Difference between sensing quality headphones and hearing aids

Part of my experience, some would call it “problem”, is like many, I started out on the cheap. By that I mean I tried and returned a pair of $400 hearing assist devices from Amazon 3 years ago. 4 months ago I tried a pair of MD ($1,000) for 4 weeks. Always sounded raspy, exaggerated highs, very unnatural sound. Some might say my brain is excessively slow to adapt. I would say either the programming didn’t fit my needs or I’m too picky.

In the meantime I tried a pair of Nuheara buds - totally occluded for good bass, pretty decent for hearing assist, but not designed for wearing more than a few hours a day. The battery life is terrible and they stick out of my ears so much I look like the flying nun, and one of my dogs whose ears stick out sideways. But streamed audio is fantastic, for the 3 hours the battery lasts.

I’m looking forward to the Phonaks I’ll be fitted with in a couple of weeks. I understand they are among the better ones for balanced audio/music. I read somewhere that for best music sound there is a balloon-shaped whatever you call it on the receiver that goes in the canal. I should ask my fitter about that.

I hope what I wrote above won’t trigger anyone. This is a tough crowd.

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Well…I said much the same thing. But having been online for too many years, I also know that different people can say the same thing differently that will click with different people.

I’m delighted to hear that you progressed through PSAP’s and are now intending to try out hearing aids.
To move in to fully and properly adjusted hearing aids will give you a lot of the sounds that you say are crappy now…again. Unless you tell the fitter to dial those frequencies down. Then it’s a case of why bother. There are many parts of speech that happen in those frequencies. Dialing those down won’t help understanding that speech. Thus the adjustment. The brain needs to learn that that will become its new normal. Take them out and the brain will recognize “oh right…no hearing aids…and to think I used to think that was normal”.

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Yeah, more like “lucky wife.” I wouldn’t be getting anything if it weren’t for the VA.

With me high end low end headphones all sound distorted to me because of my hearing.
My aids sound distorted.
No aids sound distorted.

I enjoy much streaming music daily. I have acute (hard) hearing issues. I have always listened to music every day. My hearing loss is the entire high frequency (treble). I can experience complete success listening but must use headphones AND keeping my hearing aids in place and on. Deep bass from the headphones and necessary treble from the aids. Without either the music sucks. My head phones are ‘over (around) the ear’ type. To eliminate feedback, the headphones are filled with soft fabric in the recessed area of the headphones. Very good results!


Just read comments on ok headphones versus crappy hearing aids & totally agree with complaint. (I have severe hearing loss)
I am on my 3rd set of hearing aids (since jan2021) trying to get decent speech. I have noticed that headphones definitely do better job in providing decent speech than hearing aids.
After returning my 2nd set of hearing aids in may, the audiologist gave me a gadget called confort duette (HEARING DEVICE) made by phonak. the speech sounds sound were decent compared to my former hearing aids. the duette is wired unit with headphone & mike. except for wire limitation, sounded ok.
dont know, perhaps real ear mesurement is not cutting it?
I am currently trying octicon xceed hearing aids which often sound screechy.
I never experienced screechy with the headpnones???
Inquiring minds would like a answer.

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Well, we are not alone. I find it amazing that there are some folks out there who just because they don’t share the experience or opinion of others find it necessary to rip others a new one. Narrow outlook and small minds, I suppose.

But a couple of folks who responded to this thread did give some good reasons why tiny hearing aids cost so much and often don’t do everything we wished they would. Here are my takeaways:

