Posts Tagged 'Danalogic i-FIT 71'

The Upgrade part 2: Maybe they might be taking them after all…

hearing aids with wings

The very nice new audiologist must have noted my intensely misplaced interest in the Deafblind poster in the waiting room, because she warned me to watch my step on the raised threshold of the audiometry room as I entered. I was very impressed by her charming and attentive manner which made me feel slightly less apprehensive about potentially having to wave goodbye to the Oticon Spirit Zests. I had become rather attached to them, and it occurred to me that they had been listening in on every conversation I’ve had for the last 3 years. Ah, if hearing aids could talk, what tales they could tell, I mused poetically, wondering if if I could patent the idea for espionage purposes. Fortunately the Oticons had their battery drawers open during my previous visit to clinic O last month, and couldn’t hear their digital death sentence being issued by the hearing aid re-tubing lady. I cast my mind back to that fateful morning:

“We’re discontinuing services and spares on these Oticons”, she had announced gravely, as she rummaged through the tubes box, ” I’ll change them for you just now while we’ve still got some left in stock, but this will be the last time…you’re actually due for an upgrade anyway…you’ll get something nice and new instead, isn’t that good!”

“But…but…” I spluttered, “I got these ones ordered specially because of my type of loss, the standard issue ones didn’t work for me, I could hear the circuit noise…what will I get instead?”

Please don’t say Danalogic i-FIT 71, pleeeease’,  I beseeched my inner deity, despite it having let me down on quite a few beseechings lately.

“It’ll be one of these”, she said, reaching for the silicone ear model and plucking a brown chipolata-sized hearing aid from its rubber earhole. I should have been distressed at its size and general appearance, which was that of a partially inflated water balloon, but I’ve come a long way since nearly fainting at my first sight of a tiny NHS beige prawn back in 2010. Besides, the chipolata didn’t look like the previous i-fit I’d had, so there was still hope. Hey, maybe it was actually a top-notch Phonak or something…tssk, typical of me to have assumed the worst, I sighed. I tried desperately to align the elusive close vision sweet spot of my bifocals with the name on the casing to see if it started with ‘P’, but the re-tubing lady got in there first.

“It’s the new, improved Danalogic i-FIT es 71″ she announced cheerily, before turning her attention back to the disembowelled Oticons and doing a bit more noisy rummaging in drawers.

“But…but…” I spluttered, before the rummaging suddenly stopped and I was hit by the next devastating blow. Having to get my ears syringed again in preparation for the new fitting was bad enough, but there was worse to come; it seemed there was only one longer No. 2 tube left, so I’d have to have a shorter No. 1 on the right aid. I had a flashback to my last experience with a No.1 tube and panicked.

“That won’t work” I blurted unintentionally forcefully, giving the re-tubing lady a bit of a fright. She hadn’t realised what kind of peculiar exterior and interior head anatomy she was dealing with when innocently making her suggestion. I felt bad for being so ungracious, but it was just that the thought of having to gurn my way through the day to keep a too-short tube in place was very unappealing, especially in conjunction with the bizarre cranial contortions necessary to see anything through my new bifocal contact lenses. If all this kept up, I’d have to start wearing a clown suit to work in order to lend some gravitas to my academic image. No, this wouldn’t do at all.

“Just fish the old tube out the bin, and stick a new dome on it” I said, very pragmatically.

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Siemens v Danalogic: The Pros and Cons

“Oh no…not again!” I exclaimed after going to investigate a high pitched squealing noise and a faint cry of “Help!” coming from the chest of drawers in the bedroom. When I got there, BatteryBot was holding a Danalogic i-FIT 71 with a half open battery door in one hand, and a battery in the other. The only problem was, his hands were no longer attached to his arms. They’d snapped off under the extreme force necessary to open the battery door, and BatteryBot wasn’t happy.

“I’ve broken another finger, I don’t know how they expect old people to get these open”, he said ruefully, as I screwed his hands back on and got him to run his self-testing circuitry protocol to check that everything was working again.

“Pleeeeeeeease can we keep the Chromas instead of these, when you have to give one pair back”, he said, tugging on my heartstrings with his bandaged finger. “The battery doors are much easier to get open.”

