Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rexton Cobalt - Retuned, WOW

I went in today for a followup tuning of my new hearing aids. My main issues that I needed addressed:

1) There was heavy distortion on the main programs in loud environments, making speech very difficult to interpret
2) Certain types of loud sounds were overwhelming me in my normal programs
3) We forgot to add the programs for Bluetooth phone and Direct audio connections during the first fitting

We took out most of the compression in the main program, removing all traces of distortion, but that still left the overwhelming sounds. We walked through various frequencies over the speakers and found that I had a huge peak at about 1000Hz, right in the middle of the speech range, so we knocked the gain down at that frequency and everything was PERFECT. My main program is really great now.

Took a couple times to get the Bluetooth and Direct audio programs to sound right, and I think I will still need one more visit to get these a little better, but overall they sound pretty good. Hooked my iPod to my bluetooth unit and even though music sounds a little on the tinny side, everything is very clear, which makes me happy. For those of you that don't know, listening to music from speakers or televisions normally sounds bad with hearing aids. There is something about electronic sources going through another electronic circuit (the hearing aid) that kills quality. So the direct audio program bypasses the microphones and passes music directly from a TV or iPod to your hearing aid speakers--WONDERFUL!

Overall, I am pretty happy now. I will probably go back in for another retune in a couple months and see if we can get music to sound a little more natural.

27 comments:

kim said...

This is awesome. They sound really great! I hope to try a new pair of aids soon.

bigvally said...

I'm an audiologist and I've been recently fitting the Cobalt. I agree, it's an awesome hearing aid. I've been fitting hearing aids for 25+ years and I still get a thrill everytime someone hears their cell phone in both ears with the sound adjusted for their hearing loss for the first time. It's like magic! Especially compared to what hearing aids used to be. I've had some challenges with compatibility with some BluTooth phones but hang in there, the quality is worth some "tweaking". Sorry about the progressive nature of your hearing loss but hearing aids are at the best I've ever seen them right now and can only get better. Best to you.

jelly said...

Hi...I'm new here.

I just got new aids.
I also had a progressive hearing loss, I know that is difficult.

My wife and I are not too far from Philadelphia!

JacquelineD65 said...

I ran into your page/blog while searching the Cobalt hearing aids I saw at Costco. I have an appointment scheduled for this Thursday to have a hearing test and start the process of buying the aids. Obviously even at the Costco price, they are expensive so I was researching them on the internet. Your blog has helped both my husband and I know that we are making the right decision to buy them. Thank you! I'll let you know how they are working for me when I finally get them on! I can't wait! Jacqueline

JacquelineD65 said...

BTW, I currently wear the Phonak Claro BTE aids. I've been really happy with them but like yours, my hearing loss has outgrown the aids. I'm currently very frustrated at my lack of hearing. I'm pretty excited to be getting new ones. I look forward to hearing clearer once again. I too take sign language classes and volunteered a the state deaf school for a couple of years. :)

Aaron said...

Best of luck Jacqueline! I am really pretty happy with mine and think they were a good deal. Everyone is always amazed by the bluetooth functionality, and plugging the wireless unit into the tv and sitting across the room and being able to hear voices clearly is amazing (and something I havent heard for decades).

Definitely post back when you get them.

Barbara said...

Hi Aaron, Thanks for your helpful blog regarding your new Rexton Cobalt aids. I purchased a pair (Rexton Cobalt with mini-molds) at Costco about 1 month ago and need to go back for my third adjustment. I liked them fairly well at first, but the gain seemed a bit low and my own voice sounded very strange. At my three-week follow up appointment, the dispenser increased the gain to "optimal" levels per my audiogram, then backed it down just a little. Now speech seems distorted; I have a hard time identifying words and many environmental sounds. In addition, certain mid-range frequencies are quite painful. I'm scheduling another trip for adjustment, but not certain what to ask for. I found your blog while searching for hearing aid reviews that might increase my knowledge and vocabulary so that I can more actively participate in the adjustment process. My loss, like yours, is severe in the middle and higher frequencies but fairly normal in the lower frequencies. Thanks for taking the time to post your experiences; it is helpful. Keep up the good work.

Scott said...

I'm a young user of these. So far I am loving them.

Anyone know how to turn off the aids without remote or taking out battery? The two second thing in the book does not work.

Anyone had bluetooth lockups on the RCU with a Blackberry?

So far all my problems are tolerable.

