A Natural Sound Experience
You shouldn't really notice that a good hearing aid is in your ear. By that I mean: if a hearing aid is working really well you should be hearing comfortably in all situations and you shouldn't notice the hearing aid doing anything other than delivering a natural sound to you.
Ignoring all other features of a hearing aid, the core thing it needs to get right is giving you speech recognition and sound quality when you need it, so that's what this part of the review is about, I've tested my new LiNX 3D hearing aids in my normal everyday environments and here's what I thought:
Annoying background noise......gone
This was a bit of an eye-opener for me, the LiNX 3Ds fixed a problem that I never realised I had: being bothered and not understanding speech so well due to background noise. And by background noise I don't mean obvious noise problems like the din in a noisy restaurant, I mean everyday ambient noise like the humming of a computer fan, people's shoes clacking on the floor, cars going down the road. It wasn't till I started wearing the LiNX 3Ds that I realised I was being bothered by these sounds before, I was hearing them quite loudly in some situations and that was affecting my ability to hear speech.
Now, my everyday environments just seem so much more peaceful and relaxed - I'm hearing clearly things I want to hear and am not constantly getting an annoying low-level background of noise like I used to. A couple of times during the first few days of switching to the ReSound aids I had to click my fingers near my ear just to make sure they were still switched on!
I used to really enjoy taking my hearing aids out for a few hours during a day just to have a break from listening and get a bit of peace and quiet - I don't really feel like I need to do that anymore.
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Discerning who is talking in a group
Working out which direction a sound is coming from is a classic problem for the hard of hearing and hearing aid wearers. In group situations I often found myself hearing some words fine but not being 100% sure who said it - so I'd be quickly looking around the group to see whose mouth was moving.
The LiNX does a good job here, it's directionality features do a great job of focusing on sounds right in front of me but also giving me good hearing ability from all directions. This means that if I am looking at the person speaking to me then they are coming through loud and clear - but also if someone behind or to the side of me talks then I can pick them up and I know where they are. The hearing aids seem to deliver fantastic spatial awareness, again something I didn't really realise I was missing out on.
Speech quality and recognition (in noise)
It's quite a bit better than before, not a massive change but better. Voices sound similar to how they did before but I can now pick up some accents, which due to my severe hearing loss is not something I have been able to do for a while. Seems like an odd thing to write but since I haven't been picking up accents for so long it is kind of cool to suddenly hear them. I'm also able to listen in on other conversations now! Great for anyone who is nosey. I'm writing this from a Costa and the guy on the next table is (probably) from Holland and is having a job interview for a sales position - I would never have been able to tell you that before.
Male voices sound a bit less gruff now - they used to sometimes be a bit muffled, deep and gravely. It's not like men now sound like a Disney princess but the mid-to-high tones in their voices are definitely more prominent now - which makes them easier to understand.
Fantastic Speech in Noise Quality
Hearing and understanding speech in noisy situations, like a bar or restaurant, has been troublesome for me for many years - back when I had only a minor hearing loss it was pretty easy but as my hearing has got worse the problem of speech in noise has got worse. The ReSounds are giving me the best speech in noise ability I've had for years, it is still difficult to concentrate on people, but with a loss as bad as mine I always expect that - the directionality helps a lot, the noisy crowd fades away just about enough and the person in front of me gets the focus. I could probably do even better here if I switched to a programme that focused purely on the sound right in front of me and blocked out more from other directions - I will ask to get that added and try it out.
One situation that is vastly improved for me is being in the car. I cannot overstate what a difference there is for me here. I used to have a lot of trouble hearing people over the road noise and if a window was open or the stereo was on, the conversation was a no-go. Road noise is now a thing of the past, even with the window open it is reduced to a faint background noise that I can easily hear words over - I'm comfortable now talking to people whilst travelling. That is important to me because my time spent in the car with my family is no longer dead time, I can actually have a chat.
Noise reduction, in general, has been excellent, it works seamlessly and even with something really noisy, e.g. lawn mower, I can still hear other things, so the noise cancelling is cutting out the loud sounds but still letting voices and other things tones be heard. This is quite a step up in noise-cancelling tech, I've worn a few aids over the years where the loud sounds would be reduced enough to be comfortable but voices and everything else would be reduced too.
As my hearing loss progressed I more or less gave up with music as it mostly sounded pretty awful and anything busier than Brandt Brauer Frick quickly gave me a headache.
Having My Music Back
LiNX 3D is giving me the music back. Busier and noisier tracks do not sound garbled like they used to and don't give me a headache (although some of the guff my daughter listens to would give anyone a headache). I can now pick up most of what is being said on the radio and listening to music is enjoyable again.
The real game-changer when listening to music was using GN Resound's streamer to transmit tunes straight into my hearing aids, more on this in the next review. This stuff rocks!
The ReSound LiNX 3Ds are delivering a great quality of sound across the board. Speech sounds natural to me but also clearer, sharper and easier to understand. Hearing in very noisy environments is still a challenge for me due to my severe hearing loss but they are definitely the best performing hearing aids I have had.