How to protect your hearing when singing in a band with hearing aids?

Hi all,

I wear Unitron Passport Moxy13 RITE (receiver in the ear) hearing aids. they are fairly open and allow for a lot of residual hearing. I have a moderate loss and tinnitus so needless to say, I need to protect my hearing. I’ve started singing in a band at church and really wasn’t noticing that the sound on stage was bothering me but last week after the service, I noticed that my tinnitus was louder than it has been in quite a while. That’s got me worried.

How can I protect my hearing while wearing hearing aids? If I take them off, I will have trouble hearing what is spoken during our practices. I’m not sure how well I can even hear the music if I take them off. I was wondering about this idea, what if I put my hearing aids in and turned the volume down as much as possible. Then I could put regular ear plugs (drugstore variety) on top of my RITE receivers. That would block out most residual sound coming into my ears. This might be a terrible idea. With hearing aids, I just don’t know how to protect my hearing and be able to hear at the same time.

Has anyone out there dealt with this situation? What do you think of my idea and is there anything made to work with hearing aids that would be better? Thank you.

Hi,

simple solution: Don´t wear the aids, wear earplugs. The music is (probably) loud enough that you hear yourself and the music to sing correctly.

More complicated solution: Use in-ear monitoring. You can have an equalizer set to give you a good sound according to your hearing loss.

Try it out, maybe solution 1 works. Good luck!

I don’t have a solution necessarily, but I kind of have the same problem. I take group exercise classes and they always come with music (sometimes quite loud) and I have to follow verbal instructions at the same time, so taking the HA out does not work very well. The best solution I have found is to put my Phonaks in a manual program that is called stereo zoom. It turns down the background noise, in this case the music, but preserves the speech pretty well - as well as these things get with hearing loss, anyway.

Good morning Season, by manual mode are you talking about the same mode I have for restaurant use. It quiets a lot of the ambient sounds but preserves speech OK. My normal everyday mode is suppose to be adjusting for loud noise but I’m not aware a lot of the times if it is working or not.

Musician, thanks for the reply. Earplugs might work for the music but I don’t know if I’d be able to hear much instruction between songs and there is a lot of that. If I took the earplugs out while we are talking about the music, I don’t know if I could keep up without putting my hearing aids back in. What is an equalizer? Where would I go to get one and who would adjust that for me? Is that a program in your hearing aids or another unit you must wear?

Thanks so much, I know you understand how precious my remaining natural hearing is to me and how I must work to protect it.

Hi Shirley,

alas, this makes things very complicated. To be honest, I haven´t solved those problems for myself, too, as I used to lead a band and don´t do this anymore, because the band is too loud, but with earplugs I can´t understand anyone.

I think it is not an option to do plugs in - plugs out - hearing aid in - and so on. This would be very much stress for your ear.

As you do not know what an equalizer is, you are - no offence meant - surely not a professional musician. An equalizer does what a hearing aid does, too: It enhances certain frequencies, can dampen other frequencies. The name is irritating: An equalizer pretty much disturbs the frequencies. The name comes from the application where you have a loudspeaker that doesn´t repoduce all frequencies correctly. For instance, gives not enough volume at, say, 3 kHz. Then you rise the knob at 3 kHz on your equalizer to overcome the weakness of the speaker. Thus, the frequency-response is “equalized”.

In your case, you could use special headphones that protect your hearing (they are earplugs and headphones at the same time), those systems are called “in-ear-monitoring”. You need the equalizer to enhance those frequencies where you have bad hearing. The equalizer should do roughly what your hearing aid does normally.

Then you would need to get the speech (the instructions) to come through those headphones, too, so the instructor would need a microfone.

In-ear-monitoring is the standard now for professional concerts, almost everyone uses it. But it´s quite pricey, and I do not know if you have a sound-engenier or something to adjust it correctly. Because, sadly, if you turn those in-ear monitors too loud, then they can pretty much damage your hearing, too.

So please answer this: What kind of music are you playing, how is it amplified, what sound-system do you have?

