Hearing Aid Confusion

Help! I've recently started looking for a hearing aid, but I'm confused by the different information and advice that I've received from audiologists, an ENT specialist, and online literature from manufacturers. My recent audiogram has confirmed what I already knew: that I can use hearing aid help in speech recognition. But I also would like improvement, if possible, in listening to my two channel audio system. (The weakest component in my system is now me.) Some audiologists have told me that I can get a hearing aid with a music "program" that will boost my enjoyment. Others have told me that hearing aids are great for speech recognition but that I should turn the aids off (and even remove them) when listening to music. Who to believe? And if there are aids that actually help in music listening as well as speech recognition, what are the brands and models that I should explore? Any advice from audiophiles with a knowledge of hearing aids would be greatly appreciated.

My wife got a pair of hearing aids a couple of years ago. The technology has advanced tremendously from her mother's and sister's hearing aids.

They measured my wife's hearing in each ear, and then programmed each hearing aid to boost the different frequencies as needed to restore her hearing.

They do it in 2-4 gradual steps, since it does take a while for a person to adjust to what they're hearing that they couldn't before.

Have you ever tried inner ear headphones? I'm pretty sure that some of the good ones can be custom made for you.
My wife has had many years experience dealing with hearing loss, hearing aid purchase decisions and audiologists. First of all, soliciting advice about hearing aids isn't quite like seeking audio advice. Everyone's problems are unique and my solution isn't going to be your solution. You REALLY need to find a competent audiologist that's up to date on understanding available products and applying the right technology to your particular hearing issues. This isn't as easy as it should be if my wife's experience is any indication. For the last set, she went through three businesses before finding an experienced dispenser who was completely up-to-date with available products that prescribed the right aids (Luckily, Florida law dictates that refunds be given for aids that don't work out for the patient.) Hopefully you live in a locale that provides the same protections because you may well need to try multiple aids to find the right ones for you. Good luck to you!
possibly off topic, but if your hearing loss is due to otosclerois (middle ear bone no longer working due to hardening), it can be fixed with surgery.

I've had both my ears done and don't need hearing aids as a result.
The surgery is called Stapendectomy, and they replace the middle ear bone (stapes) with a metal prosthesis.

Only takes about 45 minutes and you go home hr later.
There is no universal solution, Photon46 is correct. Everyone's ears are different, and you need to figure out what works best for you by trial and error. You should definitely go by what an audiologist recommends, what worked for a fellow audiophile may be very wrong for you.
First, I am an expert listener. Second, I have used hearing aids for almost seventy years, so I think I know what is important in getting hearing aids to help 'listening'.

Having said all that I suggest the following: Find a good audiologist, one who has a large base of clients that are professional musicians. Read Mead Killion's stuff. Mead also has been at it for almost fifty years. Get your hearing tests from a medical provider who is not going to be the audiologist that sells you the hearing aids. Avoid BJ's. Make proper fitting of the mold a top priority, it makes all the difference. Look into aids by General Hearing that feature the DigitK amps/circuits. Killion was involved in the design work on the latter. Killion is the design genius behind the ER ear buds.

About three years ago I paid $3K for a pair of General Hearing aids, olds, fitting and a ten year supply of batteries. Very pleased. They are programmable, and allow four programs, one of which can be a music program. Do not go for aids that are 'rechargeable', stick to batteries. A lot of audiologist do not carry General Hearing stuff, so you may need to search by getting a list of providers from General. The mark up on hearing aids is very high, like hi end on steroids.

Your effort will reward you with many, many more years of listening, not to mention that you will be able to understand what your grandkids are saying.

I have Oticon Intiga aids. yes, hearing aids will improve your stereo listening experience. they are just very samll equalizers, which compensate for loss of sound above 4khz. they can restore proper balance and the highs you have been missing. The bad news: the best ones cost $6K per pair.

unfortunately, if you have mild hearing loss, only the top of the line aids will help. the behind the ear types do not affect bass at all, they only operate above 4khz, where most of us over 50 have losses, and where speech intelligibility is affected. The best have multiple eq curve, more bands of eq than the lesser models, are individually programmable for each ear, and mine have wireless bluetooth connectivity to my iphone. the "music" progam can turn off the compression and algorithms designed to extract speech data from noise.

