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jlingo
03-02-2007, 04:46 AM
I'm an audiophile freak, and very much in love in music. I have been using hearing aids for few years now. The first hearing aids I used was Siemens Acuris. I wasn't happy about it since the sound was too loud and unnatural. Occlusions was also a big problem. I never really got used to it.

Then I bought Acuris Life, and VERY HAPPY with the technology. I have been enjoying my music ever since then. :) Now that my Acuris Life has served me well for 2 years, I'm looking to upgrade my hearing aids again.

Could Anybody suggest the greatest hearing aids in the world that may enhance my music enjoyment even more? Price is not a concerned at this point.

Thank you in advance,


My system at home:
http://www.mmu.co.id/avantgarde1.jpg

Admin
03-02-2007, 08:55 PM
Probably the very best open fit would be the Savia Art with receiver in the ear design.

If you have a low freq loss also, then the Micro Power IX may be a great choice also.

Another would be the Sonic Innovations Balance Open fit, which are tiny and work very well.

ZCT
03-03-2007, 05:46 AM
Wow, the pictures says it all. You are an audiophile.

Starkey just released a new open fit hearing aid with some amazing technology in it based on their Destiny technology. It is so new I forget what the name is, but a Starkey dealer would know. The core technology is about 10 months old, but they have just launched a micro OTE open fit version of it.

I know you audiophiles like a source direct kind of sound where no potentiometers like bass, treble and graphic equalizers are used. But if you have a loss maybe there is some kind of graphic equalizer you could purchase that would allow you to increase the frequencies where you audiogram shows the greatest losses. This way you could enjoy your music without hearing aids.

Keep in mind that all hearing aids are primarily designed with speech amplification in mind, rather than music.

jlingo
03-03-2007, 06:28 AM
Wow, the pictures says it all. You are an audiophile.

Starkey just released a new open fit hearing aid with some amazing technology in it based on their Destiny technology. It is so new I forget what the name is, but a Starkey dealer would know. The core technology is about 10 months old, but they have just launched a micro OTE open fit version of it.

Keep in mind that all hearing aids are primarily designed with speech amplification in mind, rather than music.

Yes I understand that hearing aids are primarily designed with speech amplification in mind. Some hearing aids offer few options where you could switch in between using a remote control, don't they?

I will try to read up on Savia Art, Micro Power IX, Sonic Innovations Balance.

Thank you all for the recommendation.

jlingo
03-03-2007, 08:45 AM
Wow, the pictures says it all. You are an audiophile.

Starkey just released a new open fit hearing aid with some amazing technology in it based on their Destiny technology. It is so new I forget what the name is, but a Starkey dealer would know. The core technology is about 10 months old, but they have just launched a micro OTE open fit version of it.

I know you audiophiles like a source direct kind of sound where no potentiometers like bass, treble and graphic equalizers are used. But if you have a loss maybe there is some kind of graphic equalizer you could purchase that would allow you to increase the frequencies where you audiogram shows the greatest losses. This way you could enjoy your music without hearing aids.

Keep in mind that all hearing aids are primarily designed with speech amplification in mind, rather than music.

I think it's nFusion By Starkey

ZCT
03-03-2007, 08:54 AM
I think it's nFusion By Starkey

Yes the core technology is called nFusion by Starkey, but they have just fitted it into a tiny little OTE with an open fit. What I didn't know was the specific model name for that new creation, as it was only launched last month with the latest software release.

http://www.starkeynfusion.com/destiny/open_solutions.html

I just looked it up, and they have the new products on there. Seems they are continuing to use the Destiny name for it.

ZCT
03-03-2007, 08:58 AM
Yes I understand that hearing aids are primarily designed with speech amplification in mind. Some hearing aids offer few options where you could switch in between using a remote control, don't they?

Thank you all for the recommendation.

I am not a huge fan of remote control aids. In fact many companies are phasing them out because people didn't like to carry a remote with them wherever they went.

Some hearing aids have a multi memory button on them where you can access different sound programs. Many of the top of the line hearing instruments have a music program that turns off a lot of the electronic gadgetry designed to enhance speech and opens up the dynamic range to be better with music. Such programs often turn off background noise management, compression, and other features to make music far more pleasant.

