Speech comprehension - how do I get it?

I have been trialing HA models for the last five months trying to find one that enables me to not only hear volume, but also understand what people are saying. Although every HA has increased the volume of speech, I cannot grasp (comprehend) it. Does this make any sense to anyone? (Is comprehension the same as clarity?)
The three BTE models I have tried are Sonic Velocity24, Phonak Excelia, and Widex Mind 440 Model M4-9. My audi has ordered Oticon which should be in this week - I don’t know yet which model.
I have become increasingly frustrated with the process and am wondering if any HA will allow me to not only hear (volume), but comprehend. Even with TV I continue to use the captioning to “understand”.
I would appreciate any advice. Thank you.:confused:

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When you had your hearing tested what was you speech comprehension at that time without wearing aids. Are you new to hearing aids? I mean if your comprehension was poor when tested then hearing aids aren’t going to do a whole lot. Sure, some may reduce background noise, and some may focus more on the speaker in front of you, but thta’s to remove interference. If your comprehension is poor you will continue to struggle. Remember aids don’t fix your hearing. They just try to help with what you have left. My comprehension is 46% in the right ear 56% in the left I use closed caption, movie theaters are awful and I make every effort to face the person who is speaking to me and watch their lips move. It’s not perfect but it helps.

NeilK gives a very thoughtful and detailed review of his experiences with Audeo YES and PURE 500s that might be interesting to you. The title of the particular thread is “Experiences With Phonak Audeo - YES HA’s?”

Audeo YES IX advertises a sound proceessing feature called SoundRecover that is designed to improve comprehension for people with HF loss. The Nadia also advertises this feature. Exelia does not.

I would like to add that I do not have personal experience with these HAs. Like you, I’m in the seemingly endless phase of research. SoundRecover was a feature that stood out as being a feature unique to Phonak, tho it could be a matter of “same thing different name” in another brand and I just missed it.

Like I said, a lot of different brands supply different methods to try to improve speech comprehension, but if your comprehension is poor to start off with then there is only so much an aid can do. Now if your comprehension is good, but the aid seems to be making it worse then the aid needs further adjustments. This is where digital aids can really help. Background noise can be reduced and microphones can be more focused. Also speech and television are two different animals and may require separate programs to help you comprehend them better.

I am a new HA first time user as well.
I have hi freq loss.

I have selected the Siemens Motion M700s.

Two things:

  1. As I understand it, speech recognition --has alot to do with being able to recognize the consonants and vowels. S, F, Sh etc. Some aids have the ability to pick these out of all the audio input and recognize it as part of human speech and amplify (sp) it; and not the background “noise”.

  2. Siemens provides a CD called eArena with has 20 lessons each 30 min long. It’s purpose is to train you to concentrate on hearing these sounds.
    I am very impressed with it. I assume this kind of computer CD training is available without purchasing HAs.

I trialed the Widex Mind 440 … it’s speech recognition was good, but it left me a bit “tired” from all the noises. The Siemens Motions also has good speech recognition due to the techology expressed above, but not as “natural” as the Widex Mind. After weighing the pros and cons I went with Siemens Motion.


Good Luck.

I don’t know if this is pertinet for you or not.

From what I have read,
If you have not heard speech correctly for a long time;
then your BRAIN may have forgotten HOW to process speech.

Even when it gets the audio input with HAs, it has to RELEARN how to interpret it.

This is the argument put forth for encouraging people to get HAs before their hearing loss becomes too prononced.

My experience may or may not apply to you. I’m wearing Phonak Exelias P. My word processing or speech comprehension was not good at all when programmed numerous times by two different audiologists. A third audiologist started from scratch and in less than about 15 minutes I could not only hear the sound of the voice but understand words. This was out in my “real world” and not just in a small room. I could understand the words in the other audiologists little room, but once outside or my own home or other locations I had to struggle, much as I did w/out hearing aids. At times I would actually remove my hearing aids in order to better understand, but that was a struggle as well, because sound was barely audible unless the person was only a few feet away and facing me.

Now a person can be in another room or down a hallway facing away from me, speaking in a normal tone. I understand every word.

Your situation may be quite different, however. Some audiologists seem to not understand the software well. Others…I don’t know why they don’t “get it” when it comes to finer techniques in programming. I think most of the people they fit do not have complex problem but just need more volume. Or as one audiologist pointed out, programming hearing aids is part science and part art.

I hope all the audiologists on board here look at your audiogram and pitch in with suggestions. Believe me, I know what a struggle it is not to have good word comprehension and no way to tell which hearing aid is best. No way to know if it is your hearing loss, the make/model of the hearing aid, the programming or a combination of several things. I started on my journey almost a year ago and have had success for just the last 11 days. Still have perhaps a bit of fine tuning for music, but very little at that.

Thank you carolo for giving me hope and support. It is uplifting to know someone else has had a similar experience. My speech audiometry with the Widex Mind was almost 100% “in the booth”, but out in the real world it wasn’t even close, although the perception was that if I could get rid of the external superfluous noise and muffling I might actually have comprehension. As “thanks2” expressed, it was a tiring experience straining to hear thru the interference. I suspect that most HA require more time and adjustments than the trial periods allow, so it becomes a question of which one works best out of the box to make the investment worth persuing on a long term basis. I make an exchange today for Oticon and will see how that goes. I am truly blessed to have stumbled onto this website to learn about HA. It is no wonder that so many patients get frustrated and give up. Thank you to all who respond to the many questions on this forum. You are doing a great service to many people who don’t find help elsewhere.

