NOPE! Not all hearing instruments are created equal. When considering hearing instruments…the most important thing is that you will want to wear them and that you will hear better. Getting appropriate technology is only one of many considerations when pursuing better hearing.
The technology that you choose is only as good as the capabilities of the person who is programming it for you. Your Hearing Healthcare Professional must be well educated on all the intricacies of the hearing devices as they specifically pertain to your hearing loss. Hearing instruments adjustment possibilities can range from as few as 4 items to manipulate to as complex as several hundred parameters. They can have a single microphone to pick up sound or multiple microphones. The microphones may be in a fixed state or may be able to set so they self-adjust. Hearing instruments also have sound processors that must be set to classify all the sounds that you hear in your environmental everyday categories. Hearing Instruments that are entry level may just have one basic processor that considers all sounds...speech and all noise ...as the same type of sound and can cut out just 10 dB of noise. Basically, just a whisper of reduction...but because it is all the same...everything gets reduced. Then you go to the other extreme... Starkey’s Genesis Ai 24 hearing instruments have 8 sound processors and EACH one can be adjusted to cut out 30 dB of noise. They have AI sensors which stands for Artificial Intelligence which constantly learns your environment and the voices that you are listening too and then self-adjusts to the different scenarios. They have gyroscopes that can determine where you are looking, thus, the AI sensors can figure out who and what you are listening too and then very effectively control the surrounding competing noises and home in on the speech providing great ‘speech in noise’ understanding. It is your Hearing Health Care Professional who must know how to set the different parameters (based on your specific needs and wants) to deliver superior hearing capabilities in ALL situations. With advancements in this technology, we can also program “live with telehealth’. Huh? This means that we can set an appointment with you and connect with each other through the computer and your cell phone and see each other... but NOW we can also program your aids as we are talking... even though you are not in the office. This is especially great news for those who travel or are snowbirds. Having problems in the comfort of your own home hearing your spouse or tv? We can now program you live in your own surroundings.
My point. Providing you with the best speech understanding in noise is more than just clicking a button that suggests a “best fit” from the manufacturer. During your fitting then there should be verification procedures. Real ear measurement that determines what the aid is doing in the ear, live speech mapping that shows if voices are meeting targets, and speech discrimination/understanding tests in quiet and noise assure that the hearing instruments are indeed dialed in as they should be.
There are many levels of technology and the level at which you choose will determine how many frequencies are corrected and how much background noise can be controlled. Not everyone has to be in the top technology...and not everyone can wear the entry level. Too narrow of a bandwidth takes away the “s” and “t” sounds for example. Your hearing needs are specific. Not just your lifestyle needs but your brain’s ability to separate speech from noise. This ability is determined from specific tests performed during your hearing evaluation. The more you stimulate your brain the healthier you will keep it. With all of this... then you add in the possibility to connect your aids to your phone or other accessories such as a tv streaming device or a table mic. These additives also take a skilled professional to “dial everything in”. The Hearing devices also could classify types of speech and noises and microphone directionality...and many other things that are downloaded to the professional with specific guidelines for better hearing correction. All of which must be analyzed and re-configured appropriately by your Hearing Health Care Professional. It should also be noted that this takes time for your brain to become accustomed to hearing again. You didn’t lose your hearing overnight... so it takes a little patience and adjustment to reach perfection!
Sounds great.... then the Hearing Instrument Manufacturer does updates to your hearing instrument to make them even better, or your phone gets an update...and it’s up to you professional to make it all work perfectly again!
Hearing instruments can change your life. They are not cheap. Like most things in this life...we get what we pay for. Just make sure you are getting everything that you HAVE paid for. Ask questions and be your best advocate. Your investment in better hearing will allow you to reap the benefits for years to come. If you need help to her better or to troubleshoot please reach out to us. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!