Reprogramming My Bernafons for Music

bernafon
hearing-aids

#1

Hello to All,
I usually spend my time on the Hearing Aid Hacks (DIY) forum, but I have had some experience with my Bernafons that I expect some on this forum might be interested in knowing about. Besides, Bernafon seems to be a bit neglected here, so maybe I can raise their profile just a bit!

I first obtained hearing aids just over 3 years ago….Rexton Quintras from Costco. They were fine for speech, not good at all for music. Being a very serious music lover and sound system operator, this frustrated me and set me on a quest to find an aid I could tolerate for both recorded and live music. I had opportunities to try several other aids (Widex Dreams, Unitrons, etc), and none were acceptable. I must hasten to say that the main problem (in my opinion) turned out to be programming, not the aid itself as long as the aid could accommodate levels of up to 110dB. Out of desperation, I tried analog aids based on the K-amp chip, which seemed to be favored by many musicians. The instant I did, I started smiling!

This meant that I now needed to carry two sets of aids, one for speech and one for music….not very convenient. After reading material by Marshall Chasin, perhaps the most recognized current expert on hearing aids and music, I discovered Bernafon aids and their unique technology which on paper seemed to have advantages for music. So, off to Costco to give them a try. Same result, not good on music. Just on the verge of returning them, I decided to try my hand at self-programming. There is a thread in the Hearing Aid Hacks (DIY) forum describing the setup details, so I won’t go through that here. Bottom line, I decided to ignore my audiogram and change the Live Music program in the Bernafons to emulate the level-dependent frequency response of my General Hearing Simplicity Hi-Fi (K-Amp) aids. The results were wonderful. My analog aids are now retired…the Bernafon Juna 9 pico-RITE aids now do it all.

I won’t use this space to describe the details. Instead, I have written a report describing what I did, which can be accessed here for anyone interested:

https://forum.hearingtracker.com/uploads/default/original/1X/fd2c4ac758c383d3a180dbd93893577d40b64d87.pdf

Certainly what I did is not a general solution for music and may not work for anyone else. However, it has convinced me that perhaps programming aids for your specific audiogram just may not be optimum for music…in particular the auto-programming by the manufacturer’s software at a fitting. Please don’t spam me for this heretical comment! I would just like to see an open and intelligent discussion of this proposition. I would love it if someone else could reproduce what I did and assess the results. I hope the link to the report works. I’m new at this.

Paul


Starting trial of Resound Linx 3D after Oticon OPN 1
Hearing Aids for singer/guitar player
#2

I think you did a great job with this! Don’t be disappointed if you get few responses.

  • The percentage of hearing aid users who read forums is likely very small.
  • Of those, very few will attempt self programming on their own hearing aids.
  • Within this group of self programmers, very few are musicians.

Just as you were inspired by forum posts from @Musician_72 your posts may inspire some musician in the future. Though, probably not a drummer. Hahaha I’m J/K @deafdrummer.


#3

Hi,
thank you for writing this down so clearly.

May I send you my programming and you suggest what you would change? To be honest, at first glance I dont see a very big difference between the default live music program and yours, the changes seem to be rather subtle - but I haven´t checked it very carefully. I am very glad that you enjoy listening to music with that setup so much!
Yours,
Musician_72


#4

Musician 72: There you are! I’m really happy to be in contact with you again. I think you are key to understanding what is going on with these Bernafons and why what I have done seems to work.

Here are the differences I think are significant:

  1. The 50, 65 and 80 dB curves have much more separation. I think this results in less contribution and coherent interference from the aids when it is not needed, particularly at high levels above 80 dB. As I mentioned in an earlier post, using the instant mute feature with the Bernafons I now detect very little difference at high levels, and definite improvement at lower levels. The treble is good and clear all the way down to 50 dB. In other words the listening dynamic range is improved.
  2. The separation of the level dependent response curves emulates figures 19 and 25 in my report, taken from Killion for the K-Amp. That means to me that the compression and frequency response adjustment with amplitude works more like the K-Amp, which is my ‘gold standard’ for good hearing aid sound with music.
  3. The response profile with frequency is much more linear on the log scale. I really don’t know if this contributes much to the improved performance, but I suspect it does.

