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When playing concertina with my hearing aids in I get a marked tremolo effect going on. I am guessing that the hearingaid manages to shift the pitch by a couple of hertz, and that and the original unboosted signal are recombining in my ear to give the tremelo effect.

 

Not a great problem, I simply take the hearing aids out, but I'm curious if others have come across this?

The hearing aids are NHS standard behind the ear things, with 'open backed' ear fittings.

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I can't help with Clive's problem* but, as someone who expects to need a hearing aid sometime, I have wondered about how compatible modern hearing aids are with playing a musical instrument.

 

In the old days hearing aids were simple analog audio amplifiers.  Now they are sophisticated (and v. expensive) digital signal processing devices and the resulting sound has been chopped, diced, shaped and shifted to favour speech or listening to a TV set or answering the phone  - a hearing aid specialist 'tunes' your aid to meet your needs. 

 

So how well do they work when you are trying to play music?  I don't know, but I am doubtful.

 

Maybe using an analog amplifier + mike + headphones would be the answer.

 

* I do not know how it works with the NHS and hearing aids, but it might be worth asking about getting your aids adjusted.  If you are hearing a beat then maybe the aids are in error and shifting the sound frequency by just a few hertz.  Or you could pretend that you are playing a melodeon...

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Just before the COVID pandemonium I was fitted for a pair of state-of-the-art hearing aids. I could hear my hair scratching on the piece behind my ears, and when I tried playing anything—concertina, mandolin, guitar—the sound was horrible. The audiologist said, "The world is full of sounds you haven't heard for a while." Like my hair scratching on the hearing aids, presumably. The hearing aids connected to my iPhone via an app, and I tried to use that to adjust the sound profile. It was just too frustrating, all around. It wasn't music alone that I found annoying, but that was the greatest disappointment, especially in the age of high fidelity earbuds. The hearing aids cost as much as a good Jeffries anglo, and they gave me no pleasure. I took them back. My hearing will have to be a lot worse before I endure that again.

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Well I suppose the recommendation is to get a loud Jeffries (or Herrington) so you don't need hearing aids, at least for concertina!

 

In my experience, the Eargo units can make the sound a little tinny if cranked up, and they also create some annoying minor feedback at seemingly random times for music in general. But other than that, they're rechargeable, work very well, are almost unnoticeable, and are an amazing piece of tech.

 

Since we play a Victorian instrument, maybe we should just get a pair of nice brass ear trumpets mounted on some sort of hands-free headset - it would fit in better with the whole Steampunk theme. Or perhaps an industrial size unit like the photo?

 

Gary

czech20horn202a-military.jpg

Edited by gcoover
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Hi Clive,

 

I have had aids for a few years now to correct high end loss due to exposure to industrial noise. The first ones were not very good for playing music (they were horrible!) so they went back and I upgraded to a Widex model. These are not perfect in general social situations (so have not helped for conversation) but work very well for music by putting in much of the detail that I was missing. They are still a bit too toppy so will need some more adjustment. With the these aids I can now again get a mix that is acceptable to others whereas before I was putting in too much top to compensate for my loss. Listening to music there is no distortion of any kind and no feedback.  I took a concertina to the appointment when I got the new aids to make sure that they were suitable. It took a few visits to the audiologist to tweek the prescription and it still needs some work but it is acceptable. I will go back when there is no chance of getting Covid. Do your aids cause problems with other instruments and with recorded music?

I got mine from Specsavers and the local service has been very good but the audiology department is an in-store franchise so support may well vary. To get affordable high-end aids I took a discontinued model that was no longer being marketed.

As to what is acceptable, distortion and feedback are not noises that you have just been "missing for a while". There are aids that will work for musicians and top-end ones should do the job with correct adjustment. It took a bit of persistence to get the right units but as I was paying a lot of money I was not going to be fobbed off.

 

Dick.

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Dick,

Thanks for your reply (thanks to the others as well). I have only noticed a problem with the concertina, and it really does make it sound like a wet tuned melodeon. My hearing loss is also predominantly high end, but the left ear has low end loss as well. Combination of industrial noise, DIY, playing in a folk dance band (Melodeon), and (sadly) old age.

