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Hearing Aids

  • 1.  Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago

    As tuner/technicians age, our welfare may hinge upon our ability to discern the higher frequencies necessary to tune. My case (I'm 73) is an imbalance in my left to right ear and a deterioration in the higher frequencies. This creates difficulty understanding conversations in crowded rooms but hasn't posed a serious threat to my ability to tune when I use an ETD for assistance in the last half octave. I have known a couple of aging tuners who have resorted to hearing aids for tuning but never an in-depth conversation regarding their handicap when tuning and voicing pianos. Are there tuners with this handicap and how do you confront this?

    On another related thought, are there tuner/technicians that have testimonials for hearing aids?

    Of all person's most qualified to present testimonials for hearing aids products, piano technicians represent the epicenter of the qualified truth.



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    Roger Gable RPT
    Gable Piano
    Everett WA
    (425) 252-5000
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  • 2.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 13 days ago
    Roger

    Talk with Joe Garrett. He uses hearing aides. He even presented a class on this in Lancaster.

    Wim.

    Sent from my iPhone




  • 3.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Posted 12 days ago
    Jim Reeder of Reeders Pianos near Lansing  Michigan gave a talk to the Detroit chapter on hearing loss and his experiences.

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    Les Koltvedt
    Marietta GA
    lkpianos@gmail.com
    https://www.lkpianos.com
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  • 4.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago

    Hi, Leslie

    If you see Jim Reeder again, say hello for me. He brought some Bluethners out here some years ago, so I got to work with him.






  • 5.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago
    I'm 67 years old and I have had hearing aids for the last 10 or 12 years.  My hearing was much the same as Roger describes.  I have severe hearing loss in the higher frequencies, like anything above 13K was pretty much non existent.  I could still tune even with that hearing deficit, but I suspect that last octave wasn't always the best.  I now use an ETD to help with that last octave and a half, but it hasn't really created an issue with being able to still tune.  I have the top of the line hearing aids from the Oticon product line, and conversation and just general living in the world of sound is so much better with the hearing aids.  Most hearing aids nowadays are extremely sophisticated and can be tailored to any hearing loss.  The advanced computing power available is nothing short of amazing.  I will say though, that it took several tries to get my hearing aids programmed exactly right, but it was worth the effort and hassle.  Something that my audiologist and I had to work through was the automatic feedback suppression built into the programming.  It seems that the anti-feedback circuits interpreted piano sound as feedback and thus generated a signal 180 degrees out of phase with the original sound of a single note or interval, which sounded awful through the hearing aids.  It sounded like the piano was being run through a ring generator (a guitar effects pedal for those of you not familiar with ring generators), which is not a pleasant sound!!!  My audiologist had to completely take all feedback suppression out of the programming in order for the hearing aids to be useful while tuning.  Most hearing aids are capable of several different settings or programs, so we just set up a program with no feedback suppression that I use for tuning.  My hearing had been gradually getting worse over the years but I resisted mightily trying to do something about it.  It wasn't until I actually tried the hearing aids that I discovered just how much I had been missing in everyday life and in music.  It has been well worth the expense and the extra effort to help me hear well again.  Unfortunately, my hearing continues to deteriorate to the point where I no longer trust my ears when trying to voice on a high level, so I have to call in help in those situations.  I'm tuning as well or better now than I ever did thanks to the helpful ETD, but I leave the high level voicing to the young guys.  This is probably a good time to put in a plug for good hearing protection.  Pianos are loud, and over time, the toll on our hearing is noticeable.  I am glad to be living at a time when hearing technology is able to extend my usefulness in my chosen profession.  ​

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    Joe Tom McDonald RPT
    Rowlett TX
    (214) 213-5044
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  • 6.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Member
    Posted 12 days ago
    I tune with a Verituner. I tune each treble wire with the ETD and blend by ear. This cuts down on the decibel impact. I tune the center wire first and then the right, check aurally. Then tune the left wire to the ETD and check aurally. Sometimes I check the whole note by ear but I figure if b=c & a=b then a=c; so usually I don't check the whole tone. Mostly because the majority or tunings involve some degree of pitch correction and nothing stays exactly where I put it but it's close enough for one pass.
    This method is especially helpful when false beats are present.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
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  • 7.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 11 days ago
    I have been using Costco hearing aids. Has anyone else used them and, if so, how do you rate them? I don’t have anything to compare them to but I have heard that they are efficient and cost-effective. My first quote for hearing aids was $6000+ and there was no evaluation period to see how they worked for me. I declined that one. The Costco hearing aids cost $2000 and I had a returnable trial period. I lost one of the hearing aids and bought a second set from Costco for a little less than the first set. The quality had improved. That was about 3 years ago.