Sometimes it really does not take much distortion in frequency response or compression behavior to have a very noticeable effect on sound quality. I am pretty fanatic about sound, and distortions that bother me may not produce the same negative response in others. It could be that I have just been lucky with this project to have hit the sweet spot, but there’s one way to find out: replication of the results by someone else. I really hope another equipped self-programmer can try out the procedure on Widex Dreams, Unitrons, or any other aid with high input level capability, and report back. I’m sure there is a friendly audiologist out there somewhere that is interested in good aid performance on music that could help out here.

You are welcome to send me your programming and i will certainly try out any changes you suggest. Thank you for your interest!

Paul


#5

Forum Hint - Using the @feature sends a notification to that member,
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#6

Paul,
Thanks for this. I’ve already purchased the Hi-pro from China as well, but it’s been sitting here for months. You’re an inspiration and now I’ll go ahead. Timing…

I have Starkey so a different brand, but I needed this push. Thanks.

Allen


#7

Thank you for sharing your programming and experience, Paul. I play the clarinet and piano, so music fidelity is very important to me as well.

Although I do not have Bernafons, I have Oticon OPN, which I hope will be similar as they have the same parent company. Once I receive my programming kits, I hope to mimic and refine my programming with yours as an inspiration and guide. Kudos!


#8

As a musician ( drummer) and as one that spends 3-6 nights a week running sound for various bands the aids have helped a lot to insure a decent mix.
Since my earring loss is at low DB in the mid to high HZ range once the band is up to higher volumes I’m pretty good without the aids.
Glad to see other players here. I believe the 40 years of rock and roll had a lot
to do with my loss.


#9

Congratulations on what you accomplished. I’m wondering what your experience listening to music has been. I have been unable to listen to music for the past eight or nine years. Notes seem out of pitch. I don’t hear the higher frequencies. One audiologist told me that most people with my audiogram are able to interpret music correctly. Very few, like myself, cannot and that there is no help for me via hearing aids. All she did was create a program which didn’t favor voice. It did no good. At this point I have six year old Agil pros.

I’m back on this forum because I’m thinking of purchasing new aids and want to read about what others have experienced. (Yours is the first post I’ve
read. ) Any input you might have would be appreciated.


#10

I am azureblue, aka Rick Ledbetter. I have been self programming through 5 sets of aids and I am a performing magician. Been there and done that and had words with many an ossified hearing specialist…

For music, #1 - turn off all sound processing. you can’t do anything right when the active sound processing is searching for feedback, noise, background noise speech to enhance, wind noise. etc. Anti feed back thinks a flute is feedback and noise reduction thinks a sax or trumpet is just racket… 2 - if you want to try the built in in situ, run it three times after turning off the sound processing. 3 -I prefer WRDC for music because of the smoothness and a less brittle sound. 4- I prefer target of Adult DSL-v5 because it is less harsh in the music mids. 5- Spreading the Eq curves does help the dynamic range but then you run into a flaw in the algorithm which is a slow compression release time. Music needs a quick release but most aids settle for a three second or so release time, and the further apart you have the three EQ curves, the more obvious that will be. 6 - open up the MPOs (limiters) so they are not kicking in too soon. They are the to prevent overamplification but often they are set too low, again, focused on speech, so they will squash the peaks.

Most aids’ music programs is set for recorded music. This means music that has been compressed and limited with the dynamic range reduced, so that is why the so called music programs don’t work for live music.

A couple of helps - get a pitch to frequency chart and play a piano on note at a time, making a not of what notes are too loud and others too soft. Very generally speaking this can be used to adjust the 65db (normal) Eq band, but also the 50 db (soft) EQ band, too

Get a real time analyzer app for your cell phone, one that will display a bar graph, and all ow you to save the readout. This will tell you what frequency and at what db level, which will go a very long way to fine tuning your aids.

