Tried a little experiment at a busy restaurant

Hi all,

I go for a CI evaluation in less then two weeks……I really don’t feel it’s something that I need to do but both my Audi and Cochlear (after her discussing with them) feel I should at least “start the process”………

For “full disclosure” I do have a fluctuating loss but usually reverts to my level of loss.

Last night while at dinner. We were at a nice but busy restaurant. Six of us sat at a big round table and I really struggled to hear all of the conversations. One guy(the closest) to me was the hardest. I was able to hear the waiter clear, and surrounding sounds quite well but the low chat at table just killed me. Half way through our seating - I decided to take out my aids completely and see who much worse it was……

To my dismay; I felt I could follow the conversations ALMOST the same as with the aids. For sure the overall level of volume was half but I felt almost the same clarity and if I really concentrated, I was getting the same result.

On the other hand; everything outside the table went “dim” I no longer could hear the light background music, waiter became harder to hear and there was no chance of hearing any part of conversation from the table beside us (which I got part of when trying with the aids in)…….IS THIS A NORMAL REACTION? Anyone tried or gotten similar??

My gut feeling is that more volume of the aids is great in quieter settings. Allows me to pick up
birds chirping, background, distance sounds etc but not sure my main thing (clarity) is getting much benefit.

Sometimes I feel I am nearly better off going back to no aids and just dealing with missing things and that belonging to who I am now.

Any feedback/ suggestions is greatly appreciated.


The absolute worst case scenario for hearing aid users is a very noisy restaurant with lots of conversations going on in close proximity. Most hearing aids struggle with this situation because the hearing aids incorrectly pick the wrong conversation to focus on. Usually the hearing aids pick the loudest person vs the person you are looking at. My Phonak Lumity hearing aids handle this scenario better than any other hearing aids I have tried but it’s far from perfect. Best strategy is to try and get a table in a corner of the restaurant with your back to the wall to minimize background chatter.



Maybe you’d benefit from a fixed directional program under those conditions. Somebody on this board who’s familiar with your particular brand and model of HA’s might be able to offer a suggestion.


I’m certainly not an expert, but depending on your aids and how they’re programmed, this is about what I’d expect. Your audiogram is almost a horizontal line, so depending on how your aids are programmed, they may be functioning more as amplifiers, just increasing the volume of everything. That won’t make it much easier to discern your targeted speech from background noise, and may make it harder if you couldn’t hear the background noise before. Even if they’re programmed to amplify speech frequencies more, that won’t help when the background noise is more speech.

As others have said, directional beamforming can help here. If your aids already have it, I’m sure someone here can help you figure out the settings. If not, I second the recommendations for Phonak Lumity aids. If you’re using directional beamforming aids, I suggest having your companion sit with their back to a wall, and then you sit facing them with your back to most of the noise. There are limits to what these things can do when the noise you want to cut out is coming from directly behind the voice you want to focus on.

They aren’t always enough, and in those situations, the Phonak Roger line of microphones is amazing. The difference is night and day. At my office holiday party, I went from seeing the person across the table’s lips move but being unable to distinguish any sound they made from the overall din, to being able to have a perfectly normal conversation once I whipped out the Roger On and put it on the table.


My wife and I attended a business function which was preceded with wine and appetizers. The noise was so loud that my wife, with good hearing, had difficulty conversing with the person next to her. I have Lumity 90’s and a Roger On but that did not help much. The Roger just magnified the surrounding noise even in the pointing mode. There is a limit to the surrounding noise level that permits the Roger to be helpful. Later in the presentation part of the function, however the Roger was indispensable. In less noisy situations I have found the Roger On to be quite helpful.

I just noticed my most recent audiogram wasn’t updated. It is now but I do agree that my loss seems to be a very “flat” loss…….

For what it is worth, I feel that I struggle less now that I have an Advanced Bionics CI in my worse ear. I use the Phonak Link Marvel hearing aid that actually does connect with the CI it’s the only brand of CI that does that. In restaurants I do a combination of looking for the seat with my back to the wall, but also I have a program called Speech in Loud Noise which narrows the cone of sound pick up to just in front of me. If I look at the person speaking I can likely get about as much as others my age. maybe more. it is surely better. I haven’t tried a roger device on the table yet since it seems manageable so far. With just a couple people at a table I do pretty well. I think a CI eval would be a helpful next step to take and see what your options are. You don’t have to move forward if you don’t want to, but at least you are gathering options. My family says I am doing MUCH better than before. I did lose my residual hearing in the CI ear, but it is better so I don’t mind.

1 Like

If you use the “speech in loud noise” program with forward beam forming , try sitting with YOUR BACK to the room and your partner towards the wall. The aids should block some of the sound from behind and focus more in front ( aka beam forming)


Have you got speech in noise with your hearing aid/s. I have the Widex Moment 440 which has speech in noise & wind noise reduction. This means in situations such as above it does pick out speech of those around me, whilst still keeping the background noise. It’s important to get the best fit type for you & fitting as recommended to enable this to work at its best. My hearing is similar to yours, a little lower in the middle.


