Bluetooth: when does stereo vs mono matter?

Between the TV/computer/etc and intermediate device and the hearing aids, some manufacturers claim they deliver “stereo” to the hearing aids whereas others claim they only deliver mono. Examples of the former are Rexton Cobalts/Kirkland Signatures, Resound Futures. Examples of the latter: Bernafon Verites and Veras.

a) when, and how much, does it matter?
b) how does it affect the quality of experience while watching movies over TV/DVD…? skype tele-conference calls? ipod or equivalent usage?


It matters in the sme way as it matters whether you prefer your music in true stereo or in mono. Remember the first time you listened to stereo headphones? The only time stereo does not matter in on phone calls or skype as the signal is mono in any case.

It’s been so long since I first listened to music in stereo that I can’t quite recall what mono sounds like. I guess another way to look at this would be: are there compelling reasons to opt for mono quality when stereo is available? I can’t come up with any…


I think that mono is good when there is no target signal, e.g. telephone receiver available to the offside ear and the instruments copy the sound to that ear. Otherwise, you want to hear what there is to hear.


Notice Oticon only offers a bluetooth in mono. Does anyone know how this mono sounds with TV. I really don’t think it matters if I listen to talk shows and news in stereo or mono. As for other shows I don’t have surround sound or any external speakers so wouldn’t mono be very much the same?

I understand how a bluetooth device would need to claim that is operates in Mono as the neckloop receives the bluetooth streaming signal from a transmitting antenna on the T.V. or whatever. Once the neckloop receives the bluetooth signal then it converts it into a magnetic field that is picked up equally by each hearing aid’s telecoil. So therefore must be mono.

But just a typical wearing of two hearing aids, one in each ear, how could that NOT always be stereo. Stereo is the broadcasting of at least a two channel signal so that it sounds like it is coming from multiple sources, isn’t that what really happens with two ears? i.e. with two hearing aids?

What am I missing here?

You are missing that with mono both ears are hearing the exact same source. So there is no separation, the same sound is being fed electronically into both ears. With stereo, each ear gets fed an electronic signal, but the signal that is split into left and right sides … which also gives the center channel when combined. The brain deciphers those signals and what each ear is hearing. If they both get the same exact signal … no differential, no sound stage, no separation … mono not stereo.

The thread seems to have drifted a little from what you seem to be asking. It’s been a while since I got my aids and more Bluetooth aids & options have come into the market but I can tell you the reasoning I used when buying mine which are bluetooth, but mono even tho a stereo Bluetooth HA was available to me.

While I really wanted the Stereo, I got Oticons because even tho it was mono (delivered to both ears). I chose them over the phonaks which had true stereo because the Epoqs were a better match for my hearing loss. Also, the Oticon streamer acted as both a Bluetooth reciever as well as a remote control so I did not have to buy or carry another device. And, at the time, the oticon streamer products cost less than phonaks.

I still wish that Oticon would come out with a stereo solution, but overall I decided that the primary reasoning in my HA choice should be how the HAs made me hear speech at work, home and on the phone. Everything else (streaming music & surround sound) was gravy and not essential.

I guess I’m saying that the desire for stereo should not be the compelling reason for an HA choice, rather, how the HA compensates for your hearing loss is. Course if you can have both, go for it.

IMO it’s much easier to reproduce mono than stereo with good fidelity, particularly with the small “speakers” RITE microphones represent and with what I assume is a compressed Bluetooth/wireless signal. I have stereo Bluetooth/wireless HAs in the form of Aleras. They’re good wirelessly transmitting TV programming and telephones, but sound lousy compared to stereo speakers or full-size headphones when connected to an iPod or other pure music device. It’s hard enough to get good fidelity in small headphones, let alone even smaller earbuds, let alone even smaller hearing aids receiving a wireless signal. Bottom line: don’t expect much from stereo Bluetooth.

The music widening feature in the Agils simulates stereo by algorithmically separating the signal in the HI’s themselves. Its not the same as getting the original stereo signal, but its more pleasing than mono.


Having tried both the Phonak Smart S IX’s and the Agil Pro’s with music, there’s no question in my mind that stereo is far more satisfying when listening to music. But (and there’s always a but), there’s just no bass at all in the Phonak’s, so while the sound is more open (has a much larger soundstage), it’s also kind of thin and bright. The Power Bass on the Agil’s really helps on this score, but you really can’t do bass properly in hearing aids, esp. open fits.

