08-Sep-2013 Hear Hear – No Need To Shout

Jimmy’s stereo hearing aids are proving interesting to say the least. He is truly living up to his nickname of ‘Digital Jimmy’ – it was fascinating to watch the expert audiologist tweaking the frequency sliders on his PC in order to maximise the benefit of the twin Siemens Impact Pro-L devices. “I hope you don’t mind, I chose grey ones to match your hair” quipped the guy! He set about creating three distinctive settings, easily switchable at the touch of a button:

  • Default (normal, everyday use)
  • Noisy Environment
  • Music

It’s no good attempting to hide caustic comments in a whisper, Jimmy can now hear you wherever you may be (slight exaggeration, it just seems that way). In fact it has opened up a world of new challenges – yes, we can now hold conversations without losing every other word or phrase (is that a good thing… or not?), but it’s all the other noise (ahem, N O I S E) that’s the problem. Every rustle of clothing or clanking of cutlery, the background sounds of the fridge, freezer, central heating, road and engine noise while driving, the hubbub of hundreds of shoppers in Tesco, the chap 10 houses down the street vacuuming his car… you get the picture.

And what of music? That is a massive challenge, both listening and performing – even using the ‘Music’ preset.

We did a care home performance the day after the hearing aids fitting – it was a place we’d played many times before, so it was a good test of any perceived differences. OUCH! Do we always sound that loud? No, jiva are still a gentle blend of acoustic instruments and vocal harmony – but to Jimmy it sounded as though we could be heard out in the car park… so naturally he compensated by playing softer and stepping back a little from the microphone. This sounded better to him but meant that Val could hardly hear him!

  • Normal default setting – awful
  • Noisy environment setting – only slightly better
  • Music setting – abysmal

Now, how about listening rather than performing? We’re in the midst of mixing some recordings and thought to give it a go. Absolute no-no – and the music setting was the worst of all, unbearable. OK, forget that – now, how about live music? We went to the Davy Lamp Folk Club in Washington (renowned for good sound over the years) to see Allan Taylor (wonderful singer/songwriter/performer with a guitar sound to die for). The diddly-dee tune session that starts the evening was hard work, the resident band (Backshift) sounded odd – was it them, or the sound system, or neither? Then Allan Taylor, the maestro… predictably, the sound was different, but:

  • Normal default setting – poor
  • Noisy environment setting – only slightly better
  • Music setting – awful

So, after the second song, Jimmy took them out and the experience was a whole lot better.

This clearly needs some adjustment – either personally or the re-tweaking of the EQ and stuff back at the hospital… but that won’t be for a while yet. We’re heading off soon to America, so we’ll give it a couple of weeks over there too… playing a wide selection of guitars in The Marketing Suite (dubbed “The Wedding Room”) at Taylor Guitars will be very telling.

Must stop now – the clatter and squeak of the PC keyboard is driving Jimmy nuts!!!

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