 

The main problem is with conversation, but fortunately the concertina is loud enough that I don't need the hearing aids to hear it. As you say however, not wearing them makes you aware that what you hear, interms of tone and mix, might be quite different from what someone else hears.

 

Regarding the era trumpets I did once hold a pair of tea pots, spout first, to my ears (with the lids off) for a laugh and they were remarkably effective!

 

Clive.

 

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Hello fellow deaf folks!

I have a concertina setting on my hearing aids. 

The answer is to keep going back to the hearing aid folks and NEVER take no for an answer. The solution is actually very simple, but your audiologists have never encountered anyone who’s quality of life depends on hearing concertinas. 
 

Build a concertina setting/program!
 

1. Turn off top end dB cutoff. The vibrato you are hearing is actually your aids trying to dynamically limit volume many times per second. If amplification actually gets too loud, just turn down the volume overall.
 

2. Get rid of all the speech optimizing settings. Your audiologist will be horrified. 
 

3. Considered amplifying all frequencies equally and then work backwards if the resulting tone is odd. Probably what you think is normal is already odd. 
 

Conclusion:

You are going for the simplest possible amplification, which is something these devices do not default to and your audiologists are not trained for. 
 

Edited by Dissonance
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7 hours ago, Dissonance said:

You are going for the simplest possible amplification, which is something these devices do not default to and your audiologists are not trained for

Basically, get your audiologist to make it mimic one of the old analog hearing aids! 

 

Only it costs maybe 10x as much.

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I get the same thing, although it is not enough to be annoying except on one or two notes, so can live with it.  I play English harmonic-style anglo so any tremolo tends to get lost amongst all the other notes. I might try to get the audiologist to tweak it a bit next time I go.

 

My HAs (a standard Nathos NHS model) have three different settings. One is for normal speech, but that is horrible for music so I have a separate setting which presumably removes all the filters they use to make speach more audible.  The third setting allows me to plug leads directly into the HAs and use them as headphones.  In the happy days when there were gigs I would use them on stage as in-ear monitors.

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On 12/19/2020 at 7:12 PM, Dissonance said:

Hello fellow deaf folks!

I have a concertina setting on my hearing aids. 

The answer is to keep going back to the hearing aid folks and NEVER take no for an answer. The solution is actually very simple, but your audiologists have never encountered anyone who’s quality of life depends on hearing concertinas. 
 

Build a concertina setting/program!
 

1. Turn off top end dB cutoff. The vibrato you are hearing is actually your aids trying to dynamically limit volume many times per second. If amplification actually gets too loud, just turn down the volume overall.
 

2. Get rid of all the speech optimizing settings. Your audiologist will be horrified. 
 

3. Considered amplifying all frequencies equally and then work backwards if the resulting tone is odd. Probably what you think is normal is already odd. 
 

Conclusion:

You are going for the simplest possible amplification, which is something these devices do not default to and your audiologists are not trained for. 
 

 

Thanks Dissonance, very interesting.

I have had my Widex HA's for nearly three years and for most of that time found them pretty frustrating. Poor at helping with conversation, very 'toppy' sounding (even well past the 'acclimatisation' months), musical instruments (concertinas /melodeon) sounded horrid, plus far too much whistling feedback from the slightest interfering movement, and a total pain with necessary multiple spectacle changes or for that matter with hats and caps.

 

However a month or two back I could no longer avoid the 'micro-suction de-wax' visit which also meant yet another hearing test and somewhat critical discussion with the audiologist plus a major re-set. At last this bore fruit. The feedback problem has pretty much disappeared. The 'toppiness' is much reduced and the switchable 'Music' setting (as opposed to 'Universal') is now acceptable. I have even found a 'system' of making spectacle arms and HA's more space compatible behind my ears ! Now, thanks to your comments, I am going again to the audiologist to try and persuade her to adjust the 'Music' setting in the manner you describe.  At least I am now using the damn things to my wife's relief.

 

Best'

 

Rob

Edited by Robin Tims
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again all, for your replies.

