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Thread: Restaurant Noise Problem

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volusiano View Post
    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.

    *************************
    Thanks again for the interesting analogy of forest, trees, and leaves that tries to explain the difficulty of current technology to overcome the barrier for noise separating from embedded speech. I will continue to study any digital hearing aids in the market that may have better approach to manage speech clarity in noise environment. I hope these days could come earlier.
    Brian from NJ
    binaural sensorineural moderate to profound mixed loss.
    Freq. Left Right
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    500 65 55
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    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. #12

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    I also continue to struggle to TRAIN that muleish brain of mine. I really love the comfort, fit & light weight of my new Opn RIEs, but it is a struggle to hear common SPEECH in many environments. Crowds of jabbering people or in busy stores (Costco, Whole Foods, etc.,) are just a big challenge. It is absolutely the case that many times, the person facing me, speaking to me, has a voice with a volume lower (softer) than the ambient noise all around. I can squint, hunch forward, try as I might to focus on what the person is saying, but by golly, the surrounding sound just overwhelms their voice - yes, even in the directional program for noisy places.

    By contrast, my old Agil Pro aids cut out all the noise to the sides and behind me so that I can hear WAY better what a person facing me is saying.

    I just grit my teeth when I think that if THIS is the new technology that I am going to have to bend my mind like a muscle to interpret speech, it seems back-a$$wards! It's like buying hiking boots and "breaking them in". That kind of boot died 30 years ago! Now you put the socks on that you'll hike in, and go try on boots that feel like they were custom-made for your foot. The result is FABULOUS.

    I do need to get back in to my aud-guy to bring this up and ask if any kind of "independent" adjustment can be made on my Opns. The thing is, Program 2 (for noise) seems to be chained to Program 1 (default) in a blockheaded way, so that it only turns directional and no other adjustment is made to enable better speech discrimination in a noisy place.

    If anyone here has the technological jargon I need to explain this better to my aud-guy, I'd love to hear it! (or read it, as the case may be)
    HAs from 1985>Starkey>Phonak>AGX>Oticon Agil Pro ITE>Oticon Opn miniRITE

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  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 1Bluejay View Post
    I also continue to struggle to TRAIN that muleish brain of mine. I really love the comfort, fit & light weight of my new Opn RIEs, but it is a struggle to hear common SPEECH in many environments. Crowds of jabbering people or in busy stores (Costco, Whole Foods, etc.,) are just a big challenge. It is absolutely the case that many times, the person facing me, speaking to me, has a voice with a volume lower (softer) than the ambient noise all around. I can squint, hunch forward, try as I might to focus on what the person is saying, but by golly, the surrounding sound just overwhelms their voice - yes, even in the directional program for noisy places.

    By contrast, my old Agil Pro aids cut out all the noise to the sides and behind me so that I can hear WAY better what a person facing me is saying.

    I just grit my teeth when I think that if THIS is the new technology that I am going to have to bend my mind like a muscle to interpret speech, it seems back-a$$wards! It's like buying hiking boots and "breaking them in". That kind of boot died 30 years ago! Now you put the socks on that you'll hike in, and go try on boots that feel like they were custom-made for your foot. The result is FABULOUS.

    I do need to get back in to my aud-guy to bring this up and ask if any kind of "independent" adjustment can be made on my Opns. The thing is, Program 2 (for noise) seems to be chained to Program 1 (default) in a blockheaded way, so that it only turns directional and no other adjustment is made to enable better speech discrimination in a noisy place.

    If anyone here has the technological jargon I need to explain this better to my aud-guy, I'd love to hear it! (or read it, as the case may be)
    You can set frontal directional program on OPN
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    R 5 10 25 45 55 65 65 60 65

    Oticon OPN master race
    Sorry for my english

  4. Default

    For the last 2 weekends I traveled to a beach house that's 4 hours away from where I live, each way. I drove in a very old mini van that has very loud road noise at freeway speed, loud engine noise, loud fan on #3 out of 4 most of the times, sometimes on #4 with the AC on. The rear fan was also on most of the times. I took out the middle bench to store lots of stuff in the middle, and my brother sits in front with me, and my sister-in-law and her 2 kids sit way in the back (3rd row). The van also has a lot of stuff inside that cause a lot of rattling.

    Anyhoo, now that you have a picture of the sound environment I was in, I was able to carry a 3-way conversation with my brother in the front and his wife in the rear (3rd row) seat of the minivan just fine, despite all the loud noise. Sometimes when my sister in law talks, I might have had to turn up the volume a notch or two to catch what she was saying, but the clarity was there amidst all of the noises, and I was able to understand her speech easily. And remember, too, that she sits behind me way in the back. To be able to carry a conversation with a female voice (no less) in such a noisy environment, and from behind me no less, is a testament that something must have worked right and synergistic between the HAs and my brain hearing. Fortunately my sister-in-law is not a soft spoken person, but she doesn't talk loud either, just normal volume.

    I also distinctly remember being super annoyed during my first month with these HAs especially in a noisy moving car, but now even though the noise is still there, it doesn't bother me anymore and the noise doesn't seem as loud as before, although still definitely noticeable during each of the 4 hour drive. I think it's also a testament of the brain hearing aspect working out as it's supposed to in terms of tuning out the noises, or at least not let it bother me anymore.

    I know everybody is different in terms of their brain hearing power. If you spend more time in a quiet house and don't get exposed to noisy environments on a daily basis, then it doesn't mean that you don't have brain hearing power or can't develop it. It just means that your brain doesn't have enough chances to learn to develop its power because it doesn't have enough opportunities to be trained and exercised. Then once in a while you get exposed to a noisy environment and your brain hearing doesn't perform to your expectation and you end up blaming it on the HA not performing to your expectation. But in all honesty, I think that's what directional beam forming toward the front kinda becomes a crutch in a way because it trains your brain to become accustomed to not having to deal with the noise too much. Then you come to expect that the HA should do the work to help you, instead of your brain hearing doing the work to help you. But the HA can only go so far and do so much, while the brain can go much further and do a lot more. But only if the brain is given a chance and gets adequate exposure to do its training.

    So I think for folks who wear the OPN but don't get exposed to noisy environments often enough, all the sounds they hear when exposed to a noisy environment will still be very challenging to sort through and it may never get easier for them.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-08-2017 at 05:15 AM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  5. #15
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    I'm a little confused. I thought the OPNs used the area in front of you as a reference point and subtracted out the noise that existed behind you. If so, how did they help in the situation you describe with a person speaking behind you? Is there another mode for that situation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Volusiano View Post
    For the last 2 weekends I traveled to a beach house that's 4 hours away from where I live, each way. I drove in a very old mini van that has very loud road noise at freeway speed, loud engine noise, loud fan on #3 out of 4 most of the times, sometimes on #4 with the AC on. The rear fan was also on most of the times. I took out the middle bench to store lots of stuff in the middle, and my brother sits in front with me, and my sister-in-law and her 2 kids sit way in the back (3rd row). The van also has a lot of stuff inside that cause a lot of rattling.

    Anyhoo, now that you have a picture of the sound environment I was in, I was able to carry a 3-way conversation with my brother in the front and his wife in the rear (3rd row) seat of the minivan just fine, despite all the loud noise. Sometimes when my sister in law talks, I might have had to turn up the volume a notch or two to catch what she was saying, but the clarity was there amidst all of the noises, and I was able to understand her speech easily. And remember, too, that she sits behind me way in the back. To be able to carry a conversation with a female voice (no less) in such a noisy environment, and from behind me no less, is a testament that something must have worked right and synergistic between the HAs and my brain hearing. Fortunately my sister-in-law is not a soft spoken person, but she doesn't talk loud either, just normal volume.

    I also distinctly remember being super annoyed during my first month with these HAs especially in a noisy moving car, but now even though the noise is still there, it doesn't bother me anymore and the noise doesn't seem as loud as before, although still definitely noticeable during each of the 4 hour drive. I think it's also a testament of the brain hearing aspect working out as it's supposed to in terms of tuning out the noises, or at least not let it bother me anymore.

