Headphones for the hearing impaired

I wear hearing aids and they work fine for normal use, but are poor for music. As a solution for music, I thought headphones with an equalizer to boost the higher frequencies should work, instead of the HAs. I’ve been searching the Web and am unable to find an item that will be satisfactory for this. Does anyone here know about a product like this?

What I’m looking for more specifically is:

  • Earphones preferably over-the-ear (but earbuds OK if they can stay put)
  • Equalizer with high frequency boost of at least 20 db, preferably with enough bands to somewhat mimic the audiogram curve
  • Will be used without my HAs
  • Noise cancellation is not important
  • Pref Bluetooth connectivity

There are lots of options out there but I haven’t found any that can do the above. If anyone knows of a product like this, pls advise.

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I find the best music listening to be with my HA’s in my ears with over the ear bluetooth headphones, I use the Sony WH-1000XM4 … there is a newer version now the XM5
Most of the over the ear headphone that I have tried seem to over emphasize the bass sound .
It is hard for anyone to give you advice without knowing your hearing loss … post your audoigram.


Thanks for the reply. My HAs are the problem. They distort the sound. I can’t use them for good quality sound. The sound is good out of stereo speakers, but lacks the higher pitches. So I need to boost the higher pitches. Don’t I?

Or maybe get better HAs…

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What aids do you have ?
my audio-gram is not much different than yours … But I am not a musician … I just enjoy listening to it. Streamed to my HA’s via bluetooth or most of the time I use a Roger ON connected to my computer … using the over the ear sony headphones all give a very different sound to the music. but they are all enjoyable to my ears :slight_smile:

The Roger ON gives me the best balance of sound … without over doing the bass.

I have KS7’s. Those aids distort music.

time for an upgrade … if you can afford it … I have the Phonak Lumity 90’s

Last year at the audiology appt I complained about the sound quality of the KS7s, and the audiologist didn’t take the opportunity to suggest a better set.

It’s time to see another HCP! Costco’s usually have more than one, or go to a different store.
Idk if those older HAs offer a Music Program, but if so, you need it added by the fitter.

You should get over ear headphones with large earcups and DO wear you aids with them .
If your aids are programmed with a music program, EQ won’t be needed, unless you’re a basshead!
If you prefer good sound, and bluetooth wireless, I suggest looking into the Sennheiser Momentum 3 or 4 range.
Tbh, those aids are 7 years old, and probably should be updated, if possible.

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I have found the best music listening experience through the headphones eq settings for music on my iPhone 13 and Apple wired earbuds. Audio Visual settings - Headphone Accommodations allows the use of your audiogram to boost the needed frequencies and create a custom profile. Your audiogram can be entered manually or by using a couple of hearing testing apps that are free from the Apple app store.

You will need to also check which headphones are compatible. They only include several Apple and Beats headphones and earbuds. These do include Bluetooth versions.

Previously, I had used a graphic equalizer app called EQ by Elephant Candy. It’s no longer available. I have also used one called Bass Booster with some success. However, I think that the iPhone custom settings and Apple earbuds are the best solution so far. At least for me.

If you’re an Android phone user, this obviously isn’t a way to get to acceptable audio. I have seen a few equalizer programs on the Google Play store but can’t speak to their effectiveness.

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@flashb1024 Thanks, I will have to try to get that to work. In music mode, the sound is better but sometimes when I twitch my nose or yawn, I get squeals of feedback. Maybe updated aids will help a bit.

@okra Some time ago I was reading something about smartphone equalizers. The guy said frequencies may appear to be boosted, but actually all the other ones are attenuated. It has to be like that because there’s a ceiling on the phone’s audio output. So a smartphone EQ reduces volume, which increases noise. I don’t have experience with it myself and don’t know how bad it would be.

I appreciate the comments. I better make an appt with Costco and see what the audiologist says.

You most likely won’t find headphones that have built-in equalizer. You can use an equalizer app, but most likely they won’t boost to the gain level you need. Even if you find one that can give you that much boost, it’s not that straightforward because the gain you need will vary depending on the input volume level. For soft input level, you will need more gain, for moderate input level, you won’t need as much gain, and for loud input level, you’ll even need less gain. This is called gain compression, because hearing loss cannot be compensated with linear gains.