A friend of mine designed the Lyric, which is the absolute best sound available from an aid. Only good one left on the market which is analogue. Not for mild loss, they are completely imbedded in the ear canal and invisible. you don't buy them, you subscribe for about 8K/yr. Ear wax clogs them and they have to be replaced often. Supposed to even be a waterproof model now. Very popular in Hollowood and for anyone for whom vanity is a priority.
I have the Lyric in one of my ears, and it is programmed to compensate for the frequencies where I have hearing loss due to an infection years ago. It works very well, though it can be overloaded and compress when hit with loud sounds in the higher frequencies (I have to turn it down to its lower volume settings when attending concerts or listening, for example). The frequency ranges where it can help are in the highs and midrange, not the bass. Costs a lot less to subscribe to than Lloydc writes, at least where I am ($1700/yr), and the subscription is handy because you just replace it when it stops working without worrying about changing batteries, extra costs, etc. It does have its limitations in terms of precise equalization--you're not going to get a flat response curve--but it has been a help to me. It also takes a bit of getting used to, and sometimes it can wiggle its way out of the ear canal or gets lodged in the canal in a way that blocks it to varying degrees, which requires me to visit my audiologist for him to adjust if I can't do it myself (it is not easy to reinsert it properly after pulling it out, at least for me). As the others above say, each person's needs are different, you really need to go to a good audiologist, find out which frequencies you need to address and go through the various options.
recprince, that's amazing, where do you live? did you have insurance coverage or some special deal?
OK, can anyone recommend a good audiologist in CT? What? Speak up. I CAN'T HEAR YOU ;-) I really would like a recommendation. I'm very suspicious of anyone who diagnoses, prescribes, and then then turns around as sells you the Rx.
Lloydc--I live in NJ, and insurance doesn't cover it; as far as I know, I'm not getting a special deal. I basically lease the unit, with unlimited replacements during the lease if it goes bad or the battery in it runs out (usually every 2-4 months). Does Lyric make a better one, perhaps? Also, I'm only leasing one, my other ear measured really well.

Nice thing about the Lyric was that I got to wear it for 30 days before having to start leasing it, to make sure that it worked for me and that I could get used to having it in the ear. It does take some time to get used to it, especially when you only use one in one ear like I do.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with severe HF hearing loss. Having told my audiologist that I was a high-end audiophile, she prescribed the Starkey Wii hearing aids. These are (i) binaural, and (ii) programmable. I have a speech program, a music program and a "restaurant" program. I cannot speak too highly about these devices--they really work! You have true binaural hearing, the devices are essentially invisible, and the music program restores the high frequencies.