Good luck. And once again, compliments on your beautiful sound system.

jlingo
03-04-2007, 07:05 AM
I am not a huge fan of remote control aids. In fact many companies are phasing them out because people didn't like to carry a remote with them wherever they went.

Some hearing aids have a multi memory button on them where you can access different sound programs. Many of the top of the line hearing instruments have a music program that turns off a lot of the electronic gadgetry designed to enhance speech and opens up the dynamic range to be better with music. Such programs often turn off background noise management, compression, and other features to make music far more pleasant.

Good luck. And once again, compliments on your beautiful sound system.

Thank you ZCT,
I actually stopped listening for at least 5 years due to hearing loss. Until I found Acuris Life, and I felt like a new man again.

I have been reading the specs for Starkey Destiny, Phonak Savia Art. Open Design Savia Art seems to have 20 Channels. Sonic Innovation Balance is with 16 Channels, and worst yet Starkey Destiny 1200 with only 8 Channels. Since Balance and Destiny have less channels than the Acuris Life, would it be safe to conclude that Destiny 1200 is the most inferior of all in terms of sound quality?

jlingo
03-04-2007, 08:00 AM
Probably the very best open fit would be the Savia Art with receiver in the ear design.

If you have a low freq loss also, then the Micro Power IX may be a great choice also.

Another would be the Sonic Innovations Balance Open fit, which are tiny and work very well.

Hi
I noticed that SAVIA ART released in October 2006
I find Savia ART Specs and Features very impressive. Best of all I think. I'm looking forward to try Savia ART.

ZCT
03-11-2007, 04:20 PM
Thank you ZCT,
Since Balance and Destiny have less channels than the Acuris Life, would it be safe to conclude that Destiny 1200 is the most inferior of all in terms of sound quality?

I don't think that is a safe conclusion at all. There is more to hearing than how many bands or channels a hearing aid has. Your analogy would be like saying, my friends' stereo has eight speakers, but mine has twelve, so it's much better.

There are many other important factors about hearing aid sound quality which would include sample rate and true independence between bands and channels. I've seen some hearing aids with a large number of channels, but when you adjust one channel the two adjacent channels adjust too. So true independence is an important factor, along with the specific parameters that can be adjusted for each channel.

But if you are really into channels, there is another Destiny coming out this summer with some more channels, and another one due out next year.

DickK
05-23-2008, 03:43 PM
I am new to hearing aids and, like you, was very concerned about losing the benefits of a really good sound system.

My conclusions so far:
1. Only use an open ear device (as this will let the sound that you hear naturally mix with the enhanced sound.

2. Receiver in the ear technology is likewise a must.

3. From what I can hear (after trying about 6 different devices) bandwidth is not as important as you may think. Speed is the most important since it is imperative not to upset the phase relationship between natural vs. amplified sound.

4. Also important is the ability to amplify loud sounds (live concerts or home audio) without distortion.

5. That said, I think I have found one device that works and one that may work (I didn't have the opportunity to bring the second home).

If you are interested, lets talk further.

DaveD
05-24-2008, 08:03 AM
How about the new Widex Passion with a remote to get you into a music mode? I have no trouble sound staging with my system. Passion is the best aid I have ever used in the 15 years I have needed them. With all the bells and whistles you are looking at $6200 for a pair.

DickK
05-24-2008, 10:08 AM
I am trying a new device which is similar in theory, even smaller and so far is a superior unit. Out of curiousity I will look for the Widex Passions.

Have you tried the Epoq XW (similar features)? It is a decent unit based on a relatively brief trial.

The problem with this whole business is that the optimal solution is different depending on your type of hearing loss, and there is no way to evaluate units based on specs alone. I purchased one unit based on features and was disappointed with the performance. It is the same with stereo equipment or flat screen tvs but at least you can easily audition them in the store or at home on a trial basis.

Mikejl
05-24-2008, 10:16 AM
The device DickK is trying is so secret that if he told us what it was, he would have to kill us! :eek:

Khenkels
05-24-2008, 12:05 PM
Yes, please tell DickK! Thank you.

DickK
05-25-2008, 07:25 AM
I am trying an evaluation unit from a manufacturers rep. It is not yet out and the rep asked that I not discuss it. There is no pricing as yet. Further, anything I could comment upon might not apply to the official release version.

I have a degree in electrical engineering and am an audiophile and am used to reading specifications that usually have some bearing on performance. My experience so far is that user impressions are not a good way to evaluate different units since each person's needs are different. Also, the software that processes sounds and switches modes is very unique to each (and can't be described in specifications). To make matters even worse, the audiologists that I've met (four so far) each bring their own bias to the table and, in my opinion, set their audio standards too low.

Khenkels
05-25-2008, 09:31 AM
DickK:

All the information that you can provide can only help someone..so when possible, post your results.

DickK
06-28-2008, 09:57 PM
The units that I tried and were satisfied with are the Interton Avio3 which Costco is now selling.

They are the best that I tried based on relatively short sessions with four different audiologists. One would think that there would be some centers where say 20 or so different aids could be auditioned OR some testing lab like CR that would have comparative performance numbers.

Integration of amplified sound and direct sound (no echos or artifacts) are important to me since I have little loss below 1 kHz. Based on a relatively short listen, the Oticon Epoqs WV were good also. The big difference is that the Avio3s will cost $1,400 each (about the best value out there) versus about $3,000 for the Epoqs and several others. This is a difference of over 100% for no apparent difference (to me) other than features which didn't directly relate to hearing quality (such as remotes and bluetooth add ons).

The bottom line for me was the ability to wear evaluation units for a few weeks and especially spend some time listening to my high end sound system. In audiophile terms, I found that the Avio3s gave me an openness that had gradually vanished as my high frequency hearing diminished. Transients are handled well as are frequency response and dynamic range. Could it be better? Probably so, but I found it to be good enough (and I am fussy).

Sorry for the intrigue, but that was the request of the manufacturers rep in return for providing an evaluation pair prior to their introduction.

Another observation which is probably true with any hearing aid that restores high frequency loss is that my tinnitus became slightly less pronounced. I guess that this is due to the masking effect of the amplified highs that are in the same frequency range of the tinnitus.

jchunter
06-29-2008, 04:01 PM
Have you tried America Hears? I have been watching user experiences with the open fit unit with speaker in the ear http://www.americahears.com/freedomv_of.shtml. IMO, speaker in the ear canal makes more sense than trying to push sound through a tiny tube, not to mention having less tendency for feedback. The SIE unit has a flatter frequency response spec and they supply a USB connector and software to permit the user to adjust the unit from his computer. This unit is $995, which is a big step in the right direction. :cool:

See Voyageur DSP chip spec at http://www.sounddesigntechnologies.com/pdf/37601DOC.pdf

xbulder
06-29-2008, 05:19 PM
The units that I tried and were satisfied with are the Interton Avio3 which Costco is now selling.

They are the best that I tried based on relatively short sessions with four different audiologists. One would think that there would be some centers where say 20 or so different aids could be auditioned OR some testing lab like CR that would have comparative performance numbers.

Integration of amplified sound and direct sound (no echos or artifacts) are important to me since I have little loss below 1 kHz. Based on a relatively short listen, the Oticon Epoqs WV were good also. The big difference is that the Avio3s will cost $1,400 each (about the best value out there) versus about $3,000 for the Epoqs and several others. This is a difference of over 100% for no apparent difference (to me) other than features which didn't directly relate to hearing quality (such as remotes and bluetooth add ons).

The bottom line for me was the ability to wear evaluation units for a few weeks and especially spend some time listening to my high end sound system. In audiophile terms, I found that the Avio3s gave me an openness that had gradually vanished as my high frequency hearing diminished. Transients are handled well as are frequency response and dynamic range. Could it be better? Probably so, but I found it to be good enough (and I am fussy).

Sorry for the intrigue, but that was the request of the manufacturers rep in return for providing an evaluation pair prior to their introduction.

Another observation which is probably true with any hearing aid that restores high frequency loss is that my tinnitus became slightly less pronounced. I guess that this is due to the masking effect of the amplified highs that are in the same frequency range of the tinnitus.

you know there is nothing new on the interton , their products are the resound products.. just like beltones are resound products

DickK
06-29-2008, 05:38 PM
The Avio3 is an RIC unit and seems a lot like the America Hears unit. It has several features that I liked including soft switching between programs and decent background noise reduction in the 'restaurant mode'.

