Posts for tag: hearing aids
Why Can't I Undestand the Television Clearly?
Living with Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Well, this is a very good question, and unfortunately not one with a super easy answer. If you have hearing loss or hearing aids you are already behind the 8 ball, and this has to be the #1 complaint my patient's have and always makes the Top 5 things people in Austin want to hear clearly.
How does television process speech signal?
In a perfect world the entire signal would be processed and come out your television's speakers. But we don't live in that world. A normal human ear at birth can hear between 20-20,000 Hz. That is a very broad range. When we test hearing we look at 250- 8,000 Hz because that is the range in which all of the parts of speech fall. Vowels are in the lower frequencies, giving volume to what we hear. While the higher frequencies are the endings of words, or high frequency consonants. Think /s/, /t/, /p/, /sh/, /ch/ sounds. A high frequency hearing loss will affect the clarity of sound and not so much the volume. When you think about it, even reducing the range to 250- 8,000 Hz is still a pretty big range, so we have to cut it down further.
Now, in order for an auditory signal to go from Point A (broadcast station, satellite, server) to Point B (your living room T.V.) at some point it has to travel along an electrical cord. In the U.S our electrical outlets are 110v, 120 Hz with 15 amp of resistance. So, the signal has to travel at a multiple of 60Hz. Telecommunications standardly cut out everything above 2,500 Hz. Poof, gone. That would be most of the consonants that tell us the difference between "tear," "care," "fare," "pair," & "share." Couple that with an English accent from British programming or dramatic sound effects (which are low frequency heavy) and we have a recipe for disaster on the undertanding front.
Will hearing aids help me understand the television better?
Yes. Will it be perfect, no. Will the overall volume decrease? Yes. Please remember, a hearing aid is a therapy tool. It is the cornerstone of an amplification SYSTEM. Albiet the most important, but if you still aren't hearing the television as clearly as you would like but everyting else sounds better, it might be time to look at an assistive listening device. Most hearing aid manufacturers have a device that will transmit television signal directly into your hearing aid(s).
Why are some television channels louder than others?
Quite simply, it is based on average age of viewing demographic. Certain stations are louder. For example, PBS, HGTV, Food Network, TCM and network television tend to be louder (from personal experience) than Comedy Central, TBS, USA, and TNT. My husband is always asking me if I have my ears in after I've been watching say The Big Bang Theory marathon on TBS and he changes the channel to network TV. The volume goes up and he instantly has to turn things down. I usually have him set the volume to where he can hear it and then instruct him to hit the "back" button. And 9 times out of 10 he has to turn it up too. For added measure I'll then point out that YES I am wearing my ears. I'll admit, I still use closed captions from time to time.
At the end of the day, if you are constantly having difficulty understanding speech on the television, at home or in noise it is a good idea to have a baseline audiogram. Believe it or not, they are actually used for more than selling hearing aids. Chances are, if you're having that much trouble, you are missing out on a lot more than just Downton Abbey.
Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD
GN ReSound Linx2 Haring Aid Review:
GN ReSound launched their MFiPhone product in February 2014 and began paving the way for other manufacturers to get on board to offer this compatibility. MFI compatibility is available in all levels of the LiNX2, so it is accessible to those unable to afford premium level technology. Money ain’t no thang here for that feature!
One of the best things about the LiNX2 is that the tinnitus sound generator doesn’t disappear with the addition of MFI capabilities. This means that you can utilize a variety of maskers for tinnitus and still have the ability to stream directly to your phone. ReSound also offers a customizable tinnitus streaming program through their tinnitus application.This is not possible in all MFI hearing aids from other manufacturers (at time of this blog going live). Additionally, you can ALSO have T-coil compatibility-you just need the larger model size of the RIC (receiver-in-canal). The difference in size is minimal, and worth it if you just can’t let go of that T-coil option. I personally don’t think either model of the LiNX2 RIC is entirely sleek and up-to-date looking, but that’s my opinion.
The GN ReSound app is pretty user friendly. Hearing aids can be adjusted individually as needed per environment (meaning you can turn the volume to your left hearing aid down while increasing the volume in the right if you are driving and want to hear your passenger better… kind of cool, right?!), and the iPhone can even be used as a microphone that streams directly to the hearing aids. The app has the ability to give a wearer LiNX a LOT of options for adjusting settings though, so keep this in mind if you as a provider do not want a patient monkeying with all your hard work! As a user, you’ll love it if you’re tech savvy, and hate it if technology makes you cringe. Also-just like the previously reviewed Oticon OPN, any updates to hearing aid firmware will need to be pushed through in office and cannot be done directly through the app.
