Much of this is about keeping track of a comparison between my old ears, the old ears with the old hearing aids, and the old ears with the new (trial) hearing aids. It quickly became apparent that the new ones were clearly and obviously better than the old ones in every way. If you aren't interested in the details and the adventure along the way, skip down to the photos, though you might want to check out the music link. Oh, and if you haven't had your hearing tested, go get it done.
I'd mentioned yesterday (as I write this) that I'd gone for my first hearing test in 2 years. Generally it's the same as it was, with a few frequencies being a little bit lower, but within the bounds of testing error, and the fragility of the brain interpreting what it gets. There's a new test, where they play a voice saying context free words against a background of other words, like in a noisy restaurant. Then the target words get fainter and fainter. I used to be good at that. Context is more important than I thought.
She winced when she saw how infrequently I've been wearing the current hearing aids, but I'd warned her they didn't have much relevance to my being home all the time. Plus, the current aids are obsolete. The technology has changed significantly since I got them almost 8 years ago. What I thought sounded good then is now almost unwearable. (You can catch up on the story here
.)I've got a loaner pair for a few weeks.
Today (as I write) the test is to listen to a piece of music on the computer under different listening conditions. The music is a cover of Barracuda
by Sina. (Check out her other covers, and you might like some of her own music.) I chose it because there's a good drum line with what appears to be cymbals and high hat, a good bass guitar line, and a lead guitar that is all over the place. Most importantly, a high vocal lead. The idea is to play the same music at the same volume, and listen to the computer speakers, the earphones, the old hearing aids, and the new hearing aids. All at medium volume, no changes.
Via the computer earphones:
This is what I think of as the standard way of doing it. I like the bass guitar and percussion drum line. I don't hear much of the high hat, though I can see her hitting them. No trouble hearing the lead singer. No trouble hearing the lead guitar. Note that this is the loudest version, and it's well known that louder sounds better, to a point. I came back to listen specifically to the "silly silly fool" line, and it was fine, though not quite as clear as through the bluetooth hearing aids.
Via the computer speakers with just my ears:
It's quieter. Then again the speakers point straight down into a cluttered desk, and they're computer speakers. Not exactly what you'd call high fidelity. The bass lines are thinner. There is essentially nothing for high hat. The lead singer's voice isn't as rich, and the higher guitar notes are there, but there's no richness to them. I think I'm missing overtones, or undertones. I came back to listen to the "silly silly fool" line, and could hear the s but not the f. The s wasn't sharp and clear.
Via the computer speakers and old hearing aids:
OK, there's the high hat and cymbals. But they're verging on tinny and static-y or hissy. That's almost drowning out some of the other music. It merged with and distorted the singers voice a bit, but I'm hearing more of her voice, especially the 'S' sounds, but they sound sharp and un-natural. The bass lines are almost muted. The "silly silly fool" sounds sibilant and hissy.
There is a way to hook the old hearing aids to an early bluetooth device that talks to the computer, but I didn't bother to hook it up. It cannot possibly be better.
Via the computer blue tooth to new hearing aids:
A bit louder than the previous tests, but quieter than the ear phones. Lead guitar sounds richer, with more strings interaction. The drum percussion and high hat sound more balanced and natural. The "silly silly fool" sounds natural.
Via the computer speakers and new hearing aids:
Not getting any of the cymbals or high hat sounds. Even the drums percussion sounds dull and faint. I see him pounding on the lead guitar but I'm not hearing much of it. Bass guitar is fine. The "silly silly fool" is ok, but not as clear as through blue tooth. I think this is mainly a computer speaker thing, not a hearing aid thing. I could easily believe the musical data is there, but either the speakers can't reproduce it, or it's getting eaten by the clutter on my desk.
Now I'm wondering if I can figure out a way to play that version through the good speakers. Maybe I should pick out another song we have on CD, and test my normal ears, with the old hearing aids, and the new ones. Maybe tomorrow. Time to put in the test hearing aids, connect the bluetooth again, find some music, and edit some photos.