    I know everybody is different in terms of their brain hearing power. If you spend more time in a quiet house and don't get exposed to noisy environments on a daily basis, then it doesn't mean that you don't have brain hearing power or can't develop it. It just means that your brain doesn't have enough chances to learn to develop its power because it doesn't have enough opportunities to be trained and exercised. Then once in a while you get exposed to a noisy environment and your brain hearing doesn't perform to your expectation and you end up blaming it on the HA not performing to your expectation. But in all honesty, I think that's what directional beam forming toward the front kinda becomes a crutch in a way because it trains your brain to become accustomed to not having to deal with the noise too much. Then you come to expect that the HA should do the work to help you, instead of your brain hearing doing the work to help you. But the HA can only go so far and do so much, while the brain can go much further and do a lot more. But only if the brain is given a chance and gets adequate exposure to do its training.

    So I think for folks who wear the OPN but don't get exposed to noisy environments often enough, all the sounds they hear when exposed to a noisy environment will still be very challenging to sort through and it may never get easier for them.
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

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  6. #16
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    I've noticed that too. I think it only happens when I use reply with quote and try to put my answer after the quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post
    Yes.It'snicetohearthattheOpnisdoingwellinthecar,bu titsbecauseoftheirexistingtechandnotthenewOpnstuff .

    Sometimes when I reply my space bar stops working, and look it just started again. It's only on this forum and I haven't yet identified the pattern. Anyone else get this?
    .25 .5 1 1.5 2 3.0 4.0 6.0 8.0

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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    I've noticed that too. I think it only happens when I use reply with quote and try to put my answer after the quote.
    Same here, although it seems to be intermittent. For example, this reply is okay. Software glitch?
    Rexton Trax 42 RIC (312) w/open domes (October, 2015)

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    L-----30------35-----35-----30-----40-----65-----65-----55
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  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post
    Sometimes when I reply my space bar stops working, and look it just started again. It's only on this forum and I haven't yet identified the pattern. Anyone else get this?
    Yes, if I do a quick reply, not in the first paragraph but very often in the second paragraph the space key doesn't work. But if go to "Go Advanced" then the space key always work afterward.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    I'm a little confused. I thought the OPNs used the area in front of you as a reference point and subtracted out the noise that existed behind you. If so, how did they help in the situation you describe with a person speaking behind you? Is there another mode for that situation?
    Very astute question, MDB. You're correct that the OPN usually makes a noise model of the sounds behind and on the side to use it to cancel out the noise in the front, basically because the noise permeates everywhere anyway so the noise model of sounds behind and on the sides should be very similar to the embedded noise in the front. But it does make special provision to manage speech when it doesn't come from the front. Below is a quote from their OPN OpnSound Navigator white paper:

    Access to Multiple Speech Cues
    Multiple talkers in an environment create a challenging
    situation. These talkers are situated around the user
    and, in particular, can be on the side and at the back.
    They could be interpreted as noise if present within the
    back-facing cardioid. To prevent the attenuation of
    speech information by the system, OSN is equipped with
    a Voice Activity Detector that operates independently
    in each of the 16 frequency bands. If speech is detected
    in one frequency band, the state of the Balance and the
    Noise Removal modules in the corresponding band is
    “frozen” to preserve the speech information regardless
    of the position of the talker in reference to the hearing
    aid wearer. The detection of speech and the resulting
    freeze and release of Balance and Noise Removal modules
    is updated 500 times per second.


    So in my situation I think that's what happens to enable me to hear speech from the back just fine still. However, if they freeze the Balancing and Noise Removal modules from working to preserve the rear speech, that would also mean that the rear speech I hear doesn't benefit from having the noise cleaned up from it like with the front speech.

    So what I surmise is that even though I don't get this benefit, my brain hearing power is well adjusted enough to

    1) tune out the surrounding noise, 2) focus on the speech. Both of which a traditional directional beam forming HA would have done for me but in this case my brain hearing does it for me and the plus side is that the brain hearing can do it for any direction while the traditional beam forming HA can only do it for the front area.

    and finally 3) my brain hearing also sorted out the embedded noise from the speech. But this ability in 3) is not any different than a wearer of a traditional front beam forming HA using their brain hearing to sort out the embedded noise from the speech in front of them anyway.

    So what I would surmise is that if I had been sitting in the front passenger seat and it has the ability to rotate 360 degrees and I can turn my seat around to face my sister-in-law talking in the back of the van, the Balancing and Noise Removal modules of the OPN would have been unfrozen and kicked in to help me understand her even better compared to listening to her talking behind me.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-08-2017 at 02:42 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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