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Thread: Restaurant Noise Problem

  1. Default Restaurant Noise Problem

    I have my Phonak Brio 1 almost three years that were purchased from Costco. The Brio 1 could recover my hearing loss back to approximately 80%, as I hear nothing if no hearing aids was used. At the first two years usage, I could cut out significant background noise when using a background noise mode. However, currently the background noise especially in restaurants was not cut out that great comparing the first two years with these Phonak Brio 1. If I lower the volume of the aids it does cut out some background noise but also lower my hearing capability. I would like to know is it in general digital hearing aids only good for a few years usage. My Costco audi told me that my aids background noise setting is already in its border limit. Iím thinking to try Brio 2 from Costco. Does anyone have the Brio 2 recently and discover that Brio 2 performs good in reducing background noise vs Brio 1? Any info regarding background noise reduction is greatly appreciated.
    Brian from NJ
    binaural sensorineural moderate to profound mixed loss.
    Freq. Left Right
    250 60 55
    500 65 55
    1K 70 60
    2K 70 70
    4K 80 95
    8K 85 95

    SPEECH DISCRIMINATION
    Right - 55 dB/60%
    Left - 60 dB/72%

    Currently have Costco Phonak Brio B-SP with ear hook and ComPilot.

  2. #2

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    With digital HAs, if in a more quiet environment you don't notice any change in volume or performance now compared to when your first got it, and only notice that it seems to cut out less noise in noisy environment now compared to before, I would say that it's not the HAs that have changed, but it's more likely your hearing that has changed.

    Having a background in Electrical Engineering, I can tell you that digital circuitries don't degrade. They either work or they don't. Yes, the receiver and microphones are still analog devices, but if they seem to work fine like they did on the first day in a more quiet environment, then it can't be them and for sure it can't due to a degrading digital circuit.

    It's possible that maybe your microphone and/or receiver have wax build up on them over the years on the inside where you can't get at, which blocks out some of the sound. But if you have had them cleaned or replaced at some point already. then it's most likely your hearing that has changed. Is the audiogram you posted back when you purchased your Brio 1? If yes, maybe it's time for a new audiogram test at Costco. I had a more recent audiogram at Costco 3 years after my last pair of HAs there and my hearing on the right had gotten worse. Usually it's so gradual that you don't notice and you adapt to the deterioration until you can't adapt anymore and start blaming it on old equipment. That's what happened to me.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-04-2017 at 07:10 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  3. #3

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    ^^^ That is an interesting idea! My ma-in-law has also complained that the aids she bought in fall of 2014 do not do as good a job anymore in noisy environments - like at the dining table in her senior home. I will suggest that she get her aids cleaned & waxguards replaced for sure. She does have her ears looked into a couple times a year, so it would be great if the problem could be fixed on her aids.
    HAs from 1985>Starkey>Phonak>AGX>Oticon Agil Pro ITE>Oticon Opn miniRITE

    KHz 0.25...0.5...1.0...2.0...3.0...4.0....6.0...8.0

    Left ..65....80....80....65.....65....60....65....90
    Right 65....80....80....75.....75....70....65....90

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Volusiano View Post
    With digital HAs, if in a more quiet environment you don't notice any change in volume or performance now compared to when your first got it, and only notice that it seems to cut out less noise in noisy environment now compared to before, I would say that it's not the HAs that have changed, but it's more likely your hearing that has changed.

    Having a background in Electrical Engineering, I can tell you that digital circuitries don't degrade. They either work or they don't. Yes, the receiver and microphones are still analog devices, but if they seem to work fine like they did on the first day in a more quiet environment, then it can't be them and for sure it can't due to a degrading digital circuit.

    It's possible that maybe your microphone and/or receiver have wax build up on them over the years on the inside where you can't get at, which blocks out some of the sound. But if you have had them cleaned or replaced at some point already. then it's most likely your hearing that has changed. Is the audiogram you posted back when you purchased your Brio 1? If yes, maybe it's time for a new audiogram test at Costco. I had a more recent audiogram at Costco 3 years after my last pair of HAs there and my hearing on the right had gotten worse. Usually it's so gradual that you don't notice and you adapt to the deterioration until you can't adapt anymore and start blaming it on old equipment. That's what happened to me.

