Oticon streamer sound quality for music

I’ve just got a new pair of Oticon Chili hearing aids. The streamer works great as a hands-free phone headset, in fact its the best I’ve ever been able to hear on a phone in years.

But the sound quality when I use it to stream music is horrible. The sound has virtually no bass, and everything sounds pretty distorted. Is this normal? Is there anything that can be done about this? The sound quality for everything else with these hearing aids has been great.

Especially if you’re using open domes, bass will be pretty much non-existent, but that’s true of all open-dome aids. The Agil’s have a bass enhancer that adds harmonics that provide a sense of bass, but it’s not exactly the same thing. As far as distortion goes, I’d have to say that the sound quality is overall pretty mediocre; the Phonak Smart S’s sounded a lot better to my ear, though still not exactly great. Honestly, streaming music is the only thing I don’t care for in the Agil’s.

As chattermail says, you can get your Audi to put ‘Power Bass’ option for the streamer to maximum.(can be done in genie software) I got mine to do this and it helped a bit, but it still isn’t even close to bass I get with my ipod headphones.

I stream music with my Chili SP9’s and I’m not noticing this problem - I have full earmolds though. One thing I have noticed is the quality of the sound when streaming music over Bluetooth is less than the quality of when I have my MP3 player hooked in via the cord.

Also, as chatteremail mentioned, your audi can turn on specific options for the streamer, which I had turned on. One is music widening and the other is power bass. I have both enabled and get good sound and i’m not hearing any distortion.

ah, i see. thanks for the tips. i have full ear molds, i’ll ask the audi to turn on those options.

Again, i don’t really get the concept of wireless music through HAs.

  • First, HAs are tiny and have to pack in an enormous amount of circuitry just so we can hear - ZCT points out the things that are vital in HAs that take up chip space are for human speech better - e.g. processing speed, binaural, compression, directionality, telecoil.
  • Second, small earbuds are usually poorer quality than over the ear headphones or monitors.
  • Third, mp3s and iPods have lower quality music than other sources such as CDs or Blu Ray or vinyl.
  • Fourth, wireless itself is worse quality audio than wires.

This is just my deduction as i have never used a wireless HA (or earbuds) for streaming music, so i would love to hear any other thoughts. I posted at length on this in another thread. BTW, the TV works better because you are mainly streaming voice - what all the circuitry in HAs is designed for.


I agree with all your points, but it seems to me hearing aid audio should be able to deliver sound quality as good as earbuds, no? i enjoy music well enough with my ipod and some earbuds, i should be able to get comparable sound quality through my hearing aids, no?

Regarding bass, it just takes too much power to generate acceptable bass. And with an open fitting, it would be hard to generate sufficient bass to compensate for leakage without generating feedback. It’s also likely that implementations of BT and NFMI result in a lot compression-related artifacts. I suspect that as boomers come into HA’s, there will be ever-increasing demand for better fidelity than we’re seeing now. Having said that, Oticon’s streaming audio seems particularly weak on music; I presume this will change over the next few years.

BTW, very few normal hearing people notice (or care about) the lower quality of mp3’s and iPods. I’d guess that the number of hearing-impaired people who can tell the difference is vanishingly small.


Skeene, I would say no, HA sound quality won’t be as good as your earbuds because your earbuds are attached by a wire to your iPod and your HA isn’t. Streaming just isn’t as good as wires. I believe that $300 wireless Sennheisser headphones sound worse than a $80 wired Sony.

Marc, Good points. I agree most people don’t care about mp3 vs. CD. But on audiophile websites, a huge majority of people there don’t use mp3s or iPods for playing music. So audiophiles do notice the difference.

For me personally, I notice a huge difference between the quality from a small speaker “executive” CD player and from my sister’s iPod Bose small speaker system. They both cost around $250. My noticing this difference may be because i have a big recruitment problem and bright treble really hurts my ears. And really want to listen to Stan Getz so I keep looking for hi fi.

I’m with you Lalo, except where you say that audiophiles do notice the difference. I think it’s fairer to say that they claim to notice a difference; very few of these so-called differences can be demonstrated in blind (no less double-blind) tests.

Hi ,

Got to disagree about the sound quality on wired vs bluetooth. MP3 is digital compressed audio. Bluetooth is a digital transmission, and will basically transmit the bits from point a to point b intact, there will be virtually no bit errors. Any loss in quality will come from a poor implementation of the audio on the HA side, not due to bluetooth vs wires. So my opinion is that I should be able to get just as good sound quality over the bluetooth as I can get via earbuds.

Sorry to rant(I have a phd in wireless communications)

If you use the open domes as I do, don’t forget that when you listen to music via speakers you get sound from your aids as well as direct in your ears. When you listen to music being streamed it’s all through the aids, and they are not going to provide the full range of audible frequencies. It isn’t a limitation of Bluetooth, high-end Bluetooth phones sound fine. Its just the way the aids work.

I agree, bluetooth is not a limitation here. It’s all in the aids and what they do or don’t supply. Don’t have a phd, but am a retired engineer and have been an audiophile since the mid 1970s.

But isn’t the reality that perfect conditions don’t exist except in a lab and thus other electrical sources will almost always interfere with the wireless data transfer? Even connectors and speaker wire differ in their ability to conduct and transfer signals right?

Chatter (and WMS), Regarding sources, Chatter suggests that audiophiles only claim they can hear a difference. But my experience is that CDs are better than iPod when used with similar speakers. I am not saying the difference is huge, but given my recruitment problems, i am sensitive to bright, grainy highs and the better the source, the better the sound.

Regarding audiophiles delusions, audiophiles claim that a $8000 Krell amp is vastly better than a $600 Pioneer amp. But engineers often say that is nonsense - watts are watts and THD is THD. Sorry, engineers, but I think those thousands who buy audiophile equipment are not just making it up so they can spend an extra $7400.

Lalo - Yes, indeed, they are not making it up - they really do believe they hear the difference. But I think you’re discounting both the placebo affect and the fact that many of these audiophiles really do want to spend more and want to believe that it improves their listening pleasure (I should know, I used to be one…) This is just human nature, and AFAIK, nobody is immune.

We’re all here because we suffer some degree of hearing loss so we are never going to hear music perfectly. A good pair of headphones will deliver the full audio range but you may not be able to hear it all anyway.
I think we are being told that open fit HA’s deliver a poor quality sound and that is true since they are designed to give only the high frequencies that you cannot hear. However, good earmoulds (and maybe double domes) will give a sound which is perfectly acceptable in terms of range and rich bass.

Just my 2c worth


Chatter, Haha! Yes, expensive toys are a source of joy to a lot of people. (Not me of course…). But how did we get so quickly from caves to wanting Krell amps, Jimmy Choos and monster trucks? But seriously, I think the speakers (monitors) make a big difference. B/c of my recruitment, I found Klipsch, Paradigm and some B&W speakers very bright and harsh. I found some other speakers, e.g. Dynaudio floorstanders, to be too muffled. i ended up with a speaker known to have laid back highs with good midrange and moderate bass - Quad floorstanders.

Gilbert, in another thread, i commented that with just headphones (nice ones) and no HAs, I don’t get the highs. With HAs and headphones, i get feedback. With HAs and monitor speakers, I don’t get the bass. Any thoughts?

I have the Oticon Chili SP9 with the Streamer 1.3, on trial, is paired with iPhone 4.

But how has your Audi enabled the both features. In the manual is written that you can enable Power Bass OR Music Widening. Audi has worked with genie 2010.

Or is this both feature only enable in Genie 2011.1 and Streamer 2011.1?

Sorry for my English (I’m from Belgium, Europe)