If you’ve been in my car in the last 10 years or so, you’ve probably noticed the stereo sound is only coming from the front driver’s side. This is on purpose, since I spend most of my driving time singing along to my music and needed it to flow to me from the best place possible. Wednesday, I changed it back to the center of the car (on purpose. My ex used to change it back all the time and it made me crazy.)
I’m finding that the car, of all places, has really good sound. Despite the road noise, which is minimal in my car since I drive a Camry Hybrid, I’m really having a good time experimenting with listening to music and my own voice. I have yet to try speech because drive time has always been so much about music for me that it doesn’t occur to me to listen to something else.
So I’ve had a couple of really long commutes this week and have had a lot of time to analyze what I’m hearing. I’ve very heavily noticed much more the distinct differences in tone (or quality or timbre if you prefer) of voices. None of these voices are any “better” or “worse” naturally than others, but to my implant right now voices that are of a “rounded” tone sound much more normal – and all men, women still sound like robots. As examples, John Oates, Dennis DeYoung, & Davy Jones all sound MUCH better than their less-round voice counterparts (Daryl Hall, Tommy Shaw, & Micky Dolenz). I think if these three voices were listened to back to back, the commonality would not just be tone, but a certain way of phrasing and a different amount of vibrato and richness than the other voices.
The Hall & Oates song “Change of Season” happens to have come on in shuffle several times and it’s a song I know intimately, so I picked it as my prime study piece. The first verse is sung by John, followed by a verse sung by Daryl, then the chorus, then a verse where they sing in harmony together. Even though in the verses they are singing the exact same notes, I can understand John just fine but Daryl sounds mushy and tinny. When we get to the verse where they are singing together in harmony, I can tell the two distinct voices and understand the words, but I can’t tell whose voice is whose (I mean, I know who is singing each part, but just with listening I can’t tell). I have no real observations as to why this is, just that it is and I find it fascinating.
Speaking voices, either in the car or not, are not having this distinction – everybody still sounds like Donald Duck or like robots. However, my understanding of that speech has increase dramatically from a week ago (I’m at 70% comprehension as of this morning, when I was at 37% prior to the implant with just my HA). So my audiologist added a new program today that has more “depth” to the sound, which has already greatly increased how well music sounds and has made voices in speech or music sound much more natural. I did lose a lot of my comprehension with this new setting, but I’m going to work with it and see if my brain likes it and will adjust like it did with the less rich program. I still have the previous program, with a little more volume, that I can go back to if this one doesn’t seem to work for speech.
We also made very minor adjustments to the hearing aid – enabling the t-coil for one, so I should be able to at least attempt phone calls without the Compilot if I need to. The Link software that will sync the two devices together is finally on schedule for late October/early November. I’m pretty excited to try it!