There still are other possibilities. For instance, you could use a big, closed headphone, that protects you from the loud sound and reproduces the sound more softly. This could be taken off quite easily to understand the speech in-between. You would have to make sure that your aids don´t feedback if you wear a closed headphone over then.

Good luck, I´m sorry, that there isn´t an easy solution for this, but this doesn´t mean that there isn´t a solution at all!

Here, you can inform you what in-ear-monitoring is:

… and here what equalizers are, though this might be a little too complicated:

My Phonak HA’s have various automatic settings that kick in, well, automatically in response to noisy environments. They are quite subtle and they may not always interpret the situation correctly. I also have some manual program, stereo zoom is one. I believe that is the one I use to tone the music down and get more of the speech. because it is manual it stays in the program until I switch back. I feel that the manual program works better for these situations - gives me more relief from the noise.

I would have your audiologist make you a pair of noise suppressing earplugs and leave the HA’s out while you are performing. You need to protect the hearing you have left and having them on with the sound of a band around you isn’t going to do it.

I ran across this source. This is the active; also do a passive.

I´ve tried those. They work, but I don´t like the sound, and they cannot be individualized for a specific hearing loss. I´ve sent them back, but to be fair, they are worth a try.

Musician, thank you for your response. I’ll have to study up some on what you’ve said, do some research, and get some questions answered. I much appreciate your help. You’re right that I’m not a professional musician. It would help me if I were to solve this sort of problem. I just like to sing, have a decent voice and a good ear for music. Too bad I don’t actually have a good ear if you know what I mean.

Hi Ken, these sound sort of interesting. that they would increase the gain on soft sounds might be helpful. Have you tried these? Musician didn’t seem to think they were the answer but boy, something like that that you could individualize to your hearing loss would be great.

You can trust that i do know exactly what you mean!

Hi Shirley,

I am not a musician. I just came across the info wandering the hearing sites on the net. They do have a passive one that is 15db. You might get more info in the music area here.

Hi Ken,

the problem is that shirley will have a hard time understanding people without heraing aid at all. With a 15 db plug she won´t understand people any more unless they speak really loudly.

Those plugs (I have a pair myself, elacin plugs, best you can get) seal the ear really tight. This means that there is quite a deal of friction if you put them in and out. I made the experience that if I do that several times in a row, my ear hurts.

Shirley, there is still another route you can go, especially if your music is loud, but not extremely loud. I guess that you use open domes, do you? You could - only for the band - use power domes. Those isolate pretty well. There are two disadvantages:

  • you would need a different setting for the power domes. Do you have a free program slot on your HA? Do you have a nice audi that could set that up for you? HA sound very differently if you use power domes instead of open domes
  • you will have pretty bad occlusion with power domes, and you will hear your own voice very loud from the inside. I personally hate this (I have tried this route, too), because I have a very loud voice anyway. But maybe this would be acceptible for you, I don´t know.

Best regards,

Musician-72

Maybe those cheap foam plugs could do the same thing as a full dome but on a temporary basis. Just put them over your regular domes when engaged in music.

never had experience with being a musician but I was about to suggest the power dome idea too. since the aid is already programmed for the open domes I would not bother with reprogramming the aids. I’ve never seen a programming software that allows for multiple dome types. But I think it would work so long as the aid is programmed with the most open dome used. specifying the open domes should just make the aid more wary of possible feedback issues and may lower the gain.

shirley should be changing the domes like every 3 months anyway so it would just be a matter of putting on the power dome. and then possibly lowering the volume afterwards.

I bet shirley can call her audi and ask the audi to mail her the power domes if going there is a chore.

I can only tell for the Bernafon Oasis software: Whenever you change some acoustic setting, like different dome, new audogram, different fitting rationale, the software asks if it should recalculate the programs. If you click “no” here, everything stays as it is. If you then add another program, it´s calculated based on the new settings.

And then there´s always the hard way: Print out the settings, manually enter them in the new setup.

But of course just trying the power domes with the old programming is worth a try, maybe it doesn´t sound so bad.