Terrible Hearing in Noise



My KS5s work satifactorily except in noisy situations, where they fail miserably.
Airports, Churches (echos), Parties, Jury Duty selections, Train Stations, etc. all create perfect hearing voids where word recognition scores tank.
Years of reading complaints on this forum lead me to believe many others have similar problems.
Now that I am considering an HA upgrade, I would find it useful to have a database of actual WRS scores of people using hearing aids in different environments. This data would also be classified by HA make, model, and user characteristics such as hearing loss, etc. This would be a good start on a logical, deterministic way to rank hearing aid products for purchase.
How about it, Hearing Tracker?? Which HAs do the best job of cutting through noise?


LOL JCHunter!! If only every audiologist and hearing aid dispenser thought like YOU!!! This is truly the Holy Grail among us HA wearers: hearing in NOISY places.

Having worn aids myself for about 35 years, I can tell you there is no magic bullet here. However! I do find that the Phonak Marvel aids I’m on trial with have made (to my lame ears!) the most significant, noticeable improvement in this area as compared to other models I’ve worn: Phonak Audeo B, Oticon Opn, Oticon Alta Pro, AGX, older Phonak model, going allllll the way back to my first pair of Starkey aids.

The problem is, I can’t quantify this! Maybe it’s cuz audis don’t have the time to literally quantify the improvement a pair of aids has on a patient. Ideally, they’d do the tone measurement AND the word recognition. OR … dare I say they don’t want to know the truth?!? If patients saw that wearing a fancy new pair of aids does NOT help in noisy places, they’d be less likely to even buy the aids, even if they help in the remaining 70% of situations.

I only have anecdotal evidence for me: I seem to be able to understand about 17% more in noisy places with these Phonaks than with my year-old Audeo B-Direct aids. That surprised me! In the final analysis, only YOU can decide which brand helps you hear the best in noisy places. No amount of data, proof, or what folks say here should be the final determinator for you. Hope you get more replies here - but know that you have my UTMOST empathy.

I’ve walked the talk. And I’m still not hearing everything being said! :slightly_frowning_face:


I agree with the previous post.
My WRS it much lower than I would like. For the past couple of weeks I have been wearing KS8 aids, replacing my KS6s.

The KS8s are much better in noise but I would like better speech recognition. In fact, my wife complained about the noise in Costco but I did not hear much of it with the KS8 aids. In a brief demo session, the KS6 was better than the Resound for speech clarity, in my opinion.

I go for a followup appointment on Saturday and hope to demo other aids.


In my limited experience with ReSound Quattro’s, there is no one program setting that works best in all noisy places. Different noise, from different directions, in different noisy environments. So even if you find an HA and settings that work well in one of your favorite noisy environments, in a different environment you may find yourself playing with program settings to hear speech better and not hear as much of the noise.


This reply is just specific to the post above. With my personal experience, the OPN single default program seems to work well for me in any kind of environment, simple or complex, or various noisy environments.

But to be fair, it simply just lets me hear everything in all environments so that’s why it doesn’t need to rely on the hearing aids to make adjustments to different environments. I rely on my brain to make the adjustment instead of letting the hearing aids to do it for me, which is a better approach in my opinion. I just rely on the hearing aids to clean up the speech for me.


I have to agree I have found I only need my default program. I also have the Oticon OPN1s, but mine are custom ITE half shell aids. I have had my aids just over a month and I am finding that I am still get better at separating voice and noise.


I’m wearing the Widex 440 Fusion 2 RIC. My aided WRS is 100% @ 50 dB. My aided quickSin scores are in the normal range. In real life complex environs I hear quite well. That in spite of a 44% WRS in my unaided left ear. They are far superior to the Oticon Alta2 pro that they replaced. They are absolutely terrific with music. And the app allows you to tune them to enhance their performance based on your personal preferences and save the program.


Mine worked fairly well, but that was after several adjustments. The noise/party program comes pretty mild. On the settings we maximized speech and soft speech and minimized noise and loud noise.

But, the more modern hearing aids work better. They still need tweaks though.


Earlier last year, I had a trial of the Phonak Lyric (it’s inserted by an audiologist and stays in 24/7).

One strange occurrence happened to me - I went to a pub quiz which was broadcast over a PA. Unaided, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but with HAs it became unintelligible.

I had scenarios where I could hear someone at the other side of the room, but the person next to me was garbled.

I still haven’t been able to work out what was going on. The Lyric was an analogue device.

Similarly, I did a test with my Oticon Synergy Spirit mini BTEs. I walked through a bus station with and without aids, listening to the PA, people around me, and beeps from elevators and so on.

