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best Hearing aids for Violinist?

December 23, 2021, 2:13 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 (12)

Edited: December 23, 2021, 3:14 PM · I've been aware of my worsening hearing since my early 50s that was 35 years ago. I finally got professional hearing aids almost 7 years ago from CostCo after I had a hearing test at Kaiser and studied my audiograph. Then I tried this oneline hearing test: https://hearingtest.online/
and found it gave me the same result as the Kaiser test.

So I liked the price (still too much but better than all the others) at CostCo and for just under $2,000 I got my first digital hearing aids (they are now less expensive because the new models can be adjusted by your smart phone instead of the dedicated device that came with mine 6 years ago). I was able to test them in my own ears using the online hearing test and with that I could return to the technicians at CostCo and have them adjust the aids to what I thought I wanted for hearing my music (I've played in ensembles since 1949). I did have one adjustment at CostCo since then. These aids have 10 volume increments and I have mine set so that my setting for playing (violin, viola and cello) is in the middle. I can't expect to regain all the high-frequency acuity I once had but I love what I can hear now. The CostCo aids use replaceable batteries that seem to last me about 90 in-ear hours between replacements. I go in to Costco to have the earpieces replaced annually and that is the only thing I need to have done to maintain the sound quality.

I got a pair of $2,500 EARGO aids in early 2021 because they were free to me through my health insurance and they give me a bit more high frequency and thus sharpness of some voice recognition (I checked them also with the online test and found they give me an extra 10db at 2KHz and even a bit of hearing at 4kHz that I don't have with the CostCos), I don't like them as much for music but I can hear some subtleties in my sound with the EARGOs that I do not hear with the CostCos. The EARGOs are rechargeable and need to be recharged after about 16 hours of use (i.e., every night). I find that more of a chore than replacing the (312) batteries every 5.5 days and there is some nightly "housekeeping" involved in keeping the aids and the pocket-size charger clean enough to maintain electrical contact; But FREE is the best price one can expect (until the health insurance gives me a rebate next year - as they sometimes do!).

Edited: December 23, 2021, 3:20 PM · The most important thing is to see a reputable audiologist who can give you a thorough hearing test including speech discrimination and who can fit you with one of the big 3, Phonak, Oticon, Signia. Work with them and tell them all your requirements because these digital hearing aids from the big 3 are adjustable beyond your wildest dreams. I started with Siemens (now Signia) Pure which I used for 8 years. I now have Phonak Audeo M-RT (Rechargeable, Telecoil).
December 23, 2021, 8:25 PM · Thanks for the replies...

I have been using CostCo HA for the last 15 years, and I was very satisfied with them. Until a year ago when I lost on of them. I could not get a replacement as the HA were already 4 years old.
So I tried new ones, but alas - none until now was acceptable
The latest Kirkland (Phonak) was distorting...
Philips modulated the notes with tremolo...
Rexton is better, still do a slight irritating tremolo on open strings.
Resound (Preza) is great, but irritates with compression clicks...
I tried Lively (resound) - same compression clicking.

All that I tried were excellent for general use. However I need to enjoy playing my violin...

I will try the "expensive" Phonac that CostCo has (If they let me LOL).

Any other ideas are welcome please...

Noah H.

December 23, 2021, 8:59 PM · As far as I'm concerned it is up to the audiologist who adjusts your hearing aids to eliminate distortions for you.

Many of the people I know who have hearing aids - all of them musicians - have more trouble understanding speech with their HA than I do.

I had trouble with my Kirkland aids at first until I told the audiologist exactly how much amplification (in DBs) I wanted at the median amplification for each of the frequencies they can measure and adjust. It was the online hearing test that guided my instructions to them.

December 23, 2021, 9:05 PM · A good point, Andrew. I could do it with my old HA. However the programming of the newer HA are so automated that the audiologist cannot do any thing unusual. I will try again...
December 24, 2021, 12:24 AM · I use a hearing aid in my left ear called the Simplicity Hi-Fi EP. It uses the K-Amp analog circuit that was designed for musicians and audiophiles. Because it's analog and not digital, it receives the full spectrum of sound. Everything sounds very natural.

