I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Mudcats are the best!
I've had impressions taken for in-the-ear Siemens Signia Digital 2-channel programmable aids. They spozedly on a special purchase deal until the end of February, and they will run me about $3800 for the pair. The top-of-the line digital programmable aids would be around $4800 the pair. I'm going to try the Signias and see how they do for me...ANYTHING will be an improvement over my linear analog BTE aids from 1987. If the Signias don't cut it, my audiologist is more than willing to help me figure out what will work.
I go for my fitting the first week of March...I'll post an update and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I'm still interested in what other musicians are doing with hearing aids.
To answer some of the questions that have come up on the thread:
My left ear is better than my right--so Reynaud always plays on my left side when we're playing together, so I can hear him better. I don't have a problem when I'm playing music with others explaining that I don't hear well, and asking for their assistance with various things. I don't mind questions about my hearing (or lack thereof) from folks who want to make music with me.
I have found my current hearing aids are more of a nuisance than an aid when I'm playing/singing...they simultaneously distort sound and muffle it while amplifying it. This is a function of a combination of analog linear signal processing and ear channel occlusion.
Frets help--I like to plunk around on the fiddle, but I could never play it for real. I wish I had "frets" on my voice, so I could be sure I was always *close* to the right note!
As for tactfully getting someone to have his or her hearing checked, I haven't a clue--my problem was diagnosed in the school system when I was in first grade, and tact was not a concern. The conversation about hearing might be a good place to start...and explore *gently* the idea of getting an evaluation done. It's completely painless and mostly boring. "Press this button when you hear a sound" for about 90 minutes in a soundproof box, followed by "repeat these words" for abount an hour.
Thank you all again!