Things were actually better unaided. I even found some sounds were louder without aids.

I’ve had REM done at the hospital so they should be set up correctly.

I’m not 100% happy with them, but they’re all I have at the moment. The only time I find them useful is in quiet situations.

I believe they’re comparable to the Alta 2 as they run on the Inium platform. As mentioned above, it sounds like there’s room for improvement.

Another issue is the fit of the domes and how much of an impact on this has on sound quality.


It’s not as simple as you imagine. Test-retest variability for WRS is very high, such that it is probably not a sensitive enough test to find any meaningful differences between brands of hearing aid. The variability of an environment is also dramatically high not just from place to place, but from moment to moment. So you need a better way of classifying environments, and then a better way to measure outcomes.

Here come some numbers off the top of my head which, on another day given more time, I might be able to back up:
For controlled environments in the lab, a normal hearing person needs a average of 0 dB signal to noise ratio to understand what is being said (e.g. the target speaker and the background noise are at the same level). Individuals with hearing loss may need anywhere from 0 to about 18 dB signal to noise ratio (SNR) to be able to understand speech in noise, depending on their individual hearing loss (correllated with the severity of their hearing thresholds, but not as tightly as you might think). Directional microphones, which all manufacturers have now, can boost the signal to noise ratio in perfect lab settings by about 3-6 dB. Narrow beam forming using ear-to-ear processing (e.g. Phonak, Signia) can do a little bit better but I cannot remember the number being claimed; I’m pretty sure it was less than 10 dB. Oticon claims a potential 9 dB SNR improvement with their Opn 1 product and the explanations of theoretical function are very nice, but there is zero independent research to support this. Real-world benefit of various directional strategies hasn’t been measured that often, but I would guess that assuming a real-world benefit of 6 dB SNR is probably quite generous. (This will also depend on the characteristics of the fit–I’ve seen a very small bit of research suggesting that in real-world environments users with open fits don’t get any particular benefit from directional microphones at all.)

Relatedly, most environments that people are in day-to-day have an SNR of somewhere between 2-14 dB. If, say, you are a user who needs an SNR above 11 dB and your hearing aids provide a 6 dB advantage on a good day, any situation with an SNR worse than 5 dB is beyond the capability of modern hearing aids. There are a lot of people with hearing loss who need greater than 11dB SNR, and there are a lot of situations with worse than 5 dB SNR. That is, the best hearing aids on the market are not enough in many situations and for many people. Remote microphones can do better, but the percentage of people who make (or are even willing to try to make) good use of remote microphone tech is VERY low.

Independent research comparing one brand to another is a big black hole, but what is out there suggests that group differences will be pretty small if they exist at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE stronger comparisons between products. Not having it is frustrating. But it’s actually a pretty complex thing to do.


I wear Phonak Brio P-UP and I hear extremely well in Noise. My hearing friends think I hear better in noise then they do!


I hear just fine in noisy place with my OPN1s.


Too bad Neville’s post didn’t put the topic to rest. In answer to the Opn1 fan club, I was going to cite Dr. Cliff’s YouTube video on speech in noise but got too busy watching Clemson take on Alabama in the CFP game.
Just as Neville says and Dr. Cliff mentions in his video, there is noise that no HA can handle by itself. A remote microphone is essentially a directional or local aid to your hearing aid, either favoring a particular direction or an immediate locality and limiting the intrusion of noise far better than any HA. And with open domes, I do find the ability to pick directionality and the extent of its focus very helpful when very loud noise is coming from behind me and the only people that I want to hear are right in front of me. I guess for folks who like to hear noise all around and have wall-of-sound-itis should go with the Opns. The Opns seem to conquer noise, no matter how loud, despite what Neville and Dr. Cliff have pointed out on the limits of most HA’s to deal with a certain volume of noise (from all-around).

I think if one considers how noisy some restaurants and other settings can be, where even a normal hearing person can have trouble understanding what is being said, the answer that the Opn1 solution is the best solution and conquers all situations is patently exaggerated, as Neville politely pointed out.

I think an excellent point, too, quietly made by Neville, is whether you’re fitted with open domes or not, as to how well any HA can fight noise. I’m in that situation but despite that, I do find, depending on the type of noise and its direction, my HA settings can be adjusted to allow better speech understanding (but perhaps not as much as if I had closed domes). I’ve thought about it and bit in the past and wondered if it’s like Edwin Land’s demonstration of color and how yellow is not always yellow.