Before making this purchase I called customer service and ended up spending almost an hour talking with the chief design engineer at General Hearing Instruments. They manufacture hearing aids for some of the biggest brands in the country. He explained how they developed its sound curve and why it uses analog circuitry rather than digital.

With hearing aids costing thousands of dollars you're paying for a multitude of programmable channels and the audiologist's time to shape the sound. This is more than what a lot of people need (or can afford).

My hearing aid is programmed to help with the most common type of age-related hearing loss in the higher frequencies. The kind of hearing loss that makes it hard to hear conversation, especially in a noisy environment. It's made with the same components that are in expensive hearing aids, but it has just one program. Consequently it's much less expensive. I don't know if money is an issue for you, but it is for me.

I loved it the moment I put it in. I no longer have to ask people to repeat themselves. I can watch TV with the sound low and no closed captioning. Music sounds wonderful. A Rayovac 312 battery lasts almost a week if I remember to flip out the battery tray when I take it off at night.

Here's a link to the data sheet with the technical details showing the fitting range it helps:
https://www.generalhearing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Simplicity-Hi-Fidelity-EP-data.pdf

Here's a discussion about hearing aids for musicians and the K-Amp circuit (ignore the video, read the comments):
https://www.psaudio.com/askpaulvideo/high-end-hearing-aids-and-loudspeakers/

I hope you find something you like.

Edited: December 26, 2021, 12:32 PM · @ Amrita
I have a pair of Etymotic Bean in-ear aids which also use the K-Amp, with a boost around 3kHz, for other folk's consonants...and rosin noise!. Analog distortions are much more tolerable than digital ones.
Alas, one has failed, and I broke the extremely fragile battery-clip on the other. And the tiny, fiddly no.10 battery lasts only 2 or 3 hours.

I now have a well-customised Starkey Livio 2400 (at 4 times the price) with an extra "music" programme, which cancels the anti-feedback (to avoid warbling on high sounds) as well as the "consonants" boost (more natural timbre), frequency transposition (!!) and much of the compression (restored dynamics). I had had trouble finding an audiologist who understood the specific needs of musicians, but this one knew her stuff!

December 24, 2021, 11:40 AM · That's interesting, Adrian. It "sounds" like you hit the jackpot. (bad pun, sorry!)

Mine cost only $425. It's probably not as perfect as the adjustments you had made with your Starkey or the other ones mentioned above, but my financial situation dictates that if a hearing aid can achieve 90-95% of what I need for a fraction of the price, it's a compromise I can live with. Leaves me more money for cat food and viola strings, and if I lose it or it breaks I won't cry, I'll just get another one.

December 24, 2021, 8:30 PM · Yes folk - I get wiser.
I heard about the K-amp years ago, but could not find it.
I think I will try them and see if they also are daily sufficient for socializing..

Yes. It is important to have an audiologist that is willing to hear suggestions of how to program the HA...

Edited: December 25, 2021, 10:38 AM · Noah- here's the web address where I got mine. I hope this isn't violating a forum rule:
https://www.readywearexpress.com/simplicity-hi-fi-ep-hearing-aid/
Edited: December 26, 2021, 1:06 PM · The automation of the newer hearing aids is meant to be adjusted by the audiologist using the proprietary software from the manufacturer. The Phonaks are particularly adjustable with many built in programs which can be turned on or off. My audiologist had a list of things to turn on or off and we went through it on the last visit. One thing you definitely want to turn off is the thing called SoundRecover. This is meant for people who are severely or profoundly deaf but for moderate hearing loss it causes artifacts especially when using Bluetooth to listen to music. I would look for an audiologist with their own shop or one who works for a chain. I would not go to Costco or WalMart or another discount store.
December 27, 2021, 9:39 PM · Yes guys...
I get wiser....
I really grateful for your advices and experience...

Further look at the K-Amp, it has too much compression which I cannot live with. It will be great for when I stop performing...

Otherwise, it seems that I have to release my budget a little. I am sure that I will find a cost compromise that I can stand.
Just a thought - Many recommended Widex, on of the most expensive. Yet, it has very bad reviews about the reliability. So, I will probably skip Widex...

Thanks again... (-:

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