Mask Usage for next 12 - 18 plus months

So think twice about buying expensive assisted listening devices. Simply because those expensive listening devices (Phonak pen/select) etc. won’t work as well as they should due to everyone wearing face masks. As everyone with a hearing loss knows masks can create communication problems making it difficult to understand clear speech. Sound levels decrease with distance and many face coverings dampen sound. Obviously the clarity and sound level one would receive through assisted listening devices will be hindered due to facial masks. So why rush out and buy something that is really not going to work as specified due to mask obstruction? Better to spend your hard earned dollars on a good quality hearing aid that will last five plus years. And then maybe in a couple years when distance restrictions are eliminated and masks are a thing of the past, re-examine any hearing aid accessories you might be interested in.

With everyone wearing face mask protection, I expect using the assisted listening devices would be even more critical. I just retired from a position where I was required to attend meetings in large conference rooms. I was frequently at the far end of the room and struggled with comprehension. A Roger pen or disk would have been a life saver but it wasn’t worth the investment for me or the organization I worked for to purchase the device for a short time. I compensated.

With the expense involved, the audiologist or DME should be able to provide a loaner device long enough to see whether or not it helps. I am pretty sure it would be even more beneficial with everyone wearing masks.

Hopefully, this will all blow over in a couple of months.



One way to deal with the problem of hearing spoken language is to modify the program to address the problem of lost high frequencies. This vastly improved my ability to understand spoken language by people using a mask. I also use an assistive hearing device it also helps. :grin::face_with_monocle::mask:


The edge feature in the aid that starkey makes helps as well.

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Agreed, masks have really illustrated how many people are relying on lip reading rather than hearing speech as clearly as they should.

As a test method to see if you would benefit from a remote device, try using the ‘Live Listen’ feature built in to IOS on an iPhone (borrowed if necessary) with your MFi hearing aids.

I’m guessing iPhone should be held pretty close to mouth in this test?

You’re absolutely right. Those hearing aids from Oticon, Resound, Signia, Starkey or Widex won’t work at all, too, if anybody wears a face mask. So why rush out and buy something that is really not going to work as specified?
Indeed because I don’t profit from lip reading I can hardly distinguish if someone wears a face mask or not. For me it mostly sounds the same.

Yes, within 12-18inches ideally. This gives the best near field effect, but (depending on the phone model) they also have pretty reasonable far field effect. This would obviously result in poorer SNR.

From a practical POV getting the person talking to invert the iPhone and put it in a shirt pocket would seem ideal. Just like the MFi HA wearer would make a phone call on a hands free basis.

Eh? Why exactly?

The hearing aids still amplify speech, even speech with slight distortion. Which part of wearing a mask invalidates that?

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My take was that the fanciest, most expensive hearing aids won’t fair any better (and quite possibly worse) than remote microphones if a facemask is involved.

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Not really, the better SNR and dynamic speech control of something like an OPn S1 would actually be more beneficial where the original source is degraded.

Even if they ‘only’ gave you an extra 2% SNR, that’s been calculated to give approximately 20% improvement in speech comprehension. I’d take that any day, but especially where your base signal is of lower quality than it should be.

FWIW, we do a lot of in clinic wax removal and the Covid PPE changes mean that conversation with the client is definitely impacted, as they aren’t normally able to wear an aid during the procedure. I’ve actually made clients put an aid into the opposite ear to understand me better.

Interesting. I don’t get why “Clear” plus remote does worse than “Clear” alone whereas remote does better in all other instances. OK, read the article and saw their explanation of distortion introduced by the clear mask. The tight range of error rates (1-5%) and small study size (15 adults) makes me wonder if it’s meaningful to compare.

Interesting that they can improve upon a degraded signal.

I’d stop short of saying they ‘improve’ it, they give you the best chance of hearing what’s said; it’s just a case of when you’re adding the pluses and minuses, the more pluses in you have on your side the better the likely outcome.

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Does it address the high frequencies that are lost by the mask? By putting them back does it help restore the effectiveness of the hearing aid. Just because we have to be in a masked situation doesn’t mean that you should not try to maximize your hearing treatment. What is you thought?

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The combo solved the problem. Its not necessarily the hearing aids but rather how they are programed that determinations there success. That includes Adapting to mask and other challenging hearing situations. The programing and adaptations are the main ways to adapt to a situation. That why I bought a new pair of hearing aids during a mask time. It offers more ways to adapt. But to be honest I would take an old analog hearing aid well programed to a digital hearing aid that not programed to maximize the hearing benefit.

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Last time I looked, cars don’t wear masks. And it would certainly be nice if I hear one coming before it runs me over

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Sounds like you have another problem

My point being I don’t wear aids just to hear conversation.