see why these signals must be processed differently within the hearing instrument.”

“Typically a digital hearing instrument compresses the peaks of the signal once they reach 95 dB before the conversion from the analog domain to the digital domain. This is more than adequate for even loud speech, however, for the peaks of live music this is too low and the music will sound compressed, unnatural, and even slightly distorted…Live Music Dynamics increases the level to 110 dB in order to preserve the peaks in music before they reach ChannelFree™ processing.”

“It is well known that a wide frequency response contributes to the perceived naturalness of music. Hearing instruments with Live Music Plus have a frequency
response up to 10,000 Hz. This frequency response is more than enough to convey most musical sounds accurately. For example, the highest C note on a piano is 4186 Hz, while the highest C note on a violin is 2093 Hz.”

“Bernafon has created a music program dedicated to presenting musical signals accurately to the client with three important elements. The first is Live Music Dynamics which ensures that the dynamic characteristics of music are preserved. The second is ChannelFree™ processing which ensures that the music is accurately amplifed within the dynamic range of the client. The third is a wideband frequency response which contributes to the perceived naturalness of the music.”

Whew, that’s a lot of info. You can have this program placed into one of your user selectable programs, maybe swap out the quiet program you have (he can program the button on the aid to increase/decrease volume if you don’t have or want a remote. He will reorder your program numbers so Live Music Plus will be the fourth program.

You’ve paid for it, why not try it?

Can’t wait to get my aids to see the difference between TV/Music and Live Music Plus. Your review of TV/Music was only the second one I’ve seen. I’m glad that you enjoyed your albums using this setting and hearing sounds you hadn’t heard in years! How exciting! Can only guess at the sound quality if you use the Live Music program!

Thanks for the info about the batteries. Let me know how long they last for you. What brand are your batteries? That is something I’m going to have to get.

Unless you go to an ebay seller or buy from Admin’s localbattery.com, Costco has the best deal on batteries.

The batteries I got are the Costco branded “Not for resale” Rayovac’s. I’d guess they are the same ones Costco sells.

Thanks jay_man2. Good to know that.

Thought I’d share my Costco / Bernafon experience. I picked up a pair of Veras 9’s about 4 weeks ago, along with the Soundgate. This is my first experience of any kind with hearing aids, so I have nothing to compare to. I am in the audio engineering field, so am reasonably comfortable talking tech.

Costco was great. Easy to make appointment, and the specialist at my location is knowledgeable, laid back and seemingly very well equipped. We decided to go with the Veras because he felt that the open fit would take best advantage of my good hearing below 1K. Slightly less occlusion than the Verite’s speaker, I guess.

In order to understand what some of the features were actually doing, we set up programs 1 through 3 with the same “multi-environment” program but with different levels of directionality. This way I can effectively control just a single parameter at a time by switching between the 3 programs. The fourth program is set up with the “Live Music Plus” because I do a lot with music for both work and pleasure.

My overall experience is very positive. For improvement in speech comprehension, I’d have to rate them a 9 out of 10. It’s like night and day. I used to have the TV up very loud in order to understand dialog. Now my wife is asking me to turn it up because she can’t hear it. I’m also convinced that HA manufacturers have a “bird optimization algorithm”. Once you hear what you’ve been missing outside - birds, crickets, wind, water - you won’t give them back.

Changing programs or volume works very well - no complaints. I would appreciate an easy way to simply turn them off while they are still in my ears, but that’s just because I’m curious about what they are doing and want to A/B. The Soundgate Bluetooth connection to my cell phone is simply amazing. The processing of the incoming call, plus the ability to mute the external mics on the HAs, means it’s like a Get Smart “cone of silence”. Best cell phone call experience I’ve ever had.

However… all is not perfect. Once the thrill of being able to hear high frequencies again wore off (it quickly becomes the norm again), I began to notice a certain annoying colorization to sounds, particularly sharp percussive sounds. After living with, and thinking about, it for the past few weeks, I’ve come to conclude that what I’m hearing is a comb filter effect caused by hearing both the natural and the delayed versions of sounds. It gives a slight hollow, tube-like effect to most everything.

I don’t think it’s quite as noticeable with the “Live Music Plus” program, perhaps due to less processing delay since many of the speech/directionality features are turned off, and I’m not sure the slight improvement in speech comprehension with all the bells and whistles of the other programs is worth it. In particular, I’ve not noticed any observable improvement with the directionality in a crowded room or restaurant. I suspect I’d be happy with the Live Music Plus program in all situations.

I’m considering going back and trying the Verites, under the assumption that the occlusion caused by the speaker may actually be a benefit, reducing the amount of natural sound being combined with the processed sound. Also, while it’s short, the Veras’ speaker is in the device and there is some small delay caused simply by the length of the Spiraflex tube, which is also acting as a filter. However, if it’s common that modern HAs have around 3-5ms of processing deley, it seems to me that this is going to be an issue in any open fit design. I’m surprised more people don’t complain about it.