    When I first got the hearing aids, I tried tuning with them but it was too noisy. My hearing problem was/is distinguishing consonant sounds in speech. I actually leave the hearing aids in now while I’m tuning because the new ones have a program that cuts the noise mostly. I wear them for the sake of understanding customers (or anyone I’m talking with) and it’s convenient to just leave them in while I’m tuning. I use an Accutuner all the time and I, like Jon Page, tune a lot of strings one at a time in order to cut the sound that my ears have to endure and I also use it heavily in the top octave more than I used to do. After my tuning tutoring with Ace Ugai of Yamaha, I learned to tune without striking the keys without unnecessary force. Yes, it’s possible to tune with stability without striking the keys too hard or using test blows. It also lessens ear fatigue.

    Bob Anderson
    Tucson, AZ




  • 8.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Member
    Posted 12 days ago
    Also, contact: Dianne Hofstetter.

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    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 12 days ago

    Hi, Roger

    For me the go-to expert is Diane Hofstetter, trained and licensed, and very motivated to help aging tuners with hearing problems. (Her dad was one.) She has tested out various hearing aids, and tuned with them. She knows how to set them up properly, which is different for tuning than for general conversation, which tends to be the default for the general public. (Hear the grand kids ...)

    Diane Hofstetter, dpno2nr@yahoo.com

    I've had some post-covid problems with my hearing, from several bouts not serious enough to take me to a hospital, but still not fun. The steam kettle has lowered in pitch and gotten louder. The left ear does not sound quite like the right ear. And sometimes the left ear feels overwhelmed by sounds in the middle register, like it wants to buzz. But I find (to my amazed relief) that it doesn't seem to affect my piano tuning.

    I always keep the fitted ear plugs with me, and use them when any loud sounds are encountered.

    It has always seemed to me that the time when I would give in and buy an ETD would be if I could no longer hear octave 7 to tune it. I'd use it only for that.

    76, it seems very old, and yes, hearing conversations in a crowded noisy room seems harder than before. But then, in the interests of not spreading or suffering another bout of Omicron, I've been avoiding noisy crowded rooms anyway.






  • 10.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Posted 12 days ago
    Roger, I hope my experience, and a particular product I use, can be of use.  This works for aural and ETD all the same.

    At 17, I had a music teacher who was losing his hearing, and it turned me into an avid follower/user of preventative and assistive technologies.  I worked professionally in audio for 10 years before truly starting on pianos about 8 years ago, using the same protective tools for both careers.  Even so, I have sustained some hearing loss a little beyond what's average for my age.

    What I passionately recommend for all tuners are molded musicians ear plus.  They are shaped to your ear canal to create the most comfort, as well as to evenly seal out the most amount of sound.  A "flat frequency" filter sits in the plug, and create the air barrier between your ear canal and the outside.  They come in 3 steps of sound reduction: -9dB, -15dB, and -25dB.  For tuners, -9dB will be the best-matched, but it still means that if you're doing 105dB test blows, your ears will get 96dB. And this product doesn't solve anything for those who need to improve their hearing, rather than just protect it.


    Here's the better solution for everyone, but especially the hearing-impaired.  This is a product designed for stage musicians who are exposed to unhealthy levels of sound: from rock to classical.  It preserves your natural hearing, but allows you to control how much volume gets to your ears.

