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The Directional Experience

Knud -Successful user of the Gaia directional hearing aid. Veteran user identifies new benefits. Click Here to view the PDF version.

Carsten Ahlbom interviews 79-year-old Knud Beier, retired Managing Director, who has just completed a fitting of Oticons new Gaia Directional hearing aids. After 14 days of lively indoor and outdoor activity, Knud pinpoints a number of benefits hes never experienced before

Knud, what has it been like to wear these instruments in everyday listening situations?
Its been a truly pleasurable experience. The speech and sound quality is far superior to anything Ive ever tried before. My old hearing aids were good for the technology of the time. But technology advances, and I can really feel the difference with Gaia. During the trial period I was in a meeting with 20 people around a large table, and for the first time ever, I could hear what was being said from all directions. The whole
evening was really enjoyable. When you cant follow the conversation its very difficult to
communicate. Eventually every-thing comes to a halt.

Since I got these instruments Ive become very aware of just how much I had been missing when I was together with my family and friends. We can laugh about it now the way I used to go off at a tangent in what I thought was the right direction, but in reality Id completely lost the gist of the conversation! With these hearing aids peoples speech comes through more clearly, and the sound quality is much better.

Can you describe the difference in sound quality?
Its difficult to find the right word in a way its become more concise. I wouldnt call it sharp. Of course, it can never be completely natural, but its much more comfortable than my previous hearing aids. I can wear these instruments from seven in the morning to eleven at night. With the others I got so tired that I had to take a break once in a while. Not for long though, because Im very dependent on my hearing aids. I couldnt understand what people were saying beyond a certain distance, and that was both tiring and frustrating. Now its far less problematic to find out where sounds are coming from, and from how far away.

Have any other situations become less problematic?
With my old hearing aids there were many situations where feedback really bothered me, when I put on a hat, and when talking on the phone - especially in my left ear. The whistling sound really interfered with my perception of speech sometimes. Now when the phone rings, I just take the call without having to remove my instruments.

I also used to have problems if I was out walking on a windy day. With my old instruments a gust of wind could sound like a hurricane; with these you can hear the wind but its not nearly as loud. The design of the hearing aid helps to prevent wind from channelling into the microphone. I have two different settings in the hearing aid one for normal listening situations, indoors and outdoors, and one to help me understand speech in noisy situations. I find the first setting best on a windy day.

How often do you switch to the anti-noise setting?
I use the directional setting - program 2 when we go to the theatre, because the music can sometimes be overwhelming. Last time I went to the ballet we sat in the 6th row of the Royal Theatre. The music can be very loud at that distance, but when I switch my hearing aid to the directional setting, it dampens sounds coming from the sides and behind, so whatever is coming from the front comes through more clearly.

The directional mode also helps when I am outside. Its nice to be able to walk down the street and hear what other people are saying. And if someone approaches me to ask for directions, I can now reply quite easily. With all the other noise on the street I used to have to get really close to people to understand what they were saying.

I often switch to program 2 when Im doing something noisy at home. A couple of years ago I took over the vacuum cleaning because my wife hurt her shoulder. If Im vacuuming, and my wife says something in front of me, I can respond more quickly, because the directional setting dampens the noise behind me. It also reduces the noise of the extractor fan when we are cooking.

Whats your overall impression of Gaia?
I can only say that as soon as I hear a sound, it feels comfortable. I dont want to miss anything. Being able to hear more clearly keeps me in touch with my surroundings. Without sound, life would be empty. All I can say is that the quality of these hearing aids is much better at all levels than any of the others Ive tried. I really enjoy using them.

I think my wife enjoys it too. She would sometimes say I cant stand having to repeat things its so tiring, but not any more. I
hear really well now. If Im in the living room and she is in the kitchen or the hallway, even
though theres distance between us I can hear most of what shes saying. And thats really good.

All in all its been a really pleasurable experience. The speech and sound quality is far superior to anything Ive ever tried before. My old hearing aids were good for the technology of the time. But I can really feel the differ-ence with Gaia.

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