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The Phonak Lyric Invisible Hearing Aid- 7 week review and update

Dusty Potter, Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist and owner

Many of you may have read my review of the Phonak Lyric hearing aid when I was three weeks into my fitting. At this point, it’s been 7 weeks, and I thought it might be time for an update.

Overall, I have to say that my experience with these has been great.

I will say that I’ve adapted to these quite well. It’s remarkable how just hearing all of the time has become my normal. I typically don’t think about it.

Typically.

But, there are exceptions. Here are some things

  • Man, my wife talks loud. To me. Oddly, not to anyone else. I never noticed it before…. but, of course that’s the case. There’s a reason why she’s gotten in the habit of talking so loud. She’s had to….. but she can stop now. I keep telling her that.
  • We have hardwood floors in our home. We have two dogs. Their nails on the floor are loud. Apparently everyone else knew that.

Outside of that, I don’t tend to think of them. I hear better in quiet and in noise. I can understand the tv at a much lower volume. I can’t feel them. I just hear.

The only environment in which these aren’t ideal is when I’m playing electric bass guitar at a very high volume. I only do this once or twice per month. And, I’m an unusual user in this case- admittedly. When I play bass at my home at a level appropriate for practicing and allowing my neighbors to move on with their lives, everything sounds great.

Electric and acoustic guitar, as well as singing- all of those things sound great no matter what the volume.

This is about to get a little technical, so feel free to skip the italic section if that bores you…. you’ve been warned. 😉

Singing in these is actually better than in any other hearing aid I’ve tried. I think it’s because the programmable analog circuitry in the Lyric means no Wide Dynamic Range Output Compression or Input Compression from the instrument microphone. Both of these functions in a digital hearing aid, even if they are programmed to a technically linear setting- have always had a very “artificial” sound quality to my ear (again, everyone is different).

I do think these features have benefits for many users in terms of the audibility of soft sounds, and the comfort of loud sounds. I mean, that’s why these features were invented. However, we seldom talk about the trade off. The trade off, is that in the process of amplifying the sound, the acoustic energy of the sound that is travelling to your pinna (ear) has to be converted to kinetic energy at the point of the microphone diaphragm, then analog electrical impulses that travel to a digital to analog converter- basically converting the analog electrical impulse into 1’s and 0’s for digital processing. Then, a digital hearing aid circuit processes this sound, translates it back into an electrical impulse, and delivers that impulse to the hearing aid receiver, which converts that energy back into kinetic energy, vibrating the receiver.  Since the amplification and sound processing component of the Lyric Device is analog (which is what enables the battery to last for months), there is no step where the sound is digitized. I would classify the difference in sound quality between the Lyric and other hearing aids to be akin to the warm, rich sounds of a clean record on a good record player to the sound of the same music being heard through a satellite radio service. If you’re the kind of person who hears the difference in these things and the Satellite Radio sounds kind of “empty” or “mechanical” to you… well, then you know what I’m talking about. If not- then I just wasted your time with a bunch of technical jargon. Sorry about that. 😉

Long story short- if you’re a singer and you’ve had a hard time finding a hearing aid that makes you happy… you probably should check these out. 

 

  However, when playing bass at a level where it is typically at in a music venue, I will say that the tone of the bass guitar is very  difficult to discern. However, we are talking about low pitched sounds that are coming out at a volume that would be uncomfortable for many people. Sometimes 115db and up– and it’s a signal that pushes a lot of sound below 50Hz. Hearing aids are just not meant for that- and to be perfectly honest- that particular hobby of mine is the very reason why I have to wear hearing aids at age 44. 

I will say that 98% of hearing aid users would never even experience this downside. In my use case, though…. I sure wish I could take them out for this instance and this instance only. I’m hoping I can sweet talk Phonak into letting me send them a scan of my ear taken with the Otoscan 3D Ear Scanning tool that we have at our practice and maybe a custom insert that can be removed could be manufactured. Maybe I can warm them up with a set of steak knives or something. 

You can view my video review below:

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