    This entry-level-priced stage monitoring solution was released a few years ago, from a company called ASI Audio (a partner of Sensaphonics), and the product is 3DME.  Here's how it works: like the musicians ear plugs, it blocks the ear canal to isolate you from outside sound.  But this is also comprised ear-bud drivers, and embedded microphones at your ears.  Using the wired controller (which is a little box that clips to your belt/pants) you can turn up or down the microphones, to "release" sound into your ears.  This preserves your brain's ability to interpolate 3-diemsional sound, so it feels natural when you're tuning and maintains your spatial awareness.  You don't feel separated from your surroundings.  Furthermore, because it blocks ambient sound and allows you to turn up your "ears" only as much as you need, the overall affect is that background noise is minimized. I will admit that my unisons have been cleaner since I got this product, probably mostly due to that my ears are not being fatigued during my first pass.

    If you are affected by hearing loss, this product allows you to turn your "ears" up to +12dB beyond what is your normal ear input, meaning it also functions like a hearing aide.  Because your ear canal is sealed, there is no need for fancy DSP filters or feedback cancellation: what comes in is what goes straight to your ears.
    Other features:
    • 7-band EQ, to allow you to compensate for your particular range of hearing loss.​
    • Threshold limiter which will stop audio from going over a specified SPL, starting at 84dB.
      • If you are hearing impaired, you can turn up your ears to a comfortable level, but use the limiter to make sure the volume doesn't go TOO high.
    • Will sum audio from both ear-mics, if you have severe loss in one ear, and can benefit from hearing "both ears" at once.
    • Can accept an external audio feed: meant as an in-ear monitor for stage, but I have used this with a close-proximity mic, for a concert tuning with lots of background nose.

    Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by either company, but I do sort-of know them.  I'm repping them because, in my experience, they provide the best hearing protection solutions for musicians (and tuners).


    Passive molded ear plugs from Sensaphonics:
    https://www.sensaphonics.com/products/erseriesplugs

    Active protection/hearing assistive monitors from ASI Audio
    https://asiaudio.com/

    I do know one other technician with some hearing loss who has invested in this system.  I myself use it for every tuning, and have my threshold limiter at the minimum volume.  My ears get more sound exposure on the drive to each appointment, than at the appointment itself.  I think this product is a game-changer for protecting our hearing health for a lifelong career.

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    Robin Whitehouse
    Santa Cruz CA
    robin@santacruzpiano.com
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  • 11.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Posted 10 days ago

    A good set of comments have been posted about hearing aids. If you have hearing issues, you should look into wearing them. I have been wearing them for more than 10 years. I tune aurally and I'm convinced that I can hear the required beats as well as others, including at the extremes of the keyboard.

    I'll include a few suggestions, some of it in way of summarizing what others have already posted:

    -) Use the services of a qualified audiologist.

    -) Considering the expense involved, warranties and guarantees of effectiveness are a good idea and are normal in the industry.

    -) I am on a second generation of hearing aides from Phonak and I personally endorse that brand, but other brands could be as-good or better.

    -) The hearing aids should be Bluetooth enabled, a wireless technology that gives you both control and audio capabilities.

    -) There should be an accompanying app for your hearing aids to install on your cell phone, one sophisticated enough to at least control what Phonak calls "Noise Reduction" and the amplification gain and likely provides alternative algorithms for different circumstances. The noise reduction or equivalent is to control the "feedback reduction" that Joe referred to earlier and that I find necessary for clarity while tuning in the lowest and the highest octave on the piano keyboard. I find that the gain control can occasionally be handy to compensate for the acoustics of certain rooms.

    -) You will appreciate the Bluetooth audio capabilities for telephone connectivity (microphone and speaker in your hearing aids) as well as for video/TV watching purposes.

    -) In my opinion, no one, including us that are hearing-impaired, should ever tune pianos using hard blows to the keys. See Robert's comments earlier on loud noise.

    -) I personally have not found a need to gravitate toward use of an ETD, but I'm sure that there are differences among hearing issues.

    Regards, Norman



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    Norman Brickman
    Potomac Piano Service
    Potomac, Maryland
    potomacpiano@verizon.net
    https://potomacpiano.com
    (301) 983.9321
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  • 12.  RE: Hearing Aids

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 10 days ago
    Norman and others,
    This is the exact information I am seeking. Thank you all. I hope to hear from others.
    Roger

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    Roger Gable RPT
    Gable Piano
    Everett WA
    (425) 252-5000
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