best Hearing aids for Violinist?

November 14, 2021, 1:48 PM · I am a retired pro violinist and still actively playing.
I have hearing loss, mostly in the high frequencies (usual slope). So I need to use hearing aids. I lost my old ones and need new pair. However, I cannot find any that sound pleasant while also able to hear what co-players say.
I am sure that many violinists went through the same problem and find a solution. Please recommend to me some HA brands and models you had a good experience with.

I thank you all for any help.

Replies (5)

Edited: November 14, 2021, 2:20 PM · I have the same problem: "Pardon?" followed by "Don't shout, I'm not deaf"!
I have a pair of Starkey Livio 2400.

The standard "program", as well as correcting the usual 73yo high frequency drop, boosts the zone around 3kHz which helps with other folks' consonants, but also renders the fiddle very harsh. It also has anti-feedback which makes high notes (and the harmonics of low notes) warble and distort intolerably.

The "music" program leaves out the 3kHz boost and the anti-feedback, and also transmits higher frequencies up to around 10kHz. The results is sweeter, cleaner, and brighter.

In orchestra, I plug my over sensitive left ear with an Etymotic filter, but keep the hearing aid in the right ear to understand the conductor.

The Starkey aids were recommended by the only audiologist I found who understood the problems of musicians, and who new her stuff..

Good luck!

Edited: November 15, 2021, 4:23 PM · Hi Noah - does this mean you are "up there" at "Oregon House."

The Dec. 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine has an up-to-date article about hearing aids.

I became aware of my failing hearing when I was about 50 (37 years ago) and monkeyed around with left ear plugs, later right in-ear amplifiers, and finally real hearing aids (Kirkland behind the ear from CostCo). Earlier this year I used health insurance to obtain the new EARGO hearing aids and they are not as good for music (for me).

The Kirkland aids work far better for me. However my unaided hearing hovers between -40 and -50 DB out to 2KHz and plunges to -60 DB at 4 KHz and pretty much drops out of sight at higher frequencies.

Rather than depend on audiologists or (i.e., "hearing-aid technicians" at CostCo to give me back the hearing they think I should have I found I could also measure my own audiograph on line and then measure it with the hearing aids in place (using over-the-ear head phones) and that gave me a way to request specific amplification for each ear over "my" entire audio spectrum.

The on line hearing aid test I used is:

My CostCo aids are set to give me a boost of 20 to 30 DB out to about 4 KHz. These aids have a user resetable range of 10 steps that probably cover about 25 DB. My first impression upon playing my violin after the CostCo tech had set them to my request was "OMG that's worth a million bucks!" Speaking of THE VIOLIN!

NOW, the DOWNSIDES - my KIRKLAND aids have a resonance at 440 Hz but that's not so bad. These use 212 battery that gives me about 90 hours of use between changes.

The EARGO has some harsh spots that do bother me when I play violin when wearing them and they do not give the wearer as many sound level options as the KIRKLAND. These aids are set for you before you get them based on the audiograph you send by email. Subsequently they can be adjusted remotely by the audiologist at the EARGO site through your own EARGO charger. The internal batteries are rechargeable and need it after about 16 hours of use.

November 14, 2021, 4:51 PM · I have a Simplicity Hi-Fidelity (Analog) for my left ear. I tried numerous digital and analog devices but couldn't stand any of them. The multi-thousand-dollar digital aids are outside my budget while the cheap "amplifiers" are garbage.

This one was designed specifically for musicians and audiophiles. Sound quality is very natural with no distortion. I no longer have to ask people to repeat themselves, no longer focus on people's mouths when they're talking to me, no longer use closed captions on the TV. Battery life is excellent. Here's a bit of the blurb that piqued my curiosity and made me give it a try. I've been very satisfied:

"Simplicity Hi-Fi devices provide optimum sound quality in everyday listening situations by eliminating typical sound limiting filters. Hear or play music without input-signal clipping. The result? Instead of an overwhelming sense of loudness or amplification, daily sounds (or new sounds) will come through with a clarity you probably haven’t heard for a long time. With a smooth, undistorted output and a frequency range of 100Hz to 10 KHz., the Hi-Fi delivers the high frequency consonant sounds along with all of the harmonics that give music its characteristic color."


November 15, 2021, 3:41 PM · Hi Noah,
I have also joined the hearing aid club. I didn't shop around. My doctor sent me to the most expensive audiologist in town(!). So I can't make recommendations. My set has two modes; speech and music, and it clamps dangerously loud sound. Some sets are adjustable through a smart phone, but that might not be wise, the patient is never objective. I did learn that orchestra musicians are vulnerable to hearing loss. We assume that it is not dangerous because no one is amplified. I have spent a lot of time in the back of the 2nd violin or viola sections, directly in line of fire from the piccolo or trumpets or percussion. The violin is only a few inches from our left ear. Doing black powder artillery didn't help me either.
Edited: November 16, 2021, 9:01 AM · Phonaks have the fastest processor around (this is important) and are more adjustable on the fly through their app. They also have more adjustment choices by the audiologist so they can be tailored better to individual requirements. I have had mine for 2 years and am very pleased. This requires good communication with the audiologist and a little trying out to decide what you really want. Far too many people adjust theirs downward so that they are deaf to consonants because that is what they're used to.

All the best aids come with bluetooth capability which is very handy when waiting for phone calls or when on hold. Music streaming is superb when the aids are adjusted properly for this.

I don't say what model I have because there are newer ones. I did get the telecoil though I haven't used it and they are rechargeable which you might not want if you go camping a lot for example.

Phonak, Oticon, and Signia (formerly Siemens) are the big three. My previous aids were Siemens and were great. I had them for 8 years with only normal adjustments and cleaning.

Signia instruments are sold at HearUSA centers. Yoy can call various audiology centers in your area and ask what brand they sell. I went to a big speech and hearing center in the capital city which offers full services for the deaf and even has classes for people who are newly deaf/blind. I get fantastic care there.

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