  • The consumer demands minituration. An awful lot of components are crammed into a tiny space, including the power supply. This greatly increases cost and challenges performance. I bet if consumers accepted large, over the ear cans that weighed half a pound each, their effectiveness would be better and their price would be lower. But most of us don’t want to go out in public with such devices.
  • Both the microphones and speaker are included within that tiny device. Their close proximity creates challenges: Feedback, frequency response, and distortion related.
  • The design emphasis of hearing aids compared to other listening assistive devices and headphones is focused on the speech comprehension frequencies between 500 and 4,000 Hz, as well as compression/expansion, frequency shifting, and noise reduction to enhance speech comprehension. A flat, well-rounded, totally distortion-free frequency response is not the primary design goal. Adjusting performance to unique hearing loss is. That “adjustment” process that manufacturers leave to “others” (mainly licensed providers), can be the achilles heel of even the best device.
  • With such tiny devices, regular maintenence is essential to sustain prescibed performance. The tiniest particle or smallest wax or moisture buildup will create distortion, change frequencies or reduce the volume. Plus miniturized components do fail over time or go out of spec with changes in temperature and humidity.

That is a good and useful summary. Thank you @gfmucci !

Good summary. I think adding enough gain to make frequencies that are now inaudible, negates the possibility of a flat response or a natural sound (until one gets used to it) Compression is also the antithesis of natural.

not sure I agree with statement 'Adjusting performance to unique hearing loss is PRIMARY GOAL…
you could be right technically in their design. but in the way companies manage their products is a problem.
I just got a reply from octicon . I emailed them asking if there was a way to self program at home / tweek the algorithm to get a better sound.

Thank you for contacting Oticon. I’m sorry you are having difficulty with your hearing aids. As the hearing instrument manufacturer, Oticon, is not licensed to assist patients directly regarding hearing aid programming or audiological issues. As a regulated medical service, hearing health care can only be provided by state-licensed hearing care providers.

Please contact your Hearing Care Provider to discuss having your hearing devices adjusted. Your provider can also contact our Audiology Technical Support Team if they require additional assistance with fine tuning your hearing devices.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again. Stay safe and have a wonderful day!

Consumer Support Specialist

to mfg

On Thu, Jun 17 at 5:30 PM , art

is there any way to self tune the xceed hearing aids at home on a pc or cell phone? I dont mean just volume. I find that what sounds ok in audiologist office is not ok in various home environments.



so, how interested are HA mfg. in having their customer adjust the devise to get the HIS best individual fitting for his hearing problem?

I suspect that speaker and earbud manufacturers are more interested in the “self-adjustment” market than traditional hearing aid manufacturers are. Hearing aid manufacturers are likely locked into the audiologist profession by agreements and tradition. With the entry of the likes of Bose and Jabra entering the hearing assistance marketplace I expect an expanding trend toward user-adjustable HA’s. The Nuheara aids I wrote about in previous posts is one example of this. HA manufacturers seem to be behind the curve in the areas of digital/Bluetooth/app/software technology compared to consumer audio providers.

Check out the DIY section.


It can be a bit of a slog getting used to new hearing aids. I’ve worn some form or type of aid since 1980. Started off with a single BTE, then on to binary clam shell types, ITCs and more recently RICs. Every time I get new devices I go through an adjustment period. As the technology improves (i.e. analog to digital) and processors increase capabilities, my brain needs, again, to not just learn to hear new sounds but make sense of what I hear. Please, DON’T get discouraged, work with your audiologist, and remember, hearing aids are not glasses, we won’t get “20/20” hearing ever again; but better, much, much better than going without. Like you, I use the VA. My hearing is so bad I’ve been rated as 100% disabled. My audiologist has and continues to really work with me to give me the best quality of life possible. Again, don’t get discouraged.


Yes, darthvagrant, that’s my experience entirely: bass straight to ear (vent or dislodged mould) and aids sending the necessary EQ boost (plus some comfort compression) for the high. Music source is usually classical CD played on good speakers.
But, at risk of inflaming some people on this thread, I will add that I cling to my ancient BTE Phonaks. Trying a modern pair, different make, I was treated to totally inappropriate syllabic compression, random shifts in stereo image, warbling mid-range.
Some of this was remedied by my audiologist who, unusually in UK, actually understands the importance of music and how to programme for it. But even then, too-deep compression, not matched between left and right, and a sharp microphone resonance spoiling female singers.
While speech comprehension has been improved by new algorithms, all hearing aids are by no means equal, and music shows that up!

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