OK, so the second test didn't go as planned, trying to play a CD through the good stereo system. It looks like the CD player doesn't want to play. Even after playing with it a bit I couldn't get it to go. It's only 30 years old and is a good quality one, for the time. I can't remember off hand when the last time we actually played a CD through that system, so I suspect the little motor that spins the CD is frozen. Maybe all it needs is a little twist to free it up and it would work again. Except, it's worth about $50 these days, and would cost far more to repair it. No idea what a new CD player costs, or even if you can get one with an output that would plug into the existing system.
(So an email to a place that fixes retro audio equipment. It's $75 just for the diagnostic. That's 10% of the price of a really good new one, without even considering the actual repair costs. If they can even get the parts for something manufactured in 1992.)
Going to plan B, I plugged the CD into the blue ray player, and listened through the media room speakers. Better than the computer speakers, but still not what you'd call high quality speakers. The music was A Pistol for Paddy Garcia, by the Pogues. With just my ears it sounded a bit muffled and muddy. With the old hearing aids it sounded better, but the highs were kind of tinny and harsh, almost sounding like static. The new hearing aids were much better, with the highs sounding clear, and the overall balance between bass and highs sounding nice.
Then I thought of playing Barracuda through the media room speakers, and running the same test again. Except, I discovered that our iTV thingie no longer appears to connect to the internet as a browser, so I couldn't get Youtube. Sigh. I wonder when that happened. Or stopped happening. You know what I mean.
Going to plan C, which involved getting the CD player going. I went to The Retro Shop in Inglewood because I like dealing local, and preferably not a chain, and looking at vintage stereo equipment is cool, even if I don't want to actually buy any of it.
I picked out another Nakamichi very similar to the one we had. In hindsight I should have tested it in the store. It didn't work when I got it home. Oops. A bit of playing around isolated the problem to the CD player. I called, she said bring it back and we'll make it right. We tested it there and it didn't work exactly the same way, much to my relief. We discussed what to do, and I suggested rather than wait for repairs and all, I'd take one of the other CD players and pay the difference. She had to clear it with her boss, but he said "make him happy." Good thing my happiness was not dependent on a $3,300 tube amp that looked ever so cool. We tested this on in the store and it worked fine. It works fine here too.
As another side note I tried my old iPad, which was plugged into the preamp, and which was loaded with music. Except the battery was dead, which is a surprise because I thought it had been plugged into the charger, but no. I plugged in the newer iPad and that worked. Plugged the CD Player into that aux input and it still didn't work, but at least I knew now the preamp and amp worked. The old iPad battery charged, but it's iOS 8.4.1, the screen is cracked, and it's extremely dusty. It complains when hooked up to the stereo because it thinks the battery is not charging, but it keeps trying and keeps complaining. Takes all the fun out of it. I think it goes in the e-recycling bin, unless someone wants an old iPad? I think it's the original series, and I'll even give it to you with the protective casing that lets you use it without getting slivers. It works as well as that version would work. Maybe good to amuse a kid?
Back to the hearing aid tests, and The Pogues on the good stereo.
Without hearing aids, things are a bit muddy, although better than the media room. The highs are there just barely. With the old hearing aids, there's a lot more of the higher frequencies, but there's a lot of distortion with it. The hiss of some notes buries other things. The new hearing aids give great clarity. The toms are clear and clean, and the high frequencies are nice and crisp. There's good balance between all the frequencies, and the stereo separation is really good. The only thing better was the computer earphones.
I'd hoped the photo shoot at the senior's book sale would test the hearing aid's ability to pull conversation out of background noise, but there were never more than a few people in the room at a time. Still, the conversations I had were really clear.
I was in today for a quick check to see how the trial is making out. She showed me the graph of all my usage, and asked how it all felt. At first I didn't have much to say, figuring I'd wait till I got the new ones I'd already decided to order. Then it turns out my history and any adjustments will carry over to the new ones. She made a slight tweak to the bass of the media a bit. Listening to music as I write this, and I think she's pretty well nailed it. I get them next week. The TV connection thingie is on back order, and is projected to arrive in September.
Here's what they look like.
Of the Day
Lily, but first a serendipity shot from 2017-08-06. I've no idea what this flower is.
The occasion was my first workshop with Neil Zeller and learning how to use my camera. I'm going back and looking at some of the downtown night photos, and I'm wondering why I didn't edit them. This was one of my first attempts to find interesting patterns in ordinary things. I liked the contrast of the grey metal against the grey sky.