After reading your post, I have a question if you don't mind. Given your issues with hearing, do you find yourself picking components similar to what most other audiophiles tend to like, or stuff that may not be so popular? For example, would you choose a speaker that most find bright/harsh because of your hearing loss, or something more main stream.
In reply to Buconero117: I became an audiophile hobbyist many years ago, when my hearing was quite good. My processing of the higher frequencies deteriorated slowly. I recently tried out and compared several 75 ohm digital cables, and I had no trouble hearing differences among them and arriving at a preferance. I continue to enjoy my stereo system, though I now play it at a higher volume than I did years ago. And my components are similar to what many audiophiles like. My interest in a hearing aid is largely triggered by difficulty in hearing lecturers in large halls and sometimes difficulty in hearing conversational speech when the speaker speaks softly. Since I will get something to help in the speech department, it would be a bonus, I suspect, if the hearing aid also improved my hearing of live and recorded music. At the moment that is a supposition -- I haven't actually worn a hearing aid as yet, so what effects it may (or may not) have is unexplored territory. In the meantime I have sought verbal advice from several sources, and, frankly, I have been confused by the different things that I've been told. I'm going to visit an audiologist next week who sells several different brands of aids (I have a recent audiogram from a medical facility), so I'll have a chance to hear various possibilities. Unfortunately, by the way, I won't be hearing a General Hearing "Musicians'Listening Design," the only hearing aid that I've thus far found to advertize online that their device is designed for high fidelity listening (a bandwith of 16khz, purposeful provision for appreciable headroom in the analog to digital converter, etc.) I live in eastern MA where, I'm told by a General Hearing representative, there are no dealers for that brand -- all the more regrettable since one of the commentators in this thread mentioned the General Hearing product positively.
My choice of electronic components, including sources, is mostly based on value, speakers based on actual hearing using my aids. In the early sixties I had McIntosh and Marantz units, now its mostly Cayin/Vas tubes, which for me produce a 'warms' sound. So, in a way, my choices are filtered with what the aids produce. Also, for many years before digital aids came into existence, my aids were analogue. From time to time I go back to the analogue aids for a different listening experience. Prior to discovering ProAc speakers in the early eighties, I used AR and K=Horn speakers. I am a believer in that 'culture' makes a difference in how one hears. Think 'British' sound is a good example of that. So, speakers are always first biased to how one hears and one's first language. And yes, I think once you start using hearing aids your preference for speakers will change. It is very important that if you starting down the road of using hearing aids, that you always get a pair, no a single instrument. People like me drive audiologist nuts.
Kusina, pressure your audiologist to take on the General Hearing line, at least for a trial. General is always looking for new distribution and may make it worth the audiologist's effort with incentives that could provide you a price break. But beware, the markup on other manufactures lines is much higher then General's, so their would be resistance. For many years General's programming software was unique, but in recent years they are adopted industry standard software so it has become easier to sell General stuff.
Through computer research I've learned that General Hearing makes what seems to be a less complex version of its "Musician's" hearing aid, the Simplicity. The Simplicity comes in several models, one of them being the "Hi Fi EP. " The EP seems to stand for extended battery life. The Hi Fi model comes with a volume control on both aids, but it is otherwise "pre-programed" at the factory. It cannot be programed for the individual user. It is said to have a range of 100 hz - 10khz, it is of the "open-ear" type so that the user is said to hear below 100 hz as he would without a hearing aid, and it amplifies soft sounds but not loud ones. Apparently you use the same program for speech as for music -- or, if not, the device decides (I'm not clear on this). In any case, unlike many expensive hearing aids, it does not have a program that blocks out ambient sounds in a restaurant or other noisy place. It is an off-the-rack hearing aid and does not need to be set up by an audiologist, and can be purchased online. A pair costs $999 through Walmart, Sam's, and perhaps other retailers. What do you think?
Kusina, you might try them, but I suspect you will need the fully programmable model. Each of my ears require a different eq curve. The best audiologists have measurement capabilities inside the ear, for more accurate programming. I think in Texas the law requires a 30-day trial period, so check in your state. the eq curve for speech is not the same as the flat response you want for music, so you need an aid with multiple curves. afaik, no aid (except perhaps the Lyric) is programmable above 8 khz, that's only for the best ones.
I completely agree with Lloydc. It is for this reason that I am so high on the Starkey Wii. Your audiologist will program in the precise eq curves needed for your specific hearing loss. Each ear is programmed separately (it is actually done wirelessly, and you can see the actual eq curves on the audiologist's computer, which is really cool). The Starkey not only allows three separate programs, but also allows for five separate volume levels, all adjusted by means of either little switches on the hearing aids themselves or a pocket-sized remote control. While its frequency response is limited to about 8k, frequencies above 8k are transposed down to an audible range, so it actually tricks you into believing you are hearing an even greater frequency range than you actually are. Additionally, because they function in a truly binaural fashion (the two hearing aids actually talk to each other), you have the same degree of imagining that you would have with your ears themselves.