I did try several other RIC aids and not all are as fast or seamless. Unfortunately all units sound good on paper but not in reality.

In the end, I like buying from Costco since I have 60 days to return it for whatever reason.

jchunter
06-30-2008, 12:20 PM
Dick,
How can an engineer resist the urge to tweak his own hearing aids? :D

DickK
07-01-2008, 08:00 AM
This has been a learning process for me and has not been been easy. As an engineer, I would love to tweak the sound curves in real time. However I can have the audi do this (no charge) on one of our regular Costco shopping trips.

I found it interesting that number of bands and bandwidth were not as important as I had originally thought.

The Avio3 is a new unit (allegedly the result of a joint project with other companies). Given its price and performance it will be a winner. I was told that our Costco sold out of the first units in two days.

jchunter
07-01-2008, 08:51 AM
...I found it interesting that number of bands and bandwidth were not as important as I had originally thought..I think the number of bands can be important, depending on your hearing curve. For example, if your hearing falls off steeply within a band and you can assign only one gain value per band, then that band can't correct your hearing accurately. You have to live with a compromise that could be important if that band carries important speech information.

I've located some information on ADRO (Adaptive Dynamic Range Optimization), which is (I think) the firmware that is contained in the DSP's EEPROM memory for America Hears' aids. ADRO is capable of managing (in 1 ms) 32 bands of 250Hz, which should permit excellent correction over an 8KHz audible range.

You might be interested in downloading an informative powerpoint and video presentation from http://www.dynamichearing.com.au/professionals_training_materials.html

BTW, I suspect that the ADRO system may be more capable than some of the older DSP chips' hardware (e.g., 1ms response time)...:eek:

EDIT: I located a similar presentation on the AVIO3 here: http://www.audiologyonline.com/ceus/recordedcoursedetails.asp?class_id=11284

To see it, you have to register, then "Add to Cart" the Avio3 recorded presentation to start the download and play. BTW, it works with XP but not with Vista.

DickK
07-01-2008, 01:57 PM
From what I heard, ADRO was developed for cochlear implants and for some reason was not successful (popular) in hearing aids. It was used in Interton's Bionic model with little acceptance.

I can see that there is a lot to learn. There is a lot of shared technology, several companies that sell under different brands, features that turn out to be not really useful and specifications that are misleading. For now, I am getting off the bus. Next year...another story!

Thanks for the discussion.

jchunter
07-01-2008, 09:31 PM
From what I heard, ADRO was developed for cochlear implants and for some reason was not successful (popular) in hearing aids. It was used in Interton's Bionic model with little acceptance..What you heard sounds like typical sales hogwash, most often used to put down a competitor's product ...:rolleyes:

xbulder
07-02-2008, 06:22 AM
i believe the phonak call cochlear dinamics (or something like that they the savia art claims to have) is based on the Adro sound processor..

i muight b wrong, admin might be able to correct me

DanInSD
07-04-2008, 05:43 PM
I'm very new to hearing aids, but I appreciate both DickK and jchunter in their detailed analysis.

I am also an audiophile and don't have huge hearing loss, but do have tinnitus. I'm just at that point where I am starting to notice the loss of hearing is affecting my day-to-day life. Also, I heard that my tinnitus may become less noticeable if I get a hearing aid. DickK - you noticed this as well, correct?

The first thing I looked for is bluetooth compatibility as I'm on the phone a lot and love to work out with my MP3 player. I don't want to be too picky, but the I think I'd get annoyed with the Epoq's mono MP3 capability. However, I'm thinking that the better everyday sound quality is more important as audio delays or non-real speech would annoy me more than having the extra gadgets.

What I do know is that I have hearing loss in specific spectrums, and in between those spectrums I'm only a little below normal. So multiple independent channels seems like the best bet for me.

Does it seem like I'm thinking in the right direction? Any advice on how I can tackle my first hearing aid would be so helpful.

jchunter
07-04-2008, 08:27 PM
Dan,
If you want to explore your own hearing loss, try http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/hearing.html or
http://www.engr.uky.edu/~donohue/audio/fsear.html

I found that with a noisy computer, I got accurate measurements using noise canceling headphones (e.g., JVC HA-NC250, ~ $120).