    *********************
    Thanks for the explanation and suggestion. I did clean wax in the aids quite often. I have my hearing test twice a year and my audiogram did not change too much for the past three years. I wonder is any hearing aids in the market that is well performed in the control of noise environment. So far I could only understand people talking adjacent to me but not opposite side of a dining table.
    Brian from NJ
    binaural sensorineural moderate to profound mixed loss.
    Freq. Left Right
    250 60 55
    500 65 55
    1K 70 60
    2K 70 70
    4K 80 95
    8K 85 95

    SPEECH DISCRIMINATION
    Right - 55 dB/60%
    Left - 60 dB/72%

    Currently have Costco Phonak Brio B-SP with ear hook and ComPilot.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brialocus View Post
    I wonder is any hearing aids in the market that is well performed in the control of noise environment. So far I could only understand people talking adjacent to me but not opposite side of a dining table.
    Because you asked about any HAs in the market that can perform well in noisy environment, I would say that most modern HAs should do a good job of cutting down on noise. But maybe you've been looking at it the wrong way by looking for HAs that can do more and more noise reduction for you. Seems like initially that might have been enough, but over the years it's no longer enough for you specifically. So maybe it's time to look for something else; a different approach, a different solution, instead of more of the same. Rather than relying on the HA to cut down more noise for you, maybe it's better to train your brain hearing to cut down the noise for you instead, by means of tuning it out. Maybe the brain can do a more effective job at that than the HA can. And in the process of learning to tune out the noise, it also provides a natural path to teaching the brain to learn to tune in and focus on hearing the speech better. After all, the brain hearing should be much more powerful at processing sounds than the HA processing power.

    If you see the logic in this reasoning, then it may be worthwhile to try a different kind of hearing aid (the Oticon OPN) that subscribes to this brain hearing power approach. Maybe this new approach can help solve your restaurant noise issue that the Brio 1 hasn't been able to solve for you. The OPN doesn't cut down any noise in the traditional way. It lets you hear everything and it only concentrates on clean up speech to provide better speech clarity. It relies on your brain do the work of tuning out the noise and focusing on the speech. It may be "work" initially as the brain hearing has to be trained back into shape to do this. But eventually once the brain hearing is back in tip top shape, it should no longer be "work" anymore but should simply be second nature to do so.

    This may not be for everybody, but if what you have doesn't work anymore and you're looking for something else that may work better for you, I'd say this is something different worth trying.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-05-2017 at 12:54 AM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  6. #6
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    Microphones will typically degrade by 1dB a year - though the manufacturers use long term averaging to minimise this effect.

    Your hearing my degrade by more than 1dB a year.

    If you consider that a 3dB decline sounds about half the volume intensity, it's not difficult to see why three year old hearing aids don't appear to be working as well. (Assuming that all screens and filters are free of wax/debris/hairspray etc)
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  7. Default

    Thanks again your invaluable suggestions on how to train the brain again to cut out noise from speech. I have read similar messages that we could re-train the brain to focus speech in a noisy background. Sometimes I discovered that stayed in a noisy restaurant more than like 10 to 15 minutes, I could detect the background noise is calm down that I could easily to focus to understand the conversation. Donít know is it performed by the aids or the brain is able to tune in on focus the speech. Also I learned that I need to seat close to a wall or partition that it could be more beneficial to block out any noise behind me and easy for the aids to pick up speech in front of me.
    Brian from NJ
    binaural sensorineural moderate to profound mixed loss.
    Freq. Left Right
    250 60 55
    500 65 55
    1K 70 60
    2K 70 70
    4K 80 95
    8K 85 95

    SPEECH DISCRIMINATION
    Right - 55 dB/60%
    Left - 60 dB/72%

    Currently have Costco Phonak Brio B-SP with ear hook and ComPilot.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brialocus View Post
    Thanks again your invaluable suggestions on how to train the brain again to cut out noise from speech. I have read similar messages that we could re-train the brain to focus speech in a noisy background. Sometimes I discovered that stayed in a noisy restaurant more than like 10 to 15 minutes, I could detect the background noise is calm down that I could easily to focus to understand the conversation. Donít know is it performed by the aids or the brain is able to tune in on focus the speech. Also I learned that I need to seat close to a wall or partition that it could be more beneficial to block out any noise behind me and easy for the aids to pick up speech in front of me.
    To answer the specific question you asked above (highlighted in red), I would say that it depends on the aid. The traditional aid (like the Brio 1 you have) does its job by blocking out the noise for you via directional beam forming. The brain doesn't have to tune out the noise in this case because the aid already does that for the most part. But remember that the remaining speech is still embedded with noise nevertheless. This is key here. So now it's the brain's job to try to separate the embedded noise from the speech. If the speech volume is louder than the embedded noise, then it's easier for the brain to recognize the speech and filter out the embedded noise. If it's so noisy that the speech volume has to compete with the noise volume then the brain will have a much harder time separating noise from speech. I guess that's why people shout in very noisy places. If it's hard enough for normal hearing people to filter out this embedded noise in speech, for the hearing challenged folks like us, it makes it even harder for our brain to do this, even with the surrounding noise already blocked out.