Note that I have no financial interest whatever in Starkey. All I can tell you is that these hearing aids are the equal of the finest high-end audio equipment you will ever purchase, and will enable you to appreciate what you were missing by virtue of your hearing loss. They are very expensive in absolute terms, but when you consider the amount of technology which is packed into these things, you can appreciate what you are getting in return.

Good luck.
Any of you guys w hearing aids have any experience with this site?
Great find there, Swampwalker.

This is one reason why I love the internet. There is better than average chance that a forum will develop whereby people with similar interests can share their knowledge and experience.

Some sites facilitate product development this way as a sort of open source approach.

If only there was an audio site like that. Wait a minute, let me think......

All the best,
Nonoise- Thx. My wife thinks that the internet is the root of all evil. Go figure.
The question asked by the original poster is addressed to audiophiles. The chances of finding an audiophile in the other forum suggested in this thread is most likely slim.
The chances of finding an audiophile in the other forum suggested in this thread is most likely slim.
Not to be a PITA but I searched for less than 30 minutes and ;found several 'philes in that forum, including one guy who was running Avantgarde Trios. He has found lots of differences and identified a major issue in that for improved speech recognition, most aids have a max bandwith of 8-9 kHz.
Dear Kusina, As an otolaryngologist, the answer to your question depends on the results of your audiogram. This test if done by an audiologist gives you enough information to give you a good estimate if hearing aids could help you. The frequency pattern of your loss is the first determinate. Secondly, your "discrimination" score( the percentage score of brain functioning) is the second determinator.
Putting those two factors together will give you a good ballpark as to possible hearing aid usefulness. With most programmable hearing aids and an applicable hearing loss and decent discrimination score you could try an aid and see how it works for you.
Almost all 50 states have laws that let you have a 30 day trial period to see if the aid is suitable for you. Money back guarantee if you turn it back before the 30 day trial period.
Hearing aid are like cars, the more whistles and bells you add the higher the cost. If your discrimination score is below 60 percent for speech at least the benefits of a hearing aid in that ear could be marginal. This has to be taken in context of your total audiogram.
My advise is to see a hearing aid audiologist or an honest hearing aid dealer AFTER your audiogram is reviewed by an ENT specialist to address the above issue as to suitability . Ronald Wong. M.D. Hope this helps. Happy Listening.
Dr. Wong, Thank you for the information and good advice. I have already taken steps that accord with your suggestions. I have seen both an ENT specialist and audiologist, had an audiogram charted, and am now awaiting the arrival of a "Musician's" hearing aid to try. My hearing deterioration is considered to be "moderate," and I look forward to what may well be "a major system upgrade."
Dear Kusina, I think it was Richard Nixon who said. "Knowledge is power". Happy. Listening.
Update, for those who may be interested. My local audiologist, at my request, ordered a General Hearing hearing aid model known as the "Musicians." It came in, and was presumably programed at the factory to my audiogram. But because of some sort of a computer software problem, my audiologist cannot make fine tuning corrections if I need them. I've waited several weeks hoping that the problem might be resolved, but so far the problem remains a problem. On this coming Tuesday I'll go to the audiologist and try out the programed but otherwise uncorrectable "Musicians" hearing aid as well as a hearing aid from a Danish company called Widex. Apparently, Widex has a new model called "The Dream," which has increased headroom compared to earlier Widex products and is something that my audiologist can fine tune as desired.(It has significantly less bandwidth than the "Musicians" aid, however, and it is significantly more expensive.) I myself haven't seen any of these devices as yet, let alone put them in my ears. I have learned, however, that patience is required if the consumer wants to stay on top of things.
Good luck and hang in there. Getting the right prescription doesn't always happen on the first try. Those Danes are in the forefront of hearing aid design. I remember reading an interview with an audio industry insider (name escapes me this morning) who said there was some degree of digital engineering "cross pollination" between high end audio and hearing aid businesses in Denmark.