My measurements were very close to what an audiologist measured later.

When looking at hearing aid products, be prepared for huge sticker shock. Ridiculous prices. :eek: I don't know about you, but I would expect $3000 hearing aids to be able to also do my taxes, write letters, communicate with the internet, decode and play HDTV, edit my camcorder video files, and any other application that runs on a computer. :eek:

Those of us with mild to moderate hearing loss are (today) stuck with prices and policies that we don't need or appreciate. :(

For me, with mild to moderate hearing loss, it is just not worth several thousand dollars for a personal audio amplifier.

My expectation is that hearing aid prices will come down over the next several years, as the market evolves toward a more competitive market with higher volume distribution channels. :cool:

DanInSD
07-04-2008, 10:48 PM
Thanks for the reply. The website is fantastic. I actually have been getting my hearing checked over the last 3 years, and got hit with moderate tinnitus this year. The tinnitus is what's bugging me most of all. Since the methods to try and reduce the tinnitus are between $1500-$5000, I figured I should just get a hearing aid instead. If I did fix the tinnitus, I'd then be stuck with crappy hearing. Hopefully, I'll fix both. If I try and hearing aid out for 30 days and it doesn't work as expected, I'll probably drop the idea and see how my hearing is in another year or so. Plus, my insurance actually covers them if they are "medically necessary." (That's a huge unknown for me right now.) I'm not sure if this logic makes sense, I've only been thinking about this for about a week.

So are you saying you don't have a hearing aid? You seem to know a lot about them (plus are active on this site).

DickK
07-04-2008, 10:53 PM
I agree with jchunter that there is no rational basis for charging $3,000 for a set of hearing aids (like I just did). It is even worse to spend double that amount like the people that purchase Oticon Epoqs or other competing brands.

Of course, the cost is not the hardware but the development costs and the relatively small market. Also, most audiologists work in a large office with a MD and have significant overhead to spread across relatively few sales (relative to flat screen tvs for example). In my mind it all comes down to the lack of a central testing agency and parameters which are uniform throughout the industry (like ANSI standards or performance tests common in the computer industry). If consumers had this information and could shop intelligently, a hearing aid would become more of a commodity.

Dan: Bluetooth comes through an external device since the battery in the hearing aid is not large enough to power it. Since you are using the device to supplement the frequencies that you are losing (like me) you probably would do better with a Jawbone (bluetooth head set) rather than a hearing aid when you need to spend lots of time on the phone.

I have observed that tinittus doesn't go away with the hearing aid, it just gets less prominent relative to the amplified sound that you normally don't hear.

My decision for a first hearing aid came down to the first one that seemed to disappear (audio wise). I would be lying if I said that cost was not important since (like jchunter) I think that the same device in a mass market would cost a fraction of what they cost. However I spent what I felt was necessary to achieve the performance I was looking for. I trust Costco since they have a stated 12% profit margin, a 60 day return policy, unlimited adjustments and I don't have to go out of my way to get service.

Good luck with whatever you do!

DanInSD
07-05-2008, 12:28 AM
Thanks to both of you. I think I'm coming to the same conclusion as DickK that I can get a good Bluetooth headset or great headphones instead of the integration with the HA. I'm also expecting the tinnitus to get less pronounces, not go away completely.

What I worry about with Costco is that the audi's are not trained as well as UCSD (where I get my tests today). Any experience with that?

jchunter
07-05-2008, 11:19 AM
Thanks to both of you. I think I'm coming to the same conclusion as DickK that I can get a good Bluetooth headset or great headphones instead of the integration with the HA. I'm also expecting the tinnitus to get less pronounces, not go away completely.

What I worry about with Costco is that the audi's are not trained as well as UCSD (where I get my tests today). Any experience with that?I have tried digital hearing aids at Costco and they work very well at selectively amplifying the frequencies that I am lacking (like any standard equalizer). But my hearing loss is moderate and it is just not worth either the expense or all the fuss about having to rely on somebody else to perform minor adjustments.

