Starkey's feedback managment system too smart for its own good?

As per Starkey’s training and ongoing claims (as well my understanding of that information) that their feedback managment system is ever evolving and able to ‘grow’ with the patient.

That said, I have a patient in a pair of X-Series 9 hearing aids. One is a ITC and the other is the Power Plus BTE. The hearing aids have been calibrated and the seal of the hearing aids are perfect. What the patient says is happening is ongoing random ‘chirps’ from both hearing aids. At our initial fitting, none of these issues were present. As he wore the hearing aids, the problem progressively became worse in both ears.

After numerous attempts of sorting this issue out with his own hearing aids unsuccessfully, I ordered an identical Power Plus BTE and reprogrammed it with his settings. The chirps became worse! I believe this may be due to the circuit and feedback management system, but I cannot verify 100%.

I have since sent the duplicate hearing aid to technical support at Starkey and have asked that they inspect and analyse the hearing aid.

Has anyone else experienced such a thing?

Sounds like an adaptive self-learning system at work.

Does this chirping occur ONLY in dead quiet places?

The chirping happens in every type of environment, regardless of noise levels.

What’s the gain like at 2.5-3khz .

I don’t mean to insult you, but safe to assume you initialized their feedback manager? They’ll say that this step is optional, but it should improve performance.

Also, haven’t worked with the X-Series, but (assuming the options are the same as the Wi’s) the feedback manager should have adaptive, static, and off as options. If this is the case you could experiment with static and off (well, maybe not “off” unless you have a REALLY good acoustic seal) to see if that affects the chirping to help confirm/refute your theory.

Really, your best bet is to call their technical support, which is quite good and has helped me resolve a few problems that had me scratching my head!

Gain between 2.5-3kHz is at about 90%. We are working on a profound loss on this ear.

The initialization was done numerous times. In every case, the system became worse after a period of time.

I called tech support… and this time I left them scratching their heads. I have send the hearing aid directly to tech support for their inspection.

Pull the gain down here about 6 dB and re-check to see if the system is stable. Also, if you suspect dead spots, wind the gain back in there too. If you have a REM system, you’ll see where it’s becoming unstable from the saw-tooth resonance peaks in the HF.

The REM and fine tuning is optimised, and the feedback management system says the hearing aid is stable… it is just strange that it changes stability over time.

It is like trying to hunt down a ghost with this issue.

I am waiting for Starkey to respond, and see what they say.

This can be a common occurrence if the physical fit isn’t as good as you think it is. When you first insert the hearing aid in the patient’s ear it can have a great acoustic seal and the feedback manager shows plenty of stable gain. 5 minutes later due to jaw movement, an ear with poor physical retention, or whatever reason the shell works its way out of the ear ever so slightly, or shifts slightly deeper. In this new position the stable gain is significantly reduced and the hearing aid goes into a feedback state. An older hearing aid would continue to whistle until it was restored to its original position, but a newer one with an adaptive feedback manager will quickly recalculate a new feedback reduction strategy and do its best to cope with the new parameters (this is why you get a short chirp rather than an extended squeal).

Without being there I can’t guarantee this is the problem, but from what you’ve described it’s very likely to be the case.

Um bongo has given you the standard approach to resolving this sort of problem so go back and reread his post regarding using REM. Your response makes it appear that you misread what he suggested. Since you’re working with Starkey I’d use their Speech Mapping screen to determine the feedback spikes rather than REM, but otherwise it’s the approach I would follow.

I should also add that generally I think it’s better to solve feedback problems through shell modification rather than gain reduction, but there are definitely cases where the opposite is true.

I had a somewhat similar problem but with Oticon Chili 7’s that I ended up returning.

I was getting feedback from sounds over 700 Hz that were sustained for a second or more such as beeps from an oven timer. What was causing the feedback was the “dynamic feedback cancellation” itself. Once that was disabled in the software, the feedback went away.

I don’t know if the Starkey algorithms will respond in the same way?

The Oticon’s operate very differently. Theirs is more of a phase cancellation, which at times can be ‘tricked’ by environmental sounds.

Starkey’s system is something quite different.

I know this is an OLD post, but I was having the exact same problem with the chirping sounds. I have the 3-series i90. We tried making new molds 3 times, even made new impressions. Even tried to make the molds thicker after the molds were made. Each time I would still get the chirping. Finally before returning them and giving up, we tried one more thing. We turn off the feedback manager feature all together - and it worked!!! No more chirping sounds. And because my molds are such a good fit, I am not getting and ‘normal’ feedback sounds, so I don’t need the feedback manager on. This may not work for everyone, but it works for me and there is NO degrade in any other feature/function/quality. I am now VERY happy with my Starkey HA!!!

Hi JGirardi. That definitely is one way of ‘solving’ that problem… There was no way of doing that for my patient, but i’m glad it worked for you.

It’s been like this for about 4 days now and it working perfectly for me. Even without the feedback manager on, I still get less feedback than my previous Phonak HA. For example, if I wear a baseball cap or lie down on a pillow, I still don’t get the “whistling” feedback with the starkey HA (but always did with my Phonak).

But this brings up an interesting point. Is there a flaw in the Starkey hearing aid for users who need more gain and are near the maximum gain level? I think so and would like to think Starkey will look into this.

I am surprised this is not a very common problem.

@ HearingAidHelper

Are you still working with this patient? One of the last things we were going to do was take a trip to Minnesota and have them customize my HA. The thought was that if they put a more power in the aid that the chirping would go away. I suspect that is why this is not a widespread issue for everyone. The theory was that because I was maxing out the gain, I was getting the chirping sounds. If we add more power, I would not be at the max level and it would fix the problem. If the patient is willing to fly to Minnesota, they will take care of everything else, including picking up from the airport and lodging. The only thing they require is that you have the top of the line HA. For example, I have the i90, if I had done this, I would have have to upgrade to the i110. This would have been a cost I would of had to pay for.

Starkey probably has a fix for the problem, since they will make custom HA’s for hard to fit hearing losses. The problem is you have to ask the right person to get the answer. The people at may know how to solve the problem since they all worked for Starkey for years and still do a lot of repairs for them and I believe they even make custom HA’s for some of their clients. It might be worth asking them. Good luck!

@ JGirardi,

We abandoned the Starkey boat and got partial credit for returning the hearing aids. We are now in a set of Oticon Alta’s. Patient is very happy with the fit and sound quality.

Glad to hear. Being happy with the fit and sound quality is the most important thing.