“It’s not quite as simple as that,” I said, gently. “I haven’t made my mind up yet, but the Danalogics sound better and they don’t make funny noises or go haywire in response to anything that beeps. They’re great for the piano too. They look marginally nicer and, Iet’s face it, I need all the help I can get in the looks department these days.”

I was still feeling slightly raw after seeing what looked like a shrunken head being interviewed in a student video last week. It had turned out to be me.

“But what about the hissing noise the Danalogics make,” cut in BatteryBot, “you said it was really annoying…and what about the fact they make the back of your ears sore because they grip on really tightly…and, and…”, he was trying to pull out all the stops now, “…and what about the ea-”

“Look.” I said firmly, “Don’t keep going on about the Easter Bunny. We can reshape his head to fit the Danalogics if I have to give the Chromas back to Clinic O. He won’t know any better, he’s only made of Plasticine…oh, sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounds”.

It was too late, the damage had been done.

“Well I’m only made out of a kitchen cupboard door latch and some bits the plumber left behind, I hope you don’t talk about me like that”, sobbed BatteryBot.

“Shhhhhhhh! You’re about to short circuit”, I said, noting once more the strange Sean Connery sound of my dental fricatives of late. I leant forward and whispered clandestinely into BatteryBot’s auditory sensors:

“Don’t mention the cupboard door latch on here again. People think you’re a real robot; If this gets out, we’re finished.”

Siemens v Danalogic : The Playoff

Last week, the very nice and very helpful senior audiologist at clinic O gave me two sets of hearing aids to compare, to see which works best for my dubious activities outwith the soundproofed room. Hearing aid No. 1 is my original Siemens Chroma S, and hearing aid No. 2 is the newer Danalogic i-FIT 71. The Danalogic had originally been given the heave-ho after its first fitting, because of the intolerably loud circuit noise which was being picked up by the hiss-sensitive cookie bite ears. It has since been slightly de-hissed, and is being given a second chance to see whether the benefits of slightly better overall sound quality outweigh the downside of listening to digital tinnitus all day long.

At the weekend, I decided to blow the dust off the piano, in order to subject both aids to a rigorous and highly scientific test of their music handling capabilities. Using every ounce of my musical talent, I wrote a technically challenging composition, designed to put silence to the test every bit as much as sound. The opening sequence invites the pianist to channel the spirit of John Cage while the Delayed Startup beeps of the i-FIT 71 count down to Power On. The climax of the piece, in bars 6-8, involves a technically demanding sequence of three triad chords in a row, situated right in the middle of the cookie bite zone, a notorious spot for over-amplification in the past.

All that was missing was a functional MRI scan to find out what was going down in the Cookie Bite Auditory Cortex while all this was going on, but who needs a £100,000 scanner when you’ve got a nice sharp HB pencil to to draw what you’re hearing instead.

The results show that, on music, the Danalogic is the clear winner. It hissed its way consistently through the test from start to finish,  but there was no great distortion of sound, just louder hissing when notes are sounded. The Siemens, on the other hand, was nice and quiet on silence, but couldn’t resist creating a musical accompaniment all of its own to the piano. This consists of a gentle rattling noise on notes lower than C3, and random chirps and beeps everywhere else. The keys between G5 and B5 remain scarily loud and have to be approached with extreme caution.

Winner of the Piano Playoff Test: The Danalogic i-FIT 71.

Coming up next: The Mumbling Student Test. Will the Chroma S fight back?

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Oh dear. A week, as they say, is a long time in politics, but it’s an even longer time in hissing hearing aids. Ever since allowing myself to be persuaded by Clinic O that the abominable static noise emanating from the circuitry of my newly acquired Danalogic i-FIT 71 aids might be something which could be conquered by the neural plasticity of my auditory cortex, ie I’d get used to it, I’ve somewhat regretted it.

