Achieving quality sound when one has hearing problems is a bit of an oxymoron but I’ve had interest in quality sound reproduction for the last 60 years so still continue to try to achieve the best possible result despite hearing disabilities.
For some time now I’ve been battling with the problem of improved intelligibility for our HT system which is used for TV as well as DVDs etc and have finally achieved success.
Obtaining a mediocre analog left/right signal is not such a challenge (or even mono from Bernafon gear) but I wanted a better quality digital signal to send to a set up with a quality DAC in a shelf beside where I sit. But many Audio-video items these days do not have digital audio outputs so it becomes necessary to extract that signal from the HDMI out. This can pose problems because of the protocols involved with HDMI technology.
The HDMI extractor I first tried was a Monoprice but it did not work but ultimately the more expensive Atlona AT-DT570 did - http://atlona.com/product/at-hd570/ . Another problem that intervened was finding an optical to RCA digital convertor. A few sourced via e-bay did not work but I finally found one that did.
So far so good but a new problem arose. The audio from the speakers needed for others in the room was out of synch with the audio coming to me via the headphones using the new setup. What was needed was a digital delay unit to slow down the sound coming to the headphones. Such a unit was found at http://www.js-technology.com/store/category.php?id_category=9 and was set for a 35 ms delay.
So I now have a quality analog output for headphones so I can listen to TV or whatever from the HT system. However the headphones do block most of the sound from the speakers and a better alternative is to use ear hooks. http://www.tecear.com/Music_Link.htm These allow most of the surround sound via speakers to be heard but add an excellent quality to speech to be induced into the Bernafon Acriva hearing aids. I can now finally understand 95% of the speech :owithout the need for subtitles. (Unfortunately subtitles are not always the answer as sometimes they can be confusingly badly out of synch with the video).
But the above setup is not satisfactory for serious listening to classical music via CDs etc. (And sadly, live music is now impossible to enjoy). Hearing aids are not designed for music so headphone listening to it is better without them. I have a dedicated headphone system for music listening and have found the best answer is to use a 15 band graphic equaliser to lift the upper frequencies. Nothing will restore frequencies above 6 khz for me but the equaliser does restore some of the sparkle to the music near this point and makes listening more rewarding.
Hearing loss can be frustrating, both to the individual and those trying to communicate. Hearing aids are designed to help with this and can be successful although only moderately so for me because my upper frequency loss of around 12 db per octave above 500 hz is quite severe. It appears to be quite linear so the graphic equaliser helps and is most likely genetic as my late mother also suffered deafness. But enjoying music is a challenge not really being addressed by the hearing aid manufacturers so the efforts described above become necessary. Hopefully this post might give inspiration to others in a similar situation. I’ve been playing around with audio gear most of my life so feel free to make contact if you think I might be able to help.