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 Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: Gary 
Date:   2018-01-19 09:42

I have been playing successfully with hearing aids for a number of years chamber music, band, orchestra). I had a setting that worked well for playing my clarinet. Recently I had to replace the older hearing aids with new Sonic Enchant 60 hearing aids and have been having problems finding a setting that is satisfactory for playing in the large ensembles (orchestra and community band). Anyone have a similar experience?

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: Caroline Smale 
Date:   2018-01-20 05:01

I have never been able to use a hearing aid when playing the clarinet despite trying various program settings.
The aid seems to work fine when playing bassoon and even dabbling on the flute, but the clarinet seems to introduce significant distortion at any level above pp.

Listening as an audience member to clarinet music played live or on CD Radio etc seems to work OK, preferably using the available music program.

I can only surmise that it is something about the harmonic structure of the clarinet tone and/or transients when reaching some threshold dynamic level that disturbs the microphone or front end electronics of the hearing aids.

I do know that others have had similar experiences.

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: bill28099 
Date:   2018-01-20 09:58

The only hearing aids that work well for me in music ensembles are 30 year old BTE analog aids made by companies such as Unitron or Phonak. My aids are only for people with severe to profound hearing losses as they are truly high power and use 625 batteries. I do have problems even with these aids playing clarinet duets. However, compared to modern aids they really stink for speech. I have a profoundly deaf clarinet playing friend who uses a modern digital aid in one ear and an old high power analog aid in the other. Check around your local hearing aid dealers as they might have a trade in that they would be willing to sell you cheap and help you program it. Most good quality old analog aids come with 4 pots you tinker with for best results. A good quality used analog aid in perfect working condition will cost you around $250 and once I got lucky and picked up 4 for $100.

If I didn't have music to play I would definitely run to Costco and buy a pair of blue tooth compatible modern aids so I could use a cell phone.

According to my ENT's audiologist the only company making modern aids that would likely work well in the music environment is Widex. I've never been able to evaluate them as no one in my area carries the brand. Maybe there is a Widex user on this BB who could comment.

A great teacher gives you answers to questions
you don't even know you should ask.

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-20 10:14

I have to commend all of you using hearing aides and still loving and playing music. Bravo!

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-01-20 21:10

The only reason I could start playing again three years ago after stopping for 20 some years was that I finally sprung for really decent hearing aids, and could hear what I and people I was playing with sounded like. Those are Widex Dreams, that are custom fitted to go in the ear. Recently, these got sent to the factory for refurbishment, and I got loaners, which were a cheaper model of Widex and had the speakers in the ear and the rest dangling behind. It was horrible. If that's what I had gotten three years ago, I'd never have started playing again. They had a "music" setting, but it sounded like listening to a concert over a shortwave radio in Uganda or something. At one point before a rehearsal, I recorded myself and found that I'd gotten into a sort of beer tent sound, which I had to spend about a half hour cleaning up. If you can't hear what you really sound like, you can't stay in decent shape.

So yes, I've had a similar experience. It's not just the setting. Some brands and models will just not get you to where you need to be in order to sound good.

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-03 22:34

When I got my first hearing aids and heard my sound, I wanted to quit clarinet altogether. It was so screeching, because I needed high frequencies to hear speech better. I spent big bucks at a Miracle Ear place and after 5 years, threw them away and went to an audiologist who has worked with Baltimore Symphony musicians. She was very patient with me and worked many sessions tweaking a Phonak system. The best results I had were by guessing at few settings, then playing for some clarinet players I respected testing the guessed programs against what the clarinet players heard, and trying to memorize the sound they liked that I was hearing, then back for another session with the audiologist. The end result is that you have to relearn a new sound that is the one you want listeners to hear. I work in a community band and some older players who don't use their hearing aids sound really terrible, recreating the higher frequencies in their sound that they need to hear without their HA's. My audiologist said that clarinet players are particularly difficult to please. Maybe it is the odd overtones we work with?

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: William 
Date:   2018-03-06 21:42

Just wondering, have you tried double lip embouchure? That would eliminate the mouthpiece to tooth resonant transfer to the inner ear and might be the answer.

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: rmk54 
Date:   2018-03-07 00:39

Ken's been trying double lip embouchure for the past 50 years or so...

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 Re: Playing with Hearing Aids
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-03-07 03:10

Thanks rmk54 for filling in.
Yes I am a double lip layer since the mid 60's except not in such great shape now.
Single or double didn't make a difference in what I heard. My brain is learning better how to interpret what is coming out of the horn and if it is good.

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