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Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor Review: Listening in the Real World

December 3rd, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Written by Crystine Kim

On November 20, 2013, just two days before my 21st birthday, I had an appointment at John Tracy Clinic to upgrade to the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors.  I first received my cochlear implant in June 2012 and then I received a second cochlear implant this past June 2013.  I have been wearing the Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors since my first cochlear implant was activated.  When I arrived at the appointment, I was so excited about trading in my Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors for Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors.  When my audiologist showed the kit bag with the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors, she said, “Are you ready for it?”

Nucleus 6_0003

I said, “Yes, I am ready to have them!”   However, first, we needed to do some MAP adjustments for one of my ears because it needed more power since my last MAPping in September.  Then, the audiologist transferred the MAPs to the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors.  The moment when the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors were turned on, I noticed right away that the sounds sounded completely different from the Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors. The first thing I heard were background noises, which included maintenance men hammering on the doors, sweeping leaves, mowing lawns, and moving boxes.  Then my audiologist asked, “How does that sound to you? Crystine? Crystine?”  At that moment, I was thinking about how I was hearing differently.  I was noticing that the background noises sounded less mechanical and my audiologist’s speech sounded more clear.  It is very important to note that I do not have any of the new software, SCAN, Noise Reduction, and Wind Noise Reduction because they are not approved by the FDA yet.  Therefore, all the differences in quality of hearing that I am noticing is probably due to changes in the microphone design or the computer chip.

“Could you repeat that sentence again, please?” I said.

“How does that sound to you?” said my audiologist.

“That’s crazy, this is better than with N5! What happened to the background noises? Did they become softer and better?”

“No, no changes in the background and how do I sound?”

“You sound a lot better with that!”

It was so exciting to notice immediately the improved quality of sounds in the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors!  My audiologist then shared some basic information about the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors such as putting batteries on them would turn on the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors by itself.   Therefore, I don’t have to worry about pushing any button to turn on or off. All I have to do is to attach the batteries, put the sound processors on my head, and then go. If I want to turn off, I can just take off the batteries.

I find the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors are very easy to use because they have bigger buttons, and I can press them more easily like a flick of the light switch unlike Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors, which I had to push really hard with a lot of pressure.

As my audiologist and I continued to talk, I noticed that the sounds were becoming more crisp and rich.

After the appointment, when I was heading to school on a two hour bus ride, I was continuing to discover more differences in the quality of sounds between the Nucleus® 5 and Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors.  For example I was hearing coins disposable machine ringing in public buses for the first time.

As soon as I arrived at school, I had to give a presentation to a freshman class because I am currently involved with Date/Acquaintance Rape Prevention Program to educate, raise awareness and give tips on sexual assault and rape. I was anxious about giving the presentation because I had just upgraded to new sound processors. But as soon, I said, “Hello, my name is Crystine and my partner is… and we are part of…” I found that I was hearing myself very clearly and loudly, and thus, I became more confident. At the end of the presentation, when the students asked some questions, I was able to respond without any difficulties because the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors would focus on the voice automatically.

After about 12 hours since activating the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors, I continued to notice new sounds and improvements.  For example, I heard some scary and rumbling sounds in the buses as it moved, which I never heard before. As I talked with some people, understanding speech became easier and people’s voices sounded more fluid and smooth. I also experimented in listening to music, and I noticed changes in the instrument sounds.  I hear more melodies and singers’ voices sound richer.

What I also love about the Nucleus® 6 is the ear hooks because they really help keep the sound processors from falling off of my ears, and they are more comfortable. The ear hook material is different from Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor.   It is made of rubber, and I believe that is what is helping to keep the sound processors on my ears and also making the ear hook feel more comfortable. The Nucleus® 5 Sound Processor ear hook was made of plastic, and so, it always felt slippery and my sound processors were falling off my ears often.

Two days later, when I was in my World Religions class and my teacher was teaching, I found myself not distracted by the background noises. I also found that I was not really paying so much attention to my sign language interpreter, which I think it is amazing because I can look away from the interpreter and focus more on my professor.

Later on, I was with a friend who whistles often. With the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors, his whistle sounded different from what I heard with the Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors. His whistle no longer sounded pitchy or metallic, and it was more pleasant to listen.

When I celebrated my 21st birthday with my friends, we went to an overwhelmingly noisy restaurant.   While eating at the restaurant and talking to friends, I immediately noticed the improvements in the quality of sounds. When I talked with a person, the voices didn’t sound too rough and the background noise was reduced.  I noticed that my sound processors were adjusting the sounds automatically.  The processor focused on the speeches anywhere I was facing. The music at the restaurant sounded great, and I was appreciating music more.  I found that it was amazing that I could have a conversation while hearing music. When I ordered the food,  I didn’t really have to ask the waiter to repeat.

After the birthday celebration, I went to a party with a friend of mine. When I first arrived, the first thing I heard was a DJ playing music with beats I never heard before. With the Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors, I didn’t hear much of the beats in the music. That is another improvement!

During the Thanksgiving break, I celebrated both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.  I helped a friend of mine who is also a bilateral cochlear implant recipient, prepare a Hanukkah party.  While preparing, I was able to hear her two daughters’ conversations while playing with each other better than I was able to with my Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors. At the same time, I also enjoyed listening to my friend speaking to me with her sweet French accent while cooking potatoes latkes.  As deaf people often find holiday gatherings stressful due to difficulties in hearing conversations, I didn’t find myself in this situation.  I was able to enjoy listening to my friend’s husband telling his stories to his guest and understand what he said very clearly.

While I was playing Candy Crush on my phone, I heard, “Crystine, would you want some quiches?”

At that moment, I felt so thrilled because I was hearing and understanding what my friend was saying with ease without looking at her.  With the Nucleus® 5 Sound Processors, I could not do it.

Upgrading to the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors is best birthday gift I ever received because they provide me a richer quality of life.  I strongly recommend and encourage every Nucleus® cochlear implant recipients to upgrade to the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processors because they really do improve our listening experience even though we still do not have the new software yet. They will be very surprised with the background noises and better speech clarity.

IMG_20130903_124606Crystine Kim is a 21 year-old bilateral cochlear implant recipient. She was born profoundly deaf and received first cochlear implant at age 19 and then a second cochlear implant at age 20. She was born in the Philippines and raised in San Francisco Bay Area.  She is currently a 3rd year college student at California State University, Northridge and majoring in Psychology with hopes of becoming a disability service counselor . She uses her voice to communicate and is fluent in American Sign Language.

*DISCLAIMER* As stated in the disclaimer on the bottom of the homepage of Cochlear Implant Online, neither CIO nor its contributors are paid, or endorsed, by any cochlear implant manufacturer.


Mariah A

December 3, 2013 at 3:20 am

I have the Nucleus Freedom (really old- I know) and I really want the Nucleus 6… I talked to my audiologist but she told us (me and my parents) to wait. With this post I am more excited for improved hearing- but why does my audiologist tell me to wait? :(


December 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Mariah – Which internal device do you have? If you have Nucleus 24 or Nucleus 22, you will have to wait because Nucleus 6 will not be released to those with older internal devices until early 2015.


December 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

I have the Nucleus 24 Contour Advanced, supposedly would have to be compatible with the Nucleus6 processor not? I am in ways to make the exchange of upgrade.

Badly I can wait!


December 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Alixa – Nucleus 6 will not be available to Nucleus 24 recipients until early 2015.

Mariah A

December 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I have the Nucleus Freedom internal device. :/


December 8, 2013 at 11:06 am

Rachel you deceived itself, here it is the information that I received from my audiologista: The new N6, for already, is compatible with all the people implanted with the implantation Nucleus Freedom CI24RE (CA). All the other previous implantations N24 alone will be able to use the N6 from August of 2014.


December 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Alixa – On Cochlear’s website – – it states:

“Q. I have a Nucleus 24 Implant. When can I upgrade to the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor?

A. The timeframe for the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor release for Nucleus 24 Implant recipients depends on research and development timelines, manufacturing processes, and FDA approval procedures. We estimate the latest technology for Nucleus 24 Implant recipients to be available in early 2015. We encourage Nucleus 24 Implant recipients with an obsolete sound processor to consider upgrading to the Cochlear Nucleus 5 Sound Processor today to take advantage of the current, latest sound processing technology available. To learn more about the Nucleus 5 Sound Processor Upgrade, please visit the Nucleus 5 Upgrade section here on the online Support Center. We will post new information as it becomes available either at our online Support Center or on Facebook at”


December 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Maria – There is no reason you cannot upgrade to the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor as it’s already compatible with your internal device. As long as your health insurance will pay for it, you should be able to upgrade it.


December 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm

alguien me puede indicar alguna direccion en miami USA para comprar unas baterias recargables para el implante cochlear PROCESADOR DE SONIDO NUCLEUS CP 810 ???


January 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Puede comprar los at su audiologo o a –EAR

Valerie mcavoy

January 3, 2014 at 9:17 pm

My son has the freedom one too but for the past year we are going throu a lot of batteries so I think I will need to phone them and ask them for another appointment .


February 4, 2014 at 3:16 am

My son has had the N5 for 4 years now, I didn’t think we could even consider upgrading yet, is it common for insurance companies to help with an upgrade?

February 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Yes, you should be eligible for an upgrade (but shh! don’t say “upgrade,” say replacement… more about how to argue for that HERE), if not now, very soon. It’s worth talking to your audiologist about the possibility of getting the N6 for your son. Each new processor has better features that could improve his ability to hear.


March 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

It would have been good to do the comparison between Nucleus 5 and Nucleus 6 without the new MAP, since re-mapping makes it hard to distinguish the effects of the new processor.

Catherine Berger

March 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I was just reading about the N6 and it suggest saying “Replacement” in order to receive the N6. I have the N5 “Upgrade” which is not to my satisfaction as the T-coil or microphones are not placed the same as the Freedom. I have the internal Freedom.

Is there any chance I can get the N6 Replacement? That is if the T-coil or microphones can pick up my TV LOOP.

Also, I have Medicare and Anthem as my supplement and the “Upgrade N5″ did not come with the accessories. I had to pay extra for an adaptor.

March 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

How can I find out what nucleus I Have? 22 or 24? I have nucleus 5

April 11, 2014 at 12:45 am

Peter, you will want to look back over your paperwork to see what kind of internal implant you have. You can also call your audiologist. N5 refers to the outer piece, the processor. The actual implant in your cochlea will have a different name. I hope that helps!

April 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

Catherine, if you prefer the N6 to the N5, it may be worthwhile just to wait it out until you’re eligible for that upgrade replacement. The t-coil function on the processor should do well with a loop system for the TV.