 

I liked th eidea of it being the hearing aids constantly trying to control the volume, so I have been doing some tests:

 

If I play quieter then the effect remains. If  I turn the hearing aids down to their lowest volume then the effect remains.

 

The bits that go in my ears are open backed, so what I'm thinking of trying is putting them in and then covering the ear "hole" with something (Blue-tac perhaps) to see what happens then (purely as an experiment, not as a permanent solution).

 

Unfortunately getting them tweaked is not really feasible with the current covid restrictions, so for now the solution is to take them out when playing.

 

Edited by Clive Thorne
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15 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

 

Unfortunately getting them tweaked is not really feasible with the current covid restrictions, so for now the solution is to take them out when playing.

 

 

After a lot of experimentation, I have concluded that taking them out when playing is the only reasonable solution.  For me, that's not a problem when I'm practicing, or at band practice; it's a much bigger problem when the Morris boys are at the pub and I'm called on to play....without hearing aids, I'm in big trouble in crowded, noisy pubs.  The best solution in those cases: I use the bluetooth app on my phone to turn them off.

 

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Jim, 

Ideally you would be able to use your phone (or a click of a button) to switch from your concertina setting to your voice/pub setting. See my post above for what I believe to be “the concertina setting”. 
 

Clive,

The bluetac won’t especially help with the concertina sound. However it should reduce feedback of all kinds, which is typically done with fitted and closed earpieces. People with significant amplification need those. While feedback can be controlled electronically it comes at a price acoustically and it is far better to just get proper ear pieces.

 

Side Note:

I have lots of deaf people in my family. Half of them are in Europe. I have found that in Europe decades old technology is sold as new at full price. I have yet to find a technician/seller in Europe who had more than a rudimentary knowledge of what hearing aids can do or how to do it. So be wary if you are told something can’t be done. We seem to be slightly better off in America although nobody is prepared for concertina players here either. 
 


 


 

 

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Here is a completely off-the-wall/blue-sky suggestion:  use your cell-phone as a personal concertina amplifier.

 

I do not know about iPhones but for Android phones, Google has an app called Sound Amplifier.  You can use your phone as a microphone and hear the result in a pair of wired (not Bluetooth) headphones.  You would probably need a an extension cord for your headphones and maybe a mic stand for the cell phone.

 

 

 

BTW. Vint Cerf, the spokesperson in this video is no ordinary schill ...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vint_Cerf

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6 hours ago, Dissonance said:

Jim, 

Ideally you would be able to use your phone (or a click of a button) to switch from your concertina setting to your voice/pub setting. See my post above for what I believe to be “the concertina setting”. 

 

 

 

Actually, I do that...the 'concertina setting' is off.

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5 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Here is a completely off-the-wall/blue-sky suggestion:  use your cell-phone as a personal concertina amplifier.

 

 

 

Ha ....the last thing I need is a concertina amplifier.  No doubt one factor in my hearing loss is playing a very loud concertina without ear protection for many years.  The audiologist was not impressed with my behavior.

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On 12/31/2020 at 9:06 PM, Dissonance said:

Jim, 

Ideally you would be able to use your phone (or a click of a button) to switch from your concertina setting to your voice/pub setting. See my post above for what I believe to be “the concertina setting”. 
 

Clive,

The bluetac won’t especially help with the concertina sound. However it should reduce feedback of all kinds, which is typically done with fitted and closed earpieces. People with significant amplification need those. While feedback can be controlled electronically it comes at a price acoustically and it is far better to just get proper ear pieces.

 

Side Note:

I have lots of deaf people in my family. Half of them are in Europe. I have found that in Europe decades old technology is sold as new at full price. I have yet to find a technician/seller in Europe who had more than a rudimentary knowledge of what hearing aids can do or how to do it. So be wary if you are told something can’t be done. We seem to be slightly better off in America although nobody is prepared for concertina players here either. 
 


 


 

 

I don't know about the rest of the Europe, but here in the UK my hearing aids were "free" as part of the National Health Service, so I can't really complain too much if they don't perform as well as some private ones that might cost me several thousand pounds!

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