Noise-Canceling, Fully Enclosing Headphones and IP58 Dust/Water Rating? Trouble Down the Road?

resound

#1

Abram Baily has almost completely answered the question I’m posing here with a great article on noise-canceling headphones. Can Hearing Aids Be Used With Noise-Canceling Headphones?

I am about to take the plunge and get fit with ReSound Linx Quattro 9 61’s (the rechargeables). They have a dust/moisture rating of IP58 - yet the user care guide says that they should be transported and stored at less than 90% humidity (nothing about use, except not wetting with water during cleaning).

So I like to work out at a Gold’s Gym in a cool area of the gym near the punching bags - and there are also some relatively noisy treadmills or noisy folks talking, encouraging each other to do more reps, etc. Often not a very quiet environment.

In the past, even wearing earbuds that are somewhat occlusive has not been enough at times to block out enough of the noise to enjoy a podcast or streamed music.

I figure for my degree of hearing loss, I may want to go with open or vented domes to avoid the “voice in tunnel” sensation. So therefore, I might want to wear active or passive noise-canceling headphones over my ReSound Quattro’s. The inside of the headphones and the HA’s themselves are likely to get quite sweaty during a 1- to 2-hour workout.

So the worrisome thing about the end of Abram’s great article is that it concludes with: “To reduce moisture damage, ensure you purchase IP-rated hearing aids, preferably IP68.”

I’m worried about the “reduce” part - I’d like the article to read “eliminate” ! Since it’s the second digit that describes water-resistance (the first is for dust), the ReSound Quattro’s with an IP58 rating ought to hold up pretty well. I’ve seen posts here on various brands and models where people have worn HA’s while doing salt-water sailing and said their particular HA’s have held up well. I guess my planned use of headphones with HA’s is almost an immersive experience! (pardon the intended pun).

Any opinions of whether I’m headed for trouble a couple of years down the road?! (Asking this before I go plunk down a bunch of bucks $$$ for noise-canceling headphones to screw my $$$$$ HA’s).

BTW, if it makes any difference, I’m planning on BT streaming to my HA’s while wearing the headphones purely for noise-blocking purposes although I guess I can test the listening experience streaming to the phones instead and seeing what a podcast or music sound like when picked up by the HA’s inside - opinions of that welcomed, too). Sorry if my perceptions are dumb - never having worn HA’s or noise-canceling headphones, I’m not sure what to expect, especially when the two are used in combination - presumably, since I have relatively big ears that stick out a bit from my head - with the right headphone cushions, etc., there will be adequate room for Quattro 9 61’s behind the ear while wearing glasses (although after cataract surgery in both eyes, I will no longer have to wear glasses for a workout if keeping them off will noticeably improve the ear seal and noise cancellation).

Thanks for any advice, especially from users who’ve been down this road with HA’s rated similarly for water-resistance. The “8” rating means something like resistant to submersion to a depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. Hopefully, since sweat should not be “pressurized” to a depth of 1.5 m (!), HA’s with an “8” water resistance reading should be able to stand up to a humid environment for an hour or two with no ingress, etc.


#2

I have worn hearing aids for 42 years. Not once have I had a moisture related breakdown from sweat. Put them in a desiccant dryer while you shower and let your ears dry. Wipe the aids down and clean them. I suspect you will be fine. If you would forgo the aids for a real set of earbuds. I suggest the Westone UM Pro 30. They are expensive, but they sound awesome and they are efficient. They even beat closed cup headphones. With them in, they seal so well that background noise isn’t an issue.
For more money, westone offers units with custom earmolds.


#3

I don’t know the definitive answer to this, but I suspect you will be ok, because high humidity / sweat is different than total immersion that IP ratings deal with. The “socks” like Ear Gear or others might be an extra safeguard in that use. I’m very familiar with IP ratings from working in the rain with electronics that need to be protected from immersion or direct heavy rain.

On another note, with my Costco ReSound Forte 8, I tried some $350 Bose over the ear noise cancelling headphones for getting better music, and with open, tulip, and power domes, I get horrendous feedback, and gave up on the idea after 30 minutes of attempts with various domes. I returned them the next day, and still searching for something that give me better music listening with the HAs. I’m fine with podcasts, but the music is too 1960s transistor radio sound for me to accept.


#4

Thanks for the quick replies. If the “sock” means enclosing the HA’s in a little water-proof bags, that might be an idea, too. On earbuds vs. enclosing headphones, I read on another site (don’t know how authoritative) that the more you totally enclosed the ear, the better off you’ll be on noise cancellation - that totally over-the-ear is better than on-the-ear is better than in-the-ear-canal, perhaps because of noise pickup and conduction by the ear lobe? I know my AKG earbuds don’t totally block my ear canal and I do better at excluding noise with my Sony headphones. Whatever headphones that I get, it would be nice if there were some equalizer function that allowed me to at least partially correct for high-frequency loss like the Neutralizer Android app is supposed to allow you to do (but with that app, not all sound players allow the Neutralizer app to intervene in the output - hopefully tuning built into high-quality headphones ought to allow me some frequency correction to go along with noise cancellation and I might not even need to wear my HA’s for a workout - we’ll see…!).