Sorry for the long post. -Jamie

0250 R-00 L-00
0500 R-05 L-05
0750 R-05 L-05
1000 R-20 L-10
1500 R-25 L-15
2000 R-45 L-20
3000 R-50 L-50
4000 R-60 L-50
6000 R-70 L-55
8000 R-80 L-60

Since you have 90 days from Costco it might be a good idea to give the Verite’s a shot. I’ve been very happy with mine. From your audiogram it looks like both my ears are fairly close to your right ear. Can’t find it right now, but I thought I’d read that Bernafon says that their current channelfree technology should only add about 2ms signal delay so it may be that with the speaker being in the HA rather than in the ear canal it could add some additional delay. With the Verite’s the receiver is in the ear canal which should reduce the delay. However, I think that the speed of sound is roughly 1 ft per ms so the difference of maybe 2 inches by moving the speaker from the HA (Veras) to the ear canal (Verite) would only reduce the signal delay by roughly .16667 ms.

Any way you look at it there will be some signal delay through the HA as opposed to the sound coming straight to the ear drum through the open fit ear piece.

I think you are spot on with your assessment regarding any delay caused by the sound traveling through the tube; namely that it’s very small in comparison to the processing delay. The main reason for wanting to try the Verites is the (perhaps incorrect) assumption that the speaker-in-the-ear will result in a greater amount of sound being perceived through the processing device rather than direct. This may reduce the comb filter effect that I’m hearing. Or it may not. Also, I think getting the tube out of the picture entirely is a worthwhile experiment.

Do you hear or notice the effect that I’m talking about?

Having worn both acoustic thin tube aids like the Veras and RIC aids like the Verite, the only thing I notice is the occlusion from the speaker and dome filling my ear canal.

Another consideration for you is the extra maintenance of the Verite, in that you’ll need to clean/change wax guards in the speaker. That could be an issue if your ears produce a lot of wax.

With acoustic thin tubes you can just run a cleaning wire through them to push any accumulated wax out.

Jay_man2,

With the Verite M RIC and the open fit earpiece I really don’t have any feeling of occlusion. I also haven’t had a wax issue.

Robertsonic,

You will have to try the Verite’s for yourself and decide which of the 2 HA’s you like better. I think with any open fit HA’s you will always have a little of the effect you’re talking about, but I believe the Channelfree processing introduces the least amount of signal delay of any available HA technology. I think I prefer to hear what I can naturally (which is about everything from just above 1K down) and then “deal” with the sound that gets processed and delivered through the HA. There will always be a difference in sound delivered through a HA, it is a signal processing device. I wore molded ITE type HA’s for years and definetely prefer the BTE/RIC configuration. As you mentioned in your original note “Once you hear what you’ve been missing outside - birds, crickets, wind, water - you won’t give them back” and other sounds to numerious to mention.

Best of luck!

Finally found the article on signal delay for the current Channelfree with open fit type HA’s. I was incorrect on the 2 ms I had stated earlier. This article says it’s 2.5 ms.

http://www.hearingreview.com/issues/articles/2009-08_03.asp

Another article published back in 2002 that appears to be on the development of Bernafon’s Channelfree approach to signal processing in HA’s. Don’t know why, but this kind of reminded me of the stuff Bob Carver was doing back in the 70’s in the development of his TFM series audio power amplifiers.

robertsonics,

Thank you for sharing your experiences. Still waiting till Tuesday for my Veras.

When you are watching TV, do you use the Live Music Plus program? If so, how is your speech discrimination while listening? Can you hear the people talking ok?

Have you tried the Live Music program with any movies or music?? I have a home theater and am hoping that Live Music will work well with both the dialog and music.

About the colorization to sounds, particularly sharp percussive sounds that you’ve noticed giving a hollow, tube-like effect, is this with the 1st program with multi-environment omni-directional? Have you had the audi adjust this since your first visit?

It sounds like excess gain in the high frequencies. I noticed something similiar during my initial testing with that same hollow sound and he adjusted the gain until the sound was fuller and richer. However, I don’t have my aids yet so I’m not speaking from experience, just observing from my initial testing. You may want to have him tune program 2 or 3 with less gain so you can do a comparison or you could bring in a CD and have him tune your program 1, 2 or 3 while listening to the music.

What the Live Music is supposed to do is give greater bandwidth (i.e not clip the sound) then send the sounds through Channel Free processing. This should not take extra time so it should still be a 2.5 ms delay. Since the problem seems improved with Live Music I suspect the gains are different for the high frequencies comparing it to your regular program.

Also the open fit allows the low frequencies in so it sounds more natural. With your high frequency losses I don’t think you’d be able to hear much of the high frequency environmental sounds in that range unless they were amped by the aid, so no additive effect. If you were going to have a problem due to the open fit it should be in the low frequencies where you can hear the environmental sounds plus sounds in that frequency that are amped by the aid. But you indicated it was the high frequencies.

My 2 cents :slight_smile: Looking forward to that “bird optimization algorithm”.

doc