Upwards masking was the biggest issue for me with my flat loss. Helped loads hearing speech in noise once sorted.


You are either not hearing any sounds below your hearing threshold or not hearing them well, light background music, waiter, and so on.

This is why you feel you are getting the same or better hearing not wearing you hearing aids. You are not hearing sounds that you don’t want to hear.

Your hearing aids amplify those sounds to your hearing threshold, and you are now able to hear them. In your case, you find the sounds distracting and unhelpful.

Unfortunately, you lose out on some of the conversation, and this may isolate you if you don’t wear your hearing aids.

As the others have pointed out, you would better off having a hearing-in-noise setting that’s more directional and helps filter out some of the background noise.

Note most hearing aids can have four programs. You can have your HCP program three of them for hearing-in-noise with different settings for you to try. If you can get one or two of these settings to work for you, then that would free up one or two program settings for music or telephone settings if you wish.


I actually have 4 setting related to noise and different levels of amplification. I find that in most cases, the “regular” setting seems to be best. I did try the new “re-sound” hearing aids recently with the directional settings but I found the Oticons I presently have - were “almost” the same (especially taking in the cost to upgrade) The directional settings helped but I didn’t think enough to have to change aids.


I’ve done the restaurant test a few times, and a pair of Phonak Lumity with their StereoZoom2 feature was the best, by a wide margin, directionality feature I’ve experienced. I found it jaw droppingly good. You definitely owe it to yourself to trial them before CI.


Well we hear what we hear. I find the hear-in-noise setting on my Philips to work much better then the general setting while dining in a restaurant. In your case, you say you don’t.


My goto for loud restaurant noise is put my back to the noise, turn on my Roger On, and mute my hearing aid mics. So all sound comes through the Roger, and i can hear everything at my table, but not much beyond that. Sometimes i also put the Roger in pointing mode. Depends on how close other noise is.


Now that you mention it, that does make more sense.


I have to agree with the others that the right HAs with the right program can really help these restaurant scenarios. I also used to take my HAs off in a restaurant because less background noise was what I needed to understand the person in front of me. The ‘speech in noise’ and ‘restaurant’ programs I have for my current HAs keep the background noise audible but manageable while also focusing on the people at my table. Before these HAs I could hold a conversation with 1-2 others in a noisy restaurant and it was a struggle. Now I am able to participate in conversations with 3-4 others with some effort but no longer a struggle like it was before.

Also, @cleveto I just got my first HAs with different directional programs (Phonak Naida L90-UPs) and this is exactly what I noticed! I normally always would sit against the wall/facing the noise and after getting my new HAs and having them for a bit I naturally started putting my back to the noise and didn’t even notice until my husband pointed it out :smiley:


I do the same with “turn on my Roger On, and mute my hearing aid mics.” And directionally mute out un need segments (6 segments in a circle each covering 60 degrees). this makes me be able to hear inspite of my profound hearing loss from 1800 Hz onward.


I’ve got a speech recognition loss that requires the speech I need to recognize to be 8dB above background speech even though I’ve only got a moderate hearing loss. I’m using the Starkey Evolv RIC 24 aids because the Thrive App on my phone allows me to choose the 4 different directional settings (omni, forward directional, dynamic switching between front and side, and automatic) for any of the 4 audiologist provided settings: Normal, left diminished 2dB right augmented 4dB, right diminished 2dB, left augmented 4dB, and Crowd everything diminished 2dB defaults to front directional). I never know which directional setting is going to work best in busy restaurants especially with 6 or more in my party.

The more directional the HA mics are, the better it is to sit with my back to the sounds I don’t want to be picked up and amplified. The Omni (uniform from all directions) setting works best with my back to a wall.

You really have to understand how the directionality of your HA mics behave in order to come up with where you want to sit unless you go to external mics.

Starkey took out the ability for the user to choose the directionality of the mics in their Genesis / MyStarkey App which is why I switched to their precious generation units.


I have Phonak Audeo Paradise P90R’s.
I never know what program autosense has chosen.
I think there’s a time delay before the HA’s change program. I think that the audio chooses that when he sets them up.
My audi never shared his settings with me. Now I know he could have easily done so; Target User and Pro reports can be printed or emailed.
Finally, my audi never thought to link my Left HA to my Right HA. So settings didn’t work. And he had the wrong domes selected in Target.

I had a terrible time in busy restaurants.

Craig thanks for your suggestion. My hearing aids were properly set up with a new hearing test yesterday. I’ll give your suggestion a try. I’ll go to my favourite noisy restaurant and give it a try!


1 Like