For example, if you can find an equalizer that can amplify up to your worst loss, which is 70 dB (and you won’t), you don’t want a 60 dB input level to be amplified with an additional 70 dB, because this will add up to 130 dB and probably blow your ear drum. But an input level of 10 or 20 dB may warrant a 70 dB at that frequency of 3 KHz to cross your hearing threshold at that frequency so you can recognize the sound. This is why using just an equalizer on headphones to compensate for music listening wouldn’t work well in the first place, because

  1. there’s no equalizer that can compensate much more than around 25 dB, and

  2. the linear gain equalizer does not have the smart to do wide dynamic range compression (see screenshot below as an example) like most hearing aids are designed to do.

Your best bet is to get a decent pair of hearing aids with the Telecoil option. Then with the hearing aids on your ears, put them in the telecoil mode and put the headphones over on top of them. The HAs will then amplify your music accordingly and appropriately to compensate for your hearing loss, and you can overcome the lack of low bass limitation that the HAs cannot give you the kind of low bass performance that the headphones can, because you still have decent low frequency hearing to enjoy the low bass performance delivered by the headphones straight to your ears to make up for the inadequate bass performance of the HAs.

Another option you can try is the AirPods Pro 2. It has the audiogram accommodation feature that can make up a little bit for your high frequency hearing loss. It won’t sound as nice as the combination HA/headphones solution that I suggested above, but it may make do good enough for you. You just have to try it to decide if it’d float your boat or not. Don’t count on it as a substitute for hearing aids when it comes to hearing environmental sounds in its Transparency mode, though. It’s probably nowhere adequate for your hearing loss in that mode. But the streaming of music may be adequate for you, but again, probably still won’t be as nice as the HAs/headphone combination solution.


Thank you, Volusiano, for the explanation and detail. Yeah, a 70 db gain would be dangerous. But I had figured that a 25 db boost in the treble range would be a good solution, to get a flatter curve and hence a pretty decent sound. That pit at 3K would still be present, but the other frequencies would be reasonable and overall sound might be OK.

And HAs clip transients, don’t they? And limit higher frequencies and have algorithms to kill feedback, all of which distort sound. Maybe those all bypassed in music mode in which case we are good.

Yeah, as long as you need to remember that equalizers are only meant to boost ranges of frequencies to provide extra emphasis to the areas you want to hear more of, but they’re not meant to ALSO do double duty and compensate for your hearing loss as well. That’s a big difference between them, and that’s why if you’re trying to find headphones that have an equalizer so that you can get rid of the HAs to just listen to music on your headphones only and be able to hear the same kind of quality music a normal person can, that would just be a pipe dream.

If you have only moderate hearing loss, then the AirPods Pro 2 (with audiogram accommodation activated) may allow you to get rid of your HAs and still be able to provide you with a good musical experience. But your high frequency loss is a bit more than moderate, although not necessarily full-blown severe yet, so you maybe you can get away with just using the AirPods Pro 2, maybe not. You’d have to try it to find out for yourself. I personally find the AirPods Pro 2 acceptable enough for use in music listening for my severe high frequency loss, but I’m willing to compromise a lot in terms of the inadequate high frequency compensation for my loss for the convenience of just using the AirPods Pro 2, while you may not be willing to compromise as much. It’s a personal decision.

HAs in telecoil mode don’t even allow or employ any of the sound processing like noise reduction or beam forming or transient noise management or compression to avoid high input level sound clipping, or feedback suppression (because there’s no feedback possibility in the telecoil mode anyway). Those processing features are only needed to mold the environmental sounds that reach the HAs’ mics through the air. But the telecoil picks up the sound information directly from the magnetic field generated by headphones’ speakers’ magnets (which use the same magnets on them to drive the cones to create the sound waves through the air). So the mics are not used to pick up the sound waves through the air from your headphones’ speakers at all → no need to process anything from the mics’ inputs. Instead, the telecoils are used to pick up the magnetic field from the speakers’ magnet by getting it “induced” onto the telecoil, which get transformed from electrical signal that represents the sound.

It’s almost as if you have a direct wire connection from the headphones’ wires into your hearing aids, except that the wire connection is broken and transformed into magnetic field which gets induced back onto the telecoil into the wires inside the HAs to the amplifiers.