Edwin Land used to give entering MIT freshman a great welcoming lecture on the theory of color before things got fired up for the first semester. Land would show how one’s perception would depend on the surroundings that color is shown in (one minute you’d be seeing one color, the next minute, although only the projection of the surroundings had changed, the color would look completely different). So for my case with open domes where a lot of the noise still comes through, I’ve been wondering why twiddling the settings a little bit makes the speech come through so much clearer relative to the noise in certain noise situations and without the noise, the setting might make human speech sound very tinny and unnatural - lots of treble, for example - but with the noise in the background, the speech is clarified and sounds very natural, perhaps because the noise is influencing my perception of speech, just as Land’s chosen color background influenced one’s perception of a given color. I’ve even wondered if the trompe de oreille is the brain, from the high-pitched sounds, filling in the lower or mid pitched sounds it can’t hear as well as it might in a quiet environment (where all the added treble would make the overall sound tinny).


I don’t remember making this statement above myself. The only salient point I was making was in response to your comment about no hearing aids seem to work well with a single program and adjustments usually have to be made for various environments for users to be happy with different noisy environments. I just wanted to point out that I’m happy with the OPN default program probably 99% of the times.

And yes, I did add that this single default program seems to work well for me in noise as well. But the intention was never to get into a pissing contest about which hearing aids conquer noise and which hearing aids don’t. The intention was only about 1 single program working well for almost all situations without any tinkering, that’s all.


Well I am fully in the belief that I only need the default program, I set in a very noisy meeting this morning and I set in the very back of the room with the speaker at the front of the room, I did have to turn my volume up a notch but I was able to hear the speaker and any one that was asking questions. This is something I haven’t been able to do before I got my OPN1s. Sure I understand that not all will get the same results, and I would not get the same results with what works for them.
If there is something I have learned over my 71 years is that I have to have an open mind to every thing. And that everyone is different regardless of what our education system believes.


Marketing is marketing. What you can’t argue with are the personal experiences of the folks who wear them. There is no doubt they are a great solution for some people.



My original and continued point is precisely that no one size fits all is realistically possible with HA’s or with settings within an HA. I am not claiming superiority or dissing any HA brand. Just saying if Opn folks want to say that Opn’s will successfully handle noise in 99% of situations. then maybe efigalaxie needs to offer tours of his steel mill. I’ve got some noisy restaurants in San Antonio that easily challenge the limits Neville discussed and both narrow directionality and remote microphones, especially with sudden loud noises definitely improve things tremendously for me, at least.

I think that another point that Neville makes is pretty valid, too. Most of the “evidence” is pretty anecdotal, uncontrolled. and not very scientific. Users have to read of other people’s experiences and opinions, try things out and see what works for them. Opn would be one of the best. maybe the best to try first for relatively twiddle-free speech in noise hearing (it was initially my first HA choice).

I am just contesting the premise on which this thread was started that there is a HA brand and setting(s) that will conquer all. Different folks in different noisy situations may need different “strokes.” Unedited as folks want me to go somewhere. Mark Chambers puts my view well.


I think we agree that there is no one size fits all. I like the Evokes because I can tune them. Dr Cliffs Schtick that the Phonak Autosense is better at making choices that the wearer is, IMNSHO, bull. No doubt the universal programs get close in a general sense but I can use the app and improve it.


Yeah, I’ve read some people turn Auto Sense off. I’d really like a hands on adjustment like the Evokes and Marvels with manual programs for loud ambient noise.


I think this is a topic which is doomed to be discussed without a definitive answer being found.

It is fair to say that electronics will never be able to reproduced the dynamic range of a normal human ear, especially when outputting it through a tiny speaker and then having that output deciphered through an ear and brain that isn’t 100%.

Noise is very subjective. When most people talk about noise, they mean ambient background noise such as traffic, the general hubbub of conversation, a coffee machine hissing and so on.

Where I’ve found HAs fail is when encountering severe noise such as that in heavy industry - hammering, grinding and also loud live music - concerts and so on. This is obvious as I’ve noticed ‘clipping’ where noise sounds like it’s being fed through a machine gun and it’s hitting the limits of the device. This also causes the person speaking to ‘break up’.

Of course, in these situations, taking them out completely is my solution or wearing ear defenders in the case of heavy industry. The problems arise when you need to speak to someone intermittently in an environment where you would also need to wear ear protection. You have this silly situation where you’re both blocking out noise and amplifying it too.

For me, the solution was to find a different job.

I’m of the opinion that HAs should reproduce all noise faithfully. It’s up to the brain to sort it out. Otherwise you end up with this situation when you’re experiencing the environment through a constantly changing graphic equaliser. :slight_smile: