Optimising hearing aids for listening to music


Hearing aids are set primarily to best hear conversation, which means that they are not really well-adjusted for listening to music. — dpa

Songs on the radio help carry you through the day; you live for your karaoke sessions with friends; or your showers are always an impromptu singing session.

Then you notice you’re becoming hard of hearing, which, especially for a music lover, can be extremely frustrating.

“People who are hard of hearing hear different tones variedly well, depending on which auditory cells are damaged,” says Germany’s Federal Guild of Hearing Aid Acousticians president Marianne Frickel.

“They can no longer perceive the entire sound.”

In the beginning, high-pitched musical instruments and singing voices often sound different.

But deep bass sounds can also be affected.

If you hope a hearing aid will immediately make music sound like it used to, you’ll probably be disappointed.

“First, the brain has to relearn to sort out the many signals it’s suddenly receiving again, thanks to the hearing aid,” Frickel says.

Music heard through a hearing aid frequently sounds considerably louder than the wearer remembers it – and also unfamiliar, and perhaps strange.

“It helps to start wearing the hearing aid right away in your daily life as a matter of course,” she advises.

“This way you’ll gradually get used to it and your enjoyment from listening will return more quickly.”

The hearing aid’s settings play an important role as well.

The acoustician tunes the device primarily to enable the wearer to understand conversations well.

“This setting doesn’t always result in an optimal sound experience when you listen to music, however,” she says.

But in most cases, professionals can configure the hearing aid with a programme that gets the most out of music.

As Frickel explains, the programme amplifies high-pitched sounds so that violins and flutes, for example, are accentuated.

Music programmes often have a drawback though: “They’re geared to the pure, full sound, which is why feedback suppression is often deactivated.”

Feedback occurs when sound waves exiting the auditory canal strike the microphone of the hearing aid again, causing a screeching or whistling sound.

But feedback risk when listening to music can be lowered, according to Frickel, by special earmoulds with small holes that can be custom-made by professionals.

Here’s something else that music lovers with a hearing aid should know: Some opera houses and concert halls have an audio induction loop system allowing direct, interference-free transmission of the live music to wearers of a telecoil-equipped hearing aid, so do ask the venue beforehand if you are attending a musical event. – dpa

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Hearing , hearing aid , music , senior health


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