My new Supernova – I think most forum users should read this……

I have just added a piece of equipment to my system which has totally transformed it. It’s not a DAC, pre-amp or power amp. It’s a Phonak Paradise 90, a hearing aid.

Please continue reading this as I think it is important &, given the likely average age here, may benefit some of you & makes salutary reading.

I will be 66 in September & bought my Nova in the middle of 2019 & it sounded great. A year later I started to note how many pieces of music weren’t that well recorded. All the detail appeared to remain but the top end ‘sparkle’ had gone.

At the same time my wife was getting more annoyed with me than usual for continually saying ‘pardon?’ when speaking to her. She has pretty good to excellent hearing & listens to the TV at low volumes that meant I was struggling to hear all that was being said, particularly in modern drama productions & films. Programs with straight forward sound, most old TV, news & sport, were OK in the main. A constant battle with the TV volume control, with a gentle boost from me from say 9 to 11, was meet with the angry comment ‘it’s far too loud, are you deaf’. After a few months this turned to ‘you’re going deaf’. In the battle of the TV volume there was only ever going to be one winner & it wasn’t me.

I started to notice that, whilst following most conversations with my wife, shop assistants & friends (over the phone) I was having to concentrate quite hard & certainly could not just listen with half an ear. I was also starting to exhibit the classic syndrome of sometimes guessing what was being said & getting incredulous looks at some of my replies.

In my 20’s & 30’s my ears need syringing on a regular basis, about twice a year, but this became unnecessary in later years. Finally I recognised that something was wrong with my hearing & one ear felt exactly as if it were blocked with ear wax. The other ear felt fine.

Hearing good things of modern micro suction, as opposed to old fashion syringing, I booked an appointment with an audiologist who confirmed that there was indeed a wax build up in both ears. An appointment was booked for early November 2020 for micro suction in both ears.

I turned up expecting great things but it did not turn out as planned. The procedure took less than a minute or so for each ear & left me virtually deaf. We waited 10 minutes for things to settle down but nothing changed. The audiologist then gave me a full hearing test where I struggled to hear much at all. It diagnosed severe treble loss in one ear, impaired mid-range in the same ear & less, but similar, loss in the other ear. My own GP could offer no explanation of the sudden &, to me, catastrophic hearing loss other than to say that it occasionally happens.

Very few things in normal life get me down (OK except Norwich City loosing week after week every time we are in the Premier League) but I felt shattered by events. The GP & audiologist both said I needed hearing aids. This was depressing news on several counts:-

  • Surely I was far too young? Apparently not. Normal hearing loss usually starts around age 50.
  • The stigma I believed attached to people wearing hearing aids. Women would give me a wide berth (not that most ever gave me a narrow one!) & more seriously the hard of hearing are often perceived as not very bright & treated as such.
  • I would never hear my beloved music again properly. Really tough to take this one.

I was fitted with the hearing aids late last month & have to say the difference they have made is quite unbelievable. I can enjoy the TV at the same volumes as my wife & at times have to turn the volume on the aids down. It’s more than my life’s worth to tell her to turn the TV down! Conversation in shops & over the phone sounds like it always did once more & I haven’t embarrassed myself by saying something stupid to a comment I have not heard properly.

Best of all however, the Hi Fi now sounds superb. Every, & I mean every aspect of the sound has vastly improved. Every instrument & voice is clearly separated across a wider sound stage, vocals are more forward & realistic sounding & the clarity, without being in anyway harsh, has to be heard to be believed. I honestly believe the sound is very natural & how I would have heard it when my ears were last functioning at 100%. Very few pieces of music now sound poorly recorded to the extent that they were 2/3 months ago. Volume wise, I had not lost a lot. Low background listening when I am reading the paper has only meant reducing the Nova’s volume from 20 to 18 most of the time. It is the clarity of the mid’s & high’s that has exhibited such a huge improvement, bearing out the hearing test showing a loss in theses frequencies but everything else to be pretty much OK at the moment.

The hearing aids were not cheap, about £2,500, but appear to be worth every penny. They are supposed to be very sophisticated & have a huge range of tuning options via a smartphone/tablet app. However, the audiologist sets them up initially via a program not available to users & which works by taking the data direct from the hearing test itself. She seems to have got it spot on first time as in my case & no tweaking was required in a check up 3 weeks after the initial set up. All that is recommended is an annual check up to keep everything up to scratch.

I can honestly say that everything I hear sounds perfectly natural, & being music mad like all on here, I have listened long & critically to the Hi Fi to convince myself that I am not pretending that all is well when it isn’t.

So the message to anyone who can identify with what I have said above is a loud & clear ‘Do Something About It Sooner Than Later’.

BTW the hearing aids are all but invisible & I am totally unaware that I am wearing them 99.9% of the time. When I take my covid mask off when coming out of a shop I sometime catch the aid & half pull it off but this is no more than a very minor inconvenience.

I mentioned the stigma of wearing aids & have to admit that I have not gone broadcasting the fact to all & sundry yet, still feeling a little embarrassed. This feeling is getting less as time passes & I don’t think it will be an issue for me much longer.

As I said at the top of this long post, the hearing aids are the most significant improvement I have ever made to my system since installing an LP12 in the early 80’s & Naim amps later in the same decade.

I hope you have made it to the end of this extremely long, & I feel important post, & I hope by detailing my experiences some people on this forum will benefit from them.

Thanks for reading.

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Well done for posting that; you seem to be handling it really really well. My right ear has never been the same since my accident in 2016 but my left ear was still pretty good. Then, in April last year, the hearing in my left ear suddenly went, following blocked sinuses and musical tinnitus. It’s now a known side effect of Covid and looking back I suspect I had it.

