I am an older guy. I have been listening at home to music through “high fidelity” audio equipment when I was in college. Throughout the decades I have continued to upgrade the quality of the system. My present system, with considerable PS Audio equipment: Aspen speakers, preamp, DACII, SACD transport, BHK 300 amps. The sonic presentation is the best I’ve ever had in my home. Every upgrade that I have made, including power cables (now all Audioquest Dragon) interconnects and speaker wire is readily apparent to my ears. The system is truly wonderful and every closer to what one would hear in a live music presentation.
Being an elderly guy and curious I just had my hearing tested. It showed deficits in high frequencies in both ears, a bit more so in the right ear. Yesterday I met with audiologists at Mt Sinai Hospital. I told them about my experience and my curiosity about the impact of hearing aids on my ability to hear and enjoy listening to music at home. They said that he probably would have to go to a rather expensive live of hearing aids and choose one in their line close to or at the top of the line (top of the line costs
$7500., not chump change. I could order a set and return it within the trial period. I went home thinking more about this. I am posting hear because I wonder if there are guys and gals who have
chosen to purchase and use hearing aids. If you are one of those I would like to hear about your listening experience with and without hearing aids. This would help me to decide my next step.
I am in your position but 5 years earlier.
I bought good hearing aids, $6K, and really tried to use them with audiologist making adjustments on frequencies for over a year. The always were detrimental to the quality of listening to my system and is high end. They marginally helped in loud crowded places such as restaurants but that’s it.
They have been sitting in a box for over 4 years and I don’t want or need them. $$ would have been better spent on other things. Each of our cases are will be, different but that’s my experience.
I appreciate hearing about your experience. I worry that your experience is likely to be mine. I could take advantage of
the trial period that is offered and return them if I find myself in the same position as did you.
I was surprised to learn the other day that one of my friend’s wife (around 60) wears hearing aids. She told me with hers, she can route phone calls and listen to podcasts directly though her hearing aids via her iPhone. Not much different than AirPods I guess, but did not know it could be done with hearing aids. I can see that would be helpful to some folks. She did say they were rather expensive too.
You’re far from alone. Many of us can’t afford finer gear until later in life, when most of us have accumulated a lifetime of damage to our hearing, particularly in the high frequencies. You should look through the “Copper” magazine back issues - editor Frank Doris wrote about the problem once, and I wrote a two-part article on it, published in issues 160 and 165.
For my part, I’ve chosen not to go the high-end hearing aid route, and simply remove my inexpensive aids when I want to listen to the hi-fi. I find that the less expensive aids distort treble significantly, including occasional variations in amplitude, and exhibit something that sounds curiously like phase shift on instruments like the piano. And I believe the listening experience doesn’t suffer at all for lack of the hearing aids, for reasons Frank and I both discuss in those articles.
I’m in that same boat. I started wearing aids about 8 years ago for high frequency loss in both ears. I’ve worn Oticon aids for those 8 years. This year I was advise to look into replacing them. I tried another pair of Oticon aids. Couldn’t stand them. Trying a pair from Phonak and ReSound right now. I am leaning toward the Phonak. I’ve found you need to evaluate hearing aids the same way you would any audio device. I’m sure there are aids out there that sound better than the trial pairs I’ve tried but finding them is the issue. There’s no publication that evaluates them that I’ve found. A good audiologist will arrange trials of several pairs for you. My hearing loss is to the point that I need the hearing aids in, even for listening to music.
I saw a couple posts saying Oticon were good for music. With my old pair, I would agree. The trial pair I wore for a couple weeks recently were terrible for music. I questioned my audiologist about that and explained that most hifi audio brands had characteristic sounds. She said that’s not true for hearing aid. She also said if I didn’t like any of the trial pairs this year, wait until next year and all the brands would sound slightly different.