Good place to buy domes? perfecthearing.com is all I see on-line.

Aaron said...

I would think your dispenser would have a ton of extra domes-mine does. Especially when people like me can't use domes. I have the high-power receiver and a custom mini mold. love it, almost zero feedback even with a vent hole.

Anonymous said...

There were reco'd by my Audi last week. Are they hard to wear with glasses? I'm a little on the vain side (working to get rid of it) are these extremely noticable? Will I be able to kiss my fiance' without have constant feedback?

I was just told I have grown out of being able to wear CIC and it's messing with my head as I now have to move to a RIE with custom mold. So, you'd say this is a great style and circuitry for the price?

Thank you for having this blog!

Aaron said...

I wear sunglasses a LOT, and I find them easy to wear with glasses. the arms of the glasses sit on top of mine and it's comfortable.

seriously, I know it's hard sometimes, but get over the vain aspect of it. I often wish mine were flourescent orange that way people would KNOW immediately why I am having a hard time understanding them.

I find the Cobalts to be nearly invisible, even though with the custom mold they are more noticeable than the dome kind.

I cannot stress enough, don't be vain about this stuff. we are hard-of-hearing, it is no different than people wearing glasses. there are power in numbers, be proud!

JacquelineD65 said...

Hi Aaron! I wrote to you back in June when I was in the market for new aids. I went to Costco and ordered the Rexton Cobalts and had great expectations! Unfortunately, I'm "too hard of hearing" for such an aid and had to return them and order different ones dubbed "Power Aids" through Costco. Seriously, when I put the Cobalts on, I had to ask, "Did you turn them on?" She made some adjustments but just couldn't get it right for me. It was sad because I so wanted those new fangle-dangle ones with the blue tooth compatibility! Regardless, I have the new power aids and love them just as much as you love your Cobalts. For those of use too far gone for the Cobalts, the Power Aids are just as nice (but no where near as small). I'm happy to be back in the land of hearing once again. I had outgrown my Phonaks to the point of giving up on hearing at all anymore. And, BTW, I too had to turn my Phonaks in for repairs far too many times!! Take care! Jacqueline

Aaron said...

Jacqueline: I had a similar experience with the Cobalts with the domes. Anyone with severe loss can use the Cobalts, but will require a power receiver (there are 3 levels of receivers) and a custom micro-mold.

I have the power head and the micro mold and get basically zero feedback, even if I bump my volume all the way up. The micro custom molds are about the same size as a small CIC aid--very very small. I have had the receiver pop out of the mold a couple times, and it is impossible to get the mold out of the canal without tweezers. hahaha

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the vanity speech. I'm going tomorrow, check in hand, to purchase my Cobalts and get the mold made for the RIE. What's the point of being vain if you can't hear anyways?

Thanks again for the words of encouragement.

JacquelineD65 said...

Aaron, now I have to wonder if the Costco audiologist was just trying to sell me Costco's brand of if she simply didn't know better. I remember her saying that I couldn't safely have the decibels as high as I needed them put down in the ear like the dome requires. I hope she didn't know that you could actually buy ear molds like I have now. I think I'll go in there and inform her! My "power aids" were a good $1,500 MORE than the Cobalts. I know she doesn't get paid on commission but I wonder if there was something to the sell that I'm not aware of. Anyway, I'm happy with the power aids. I don't know if I could handle pulling something out of my ears with tweezers! haha

Anonymous - I'm happy for you! Go get them! You'll love hearing and won't care who sees them. In fact, I'm with Aaron on this one too... I would rather people saw them than not so they understood my limitations. :) Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Not sure why I ever had a vanity problem, these things are nearly invisible! The custom mold is taking a bit to get used to as it feels my ears are plugged and any jaw movement enhances the plugged feeling, but I imagine that will fade after usage and adjusting to the new sensation.

My current problem with these, though they are great, is that everything is compressed, I mean everything. I clap my hands and can't hear it properly, everything sounds so dampened. This can be fixed, correct? As of now I had to resort back to my old Starkey CIC's since I'm not able to comprehend anything sounding so compressed.

The compression problem I am so excited to hear the little things I've been missing for so long now. These little things are incredible!

Aaron said...

Yes, I really disliked the extreme amount of compression also. I still have heavy compression and do not get overwhelmed, but we had to tune down a particular frequency band to accomplish this, which took trial and error using a frequency generator in my audi's office.

I find that the compression made things VERY distorted.

