Something not mentioned so far is that hearing aids help the brain. If you don’t use certain brain functions, your brain will lose, or decrease in ability for those functions. Hearing is one of those. That is why it is recommended that a person wear them every day and that they get them early on in the hearing loss. This will keep your brain “hearing”. This is also why there are those odd reactions at first, where the toilet flushing sounds like Niagara falls :). But that goes away after a while after your brain sorts out what to focus on. Some people may be bothered more than others, but when I first tried hearing aids several months ago, I could hear paper rustling, refrigerator noise, etc. as loud. Now I don’t notice these much.
Because you are a trained musician I can understand your aversion to what you heard. Hearing loss is hard for anyone to accept, but if hearing is so central to your life and your perceptions are quite refined, it would be even worse.
I’m a hearing aid user, new, but about to get new HAs. The ones I have are old demo models (given to me by a friend mentioned below). I understand the new ones will give me a better experience. But the current ones helped me hear the vibrancy of opera much better than I had been. Before it was “flat” though I could hear it and still was moved by it. The guy who programmed them put in a program that helped somewhat. I don’t expect that I will ever be able to hear as I once did. My hearing loss is mild, but I still couldn’t make out what people were saying in many situation. Now I can. They are mainly for speech, but also help in other situations. Being in nature is a big deal for me, and hearing is actually a huge part of that. They help somewhat.
I think some aids will help more than others with music, though I only have a vague idea from something I heard. This may depend on the brand. (Widex may have been mentioned). I think it also has to do with how many channels it has, though that may be wrong. Experts, feel free to correct this if mistaken. Something to check anyway. I also suspect that some audiologists may be better at helping you get the best results with music. I think it is both an art and a science, not just relying on real-ear, etc. Not always easy to find the best audi in your region, though. My friend thinks that getting aids that are programmed to hear many of the higher frequencies can be useful, frequencies that are often not programmed, since they do not relate to speech. This, of course depends on your specific hearing profile. Another question might be asked, and that is whether there are any audiologists who specialize in people who want to hear other sounds better, beyond speech, and what brand/aids/technology is best for this.
I know someone personally who has a private audiology practice. They definitely are not getting rich from their small-town business. They usually work 7 days a week, and nearly always more than 8-hours a day. They care a lot about the people they serve. They have a normal middle-class lifestyle. They are very customer- and service-oriented. Of course, there are different business models. Perhaps it is the companies that produce the aids that are getting rich. But they do keep refining their product.
And yes, if your hearing aids are not programmed right (too loud at one or more frequencies) it can damage your hearing. One reason you want someone who knows what they are doing. I think that was a good question, one that I had wondered about. Also, if you are going to be exposed to loud noises, you should take out the hearing aids. I went to a military funeral recently where they shoot off rifles, and everyone who wore them took them out. It can damage your hearing, and also the aids. I also carry ear plugs in case I’m going to be exposed to loud sounds like these.