In terms of streaming, patient feedback has been mixed. I have had many patients report excellent sound quality for phone calls, and less-than-stellar quality for music. Depending on what you will be primarily streaming, this may be a turn-off. It is also worth noting that at the time of publishing Dr. Peterson currently uses the LiNX platform for her tinnitus and hearing loss.
As always, hearing aids should NOT be chosen based on direct-to-iPhone compatibility. GN ReSound has a very distinct algorithm for processing sound that may or may not work for your brain. The ultimate goal in selecting amplification is to allow access to speech with ease in a variety of environments-not stream the latest Ed Sheeran hit without interruption (although, a major plus).
GN ReSound Linx2 Hearing Aid Pros: Available in multiple technology levels, able to utilize tinnitus masking, t-coil compatibility available.
GN ReSound Linx2 Hearing Aid Cons: mixed reports on streaming quality, in-office visits for firmware upgrades, larger RIC model is significantly less sleek than other MFI options.
The ability to maintain tinnitus masking and T-coil functionality give the LiNX2 a step up. However, if exceptional streaming quality is your primary concern when investing in a MFI product, this would not be my go-to recommendation. I give the GN ReSound LiNX2 3 out of 5 ears.
Oticon Opn Review: Is The Hype Worth It?
Oticon became the third major hearing aid manufacturer to develop and release a Made for iPhone (MFI) hearing aid, first out in 2016. At that time, this technology was only available in the top tier (premiere level) of hearing aid, but has since been released at lower price points with varying levels of technology. This makes MFI amplification accessible to a variety of patients, but that doesn’t mean the OPN will work for everyone!
First things first: hearing aid users should not make a decision on amplification based SOLELY on direct streaming capabilities. Taking into account the primary reason for obtaining amplification (documented, diagnosed hearing loss, duh), the Oticon OPN offers excellent processing of speech in a variety of environments. The OPN is hailed as one of the most effective hearing aids for making speech clear to a listener in noise, and reduces listening effort compared to other comparable devices. Patient report has been EXCELLENT in our clinic, and feedback from users indicates to me that Oticon is not overstating their claims. It really is a solid choice for amplification, particularly to address speech in noise concerns.
Now, on to why you clicked here. The OPN has been the MFI hearing aid I have been fitting most often ending 2016 and beginning 2017. I won’t lie: this aid is SLICK. It has a sleek, modern, low-profile style that appeals to many in younger generations and the working population. It allows direct streaming of both phone calls and music/podcasts/audiobooks. Patient feedback has been very positive, and my patients have been extremely happy with the sound quality of both speech on the phone and music. Keep in mind, battery life varies based on how much you stream! Plus, the app can control your hearing aids in addition to communicating with other internet-controlled devices. Want to stream your Smart TV? Know your alarm is set at home? You can do that, and hear it all from your OPN devices.
However, the OPN is not for everyone. Are you suffering from tinnitus? Guess what-the OPN does not offer a tinnitus sound generator or any masking techniques. If amplification for your hearing loss does not offer relief from your tinnitus, and you are still bothered by it constantly, the OPN is NOT the MFI hearing aid for you. We cannot program tinnitus therapy in any level of the OPN. Additionally, you cannot add the widely known t-coil function in the OPN. Want to directly stream LaLa Land from the big screen at the theater to your aids? Can’t do it. This functionality is not a turn-off for everyone, and by not offering this, Oticon can keep the sleek, compact style the OPN has become known for. Just providing information here!
Last but not least, only one manufacturer currently offers firmware upgrades through their own app. Oticon is not that manufacturer. This means that when you upgrade your phone’s iOS software and there is an upgrade in the firmware in the hearing aids, a visit to your audiologist is required to ensure proper upgrading and pairing of devices.
THE QUICK AND DIRTY**:
Pros: sleek style, offered in multiple tier/technology levels, excellent direct iPhone streaming quality for phone calls and music.
Cons: incapable of programming tinnitus management, no t-coil, in-office visits for firmware upgrades.
While there are some limitations to what can be programmed in the OPN, the sound quality Oticon provides for both everyday amplification and through direct iPhone streaming is excellent. Overall, I give this product 4 out of 5 ears.
REVIEWS of MFiPHONE HEARING AIDS:
**Disclaimer: there are other hearing aids on the market that will also connect directly to an Apple device. However, our clinic fits the newest platform of chip from the six major manufacturers, and we do not make it practice to provide technology that is rebranded, outdated, or defeatured.
The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin is the hearing and balance division of Great Hills ENT and serves the greater Austin area including the Arboretum, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, tinnitus, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders