Author:

rjd

Consumer Technology

Starkey Livio Edge 2400 ITC rechargeable

By
on
November 11, 2021

Report on Starkey Livio Edge AI 2400, November 2021

Sometimes the memories/programs would change spontaneously. Sometimes only one side changed and I would need to change programs to get them both back to normal.

Every 5-10 minutes they have a 3 second cut out. I have wondered if it is when they are adapting to changing situations when in auto (what they call “Normal”).

I run, and when running they sometimes think the vibration (I have touch sensitivity set to min) is a double tap so I hear the voice repeatedly telling me that they have gone back to the normal program as they switch between Edge and Normal.

After streaming sometimes only one side goes back to normal.  I would need to change programs to get them both back to normal.

Bluetooth connection is generally hit and miss. I lost count of the times I had to get it back by rebooting the phone after switching Bluetooth off and on did not solve the problem.

Eventually the stopped streaming phone calls.   I have switched Bluetooth on and off, restarted phone, unpaired and repaired (twice).  Uninstalled app then reinstalled. They continue to stream radio, YouTube, Google maps satnav, etc, but no phone calls. On the phone screen during a phone call the symbol tells me the phone is streaming the call to the hearing aids but nothing is coming through.

Eventually, all the problems undermined my confidence in the Livio Edge AI 2400 generally and especially on aids that are so reliant on an app. 

 

Graham Hutchinson

Consumer Phonak

Paradise Hearing Aid & Music Listening

By
on
October 31, 2021

Phonak P30 RIC Hearing Aids

 

Comfort and Fit

The body of the P30 re-chargeable aids is compact, but wider than 312 battery aids. The difference in size isn’t large, but it is significant when the aids are vying for space with spectacles and facemask loops.

The size S domes on M receivers were easy to insert in my ear canals. My LH ear canal is narrow, and the dome on that side feels a bit uncomfortable at times. Phonak don’t make domes smaller than size S.

Ease of use

Full control of the aids is possible using the smartphone app. It is easy to use and has a comprehensive set of functions.

Volume and program changes can be made using the up/down buttons on the aids. It is easy to get it wrong, because the buttons are small and fiddly to use.

Notification of changes made is by a series of beeps. The volume change beeps are logical. Program identification is made by remembering how many beeps are associated with each program, which is confusing.

I did not find it easy to control the Phonak aids without using the smartphone app. The design intention seems to be that the aids would normally be controlled using the app, the assumption being that everybody is in possession of a smartphone and would want to use it to control their hearing aids. That isn’t the case with me and there must be other people who don’t expect, or want, to use a phone to control their aids. The ability to control hearing aids without using a smartphone shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

Sound Quality

Phonak P30s are bright sounding aids. I think that the brightness enhances understanding of speech.

The aids amplify head sounds such as breathing and chewing. I found it disconcerting at first, but I quickly got used to it.

I noticed that the head sound amplification was reduced when I removed my spectacles. I think that the wider, slightly resonant, body of the aids, contacts the arms of my spectacles, transferring head sounds to the microphones.

The Feedback Manager is very effective. Its operation is audible on higher frequency sounds, but it is not an issue in most listening situations.

Programmes

I used the Universal program most of the time, but I also used Music with Feedback Manager and Music without Feedback Manager.

The Universal program worked well. My understanding of speech was good, including TV dialogue. Some sounds, such as those generated by cutlery on crockery, or running water, were accentuated, whereas others, such as the sound from a car engine, were subdued.

I did not find the Universal program to be good for listening to music. The operation of the Feedback Manager interferes with notes in the higher register adding an unpleasant tremolo effect to single notes. Chordal sounds are smeared in the treble. The effect was also present to a lesser extent with the Music with Feedback Manager program. The effect was not there with the Music without Feedback Manager program, which sounded quite good. Feedback was an issue, but the problem was reduced by lowering the volume of the aids.

Streaming

Phonak Paradise aids will stream from any Bluetooth 4 or 5 enabled sending device, not just phones. There is a low level of background hiss. Sound quality is very good, and treble sounds aren’t affected by the Feedback manager.

I paired the aids with my Android phone, my Windows tablet, and a desktop PC. Pairing was simple enough.

The streaming feature was useful for taking calls, but I was particularly interested in how the aids would sound with streamed music. The track that I used for testing was Madeleine Peyroux’s version of Careless Love

I played an 835kbps FLAC CD rip and a 262kbps m4a version of the track, using both the phone and the tablet. There was little or no difference in sound quality between the phone and the tablet.

Background hiss was audible, but it wasn’t intrusive. The sound of both versions of the track was good, the better quality of the uncompressed version of the track being detectable. The drums and Hammond Organ came across particularly strongly, but the double bass sound lacked body and resonance. Madeleine Peyroux’s voice sounded good, but lacked some of its timbre.

Listening to streamed music through aids is a different experience from listening through Hi-Fi speakers. Bass notes are clear and well defined through aids, but lack body and resonance. Treble sounds are bright and clear. The overall sound is lively and listenable.

Charger and Charging

The charger unit is a rounded clamshell design with a shiny finish. A degree of dexterity is required to open the charger and insert the aids, but different from that required to insert a new battery in non-rechargeable aids. Insertion and removal of the aids is easy enough.