I finally bit the bullet in December, following a very similar scenario to you with loud TV and music, and have Starkey Livio AI aids. The one in my left ear is simply a receiver that sends everything to the right via Bluetooth in a Bicross arrangement. They have taken a lot of acclimatisation which I think may be down to everything coming from one side. The ENT consultant who diagnosed my senso-neural loss was very positive as to how the brain gets used to hearing from one ear - he was clearly trying to cheer me up - but it really can.

I won’t say that the experience of listening to music is as a good for me as before, because it’s not. But it’s been a revelation to be able to communicate clearly with people you meet outside, and particularly in the car with Mrs HH when I’m driving. I can now hear clearly what she is saying, and the car mode really helps. I’ve had some really bad, tearful moments, but really it’s a matter of just getting on with it. Glasses can restore perfect vision, whereas hearing aids can only make the best of a bad job.

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In this , or every other?! :joy::+1:
( we all know that woman rules)

On a serious note, good that you resolved the problem. It’s the best thing to do: acknowledge that something wrong and try to fix it.

Well done sir.

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The fact is , all of us take from granted the basics. The problem starts when the basics fails.

Everyone have his/ her moments.

As long we can resolve, we can continue to enjoy the small pleasures of life.

:+1:

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Being able to hear Mrs Canaryfan clearly is turning into a mixed blessing!

My hearing problems, so far, are nowhere as severe as yours, &, selfishly, I am grateful for that. I can imaging my feeling a bit sorry for myself originally was nothing like you must have felt.

As you say, it all comes down to just getting on with it. Luckily, along with 3 other partners, I ran a business employing 20 people for 20 years & had a few ‘crisis’ to deal with on the way & soon learnt that you did have to just get on with it.

Until I got the aids, the despair I felt when I acknowledged something was wrong was simply annoyance at having worked very hard over the years to, amongst other things, afford a good system to spend a fair bit of my retirement time listening to music. The larger my business got, the less time I had to enjoy the things I was working for! Sure there are plenty here who could say that.

For the moment all is well &, I’m told, my hearing loss follows normal patterns, I can hopefully expect another 20 years good listening yet.

Hope the audiologist is right!

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@Canaryfan @hungryhalibut
I have been through similar events with my left ear, and indeed HH suffered his loss just a few months after mine which we both mentioned on a post back then.
I wear a hearing aid in my left ear (I’m 54). Fortunately, I don’t need to wear it all the time but do wear it for tv and music. I too felt a little embarrassment at first, but then I just thought stuff it… I can hear much better so who cares! And quite honestly I don’t think many people actually notice.
Great post, hope it spurs more people into getting their ears checked :+1:

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Glad to know I’m not alone!

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That was my hope with this post. I’d like as many people as possible to enjoy their music & there must be some here, who like me, didn’t realise for quiet sometime that they actually have a problem.

Your ‘stuff it’ comment. Pleased to say that I don’t think it will be too long before this becomes my mantra as well!

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Yes well done @Canaryfan. Its good to hear your experience. I have worn hearing aids for 25 years and although I can’t hear nearly as well as 25 years ago, I still enjoy listening to music and have found it worthwhile buying Naim equipment to do it on, mostly in the last 5 years. In the Naim demo room in Salisbury late in 2019 I could clearly tell that the Statement was better than the 500 system they played before, not that I could afford either!

And on the stigma thing, just forget about that. It’s not real. There is no stigma and in fact I find that it’s better that people know you can’t hear too well because if they say something and don’t get the reaction from you they expect, they say it again louder.

Regarding the special fitting program you mention, actually you can get hold of it and adjust your hearing aids yourself. But getting your audiologist to take an interest in getting you the best musical experience is well worth the effort because it’s easier for a start!

Anyway there are lots of Naim users here on the forum who use hearing aids. Some are more up front about it than others, but I think most would be able to relate to your story. I wish you all the best for the future.

Best

David

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Rock on the SuperNova (I’m loving mine)
Glad you’re back enjoying your music, tv and domestic bliss has returned.

Thanks for your comments David.

I have the app to adjust the sounds in myriad ways myself but limited experimentation so far has suggested that whilst the sound can be tweaked to sound different, different doesn’t necessarily mean better. My BMW has a graphic equaliser & despite a lot of tweaking I reverted to BMW’s default settings as I couldn’t improve on it myself.

The Phonak master program is not available to users which I think is just as well. If I get in a mess with my personalised settings I just turn them off & on again so that they default to the ‘factory’ settings set by the audiologist linking the aids to the hearing test program. This seems to work a treat.

Who said anything about domestic bliss returning??

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Fair point :joy:
Ok…maybe less remote wars then :flushed:

Indeed. I do find the settings in my Resound hearing aids app useful, but it’s fine to leave them alone too. My BMW sound controls are all set to 0 too, although I did turn off the “engine noise enhancement feature” which feeds engine noise into the HiFi, supposedly to enhance the sporty experience!

And the master programme (Target fitting software is what Phonak call it) is certainly available if you want it. But not from an audiologist in the UK. Believe me there is a whole DIY hearing aid programming community out there.

Best

David

Thanks for posting , cracking post

Well done, @Canaryfan. This is my all-time favourite post on this forum – beautifully written, self-aware, important and informative. I don’t think I need hearing aids (yet), but we should all probably be tested regularly, just as we are for our vision.

I’m intrigued by this. Are the electronics in hearing aids good enough to allow you to get the benefits of a high quality audio system - or do you require special HiFi quality aids ?

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“Hi fi quality aids”…do they come with a separate power supply? :grin:

I know my hearing is deteriorating and I probably need aids but I’ve been putting it off. This post has encouraged to do some research into the options.

They run off dc. Like a Hugo…

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But it’s a good question about quality. I presume @Canaryfan and @hungryhalibut the ones you use were recommended for people with a liking for listening to music.