That is quite challenging. My systems are producing reproduced music closer to what one would hear in a live
presentation than ever in a lifetime of listening to systems in my home Every time I replace an interconnect or a power cord for
a better one , change the DAC ! for the DAC II I have no difficulty hearing the difference, in spite of my measured
deficits in the high frequencies. I have yet to make up my mind to proceed with a trial for an expensive hearing. My
audiologist recommends the Widex line. It may be that my first step would be to go to a Costco Hearing Center and
get one of the less expensive one to deal with conversation and tv sound. This would give me the opportunity to get
used to wearing and using hearing aids. However, no decision has been made.
If you do decide to try hearing aids, any hearing aids, give them a fair chance. Your brain has had plenty of time to adjust to your hearing loss. All of a sudden you’ll be hearing things you haven’t heard for a long time, and it is sudden. When I first started wearing them, my audiologist started with about 70 or 80% of what I needed and every couple weeks she’d bump them up a bit more. It is an adjustment for sure.
That’s not surprising. I’ve read stories about how elderly conductors who are supposedly quite hearing compromised could still discern and correct the slightest nuances in the course of rehearsals. My wife has extremely compromised hearing. She wears top of the line Oticon aids but still measures as having deficits in higher frequencies. She has become a bit of an audio connoisseur herself and easily discerns differences when swapping interconnects, vibration control footers, power cords, etc. in spite of her impairments. The brain has phenomenal adaptive abilities. What davidnapo mentioned about your brain needing to adapt to the new inrush of auditory input with hearing aids was very true for her as well. She had the exact same experience. Everyone is different but in her case she found Oticon aids to be a huge upgrade to her music enjoyment compared to lesser quality earlier generations of aids. She always has purchased top of the line hearing aids but she said going to the newest generation of aids from Oticon was like going from a boom box to a high end system for listening.
If you start out with a pair from Costco, and if the brand you choose is controllable by wifi, they’ll set up and remotely control an initial “ramp-up” period in which the correction begins at some percentage of the final correction profile, and gradually increases over a period of a couple of weeks until it’s at full correction. That helps a lot with your accommodation, though you’ll still probably experience a period of time getting used to hearing sounds you haven’t heard or noticed in a long time. Just walking around the house is a revelatory experience - hearing your feet or shoes shuffle on the carpet, or the creak of hardwood. To me it sounded a lot like someone was walking behind me, handling papers.
In some ways it’s a little like getting used to a new pair of glasses. The lens distortions are different, but your brain adjusts. This is similar, if not exactly the same thing.
In trialing a new set of hearing aids two years ago, I was able to evaluate the top of the line Oticons with support from the audiology department at the local University. They were not good with music - like others, the high frequencies - those I could still hear - were markedly muffled while the bass was curtailed. I ended up getting Philips HearLink hearing aids from Costco for about 25% of the cost of the Oticons and do not use these at all for listening to music - they don’t even work well with the car audio. To add perspective, using Apple EarPods is far, far better that any of the dedicated hearing aids I’ve tried.
One additional point to add to the conversation is that I had talked to the manager at Costco about Bose hearing aids being a game changer - these were introduced in late 21/early 22. They did not do well, expectations were high and the Bose hearing aids did not meet these, not even in the mildly impaired population and Bose discontinued them. As I’ve found, hearing aids are far more challenging to discern tangible improvements than eyeglasses.
In my first year of use I didn’t like the performance of my Oticon’s for music. When I visited the audiologist again, she designed a second setting for my aids to do better with music. I believe that basically it turned off some of the “fancy” features like trying to help with listening in a crowd , etc. I definitely like the first setting better for non-music use, but with music the second setting works much better. I also got a couple of tinnitus helper settings, one with white noise and the other that simulates the sound of waves washing up on a beach. They both help a little with tinnitus, but I really like the surf sounds for relaxing.
Yes this issue is rather complex. I tried the first generation of Bose hearing aids several years ago and was very
disappointed and returned them. I suspect, from what you say, that the new ones are not significantly better.
How are your old Oticon aids? Can you listen to music, either in a concert hall or at home, in a beneficial way?