Musician Baha user: “Why do I get distortion from playing the piano?”


Question: I’m a musician/pianist. I now have a Cochlear Baha 4 Sound Processor that is bone anchored. The volume of some of the pianos I play approaches the 90db ceiling on my Baha 4 unit. I’m getting distortion from the music and it seems to be across the whole frequency range of the sound processor. No one frequency or band is worse than others. Any ideas on how to eliminate the distortion?

By the way, you can simulate what I’m hearing by overdriving your stereo speakers. One way to do that is turn the volume all the way up. Same with ear buds. That’s the kind of distortion I’m hearing. It’s not feedback. It’s clipping.

Thanks! /Tim

Answer: Dear Tim. Congratulations on your Baha 4 Sound Processor – as a musician you should definitely notice and appreciate the additional fidelity.

You are absolutely correct, that extra effort needs to be taken when fitting any hearing device for people with specific enjoyment of music. When we design a hearing device, we focus on speech understanding. Speech is very different to music with a dynamic range of only 30dB and a loudest sound (e.g. /a/) of around 80dBSPL. Music on the other hand, will often have more low frequency emphasis (middle C is 256Hz whereas speech carries most information around 1500Hz), a much larger dynamic range approaching 100dB and input levels often peaking above 110-115dBSPL.

This calls for three potential solutions when listening to music:

1. Dedicated Music program. Your hearing care professional can create a dedicated music program. We offer one in the Baha 4 Sound Processor. This has been tailored to music by having a flatter frequency response, linear amplification (as compression can play havoc with music) and we have turned off various speech enhancement features such as noise reduction, directional microphones and tempered the feedback cancelling algorithm so it does not become confused by musical tones. This will provide an improved listening exprience.

2. Use a connection. When listening to music use a direct audio connection or listen via the wireless accessories (e.g. Mini Mic), here you can adjust the level so that the peaks of music do not overdrive the microphones.

3. Turn your hearing device off. Depending on your hearing loss, many people will remove their hearing device when listening to music. Due to the loud peaks and low frequency emphasis music is often audible whereas speech might not be. This will also avoid overdriving the analogue/digital converter of the hearing aid “front end” which may clip sounds above around 95dBSPL. This is an unfortunate limitation in most hearing instruments.

Your hearing care professional should be able to guide you through these options.

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Ask the expert: How can I listen to music in stereo with my Baha 4 Sound Processor?

Question: Hi there!
I have had the Baha Divino for about 7 years and I am now switching to the Baha 4 Sound Processor! I’m deaf in one ear and I have a problem with listening to music in stereo.

The problem is that the Phone Clip streams the music from the phone to the Baha 4 but then you can only hear it on your deaf side. I can fit normal headphones in my other ear, but when I plug them into my phone, I can only hear the music in my “good” ear and not on my deaf side anymore! Do you have a solution for this problem?

Thank you! // Yeori

Answer: Hi Yeori!

Fantastic news on the upgrade to Baha 4. You will certainly enjoy the improved hearing experience and sound quality.

Yes, the wireless Phone Clip will transmit the sound in stereo which provides you with a unique situation given that you wear the Baha sound processor on one side. You are quite correct that putting a headphone jack into the socket will override the Bluetooth on the phone. Unfortunately, while you can pair multiple Bluetooth headphones to a phone, many phones are limited to only streaming to one at a time.

There are three straight forward solutions you could try:


1. Connect a Bluetooth splitter to your iPhone or Andoid phone which allows your phone to transmit simultaneously to two Bluetooth devices (Phone Clip and a headphone). Try one from Miccus or Kokkia for example.

2. Use a headphone splitter (such as this one or this one), for two headsets into the headphone socket. Run one cord to a Mini Mic which will then stream to your Baha 4 and have the other output to a standard headphone and then listen with the ear you prefer.


3. You could combine a standard audio cable straight from the phone to your Baha sound processor and the other output to a an earphone.

Do let us know how you get on!

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions