experiences with digital hearing aids

Gary Holland gary at gholland.demon.co.uk
Fri Sep 6 03:29:22 EST 1996

In article <50gng8$7ls at insosf1.netins.net>, HearWHAC
<HearWHAC at netins.net> writes
>What are your results with the Widex Senso and the Oticon DigiFocus?
We have been using both Widex SENSO and Oticon DIGIFOCUS since early
June with a great deal of success. Although these instruments are
expensive ( in the UK around 1500 -1600 UK pounds) the performance and
benefits obtained by users appears to justify the cost. At present we
have the Widex SENSO only in ITE although it is just about available in
BTE form. The Oticon Digifocus is currently BTE only.

AS far as programming is concerned the Widex SENSO could not be more
simple. Using the low cost hand held programmer, which can also be used
to programme the LOGO series of instruments a 'SENSOGRAM' is obtained
whilst the instrument is fitted to the patient, basically a series of
three tone bands are presented to the patient as in performing a
traditional pure tone audiogram, the main difference being that the
measurement is performed in situ. The instrument then performs an
automatic feedback and shell fit test. If everything is OK that is it!.
However as with virtually all programmable instruments a certain amount
of fine tuning is necesarry and we have found that the use of a patient
diary to report experiences in the early days to be extremely useful. I
understand that Widex are planning to produce their own diary sytem in
the near future. SENSO can also be programmed via NOAH with the COMPASS
software module, although I have not yet used this.

Oticon's DIGIFOCUS is programmed exclusively via NOAH and the OTISET
software. Oticon obviously spend a great deal of time and money in
software development and IMHO Otiset is superb. Programming , is very
simple and straightforward and can be accomplished with a few button
presses, although if you want to use the Oticon loudness scaling
procedures (Most Comfortable Range , MCR) this can add to the time
considerably. The software affers control over many parameters of the
instrument, many of which are interelated so there is a possibilty to
get in a real mess! However it is simply a matter of a single button
press to return to the original fitting parameters.

Although there are considerable technical differences in the way the
Oticon and Widex operate, different sampling rates etc. the end result
seems to be quite similar and in my experience almost everyone who has
used more conventional, (if that is the right term) amplification has
found major benefits with the digital aids.

I think these can be briefly summarised as, a considerable improvement
in perception and recognition of high frequency sounds. A noticeable
improvement in that most difficult of situations, listening to speech in
competing noise. A more natural sound to their own voice. A general lack
of awareness over a period of time that they are wearing hearing
instruments. This latter benefit has to be the most significant and is
certainly not the case when using remote control instruments, although I
am still a great fan of the Phonak PiCS and Audio Zoom in particular for
specific cases.

Sorry to have rambled on for so long I would be happy to provide more
detail via personal e-mail.

Gary Holland
The Hearing Care Centre

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