Warbling and cutting in/out: What should my HIS be adjusting in Inspire?

So about a month ago, at the behest of my wife, I got fitted with a set of Starkey 3 Series 20 RICs, the first HAs I’ve ever worn (I’m early 40s) since having hearing loss from multiple middle ear infections as a child. I’m running into two persistent problems: First, higher pitched tones (women and children’s voices, the backup beep of my wife’s car) tend to have a warbling or vibrato effect, as if people were talking to me from an electric massage chair. Second, continuous sounds such as the range hood fan and running faucet will gradually cut in and out, sometimes both sides, other times alternating. My HIS tried to give me music mode which seemed to solve both problems but then I had a constant, soft static or high pitched “eeeeeeeeee” in the background. She is eager to help me figure out what’s going on but she’s stumped by these issues. Is there anything in the software that she can adjust to fix or at least minimize them?

Hi,

the warbling is the feedback killer. It changes the frequency to break the feedback loop.

The cut in / out of the fan can be:
a) Noise reduction going on and off
b) Soft sound manager cutting off those sounds (this is some kind of noise gate, many aids have that. If turned on, only sounds above a certain threshold are amplified, typically 35 dB. If there is a noise at 35 dB, then sometimes it´s just below the threshold, sometimes above, thus the in - and - out)

It seems that the fan is just on the edge of being suppressed, so it goes in and out.

The high pitched “eeeeee” is probably feedback.

In music mode, there is no feedback suppression and no noise reduction, so you got rid of the first two problems and introduced the third one.

Solutions:

  • get well fitting custom molds with just a little vent. This will (hopefully) prevent the aid from going to feedback
  • turn off the feedback suppression
  • turn of or reduce the static noise reduction (or turn it stronger, if you want to get rid of the fan)
  • ask how soft sounds are amplified. For my aid, there is a “Soft noise manager”, I don´t know what it is called at starkey.

To offer music mode to solve those problems makes me suspicios that your fitter is not a real expert. While music mode is fine for music, all advanced features of the aid are turned off in that mode. On the other hand, if you hear well in that mode, why not.

Real Ear Measurement would help here as you’ll see when the aid goes into saturation/fiddles about with background noise.

Turning down the aggression of the noise management would be a start for the steady state noise. As stated above occluding the canal will help.

I’d also start looking at the amount of gain at 3-4Khz - if it’s causing the aid to saturate there, it’s obviously set to high for the canal resonance/openness.

Plugging the canal is an option, but if you run the feedback manager properly at inception, it produces a little chart of where the output is likely to exceed the feedback circuit - wherever this occurs you have the option to reduce the gain to mitigate against the feedback. You won’t actually notice gain reduction in terms of your higher pitch hearing as the canal resonance compensates for the lack of electrical gain there.

It’s all a bit Hearing Aids 201, but I’m guessing regarding the hearing aids AND canal as parts of the same mechanism is a bit beyond some.

Thanks for the responses. Before I splash out for custom molds, does any other manufacturer make tulip domes that are compatible with Starkey RIC? According to Starkey they only make fully open or fully closed domes.

There is a progression of domes: open-fit, tulip, single power, double power. Various companies use different names. You should try the next dome up. That’s especially true of your right ear needs. Noise leaks around the dome and causes the feedback and the only cure for that is a stronger dome. Your other alternative is custom molds. You may prefer the single power dome to that.

Starkey recently came out with a new line of domes that have better fit and acoustics. They’re called Comfort Buds. You might want to give them a try before ordering custom earmolds.

I would return these aids

Actually, she did show me a pair of buds that are different than the black open domes I was originally fitted with. I don’t know if they’re Comfort Buds but these are grey balls with holes in them and they do seem better.

Unfortunately these are the only aids my insurance will cover. I was about to give up and just pay out of pocket for higher end aids as you suggested but it looks like she fixed all my complaints today. I’m happy now.