What Marshall did for Bernafon was to essentially recreate the old RIAA curve for aids. This reduces the top and bottom at the input stage and restores it at the output, to take the load off the microphone and CPU. But newer aids have more powerful processors and while this was very effective, as usual, things have progressed so that technology has lessened the need of it. Great idea though.


#11

@azureblue ,

Could you explain me, why you run three times the insitu-Measurement after turning off sound processing? It is because the audi also makes one sound three times in the hearing test?

Thanks, Haens


#12

@nancyb " I’m wondering what your experience listening to music has been". I’m not quite sure what you are asking here Nancy. I listen to music all the time, in my car, in my theater, at my church, where I am responsible for all the sound systems. I have been listening to music for many years, and pursuing high fidelity sound since 1965. With regard to notes seeming out of pitch, you may have a touch of diplacusis (Google for definition). This phenonemon unfortunately has no cure as far as I know, and you just have to learn to live with it. Hearing aids do not help, but with time and good reproduction by the aids, you may be able to live with it without too much aggravation. It is helpful to deemphasize the worst frequencies in the aid programming. The audiologist that told you that you should be able to interpret music correctly must not be familiar with diplacusis (some are not). I’m not sure what else I can tell you that might be helpful.

@azureblue I certainly agree with most of what you said…at least the parts I understood (WRDC?)! I don’t find the compression release time noticeable in my Bernafon or K-Amp analog aids. Maybe @Musician 72 can enlighten us. I absolutely agree about recorded music being over-compressed…that’s why I use some older high quality uncompressed music for critical evaluations. I do not notice the compression release time in either my Bernafons or the analog K-Amp aids. The K-Amp chip uses ‘adaptive compression’ (see the adaptive compression discussion in the Killion paper), which results in fast release times. I don’t know what Bernafon uses, but it seems to work similarly. I agree the old RIAA trick is clever, and it certainly works. I have noticed no clipping with my Bernafon aids at any SPL I can tolerate.

I wonder if other folks have noticed this problem. When I first got my Rexton aids, the default gain in the music program was way too high. Even at high input SPL, the aid was still amplifying, when it should have been near unity gain (no aids needed). The same thing happened with the Bernafons. I had to turn down the volume in the Live Music program 6-7 clicks to get it down to where it should have been, but it still did not sound right. At the time, I assumed the manufacturer knew what they were doing and perhaps the audiologist just adopted the default programming per the auto adjustment software. When the results with two aids were not acceptable, I decided it was time I learned to program myself. The Killion paper opened my eyes and I recognized that the combination of lower gain at maximum compression (high input SPL), and the adjustment of the level dependent frequency response just might do the trick. It did. I should mention that I use open domes, and Juna 9 picoRITE aids. I have no idea whether what I have done would be at all helpful with CIC or other aid embodiments.

Thanks for all the responses. This is a good discussion.

Paul


#13

averaging. Even if you run it three times back to back, there wills till be little variances. If you run it once a week you get different readings, even though logic says it should be the same settings for each run. No,I don’t know why in situ does that. I guess it’s varying acoustical properties of the ear canal, but that doesn’t make sense to me, either.


#14

way back, the problem was the analog to digital convertors at the input. Then, aids could barely handle 85db and keep the delay down and the conversion top end to 16Khz. But now the processors are much faster and can handle high volumes without distorting or causing processing delays, and without sacrificing the high end. I haven’t been on the bleeding edge of things but I think negligible delay with 44.1k/ 16 bit is either being done or will soon be. Or maybe I missed the boat and it’s 24 bit by now…

Mead had a great paper on the subject, I have it around somewhere, but he did his with analog and with analog compression, plus a different compression / limiter scheme.


#15

Hello to all,
After wearing out a pair of Oticons, I tried a custom built analogue K-Amp RIC HA. I have what the audiologists call a ‘flat’ hearing loss. They sounded pretty good, but when comparing them to a pair of Bernafon Zerena 9 miniRITEs, I sent the K-Amps back. The Bs are ‘close enough’ and have a much better warranty, etc. I also tried a good set of Starkeys, unimpressed.

I’m interested in being able to tinker with my programming too. The Costco audiologist seems knowledgeable, but I think I could tweak the better in my own listening environment. Are the new Bernafons capable of DIY programming I wonder? If so, what equipment would I need?

Thanks!


#16

The ZERENA 9|7|5 miniRITE Product Information document says FittingLINK 3.0 (wireless programming interface) so maybe these can only be programmed with a wireless programming device. I don’t see any information about cable connections.


#17

In the document of Bernafon you can read (in german) that for fitting the traditional connection (programming adapter with Hi-Pro or other) is also possible:

And his program is very similar to the for OPN:


#18

Thanks @Haens; The German Product and Technology Brochure says;

  1. Der FittingLINK 3.0 USB Adapter ist abwärtskompatibel mit der FittingLINK Neck Loop. Die Möglichkeit der Programmierung mit Kabeln und HI-Pro, EXPRESSlink3 oder NOAHlink steht ebenfalls zur Verfügung.
  2. The FittingLINK 3.0 USB Adapter is backwards compatible with the FittingLINK Neck Loop. The possibility of programming with cables and HI-Pro, EXPRESSlink3 or NOAHlink is also available.

I’m speculating that you can use CS44 cables with Flex Strips (sames as Oticon) to slide into the slot above the battery door. Like the Oticon Alta and the Oticon Opn;

c6


#19

Thank you for this info, Paul!

I’ve been wearing hearing aids for 17 years now and learned a bit about them from the angle of a musician (singer/guitar+).

The programming away from the audiogram brings up the point I am still unclear about.

How best to capture as close as possible what my wonderful Martin guitars really sound like, relate that to my particular hearing loss, and create a program which will capture and reproduce that wonder sound accurately to me… Frustrating as it seems that there is really only one “REAL” EQ setting on an aid which would really realize that, for instance a 82hz low E string on my guitar - say I’ve lost 30 DB at that frequency, and lost only 20 DB at the G string 196hz frequency, but lost 35 DB at the high E string 330hz frequency.

It seems to me that, IF an aid could address those frequency bands (as we’d call them on the rack mount recording studio equalizer), there would only be one setting or curve if you like, which would accurately correct and boost the DB level for each of those frequencies to let me hear the guitar accurately again.

How far off base am I in that supposition?
The human singing voice and the acoustic guitar primarily function in the 50-500hz range.

Most hearing aids don’t have much (if any) fine tuning for equalizer bands in this range.

What aid has the most control in that range?

Thanks,

Dave

“I am Everyman and the things inside of me
are in every man; they just vary by degree.
I’m a poet, I’m a pauper, I’m a picker, I’m a king.
I am Everyman and a part of everything.”

Kentucky Dave Trabue
[/quote]


#20

Take a look at the Genie 2 programming software below used for the Oticon OPN which operates on 64 frequency channels (which is about the most channels available that I’ve seen). Despite this, you can see that the fine tuning control, either for the compression ratio (as seen on the upper area) and the fine tuning at the bottom, is only available in 16 bands. And the granularity at the low end is 125, 250, 500 Hz.

So you’re not going to be able to make adjustment for a 30dB loss at 82Hz or 20dB loss at 196 Hz or 35dB loss at 330Hz. The best you can do is to get your audiogram to measure your loss at 125, 250 and 500Hz granularity and Genie 2 will try to fine tune your loss based on these bands and that’s it. This is not just a Genie 2 OPN thing but I would venture to guess that most hearing aid brands and models only allow 16 bands fine tuning even if they do 64 band processing like the OPN does.

I think it’s way too academic (and maybe even naive) to think that the ability to test your hearing loss at precisely the notes on the music scale and have the hearing aids compensate for those loss points precisely will yield accurate hearing results for you anyway. I think the physiology of the hearing loss problem is way more complicated than that and trying to micro-manage the loss compensation like you propose is not necessarily going to be effectively accurate like you think, even if the receiver technology can deliver the low compensation that you want (which it cannot), and the software can provide the kind of fine tuning that you’re looking for (which it does not, at least apparently here in this case).