    In the other scenario, the brain does both jobs: 1) Tune out the noise, 2) Focus on speech. So what the heck does the aid have left to do then? In this case, what the OPN does is try to help you with part 2. Instead of your brain having to try to filter out the embedded noise inside the speech, the OPN will help do this for you instead. The premise is that this is where your brain will need help the most. Not help with tuning out the surrounding noise (your brain can learn to do this). Not help with focusing on speech (your brain can also learn to do this). But what your brain needs and it's hard to do by itself (especially for hearing challenged people) is the filtering and shaving off the embedded noise that masks the speech to make the speech clearer. This is the real holy grail here for noise reduction in my opinion. The louder the embedded noise in the speech is, the harder it'll be for the brain to unmask it from the speech. Maybe normal hearing people has the sensitivity to unmask that loud noise from the speech. But hearing challenged people don't have this level of sensitivity to accomplish that. Hearing challenged people needs the aid to do this for them.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-05-2017 at 05:03 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Volusiano View Post
    To answer the specific question you asked above (highlighted in red), I would say that it depends on the aid. The traditional aid (like the Brio 1 you have) does its job by blocking out the noise for you via directional beam forming. The brain doesn't have to tune out the noise in this case because the aid already does that for the most part. But remember that the remaining speech is still embedded with noise nevertheless. This is key here. So now it's the brain's job to try to separate the embedded noise from the speech. If the speech volume is louder than the embedded noise, then it's easier for the brain to recognize the speech and filter out the embedded noise. If it's so noisy that the speech volume has to compete with the noise volume then the brain will have a much harder time separating noise from speech. I guess that's why people shout in very noisy places. If it's hard enough for normal hearing people to filter out this embedded noise in speech, for the hearing challenged folks like us, it makes it even harder for our brain to do this, even with the surrounding noise already blocked out.

    In the other scenario, the brain does both jobs: 1) Tune out the noise, 2) Focus on speech. So what the heck does the aid have left to do then? In this case, what the OPN does is try to help you with part 2. Instead of your brain having to try to filter out the embedded noise inside the speech, the OPN will help do this for you instead. The premise is that this is where your brain will need help the most. Not help with tuning out the surrounding noise (your brain can learn to do this). Not help with focusing on speech (your brain can also learn to do this). But what your brain needs and it's hard to do by itself (especially for hearing challenged people) is the filtering and shaving off the embedded noise that masks the speech to make the speech clearer. This is the real holy grail here for noise reduction in my opinion. The louder the embedded noise in the speech is, the harder it'll be for the brain to unmask it from the speech. Maybe normal hearing people has the sensitivity to unmask that loud noise from the speech. But hearing challenged people don't have this level of sensitivity to accomplish that. Hearing challenged people needs the aid to do this for them.

    ******************************
    After your detail explanation, Iím glad to understand that for hearing impaired persons like us have to train the brain to tune out the noise. Is there any technique or method that we could train the brain to re-establish the capability to filter out noise from the speech? Like last weekend I had no way to understand the conversation in a restaurant except someone seat next to me. Then I was told even they (normal hearing people) were difficulty to chat with other people because the restaurant had many people and equipped no sound absorbing material.
    Brian from NJ
    binaural sensorineural moderate to profound mixed loss.
    Freq. Left Right
    250 60 55
    500 65 55
    1K 70 60
    2K 70 70
    4K 80 95
    8K 85 95