The instruction manual states that the power connector is USB C. It isn’t. It’s micro-USB.

Conclusion

The Cambridge dictionary defines paradise as:

A place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be.

P30s are excellent hearing aids, but Phonak have got a fair bit of development work to do if their Paradise range of hearing aids is to live up to its name.

FHJ   29/11/2021

The Phonak P30 Hearing aids were lent to me for testing by Mr Robert Donnan, of RJD Hearing Care, Cleckheaton.

 

PS:

Phonak P and M aids should connect and stream. They would use classic Bluetooth, not Bluetooth LE, as stated in the above article. The variable performance caused by unreliable connectivity would be local environment

Other brands might pair to a TV using Bluetooth LE, but they wouldn’t stream. Streaming from Android 10 or above phones is possible because of a BT LE protocol developed for the Bluetooth LE by Google Android.

Phonak P and M aids should connect to, and stream directly from, TVs with Bluetooth. They would use Classic Bluetooth, not Bluetooth LE as stated in the article. Any variation in connectivity and streaming performance would be due to local environment issues such as distance from TV, RF interference from cables, Wi-Fi, and other devices etc.

 

Other brands of aids might be “seen” by the TV if it has Bluetooth LE. They might also connect, but they might not stream. Streaming from Android 10 or higher phones is made possible because Google Android has developed a Bluetooth LE streaming protocol, specially developed for Bluetooth LE hearing aids. Out new Sony telly is an Android TV. They might work with that, but I doubt that they would work with our Panasonic TV. It’s got Bluetooth, but it’s not an Android set.

I should add that I only tested connectivity and pairing Phonak P aids with devices with Bluetooth 4 and 5.

The Android Bluetooth LE hearing aid streaming protocol was developed for Android phones. I have no idea whether it would work on Android TVs

Technology Widex

Listening to Music with Hearing Aids

By
on
April 11, 2021

 

I have an interest in high-fidelity sound reproduction. I usually listen to music through speakers, but with the passage of time, I noticed that my system did not sound as good as it used to. In particular, the treble seemed to have lost its sparkle. I had known for a long time that the hearing in my left ear was worse than that in my right, and a hearing test a few years ago confirmed this to be the case. It also revealed that I had age-related hearing loss in my right ear.

Mr. Robert Donnan, RJD Hearing Care

When I first got my Oticon Opn hearing aids, my audiologist, Mr. Robert Donnan, encouraged me to report my experience of wearing them. I tried listening to music with them in place. There was more treble, but an unpleasant artificial warble was added to high-frequency sounds which spoilt the listening experience. I discussed the issue with Mr. Donnan and he set up a Music program, but I still found the sound from the speakers to be better without the aids.

A couple of years later Mr. Donnan suggested that I should try a pair of Widex Beyond hearing aids. Widex claims that their aids give users a true-to-life musical listening experience.

 

 

Widex Beyond

I am reasonably happy with the sound from the speakers when listening to music with the Widex aids in place. I think that the fact that I use open ear tips helps because they allow the sound processed by the aids to be mixed with the direct sound.  Even so, I am aware that I am listening through hearing aids, rather than to the music itself.  The bass is OK, but the treble is a bit brittle and harsh.  Reducing the volume of the music program on the aids and increasing the volume of the speakers improves the sound, but there are times when it would be better if I could listen to music without the possibility of disturbing others.


I have been thinking about the use of headphones with, or instead of, hearing aids for a while.  

The frequency range of Hi-Fi headphones is generally of the order of 5-50,000Hz. There are those who consider a frequency range of that order to be ridiculous because the range of human hearing is only about 20-20,000Hz at the most. The extended range is considered to add nuance and timbre to the sound that we hear when listening to music through them. In other words, they sound better. This could be because the headphones that claim to have such a wide frequency range tend to be better engineered than those that do not.

What frequency range do Widex claim for their hearing aids? Probably 100-10,000Hz at the most. Hearing tests cover the range 250-8,000Hz because that is all that is considered to be necessary for hearing aids. A frequency range of 250-8,000Hz is more than enough for the understanding of speech but insufficient for good quality music reproduction. The quality of the sound of music played through hearing aids is compromised by the lack of frequency bandwidth of the devices.

The sound of music streamed to hearing aids is processed, presumably according to the wearer’s prescription. If a sound can only be heard through the aids, as it is with streamed music, the quality is compromised by the digital processing. Digital hearing aids are wonders of modern technology, but their miniaturisation limits what is possible, at least in their current state of development.

I had an idea about using over-the-ear headphones with the hearing aids in place, allowing the processed sound from the aids to be mixed with the unprocessed sound, as it is with speakers. I do not think that it would work, because I suspect that the arrangement would cause the aids to feedback, making music listening impossible.

I looked to see if I could find any headphones that had the facility to adjust the sound of the left and right sides independently, but I could not find any. Some dedicated headphone amplifiers might have this option.

There would seem to be a gap in the market for headphones designed to assist people with impaired hearing to be able to listen to high quality music reproduction as it was intended to be heard. In the absence of such devices, I will continue to listen to music through speakers with my Widex aids in place. I will use the hearing aid music program at reduced volume, to allow the processed sound from the aids to be mixed with the direct sound, to minimize the brittle and harsh treble sound that they produce.   

fhj   08/04/2021

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