New Phonak hearing aids not as clear

Hi - I recently purchased a pair of Phonak Audeo V90 hearing aids to replace pair of 5-year old Phonak Audeo S Smart I. The old aids are still working, so I am able to compare old vs. new. After a couple of extended tweaking sessions with the audiologist, I am still not able to hear voices as clearly with the new aids in most settings. Voices are much clearer with the old hearing aids; voices sound weak and muffled with the new aids.

I realize that algorithms change, but is it reasonable to expect that the new aids can be programmed like the old aids? I was very happy with the performance and speech comprehension using the older aids, and would love to be able to get the exact same programming in the new aids. My audiologist keeps telling me these are supposed to be an improvement, but they are not working well for me.

Thanks,
Isosceles.

To clarify, I’m wondering if a new set of Phonics could be programmed exactly like the old ones, if that was desired.

Thanks,
Isosceles.

Same audiologist?

Yes, same audiologist.

Can you return them and keep the old ones? I wonder why would you pay for new aids if in the best case they will work like old ones

Surely the gain can be duplicated. And I can’t believe the tonal quality can’t be adjusted to match as well. They haven’t gone backwards. I’d say the ball is in your audiologists court.

Are you using the same type of domes or earmolds on the new hearing aids? This could account for the difference in sound quality between the two models. Or maybe your audi selected a different fitting formula. But it is possible to export most of the settings from the older model and import them into the newer model using the transfer wizard in the fitting software.

Yes, the earmolds are the same.

Nimailni - yes, I could return them. But in my experience, after about 5 years the hearing aids start becoming less reliable. So I opted to buy a new set to avoid that situation. Plus, the obvious advantage of having a working set of spares. My hope was that the new set would provide everything I was getting from the old pair, plus some improvement due to advances in technology.

Mark Chambers - That’s been my assumption as well – that it should be relatively easy to replicate the settings. We’ve played with the gain, the compression, etc. When I’m in the audiologist’s office, I can hear OK. In the “real world,” not so well. And the difference is very apparent right away. As I understand it, some recommended settings are generated by the software based on the audiogram. That was our starting point; we’ve tweaked a lot since then and I’m still not there. I’m wondering if it’s not possible for some reason, or if it’s just a matter of finding the right combination of settings (there are a ton of settings in the software for these things…).

Thanks,
Isosceles.

Did you see the info Rasmus posted?

Hi,

when I tested Phonak, I found that the noise reduction reduces speech clarity, too.

If your old aid doesn´t have noise reduction, turn it off with the new aids.

Next point is to have a look at the directionality settings. Compare the settings of the old aid to the new one.

Then have a look at the fitting formula - is the same formula used for both fittings? If the aid sounds ok in the office, but muffled on the outside, this might point to different compression settings - the aid gives you less gain when the overall situation is louder (which is a good idea to prevent stress from loud noises, but makes speech understanding more difficult).

Last point: If your audiologist is really enthusiastic, he can put both aids in a measuring-box, plot some input-output diagrams and compare the aids directly and objectively. Going this way, the behaviour of the old aid can be reproduced with the new one (as long as the general performance of the new aid is not worse than of the old aid, which seems unlikely).

Good luck!

Might be better to do a REAL EAR MEASUREMENT here to compare the output of both aids under a given input signal.

If a lot of tweaking has been done, it might be beneficial to start over with the default settings before continuing the adjustments. That worked for my Phonak Q after a lot of tweaking not really helping, but creating new problems. It makes sense that if you are already in a wrong setting further tweaking may not help. Just my 5 cents…

But just to reproduce the old aid, wouldn´t it be much easier to use a measuring box?

No, put simply the way that the aid functions in an open canal will be different than a test into a sealed coupler. Canal resonance and impedance will differ and therefore the output will too, but more importantly how the aid manages feedback and how it smooths the lower pitch signal in comparison with the signal incoming via venting is critical.

Thanks so much. I will print this info before I go back in. As you can imagine, it’s been a little discouraging. But now I have some things to suggest.

Keep us updated, looking forward to good results. My HIS at one point went back to default settings and started over. As suggested, could be something to try.

Thanks. I will definitely let you know how it goes with the audiologist. I do recall some issues with my previous aids getting too soft in background noise (e.g., while driving in the car) when I was initially fitted. We made some minor adjustment – I think we raised the noise threshold needed to activate that mode – and things got much better. Only rarely over the past five years have the aids gone into that mode.

So, I’m inclined to think noise reduction might be a good place to start.

Thanks again – I’ll let you all know what happens.

Thanks,
Isosceles.

post your audiogram.

Hi - Here is an update on my Phonak issues. I have been back to the audiologist a couple of times since I last posted. The speech-in-loud-noise program was disabled, and the gains were tweaked. This has helped some – I can hear fairly well in a quiet room, nearly equivalent to the old hearing aids. In noisy environments (restaurant, loud fans, city traffic) the speech still becomes muted and muffled. This did not happen with my old aids – speech tended to cut through the background noise. I suspect it’s a different program that’s automatically kicking in in those situations (comfort-in-noise, perhaps). I am trying to switch back and forth between the old and new in those situations so that I can better describe what is happening, and in what settings. If I can identify specific situations where they perform differently, it might give us a clue as to what is going on.

I was very happy with my old aids, and my goal was to have the new aids perform exactly like the old aids. But we seem to be having trouble even getting close (I realize the algorithms might be different, so an exact match might not be possible). We’re still missing something. Something is happening automatically in the presence of background noise that distorts speech.

Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Isosceles.

Hi,

I am not a phonak expert, but those are my thoughts.

If speech gets muffled in loud situations, this can be

a) The automatic switching to some other program (which is what you guess)
b) the compression

With phonak Audeo V90, the standard program (number 1) is always the flow-program. This can have several sub-programs, and each of those can be set up individually.

a) can be ruled out if you copy the “normal” sub-program of the flow program to program slot 2. If you use program 2 and the problem is gone, it is shown that the automatic switching causes the problem. If not, consider b)

b) Compression means that loud sounds are amplified less than soft sounds. This is a good thing most of the time, because then you can understand soft speech without the loud noises blowing off your ears. But if you come to a noisy room, the compression regulates the aid down and speech becomes less clear. Also, many aids have a slow compression and a fast one. The fast one reacts immediately if a loud sound comes into the aid and thus protects you from loud sounds. The slow one reacts if a loud environment stays loud for a longer time (some seconds at least). It then regulates down the whole amplification and stays like that for some time even when the noise is no longer present. The problem is that you need to change the compression behaviour in loud environments, because the speech-area should not be compressed too much. Soft speech is around 50 dB, normal 65 dB, but in loud environments, people talk louder. So the area where speech stays uncompressed must be shifted up in loud environments. What I am trying to say: It is not necessarily a bad thing if the aid reacts to the loud environment and changes the compression. But it is likely that your aid is not set up correctly to do so.

When I looked over my audi´s shoulder, I saw that Phonak aids with all those endless features are really difficult to set up. My aids (bernafon Juna) have much less features, and thus are much easier to program. There have been other people here who complained about the sound-changing of Phonak Audeo V90, whereas others really love them. So my conclusion is that they are hard to set up.

Be patient, It´s probably not impossible !