Currently my programs are:
1. auto
2. bluetooth (gonna remove next time since I dont use it)
3. speech in quiet (very little compression)
4. audio input (I use this a ton for hooking TV to my remote)
5. outdoors, great for noisy places

Anonymous said...

Compression knocked out and these things are a completely different hearing aid. WOW!

So it's been almost a week now and I'm having soreness in my right canal that makes it hard to wear. Just getting used to the custom mold I guess.

I do have a hell of a time talking on the phone as I have to hold it at the top of my ear, close the to microphone, to even remotely hear anything. Unfortunately my office phones aren't bluetooth compatible. How did you manage to get around this? Can I set a "phone mode" in one of my programs?

Aaron said...

Yeah, their compression really isn't great. As for phone, I'm a weird case in that even though my hearing loss is severe, I can still hear relatively well on cell phones if I know the person's voice. Proximity of sound is very important to my understanding things.

grandpjim said...

On Aug.24,2009 I purchased Rexton Cobalt hearing aids at Costco, they helped me little to none, I cannot hear in a store that has background noise or even a teller in a bank. I have to turn my TV up so high that I do not even need the aids, I went back to Costco many times and the last time the Audiologist said I did not need to come back again, I am out almost $3,000.00 and could have done as well with a $20.00 sound amplifier advertised on TV.

grandpjim said...

On Aug. 24 2009 I purchased from Costco Rexton Cobalt hearing aids, I went back many times for adjustment, each time the results were worse. I am unable to hear at a restaurant, bank or in any store where there is background noise. Even watching TV at home I have to have the volume so high I do not need the aids, How can I get someone to help, the audiologist at Costco makes them worse each time I go there, she does not want to see me again.

Aaron said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your bad luck with them. I do think because of the amazing amount of features, they can be difficult to tune properly. I was not happy until my 2nd or third time having them adjusted. Maybe try to find another costco or another audiologist who can maybe tune them better? Also, do you have the right receivers? i.e. are they powerful enough for your hearing loss?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posts. I just had a stedectomy because costco said my hearing could be improved. Will still need an aid, but not as powerful. I'm considering these and will check them out next week. They sound like they have all the features I want and need.

paramedic said...

I was just at Costco today looking at the Cobalt hearing aids. I was pleasantly surprised to find they are less than half the price of the Phonaks. I am a Paramedic and find it quite challenging trying to use a stethescope in a moving ambulance with sirens and road noise etc. Just wondering if anyone out ther has had experience or information on a bluetooth stethescope which would be compatible with the Cobalt HA? Thank you.

Aaron said...

Well the annoying thing about the bluetooth is gonna be this: you can leave the stethoscope hooked to the bluetooth transmitter and just turn on the transmitter when you need it, BUT you will have to have the bluetooth receiver around your neck and it needs to stay perpendicular to the axis of the hearing aids (the orientation it would be in if you wear it on the lanyard around your neck while sitting down). If it goes very far off-axis you lose the signal.

Also, when I am on my bluetooth program, my mics are basically turned off, meaning I can't hear people around me. This may be tunable, but I could see that being a bad thing in your profession.

Cordell Harris said...

Got my 2 Cobalt ECO approximately 3 weeks ago from Paradise Hearing in Mesa, AZ. My audio tech is Jason. I am retired ex-Navy, (big guns, etc.) and a radio operator, then worked in really noisy industrial areas in my second career. And, have done a lot of shooting- all leading to moderately severe loss of hearing especially above 1500hz. I've needed hearing assistance for the last 15-20 years but blew it off, just dreading the ordeal of shopping the hearing aid market dealing with the inflated pricing. But, had come to the realization that behind the ear units were the way to go. A flyer from Paradise convinced me to make the plunge, that and the fact that my long suffering wife had began to complain about the excess volume of the TV. To the chase: I've been back twice. First to bump up the gain, then a week later another visit to change the in the ear molds. Viola! Now we're there- back in the world again! By the way, I drive a Jeep (lots of wind noise) and the Cobalts do a great job suppressing or canceling wind noise. Most folks don't even notice I'm wearing them and the rechargeable batteries seem to last more than eight hours without recharge.

Aaron said...

Cordell, I'm glad to hear you've had good luck with them. Mine are now 4 years old, so I'm starting to think about my next pair. My one ear is now candidate for cochlear implant, so I'm not sure how many more pairs of hearing aids I will have in this lifetime. Luckily I am fluent in ASL and have Deaf friends now!