BTW, I felt that the Costco Audi was competent. But their operation is modeled in the traditional fashion, heavily tilted toward those with profound hearing loss. They don't yet offer any way to unbundle services for those less handicapped or any self adjustment software.

I don't know if bluetooth headsets provide any tone controls or simple equalizers but that could be worth researching for anyone with mild to moderate hearing loss. I could probably hear much better with a simple treble boost. :) However, I don't know if I want to look like a cyborg... :D

EDIT: Here is a bluetooth Sony Walkman (NWZ-A829) with a five band digital equalizer.
http://www.windowsmarketplace.com/details.aspx?itemid=6007272#
I do not see a microphone or jack listed in the spec. :(

EDIT2: Here is a fascinating paper on a DYI 3-band analog equalizer circuit, which shows just how simple these can be: http://www.headwize.com/projects/equal_prj.htm Very easy to build if you can find somebody to sell you individual components. :eek:

When you compare this circuit to today's inexpensive CMOS Digital Signal Processor chips, which include programmable, 32 band digital equalizer / amplifiers, directional microphone circuits, noise / feedback cancellation, etc. you can see how far semiconductor technology has come, dragging a reluctant hearing aid industry along. :cool:

DickK
07-06-2008, 07:32 PM
Some people like to get attached to a particular barber (hair stylist), doctor or audi and imbue great and unique skills to that individual. In my search I have met 4-5 audiologists and found them all to be rather consistent and competent with the devices they sold. I had at least three different tests and all were in the same fairly close.

My feeling was that each audi was familiar with just 2 or 3 manufacturers and really favored their aids. In the end the Avio3 at Costco proved to have the best value/performance of the different devices I tried (after narrowing my choice to "behind the ear" RIC).

JChunter: One of the audis told me that it takes an average of 7 years from the time that a person notices some hearing loss till they purchase their first hearing aid. I wear mine even when I don't really need it (just to get used to it) and find that unless I point it out, even my good friends don't make note of it. Like you, my loss is at higher frequencies only. The difference I notice is best described, in high fidelity terms, as adding openness (air) to the sounds I hear. Also, women and children (grandchildren) are way more understandable. Be a cyborg and let us know how the America Hears unit does! BTW, thanks for the references. I had already downloaded the course on the Avio3s on the audiology site.

DickK
07-06-2008, 08:23 PM
I just came across this on Crave:

http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9984067-1.html

It describes a Nokia product that converts standard hearing aids that use a telecoil to into a bluetooth headset (even works with implants). This makes sense since the bluetooth is not a part of the hearing aid.

Make sure that anything you buy is equipped with a telecoil!

jchunter
07-06-2008, 09:39 PM
I just came across this on Crave:

http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9984067-1.html

It describes a Nokia product that converts standard hearing aids that use a telecoil to into a bluetooth headset (even works with implants). This makes sense since the bluetooth is not a part of the hearing aid.

Make sure that anything you buy is equipped with a telecoil!All the Digital Signal Processor chips (that I have checked) have a specific pin allocated for a telecoil hookup as well as supporting circuitry. (e.g., see http://www.sounddesigntechnologies.com/pdf/46859DOC.pdf) The HA company only has to provide a connector. Moreover, most of the "features" that HAs charge extra for are little more than firmware switches that enable functions that already exist on the DSP chips. :eek:

But, actually, I had been thinking about the opposite of the Nokia concept - turning a bluetooth receiver into a rudimentary hearing aid by using its equalizer function. Its the bulky bluetooth receivers that have popularized the "Cyborg" fashion. :D

I would experiment with the Sony Walkman (above) if only it had a microphone input...

adgraham
07-07-2008, 12:06 PM
I just came across this on Crave:

http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9984067-1.html

It describes a Nokia product that converts standard hearing aids that use a telecoil to into a bluetooth headset (even works with implants). This makes sense since the bluetooth is not a part of the hearing aid.

Make sure that anything you buy is equipped with a telecoil!

The website says that Nokia expects the Loopset to ship next year, selling for about $315. I think I'd stick with the Artone for around $180 if I remember right.

Heck.... if you have the right hearing aid, the iCom (or Streamer) will do way more than this without telecoil interference buzzing. The ICom cost me $250.