Bottom Line: I think that if my only criterion was streaming music, I’d prefer the Phonak’s by a small amount (I have both now, and find myself wanting the Phonak’s back when I’m listening to the Agil’s).


p.s. As other posters have said, for phone and TV, there’s not going to be much difference.

p.p.s. One other small advantage to the Phonak’s is the ability to customize the sound program for streaming, which is not possible on the Agil’s.

I wonder if it’s better to just use stereo headphones directly for people with light to moderate hearing loss, say, 30-60db uniformly across frequency range, when listening to music. There are bluetooth adapters for transmitting TV/sterero sound. For better sound, the generic bluetooth transmitter/adapter can be connected with a headphone ampilier/equlaizer. Wouldn’t it be better to just use a bluetooth headphone or even a wired headphone (without hearing aids) instead of going through the stereo/TV/computer->bluetooth transmitter->HA bluetooth adapter(mono or stereo)->hearing aids route?

Yes, shng, as a user in that category, that’s what I prefer. Forget the Bluetooth/wireless; it’s just not good for music, IMO. I either listen to speakers or wear over-the-ear headphones with my BTE aids on and in, and it sounds fine. And I keep the volume significantly lower (peaking around 80 dB) than I used to, since too much loud music is a big part of how I got into this mess in the first place!

Hi hamjor, you said you’re using headphones with aids on and in, but how would it sound like with just the headphones and without aids on and in? I’m trying to set up an environment for my mom to listen to TV and radio/stereo/music. Her hearing loss is a little more severe than yours–with about 40-50 in the lower end and 60 in the higher end on the audiogram, and it seems to be ok for her to just wear (wired) headphones to listen to TV. I’m also shopping for her a pair of aids. I’ve looked into a few high-priced blue-tooth capable sets, but it seems to be pointless to pursue those high-priced solutions if wired headphone and/or direct bluetooth/headphone suits her fine or better than those high-priced HA solutions.

I assume that this conversations refers to the title, “Bluetooth,” and does not address the “music” program that many new HAs have. So for high fidelity, it would seem that I will still listen to the speakers or headphones but may have an enhanced experience with the music program, right?

BTW, my experience with speakers vs. headphones is that my audiophile speakers provide better highs and mids and the headphones provide better bass. The headphones are a challenge to use as they i don’t hear the high frequencies when I don’t use my HAs and I have feedback when using the HAs. [Sorry to get a little off topic…]

Music programs for digital hearing aids aren’t necessarily designed to shape the music differently from voices; rather, Music mode is often set in such a way as to reduce feedback. The problem is that digital noise suppression programming which works great with voices in digital aids can trigger feedback when exposed to certain musical tones, particularly sustained, loud notes of certain pitches from flutes, bells, sopranos, violins, trumpets, alto saxes, etc. Audiologists know this phenomenon as “entrainment.” To the hearing aid wearer, it sounds like extra notes faintly layered on top of the actual notes being played and is a form of feedback. So Music mode will often be set by default to disable the digital feedback suppression which ironically can make things worse with music. Ear molds can also solve this issue.

I find that without ear molds or Music mode, entrainment is more noticeable with live music or listening through loudspeakers than listening with headphones, but as always, everyone’s mileage may vary.

It matters if you like music. aids can make fairly good music if the source is good. If you use dei boots and plug them into a portable cd player you will be reasonably happy. the difference between mono and stereo cords to the dei is very clearly audible. it’s like opening a new world.
that said.
I have oticon with the streemer. I have plugged the streemer into the cd player and it is not as good as the dei with mono. the streamer is mono. i believe this is due to the induction loop it uses to get the information to the aids.
that said. If i’m going to be listening for a few minutes, or need to be mobileI’ll go with the bluetooth. if i’m at home ar in the car, I’ll take out the aids and pump up the volume. If I’m on my motorcycle, for short, I’ll do bluetooth and streem pandora from my phone. If I’m on a long ride, i’ll use the dei from the satellite radio.

I am new and joining in late in this thread but my limited experience with my Bluetooth is mixed. Its great for most TV but don’t find it very useful for movies.

I tried new release movie and as people went back and forth across the screen it was switching from ear to ear. For instance, if the person was on right, it was in my right ear, and if they switched camera angles and same person was continuing the sentence on left it went to left ear and back and forth. Finally I had to turn off the Bluetooth.

It would be better if in the case above I go just go to mono. My TV does not allow that! Or the Hearing Air or the Bluetooth feed box could be turned to Mono.

Anyway, not a big deal with me as I use closed captions most of time to supplement my watching.

I have Wi110s