    SPEECH DISCRIMINATION
    Right - 55 dB/60%
    Left - 60 dB/72%

    Currently have Costco Phonak Brio B-SP with ear hook and ComPilot.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by brialocus View Post
    ******************************
    After your detail explanation, Iím glad to understand that for hearing impaired persons like us have to train the brain to tune out the noise. Is there any technique or method that we could train the brain to re-establish the capability to filter out noise from the speech? Like last weekend I had no way to understand the conversation in a restaurant except someone seat next to me. Then I was told even they (normal hearing people) were difficulty to chat with other people because the restaurant had many people and equipped no sound absorbing material.
    I'm assuming your question here refers to how to learn to filter out the noise embedded in the speech, which is the same as the noise around you, but different in that it still clings on to the speech even after you have isolated the speech and focus on it. To help with this clarification and maybe eventually answer your question, let me try an analogy first. Let's say the restaurant is the forest, noise is all the green leaves, and speeches are the trees. And your hearing is your vision. If you can't tune out anything, then all you see is the green forest and you don't see the trees. If you're interested only in seeing ONE particular tree, then your vision has to first learn to ignore all the surrounding trees (voices and noise that you're not interested in hearing) and find the tree of interest and zoom in and stay focused on it. But this tree is still covered with green leaves, and you're only interested in the outline of the tree and its branches. If that tree has too much leaves on it (very noisy restaurant), it's going to be much harder to make out the outline of the tree. If there are much less leaves on that tree (less noisy restaurant), it's easier to see past the leaves on this tree and shape out in your mind the outline of the tree and its branches.

    I hope this analogy makes sense so far. Now let me take the analogy a step further. Let's say people with normal hearing is analogous to having 20/20 vision, and can see not only clearly but has a better depth perception on their vision, maybe better color recognition, shade perception, etc. Let's say hearing challenged people are analogous to people with bad eye sight and have to wear glasses (the hearing aid are obviously analogous to the glasses in this case). The traditional hearing aids is analogous to maybe a very small pair of eyeglasses. It blocks out vision of the big forest so you can focus on the tree of interest only. The OPN is analogous to a very big pair of eye glasses that let you see the whole forest. But you have to play "I spy" to zoom in on the tree of interest and ignore the rest of the forest (analogous to your brain hearing tuning out the noise and focus on the speech).

    OK, so now let's say you have 3 different people looking at this tree. One guy has 20/20 vision (normal hearing), one guy wears the small glasses (the traditional hearing aids), and one guy wears the big glasses (the OPN HA). They all now focus on this one tree of interest, but unfortunately, this tree is very hairy/full of leaves which makes it very hard to make out its outline and branches further. The 20/20 vision guy uses his other vision acuities that the 2 guys with glasses don't have to help him try to make out the outline of the tree. Acuity like depth perception, better shadow and light sensitivity, better color perception, etc. Meanwhile the 2 guys with glasses see the same tree but don't have the other acuities like the 20/20 guy to make out the tree any better than what their glasses allow them to see, which is more or less just a 2 dimensional vision (I'm dumbing down the glasses to have only 2 dimensional vision here to emphasize the analogy to limitations of the hearing aids which can only more or less amplify the sound but can't recover other lost hearing acuities like maybe level sensitivity, soft sound detection, noise tolerance, etc).

    So now back to your question in the quote -> "is there any technique or method that we could train the brain to re-establish the capability to filter out noise from the speech?". The analogous question here is can the 2 guys wearing glasses train their brain to see that tree any better than what their 2 dimensional glasses allow them to see? Personally I think the answer is no. That is because you've reached the limitation of what the glasses can do to correct their vision. The brain, as powerful as it is, if it is given limited information, then it can't do any more further processing of the information that it doesn't have in the first place. It's not the brain's fault. It's the limitation of the aid.

    But what if the big glasses (the OPN HA in this case) can apply a green filter to remove the green color surrounding that tree? Then that will help the guy wearing those glasses see the outline of the tree better for sure. In this case it's not the brain that does this processing. It's the HA that does this processing. That is the extra step and the differentiation of what the OPN can do on noise removal that traditional HAs don't do. So that's why I think for folks who have trouble in noisy restaurant and the traditional HA with directional beam forming noise reduction doesn't seem to help them, maybe try out this different approach with this different HA to see if it's any better. Maybe it won't be any better for them, because it does require commitment in terms of the willingness and the ability and the time to retrain your brain hearing, which is a critical factor to its success. But if you're frustrated and you're looking for something different to try, I think this is something else worth trying.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-06-2017 at 02:16 AM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

    KHz 0.25...0.5...0.75...1.0...1.5...2.0...3.0...4.0... 6.0...8.0

    Left ...10...10....10.....30.....70....75....80....95.. ..90....80
    Right .25...30....40.....55.....75....85....90....90...1 00...100

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