Sound Fidelity - Objective Ratings? Which models are better?


#1

HA newbie here: Are objective ratings of sound fidelity of various models available anywhere, or is there any sort of independent testing at all? When considering models out there, all I see are lists of proprietarily named features (e.g. Resound calls high frequency shifting “Sound Shaper”). Given the financial investment, and how cumbersome it is to try different models, it would really help if there were some third-party evaluations out there, of both basic reproduction quality, and accuracy of sound processing features such as directionality or noise suppression. (If there is something like this out there, I couldn’t find it.)

Why I am asking: I’m not happy with the artifical quality of the sounds on my new Resound Fortes. But the other ones I briefly tried in Costco, their Phonak and KS models, didn’t sound so great either. I had assumed that customizing the HAs for my hearing would improve it, but they still sound pretty bad, compared to listening to music or podcasts with earbuds, which sound much more natural. Originally the HAs sounded too tinny, but after some adjustments the tinniness was reduced, but they still sound like cheap audio speakers from a flea market. My earbuds never needed any adjustment period to “get used to” the sound, however after a few weeks, I still don’t like the sound from the HAs, and thus avoid wearing them unless I need them in meetings or groups (at which point I am very appreciative that I have them – previously I used Petralex).

I am mostly happy with the little bit of sound processing which I am aware of, e.g. directionality works nicely. I wouldn’t mind the little bits of pops and static if the basic sound quality were better.

I do understand that the receivers have to be small enough to fit inside my ears, and not consume too much power, so are not really comparable to earbuds or better audiophile speakers. But I’d like to see objective ratings of sound fidelity, to know if there are better models I should consider, or if this is the best I can expect. If there is something out there which is much better, I’d like to know that it is worth finding a provider and giving them a try. Lacking that, is there a list of best HAs for musicians, which I guess might be closest to offering the audio quality I am looking for?

Thanks for any suggestions. And thanks for this very useful hearing site & forum!


#2

Aids are optimized for speech. Widex and Bernafon are two brands often used by musicians. Others use analog aids when they are performing.

The domes you use affect music with the more restricted ones working better.


#3

It sounds like you want everything to sound just like it does without hearing aids, but be able to understand things. Hearing aids are going to help you hear sounds you’re not used to hearing so it won’t sound “normal” or have high fidelity. Bernafon, Widex and Oticon all have a reputation for sounding nice, but think seriously about what you need your hearing aids to do for you. If sound “quality” is the most important, you might want to just stick with something like Bose Hearphones.


#4

There are no objective third party reviews of hearing aids out there, at least as far as I could find. I’m new at this too (I have a thread called “Help Starting Out”). I just read a lot on this forum, including the reviews of the aids I was interested in, but it’s all pretty subjective.

I think they’re just going to sound tinny, especially if you have typical high frequency loss (I do) - in normal usage they’re intended to try to “fill in the gaps” of your missing ranges. I’m hoping my OPN1s will be at least usable for music with bluetooth streaming, but am expecting that when I really want to listen I’ll pull them out and use a nice pair of headphones. I’ve already found when listening off my iphone that treble boost helps, something I never would have thought of on my own.


#5

Your brain has to adjust to the new sounds and the best way to do that is to wear them all day, every day. After a few months your hearing aids will have the best sound. Now, it’s not unusual to need a few adjustments but the goal should not be your immediate comfort, or sounding like ear buds, etc.


#6

You should post your audiogram and what type of fitting you have so people can get a better idea of why the hearing aids sound tinny to you. There can be many reasons.


#7

@mxfbox-hearingtracke I tried the Fortes in the store and really liked the ability to fine-tune them with app on my android phone. I am a musician so sound quality is really important to me. Being able to tweak the aids without going back for additional appointments is a huge advantage. I was considering the Phonak, but the user customization is just not near that of the Forte. The KS8 seems to have a more basic app customization feature by adjusting treble & bass but I did not get a chance to demo them. I’m hoping others will share their experiences here as well.


#8

I have the Bernafon’s and so far I have been satisfied with the sound. Music sounds acceptable but I am no audiophile. I also tried the Phonak but did not care for them.

Like others have said it takes a while to get used to HA’s. I usually forget I am wearing them but what a difference when I take them out. Very quiet, I actually like that feeling at times.

I have had a hearing loss for as long as I can remember but chose to ignore it. All through my working life I sat close to the speaker, in college classes I sat in the first row. My loss did not seem to impact my life too much but who knows what I was missing.


#9

My pair of Beltone Boost Plus are very good with TV Link2-Phone Clip. But I continue to have difficulty understanding speech. Lots of Volume. I bought them without having an Audiogram but since I have had the one I posted. My fitter insists that it would not benefit me to adjust them using the Audiogram because she would need to reduce the volume and that would be decremental to my profound hearing loss. Any suggestions?


#10

Wait, they are not set up for your hearing loss? I think you need to protect what is left by having them set up for your hearing loss.

What reputable professional would advise you to use hearing aids not set up for your loss?


#11

The fitter set them up using her software. I hear very well. Birds-Traffic-Dogs Etc. I just do not understand one on one conversations very well.


#12

I found that Sonic and Starkey gave me the sound “I expected” from the world around me, including music. I wouldn’t say I have a huge database to draw from, but I did try a few other brands and they were not natural sounding at all.


#13

I am a musician who has worn hearing aids for 27 years. I am now wearing Widex Beyond 440. Great sound quality. For me, I have demoed Starkey and Oticon and had Phonak, Widex is much more natural sounding than the others and is very flexible.


#14

So far, nobody seems to know of any sources of objective measures of sound fidelity nor baseline (pre-fitting) comparisons of HAs. I do understand the important of fitting/customizing to the user, which this conversation has morphed to (my fault, explaining why I was asking brought up fitting issues).

However, given my disappointment at the sound quality, I really did want to know if there were any non-subjective lab-measured ratings of reproduction quality of various models out there. I want to include sound fidelity as one of the components of my HA choice (in case I decide to return my current pair).

Unfortunately, the few publications I could find seem oriented to specific manufacturers, with other brands cleverly designated as “HA-1”, “HA-2”, and so forth, for example:
http://www.hearingreview.com/2018/03/comparison-feedback-cancellation-systems-premier-hearing-aids/
Also there is the sense that they are publishing only what makes their own brand look good, hence my desire for objective third-party testing.

However, the comments posted from those who have tried more than one model are very useful food for thought, so thank you for those.


#15

Non-subjective lab measured ratings of sound fidelity is not necessarily a good indicator of how great the reproduced sound in a hearing aid is because people with hearing loss all perceive amplified sounds differently based on their varied degrees of hearing losses. Even for two people with the same audiogram on paper hearing through the same hearing aids, their perceived hearing may be very different in the first place because the physiology of their loss may be different.

What I’m saying is that even if you could find some kind of Non-subjective rating which says that hearing aid A is supposed to be very good, it may still around terrible to you once it’s been SUBJECTED to YOUR OWN hearing.

After all, the physiology of hearing and hearing loss is too complicated to be simplified like you think it can be.


#16

Although aids are optimized for speech, some can accommodate multiple hearing programs. I have had program 2 on my Starkey RICs programmed according to this article, which is the most valuable thing I’ve read for music lovers, and my enjoyment of music has returned, especially classical music (which has a wide dynamic range). I didn’t know how bad my hearing loss had become until I got hearing aids and then made the adjustments noted below.

Audiologists, please pass this link around and share it. Patients, ask your audiologist for these changes:

Turn off all compressors, noise reduction, limiters, feedback circuitry, etc, set the output limiter to hard limit (or 0 dB) and if possible set the equalization by range for the best music fidelity the aids can reproduce.

Ledbetter Speaks Out on Hearing Aids


#17

Jazzpete,

You say Widex is flexible… in what way. I don’t want to go back to wearing their ‘dex’ stuff around my neck. I like to control a lot via app. If you can get me info on the Widex experience from a real user perspective, I would appreciate it.