So, I’m an experienced wearer with very poor hearing and am trying these new aids with a new audiologist.
TLDR: My coworkers are begging me to go back to my old hearing aids.
Audiologist (new to me) set me up with the new aids and my first impression was LOUD, as it often is with a new prescription. He reduced the gain some and we tried to dial in something usable in his quiet office setting. No longer was I overwhelmed by the office HVAC sound even though it wasn’t really all that loud in the room. Things now seemed OK for the environment. Once outside, I experienced cacophony. I had 4 programs to choose from General, MyMusic, Lecture and Comfort. I figured I give those a go. After about a week: a definite “no” on all of them. The noise reduction sounded like an audio blender. Feedback suppression seems OK at least, though a bit reminiscent of the old Unitron “if it’s one or two pitches, squelch it out!” school of feedback reduction. So, if you have things that beep in your life, they will be quickly slaughtered out. Microwave? Gone. Alarm system? Gone. DTMF? Gone.
So, I started over myself, as I am prone to do. I went through the procedure that Oticon recommends in their Genie 2 tutorials and I also used in-situ audiometry which filled in more data points and was a bit different from the most recent office booth test. This Genie 2 recommended fit procedure differed a lot from my recent office fit experience. The results were better and I will give the fitting one more go, but even now, the noise in the background sounds like a multitude of audio channels (frequency bands) being sliced audibly and without concern for the adjacent channels. I can’t make out words as well as my old hearing aids and like in the first week In action I try to compensate with volume adjustments, program changes and cupping my ears. Coworkers are frustrated with me. I did employ the recommended “intelligence” that Genie 2 provides.
Other things I hated:
The audio indicators are laughable. I have never heard such a poor power-on jingle in my life. I turned it off. The program changes are indicated by a series of beeps. I’m used to a voice uttering the program number. I feel like I’ve gone back 10 to 15 years compared to the Starkey’s I have used recently. I figured a new flagship product from Oticon would be a big leap from a 6 year old Starkey Muse. Was I wrong.
The user controls on the faceplate have very limited programmability. If I wanted to use a button for VC, nope. I need a volume wheel for that (which I have even though I didn’t ask for, but glad it was added). I prefer to use one ear button for Vol+ and the other ear for Vol-. Long press on one for program change, long press on the other for mute. No can do. Each control has basically a fixed functionality that you can enable or not.
The NFMI wireless “ear-to-ear” is OK, but really slow. Changing the program on one often takes a long time before it happens on the other. This may a deliberate design decision for some technical reason, but the result is annoying. I haven’t even tried audio streaming yet, but Bluetooth control of volume and program from my Samsung S10 works OK, though I get disconnects to one ear or the other or incorrect battery warnings from time to time.
The impulse suppression is again like an old experience revisited. Turn on a light switch? It sounds like you flicked the switch on the wall 10 feet in front of you. I remember this from a decade ago. Initial sound cut out, but the early reflection comes in loud and clear. Changing the setting in Genie 2 helps but I can’t help but think the setting just alters the number of milliseconds the impulse (maybe everything) is muted. This is not how is should be. There should be fast acting compression that allows me to hear the initial click but at reduced volume. Heaven forbid I encounter a real loud impulse.
It seems like a moderately competent wireless technology was bolted on the side of an old hearing aid platform. Regarding the audible blending, I think that using a number of independent frequency bands for noise suppression is a mistake. Noise is typically pretty wide band and should be evaluated that way. Maybe I’ve missed something in the programming? Not sure.
A good audio example! This week I stumbled across a good speech-in-noise test. Here we have a female announcer and a quiet male voice amid cheers. This is a great test for seeing if you can hear it all, and what it sounds like. If you use Google Chrome with Live Caption and/or CC you can follow the dialog visually. There is also a low frequency rumble. This link is about 35+ seconds before the challenging part starts. The challenging part starts at T+00:02:38 and runs until about T+00:03:00
The phrase “and there you can see and heard it by the incredible excitement” is utterly scrambled by the aids and the male voice is buried during his 3rd and 4th call-outs (right before and after the above phrase “M VAC engine chill” is the first one I think).