Although it is a marvellous coping phenomenon that my brain fashions the hiss into the phantom noise of a shower when I am in the bathroom, and the noise of a deep fat fryer when I am in the kitchen, its creativity is stumped when I’m in silence. In quiet surroundings, the hiss sounds just like an annoyingly hissing pair of hearing aids. It’s loud enough to mask other high frequency sounds, and I’m worried that an escaped rattlesnake could sneak up behind me undetected.

Demented in the empty office at work on Wednesday, I sought solace in the perfect place to escape from the hiss. The studio. “Budge up!” I said enthusiastically to a student, who had been reclining comfortably on the sofa with her book until my unexpected arrival with my laptop disturbed her. I listened for a bit to make sure that the soundscape was to my liking, then sat down to attend to my daily mountain of emails. Ah, this was more like it. The hiss was slightly less audible. The studio was only half full of students, but they were working in groups so were producing plenty of chat. I was slightly disappointed that there was no loud music, but was heartened to hear the reassuring rumble of the extraction system overhead. The noise of 60 feet of exposed industrial ducting was going some way towards drowning out the hiss but was not eliminating it entirely. I was on the verge of asking someone to open a window so that the noise of the nearby motorway could help out a bit, when an even better solution presented itself in the form of some impromptu furniture moving by students. Several chairs and desks were dragged mercilessly back and forth across the bare concrete floor, producing a rich variety of soothing scraping and grinding noises. Ahhhh. That’s better I said to myself, I can’t even hear the hiss now when I listen out for it. Maybe they were right at Clinic O after all!

Then it all got spoiled. Without warning, a heavy 6 by 4 foot sheet of mdf was knocked over by accident, causing a very loud bang. Although the bang itself was extremely acoustically satisfying in the bare concrete space, it was followed by a pregnant silence as everyone waited to see if there had been a casualty. This was all the hiss needed in order to sneak back in to my consciousness. Ssssssssss. Then to my relief, a round of shrieking and laughter began, followed by a purposeful bout of hammering to fix the damage. Phew.

The studio door banged open and shut with a pleasing regularity throughout, and every so often, the plumbing let out its usual foghorn blast every time a tap was turned on. As I basked in the racket, I reflected that the only thing that could possibly make the ambience more perfect for masking unwanted hissing noises from hearing aids, was the sounding of the twice weekly fire alarm test.

“Can I talk to you about my project?” said a student who had just wandered into my field of vision.

“Certainly”, I said, hoping there was going to be plenty to look at.

A New Dawn

As I trotted down the corridor at Clinic O yesterday behind the hearing aid chap in scrubs who had just called my name, I noticed he seemed to have his hands full.

“Take a seat, Mrs Dancer”, he said, carefully releasing his pile of stuff on to the table beside the silicone ear model. What was in those boxes? I watched intently as some familiar wires appeared from the drawer…it couldn’t be, surely?

It was.

“Today, we’re going to fit you with a second aid, but technology has moved on plus Siemens no longer hold the NHS contract here, so you’re getting two new ones…do you have your current aid?”

Holy Smoke, this was a turn up for the books. Like Christmas and winning the Lottery all in one. I handed over the Siemens Chroma S, and felt a slight twinge of betrayal anxiety as I saw it cast aside, with its nearly new dome pulled inside out by its hasty removal. It looked like a beige beetle on its back with a defiant leg in the air, and I wondered if I might come to regret parting with it so easily. Being the fickle sort, I was soon distracted by the opening of the boxes, and I leant forward eagerly to see what was inside.

The first three majestic notes of Also Sprach Zarathustra rang out in the phantom music department of my auditory cortex as some tissue paper was unwrapped on the table in front of me. Da…daa…daaaa… Gosh, this was exciting. An earhook and some unidentifiable bits fell out first and were put to one side, then another earhook and some more unidentifiable bits. The tympani section of Also Sprach pounded away dramatically inside my head while another tissue paper package prepared to be unwrapped. It took a while. As Also Sprach reached its dramatic climax, the first Danalogic i-FIT 71 emerged slowly from its cocoon. Then the second. I could bear it no longer.

“What colour are they, what colour are they?”

An outstretched hand gave me my answer.

“Ah. New NHS Beige”, I said, not realising that colour was going to be the least of my concerns in half an hour’s time.


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