A week with a BAHA trial device

Tomorrow I get my BAHA sound processor. It’s going to be weird being bi-aural again after 25+ years of being effectively deaf on my right hand side.

In March last year, the NHS loaned me a trial device which I wore on a very fetching elastic band around my head for a week. The audiologist asked me to take notes on how the experience felt. I thought I’d share them on the eve of getting the real thing.

Tues 3rd

Like someone has opened a window I didn’t know was shut. Sound quality much better (more natural) than I expected (not “phoned in”)

Much better in the car. Can hear the radio and Vivienne talking. However, road noise is also pronounced (as if someone has opened a window) – air/tyre noise quite loud. Can hear the radio better, but including all the ‘noise’ as well as ‘signal’, i.e. Pitch/tone/volume variance much more pronounced

Can’t use in the kitchen – metal hob/stove/extractor generates feedback and amplified white noise.

TV first impression – not a huge difference, slightly echo-y/tinny. Maybe a direct feed from the TV with the real device will work better.

Have to put my glasses at a slight angle to avoid interference.

Can hear my own voice much more loudly. Am I talking more quietly as a result? Vivienne says the tone/pitch of my voice has changed (“gone lower”)

Weds 4th

Not much help on commute, but no-one is talking and there’s nothing to hear. Train announcements are clear enough usually

Wind interference

When there’s only faint background noise, it is a bit distracting, seems to be hunting for any noise to amplify and latches onto it. Like holding a shell to your ear.

Hard to differentiate direction of sound, particularly front-to-back. Perhaps will get used to it. Left-to-right I can tell by the tone/quality of the sound, to an extent.

Aware of other people’s conversations on the tube. Announcements are clearer.

Busy scene disorientation. Hyper-real. Like first person scenes in a movie of someone bring dumped in a city centre street for the first time

Everyone keen to share their second-hand experience. Am I become my disability?

Little things in the office. I can hear other people having conversations. I can hear myself typing and clicking the mouse. Definite improvement.

Heard a conversation via BAHA whilst “good ear” was watching a video – never would have happened before, would be cut off during conference calls etc. Thought it was interference in the video at first! Good/bad?

Thur 5th

Frank (who sits on my ‘deaf side’) says I am definitely more responsive. Whereas I used to react to movement, I now react to him speaking in a normal voice

Having to turn it off during conference calls to avoid distractions

Starting to get headaches. Not sure if these are unrelated stress headaches; being caused by the headband; skull vibrations; brain learning to cope with new input. Probably the headband…

Fri 6th

Colleagues reporting that my the volume of my speaking voice has become more consistent. Definite difference to my responsiveness.

When everyone is talking at once it is hard to discern individual voices.

* Ask about the T programme (“loop”)

Headaches seem to be caused by the band.

Starting to feel like something is missing when it is off, rather than something extra when it is on.

Sat 7th

Can hear the boys in the back of the car

Slight improvement sitting at a noisy restaurant table

Hearing in stereo in the cinema!

Mon 9th

Speed Interviewing Session: Seemed much easier to hear, except for people so softly spoken I would have struggled anyway. Background noise was more pronounced but voices were easy to pick out

Noisy pub: Again, amplified background noise. Conversation with people in front of me was slightly improved (or not worsened). However, general awareness (e.g. Someone behind me asking to get past) was no different, perhaps worse, due to increase in background noise interference

Did not manage to go into a noisy environment and try to follow multiple conversations including one on my deaf side. 😦

Would expect direct streaming of digital sounds (phone, TV) would make a huge difference

Really good videoconference quality – better than phone, not as good as ‘real’

Tues 10th

Handed back. Feel the difference travelling home; can’t hear Vivienne beside me. A bit upsetting. Can feel myself withdrawing a bit – too much effort to participate in conversation so why bother. Mustn’t let that feeling claim me.


    • Howard
    • February 7th, 2016

    Hey Paul, thank you for the Baha info. I lost hearing in my right ear 16 years ago. I wear a hearing aid in my left ear. I have been considering
    Baha. It is still quite rare here in Canada. I’m anxious to read more about how it is working out for you.

      • pauliharman
      • February 8th, 2016

      I’m going to write a follow-up post after my review with the audiologist at the end of the month. It’s going really well so far!

    • Mike snith
    • March 4th, 2016

    Was wondering…… I wear bhe aids now. I went to Dr yesterday and he had the baha device on a metal head band… I could hear him well but no background noise. Seemed he was far away. I know sound had to travel through hair and skin etc. But once the surgery is done and it’s attached directly to skull, does the hearing improve, and if so how much? Thank you

      • pauliharman
      • March 6th, 2016

      The sound quality through the abutment is significantly better than through the device on a band. However it is still “artificial” until you get used to it (a few weeks)

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