But over the years I have lost a substantial amount of my hearing. I can't do live sound
anymore, and in the studio all I can do is be a consultant and teach technology and
I have used a number of hearing aids, and have been extremely disappointed with
them and the insane pricing.
I have a number of different hearing assist devices, some work for some settings,
and some work for others, but none give the versatility and control I want and require.
So, I have been on the search for a better way. Most importantly I want to have
complete control of my devices so I can change things as I need, for all the different
setting I encounter on a day to day basis.
I also used to be a sign language interpreter, and worked with the deaf and hard of
hearing. I'm hoping this device can help some of my friends. (Now, I'm hard of hearing. Come on folks, please use hearing protection. Nowdays the technology can create even more dangerous levels of sound, and the technology of hearing protection devices are incredible).
It seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. So I did some research, compared other devices, watched all of the teaching videos, looking for that elusive control I had been searching for that hearing aids lack, and are just now starting to implement because of competition with devices like this, but the hearing aids are still way overpriced and don't have the complete control that this device does.
I have been in communication with the techs and customer service asking questions trying to get an idea if this really is going to work for me, (or my hard of hearing friends).
Now I have one. First, I want to state, I am still in the process of evaluating this device. I have not been payed to evaluate this device. I payed full price. I evaluate all technology I encounter in the studio and on the road, very thoroughly, realistically, and with an open mind.
I have been really putting this device through the paces. So far, it is doing great. Seems to do what I had been hoping for.
Now on to the review, here is what I think so far; 1 - Love the full control, especially the EQ (called Home page) where I can tune the frequencies in real time, (this was probably the one most important thing I was looking for). I love being able to save my settings.
2 - The different modes, Indoor, Outdoor, Crowd, and Live Music, are in my opinion very discernable and seem to work quite effectively.
3 - The noise reduction seems very robust, and works well. I have read where some people are confusing it with noise cancelation, it only changes the background noise frequencies, and works quite well. It is not noise cancelation, it is reduction for existing background noise.
4 - I did both the Basic and Advanced evaluation (similar to the evaluation a hearing audiologist conducts). Seems pretty spot on with my audiology chart from my Doctor. I like the fact that I can fine tune the evaluation to better suit my needs and can be changed as I see fit, then save the settings.
5 - I like that you can have complete control with the phone, save the settings and disconnect from the phone and all the new setting are in the device, so you can be completely separated from the phone and it still has almost all functions with the collar switches. Oh, by the way I was also able to use it with my tablet. I don't think it works with all tablets, but it did with mine.
6 - I was surprised by the quality of bluetooth streaming music from my phone. The earpieces are quite good, not as high as some high end BT devices, but I found them to be better than I was expecting. I found that trying the different silicone domes have a big effect on the quality, especially the bass. So I am able to enjoy music with decent quality. I have a generic BT transmitter that I use on my TV, and I am pleased with the earpiece quality as well with very little latency (latency is the delay between the sound and the picture).
Here is an experience I had a couple of days ago while wearing the device. I was in the car visiting with my wife, and I noticed her voice was very processed sounding, which as a sound engineer I know exactly what is going on, the device is processing the algorithms. But... I could 'HEAR' her, and the background sounds wind, tire sound, engine, etc were dramatically reduced. Again, I will restate, I could 'HEAR' her, even though she sounded like her voice was going through an effects box.
No other device I have used, has worked this well in being able to separate the voice from other sounds and make out what another person is clearly saying, just her voice sounded strange, but that's ok, I could clearly hear what she was saying. (algorithms are the mathematical programming information the device needs to process to effectively get a very good sound) . I read in some of the reviews people were confused by this effect. This is something that absolutely needs to be made known in the sales information.
With that, I think if customers were aware that this is normal with current technology, they would be more excepting of this.
Here is another experience I had a couple of days ago.
My wife and I were sitting on the porch, and again I was having difficulty hearing her. We live very close to a highway and it's quite noisy. I have noticed since my hearing has gotten bad, the cars with tire sounds on the pavement, really drowns out conversation. I turned on the device. I found that the Crowd Mode with High noise reduction worked better in this situation than the Outside mode.
This is what is fun about experimenting to see what works best for a given situation. This is done in all studios, experimenting for the best sound. Again, I could hear my wife, I still hear some road noise, but man, what an improvement in our conversation.
There is one thing I have noticed that I would suggest changing, just a little. The limiter compressor function is a bit too aggressive. In the studio, if our limiters or compressors are set too high, it is what we call sound pumping, when louder sounds happen, it clamps down the volume, and it can be distracting. This function is 'absolutely' necessary and something a lot of other devices don't have. This is really handy for loud sounds, (drop something on the floor) so as to not uncomfortably overdrive the volume, but I think this should be a bit milder. (I have been in communication with the company and they said they noticed that also, and are going to change so the limiting is milder). (Thanks guys).
Oh, one more thing, when I am bluetooth streaming, music, TV, etc, and I turn on Listen-thru mode, the 'quality' of the outside sounds are reduced compared to the stand alone Hearing Assist mode. When I stop streaming, and go back to stand alone Hearing Assist mode, the quality of the outside sounds are very good again. I don't know if this is something that can be improved or not. (again I have been in communication with the company and they said they are planning some changes to that as well). (Thanks again guys).
These folks seem like they are going to really try to make this an outstanding device. If they do, and they seem to be open to input, and with the reasonable pricing, this device could possibly someday be a benchmark for all other similar devices on the market to follow.
I don't want people to believe that this is going=to give you back perfect hearing, it is not. Nothing can do that. So a person has to be careful to not get false expectations. So far it has made a huge improvement for me. I probably will never wear my hearing aids again. This is so much easier to put on (wear), control, and tune and is rechargeable. I think I might get another one for backup, so I always have one on the ready, using one while the other is charging.
I have to say this is a device that can dramatically improve what we have unfortunately lost. And with a little bit of learning and patience, I think it is easy enough for almost anyone to use.
So thus far I am quite pleased, but I really want to give it some more time, trying it in all different settings. I am anxious to try it it in a restaurant setting, windy settings, with live music, outside to hear birds (which I have not heard in a while), picking up phone calls, and some other things I personally need. I will post more later, after I have more experience with it.