In the telecoil mode, the HAs mainly operate based on your prescribed gain based on your hearing loss per your audiogram, and compression is still included in there as necessary. So the sound reproduction should be as faithful as possible because it’s almost as if it takes the streaming content directly from your headphones’ wires into the HA’s wire so to speak, as mentioned above.

The Music program that you find in most HAs indeed are designed to minimize the sound processing like noise reduction and beam forming and feedback processing and transient noise processing, etc. But that Music program is still for the music picked up by the HAs’ mic that travel through the air, which can get “dirtied” up with environmental noise and reverbation and feedback, etc So if using it for music over the air, the musical content can get polluted by the environment, but you just gotta live with it anyway and hope that when you listen to music, it’s not polluted, because all of the sound processing designed to deal with the pollution is already turned off in the Music program. But if you’re listening to music while driving, the road noise will greatly pollute your music, and if you use the Music program in this situation, while you don’t get the “distortion” (as you put it) from the sound processing features, you get the pollution from the road noise diffused into your music anyway.

If using the Music program for direct wireless streaming, then the content wouldn’t get polluted in the first place, but it’s still usually necessary to select the Music program while streaming just to ensure that the sound processing features get disabled. But in the Telecoil program, which is not the same as the Music program, those sound processing features are not even allowed to be enabled in the first place.


I spent quite bit of time into this. Generally speaking, Bluetooth devices are way too soft for me. The best I found are Back Bay Tempo 30 buds (about $40, but sadly only sold in the US, so quite more expensive to obtain here in Europe). They come with variously sized silicone buds, some occlusive and delivering decent volume.

Using a PC, you can boost the volume of mp3 files (also in bulk) using MP3Gain freeware. I use a target setting of 92 db, which produces little distortion (do not alter files already at or above this threshold).

When sitting behind a PC, and also sometimes for TV I always use a small amplifier with bass/treble (Lepy, 20$), connected to OneOdioA71 headphones (~30$).

I spent quite a bit of time searching for wired headphones that draw out sound with a decent volume directly from smartphones and other mp3 players. I have never been able to figure out how the specs of headphones relate to output volumes. Those that work best for me (by far) are Scosche LobeDope (SHP451M-RD, ~40$), but I am not sure you can still buy them.

Here in the EU, mp3 players and the like have their max output throttled (idiotic lawmakers). The best workaround I found are the Sandisk players (various models and prices), using American or "World’ firmware.

Thanks, @Volusiano and @RobHooft for the info.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 over the ear headphones have inbuilt equalisation capabilities.
The equalisation is setup using the Sony headphones app.
The Apple Earbuds Pro have inbuilt equalisation capabilities. Again, the equalisation is setup using the Headphones Accommodation feature in Apple’s iPhone/iPad operating systems.

I did online research on headphone amplifiers to find ones that have equalisation. There are a number of them but nearly all assume that you are sourcing music in a digital format so they have Digitial to Analog convertors that process the digital music input.
I source my music from CD players so the music is in analog format (ala 3.5mm plug) and the best I could come up was the Fosi SK01 headphone amplifier with Bass, Middle and Treble tone controls; this is fed into my Bose QC25 headphones.
PS. I take my hearing aids out before listening to music on my headphones.

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I would usually be listening to Webradio which is probably analog, but at other times to digital sources (MP3) off an Android phone. Man, it gets complicated.

As I posted b4, it doesn’t need to be complicated, at all.
If your HAs are programmed correctly, with a music program, a good pair of Over ear cans with your HAs inserted, will get you where you need to be!

You probably need custom earmolds, or better fitting domes for that feedback. Of course with the music program you want minimal feedback management in the programming, so some squeal may occur occasionaly.

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Solutions aren’t complicated, but finding the solution is.

You summarized the solution well. Next step for me is the audiologist.


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I have also found the Apple Headphone Accommodations to be the best solution because it adjusts the audio to your audiogram. This would seem to meet all of the requirements of the OP. I use AirPods Pro 2 that have the changeable, multiple sized ear tips. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Headphone Accommodations > turn “On” > Custom Audio Setup (under “Tune Audio For” check “Audiogram”) > Add Audiogram. You can try to import a photo of your audiogram and then adjust the values manually when that does not work.

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