If you have read my book Just This Banjo you have some idea of the adventures I had trying to learn my trade despite my hearing issues. People who were following us back in 2009 may also remember the glorious day my BAHA implant was activated and I heard my guitar for the first time.
The initial implant was a single unit. I later had the surgery a second time for a bilateral system that would allow me to hear on the left as well as the right.
Eight months ago the BAHA sound processors I received in 2013 wore out, went out of warranty and went feet up. I have been working and living in near silence all this time. I did not say anything because people tend to overreact to that sort of thing.
A few days ago my father drove me up to Baltimore for a new set of sound processors for my bilateral BAHA. The trip was hard, so my enthusiasm was pretty diminished when I got home.
I have been slowly experimenting with the new devices and I am blown away. The units now have two microphones on the left and right so I now have a normal range of hearing.
The old units just had a single microphone on the side, making it hard to hear in front and behind me.
The new units also have new software that handles noise better. I can stream music from my iPad, and if I had a phone I could use the BHA like a BlueTooth and walk around talking rudely in the supermarket like an asshole – in other words, I could be normal! Whoo!
The real shock was a small wireless microphone. I can use it in a variety of ways to get sound from mixing boards, televisions and such to my BAHA. I can also simply put the mic across the room to increase my range of hearing.
Experimenting with the mic, I put it across the room and started laying my guitar.
Now I have heard my guitar through bone conduction and I have heard it through the staticky microphone of my old BAHA, but this was different. I can hear my own playing and singing better – but the mic also allows me to hear the sound from a different perspective. Where a recording is listening after the fact, this setup allows me to experience my music as I am making it in a way that I never dreamed possible.
It’s funny. I am turning 50 in March. My weight is down, I am slowly getting my mojo back and now I get to rediscover my music in what feels like a whole new light.
I’ll be spending the next few days acclimating to the new sounds. There have been funny moments, but today hearing the way my Dobro handles the bass and treble under my voice. . . well, that was fine. I wish to God Amy was here, but I’ll save this memory to share with her when we meet again.
Now I am off to work. Lets to do until whatever comes next comes next!