I don’t know what my speech comprehension was unaided because no one ever provided that information and I didn’t know to ask when I received my first HA in 2004. My experience has been that I am given HA and told to “try this”. If you don’t complain, that’s the end of it (as with my first HA). After 5 years I felt I needed more assistance so I decided the $5K+ would be worth the improvement, but the improvement didn’t seem to be worth the $ spent so I pursued the question and here I am three models later still looking for better comprehension. Why can I get it “in the booth” but not outside? If HA will not improve my comprehension, why not just get a cheap amplifier? Seems like there should be a better method of selection? My audi says they all have different algorithms and the only way is to try it out.

I agree and would like to amplify these thoughts. Hearing comprehension relies on being able to discriminate among “p”, “t”, “v”, “d” etc. etc sounds. These sounds are almost entirely carried by the high sound frequencies between 2KHz and 4KHz. Good hearing aids are able to amplify these sounds to bring them into your hearing range. If the hearing aid is properly adjusted to your hearing profile, you should definitely see a significant improvement in your speech comprehension. Ms.Pam, Get a new hearing test and focus on word recognition scores with and without adjusted hearing aids.

BTW, excellent digital hearing aids are available for $1000 - $1500, far less than $5K.

MsPam, I would strongly consider the Phonak Audeo IX YES HAs. I have a fairly steep loss such as yourself and I started using these a couple of weeks ago. The Siemens Pure 700 did not work for me so I decided to try the YES HAs. I was going to check out the Widex Passions, but I then looked at the YES and it seemed worth trying. They are very clean and natural sounding and speech comprehension for me has been fairly good.

There is a very nice thread on the Hearing Aids discussion and another user Neilk has been posting some really good commentaries on his experience with these aids. Even though I am new to HAs, I think these are really top of line.

The SoundRecover feature is supposed to take frequencies out of the higher frequency range (which may be in the severe to profound areas) and shift them to the lower frequencies where there is some hearing left.

Did I hear my name mentioned??? :smiley: My word comprehension was pretty bad without aids, and not that much better with them. I would have agreed readily with Hask after my first two aids over the last 7 year period, and the Siemens Pure 500’s I was currently trialing. Then I trialed these Phonak YES IX’s. My co-workers were amazed on my first day in the office with them last Monday that I could hear them, and understand every word they were saying and that they no longer had to yell at me. A week and a half later, I still can. You can view my audiogram in my Profile by clicking on my name next to the post. I have severe to profound loss, above 4k especially so. My word comprehension has increased incredibly. I’ve had them since a week ago Friday and will be going for my second fitting this Wednesday. I will return the Siemens to my audi, and she will replace the receivers with ones that have a slightly longer wire to allow the aids to sit a bit further back on my ears.

Neilk, what did your speech comprehension come in at when tested? It’s kind of difficult to really compare anything without that information. In other words mine is 46% rt ear, 56% lt ear. So no matter how good the aid is there is always going to be some kind of comprehension problems.

Great explanation on comprehension! I have no test results on unaided word recognition scores in the past. My current audi didn’t do one and when I commented about it on my last visit Feb. 18 she glossed over the subject commenting on my last aided score. That aided score was almost 100% in the booth but in the real world it was totally different – those Widex Mind HA amplified all sounds and I couldn’t discern speech well enough to comprehend. Matter of fact, on the last day I went back to wearing my old ReSound Canta 770 and had better comprehension and felt relieved at not being badgered by sounds. One afterthought is that my audi never got the Widex programmed right, but I don’t want to spend my life running back for adjustments, and I’ve decided I don’t want HA that aren’t compatible with wireless technology (as in Bluetooth).

I suppose I will need to pursue the word comprehension test with her on another visit and I suspect it will take persistance as they try to limit the length of visits. I also swapped the Widex and am now trialing the Oticon Epoq. Only on day 2 but they seem to be the best model for me so far. I also told my audi that I would not make a decision until I trial the Phonak Audeo YES.

I suppose there are good HA available for much less than $5K, so why aren’t they offered?

Looking forward to reading your experiences with the Audeo YES!

Did those hearing aids have directional microphone control (such as ADRO or WDRC)? If enabled, this would decrease background noise and improve word comprehension. Click on this video to see how this works. http://www.americahears.com/Products/ADROVid2.html

They are. See www.americahears.com

Sorry, been busy at work and with a new pup so haven’t been in here as much. I don’t have the info here with me at work, but will try to remember to check when at home this weekend. Your numbers sound pretty familiar though, I think close to my own, but will post when I get it. However, my speech comprehension has definitely increased greatly with the Phonak Audeo YES IX’s. Just yesterday, we had a gathering around my desk with our development manager who has a little tiny girl’s high-pitched voice that I could never hear and always gave up trying to decipher what she was saying. It was the first time I could hear her 100% and understand every word she was saying in the 7 years I have been working here. Both of us were amazed and quite happy with the results of the YES.

I have struggled with hearing aids on and off for about 10 years. I may be trading a pair of very expensive Siemens Cielos for ones from America hears. I wish I would have found this forum years ago. What I have learned here confirms my suspection the main problem is the audioligists I have worked with don’t know what they are doing. I have the common HF loss. No, I haven’t ever been trusted with the audiograms I have paid for. I think they adjust the hearing aids to only pick up the highest frequencies and amplify them to where they drown out the lower ones you need too. I can’t stand to have my hearing aids in when my wife is running the vacuum cleaner. Turned up to where I can understand her, it is intolerably loud.

I have the Siemens adjusted time after time. Sometime it is half decent when I leave, but in a week or 2 has drifted up the scale and is again assulting me with shrill noise.

I don’t know if a competent audioligist could fix them or not. The provider can’t and won’t do anything except adjust them again. If I want to be able to hear, I think the best thing to do is to trade them in on ones I can adjust myself.

I’d be wearing hearing protection with a vacuum cleaner running, not trying to communicate with someone.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the audeo is strong enough for a profound hearing loss, and I have tried Phonaks naida and didn’t like it