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Sound 5 month post-activation + testing binaurality

Posted Jan 10 2010 8:41am

I know I aired some frustration in my last post two days ago about not being able to track any progress (sound wise). This lack of detecting progress is partly my own fault, I haven’t been up to speed about my listening-training. To my defense I have to say I’ve been swamped in everyday life and taking huge life-changing decisions :-)

music Well, today is Sunday, and first I sat down with an episode of Fringe, with my new headphones ( product link ). Today I think the deep raspy voice of “elderly Walter” came through better. And upon this small revelation, I concentrated more on what I really hear, rather than working on understanding the speech. I think small subtle sounds are breaking through easier than before. I’m getting more usable information! I guess this means my brain is becoming better at sorting out the information feed it’s getting.

Then I put on Spotify, while still wearing my headphones, and started playing a re-mastered version of Nina Simone’s “Live at the Town Hall ”. Instantly I found her voice accompanied by the piano a pleasant experience :-)   This was a nice CI-moment: Instant enjoyment in music I essentially haven’t heard before (-:

The piano sounds better when played with an accord. The vibrant co-existence of the various tones is also getting closer to becoming like I remember it with my old hearing. Our brain obviously has an ability to combine several tones, thus making the multi-toned sound a unique sound, being bigger than the sum of its parts, so to speak) In short the sound seems to become more natural!

I think not training every day also has its mission: Today I could detect some real progress, and I really needed that experience :-)

nina simone While Nina Simone plays, I decided I will try on my hearing aid for the first time since re-adjusting them to deliver 20 dB less sound than they used to. I think my left ear is craving for stimulus, and the tinnitus in that ear is really really bothersome.

So, before I put in my hearing aid, I want to remember how it’s like without. I have only faint notions of some bass-sounds. With music, if I crank up the volume a bit, I think the software in my processor automatically reduces the sound energy being delivered to my cochlea-based damaged hair cells. Thus, I can enhance the experience of the deepest bass in my left naked ear.

Most importantly: it’s mono.

Binaural again (stereo)

I tried going binaural a couple of times before, shortly after CI-activation, but the hearing aid was unrealistically, out-of-this-world loud! Hearing aid has now been adjusted to my new reality. I can still understand words being spoken with only my hearing aid, but all other ambient sounds are missing. Nothing. And voices are thick, muddy and muffled. It resembles to mumbling.

Well, show must go on, and I put on the music… Binaural for the first time. I write down the impressions as I listen…


CI ear hears whiskers against the cymbal, the piano sounds rich. The whole range of tones and instruments are present.

HA ear hears pianos deepest keys and the contrabass  and slight notion of Nina Simone’s lovely voice.

CI ear captures Nina’s whole range of vocal notes AND sometimes vibrato while at the same time being able to comprehend the entire sound landscape. Quality is low, though. And a little distorted, not much, but enough for me to concentrate on the sounds that sounds out of place. Like her voice has both a whispering AND a “hysterical” quality to it… Hysterical in the meaning of shrill.

HA ear registers parts of Nina’s voice as pure cream, very smooth and lovely to listen to, but unfortunately only partly. Her voice disappears when going up in tones. This is frustrating, it’s like coitus interruptus. You expect a natural curve that goes higher, but are almost unnoticeably denied the pleasure of the whole experience… If it hadn’t been for my CI I wouldn’t know this…

CI captures even sound of breath (sharp inhale), or the very sharp “S” being sung.

HA ear is very handicapped, but provide a minimal amount of sound that my CI can’t provide right now.

CI registers all of the commercial talking, HA is just gone in this department.

OK, now to a very different style of music: Anthrax’ Spreading the Disease :

Anthrax_live2 Second time I listen to this classic album since activation.

CI: lyrics all coming through, I know them partly and can follow. I feel the need to turn it louder (mutha). This kind of music is meant to be played loud.

HA gets some of the guitar, and definitely drums. I can remember the HA sound now, it’s like I remember this music. But it’s muffled, dull and muddy. Compared to…

CI just sound much better…. It’s a lot more high pitch and has a LOT more details!

HA I am able to pick up some of the lyrics, bass guitar is very prominent in this ear now.

CI picks up bass as a guitar, I think. I might have mistaken bass guitar for guitar some times… Interesting!

HA gives me some strange sounds, not able to identify. Maybe my brain is starting to kick into gear. I got it! It’s several voices at the same time in the chorus breaking through the wall of music!

Yes, this was a lovely experience. Stereo feeling isn’t really there, but the HA gives at least more balance to the whole sound experience… Maybe just a little more of the soul of music, too, given it’s “creamy smooth” quality. It’s analogue in the HA and digital in the CI. (mind you, my HA is a digital HA, so I’m referring to the CONCEPT of analogue vs digital.) Digital being a little bit coarser, kind of…

OK, that was today’s sound-experience :-) Hope you enjoyed the read!


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