#5

Just to update my inquiry, I just received my Microsoft’s Surface Headphones today. I got them in part because I’m an Office 365 subscriber both for Calendar, Contacts, e-Mail, To-Do cloud services and for Microsoft Office software: Word, Excel, Outlook, MS Access database and these headphones will specifically work with Cortana to access my e-mail, contacts, calendar, To-Do’s, in the Microsoft cloud.

So the Surface Headphones work fine with my ReSound LiNX Quattro 9 61’s. There’s plenty of room in the earcups to put the headphones on, take them off, without disturbing my behind-the-ear HA bodies. They sound pretty good, plenty of bass compared to my HA’s, and even with maximum noise cancellation turned on, I don’t have any hissing or humming and the position of the headphone drivers/speakers relative to my ear canal does not seem to cause a problem with the HA microphones. There have been a number of recent reviews of these just released headphones compared to the top-of-the-line Bose and Sony models. Most reviewers seem to find the latest Sony release (September, 2018) the champs, both in terms of noise-cancellation power and audio quality. Also in terms of battery life. The Surface headphones are faulted in not having as good a battery life as Sony or Bose (you can’t turn Cortana off, yet, except by turning BT streaming off and just using the headphones for noise-cancellation or with a hard-wired connection in addition) and not having as complete a noise cancellation as Sony and not sounding as good as Sony. But for me, they are quite good enough and will work with my Microsoft software subscriptions.

My main complaints are 1) using them with an old 2011 Gateway laptop, although I can stream audio to my headphones, as far as two-way audio with Cortana, I get an “Sorry. Device not supported.” Not sure if it’s because the laptop does not have built-in Bluetooth and I’m using a BT 4.0 USB adapter already paired with my Phone Clip+ for headset audio. Also, when I use the Surface Headphones with my Galaxy Note 8 Android phone, the audio streaming and 2-way audio with Cortana work great but when I go to place and answer phone calls, the phone or Microsoft software on my phone screws things up. Incoming calls rather going directly to my headphones get “caught” with an “Accept” or “Decline?” phone notification. And on outgoing phone calls, I have to tell the phone whether I want to place the call using my mobile phone or Skype (Microsoft software on the phone, undoubtedly). After picking “Always use phone,” I’ve overcome this last difficulty for hands-free calling using the headphones with their microphones as a headset. Wife says call quality sounds good. The PR with the headphones says that they are designed to breathe and be used all day but I think I’ll have to wait for some hot, humid summer nights to really put wear-ability to the test.

In addition to Abram Bailey’s post about noise-cancelling headphones cited in my OP post in this thread, I’ve searched the forum and found other several other threads in the past that say noise-cancelling headphones in general work very well with most users who’ve tried them.

My main use is for the noise-cancelling feature so ambient noise in the environment won’t get into my open domes, not for absolutely top-of-the-line audio quality since I’m mainly listening to “talk show” podcasts where the most important thing is to block out interfering noise from outside and understand what’s being said in the podcast. I’ll be trying the headphones both in BT-streaming mode and in wired mode to see how they perform but so far, I’m very happy with the noise-blocking features and the audio quality for podcast listening. If I discover any further pluses or minuses of the Surface Headphones, I’ll update the info in this thread. I like it that the headphones talk to you and coach you in their use and the Cortana app, either on a PC or in the Android phone app, has settings to show the degree of noise cancellation that you’ve dialed in (13 levels cancellation intensity or, conversely, ambient environmental sound amplification, if the opposite is desired), the volume setting (13 levels here, too), the battery level and predicted available streaming time in hours, an equalizer with presets and the ability to equalize within 5 frequency ranges, defined only as Low, Mid Low, Mid, Mid High, High up to +/- 12 dB above or below the default setting.

From the reviews I’ve read, if you don’t want to use the headphones with Cortana, you can also set them up to work with the default assistant of your phone (Google Assistant or Siri) but I haven’t tried to do that-have to tap on side of headphone to summon these assistants, if used. Cannot be summoned directly by voice as for Cortana. The Surface Headphones are pretty pricey ($350). I got $85 off on my for being a dyed-in-the-wool Microsoftie and having $75 of “Bing Rewards” points and a $10 Holiday Gift Card for the Microsoft Store so my actual cost was about $293, including the sales tax charged.

If you’re curious as to what they sound like, they probably have demo models in any Microsoft Store near you. I ordered mine online (the only way to redeem the Rewards points). I was worried I hear a humming sound with my Quattros or the sound heard from the headphones wouldn’t sound so great through my HA’s - feedback or whatever. But the Surface Headphones function very well for the reason I got them and so far, several hours into using them, I’m glad I got them.


Phoneclip+ and Windows PC
#6

Perhaps the Resounds will have a mute option? Then you can play music streaming from your phone as if they were noise cancelling headphones.

My Opns has this option. Work fantastically when flying! Much better than me just wearing my Bose QC35 headphones.


#7

My ReSounds do have a mute/streaming-focus button but I have open domes so lots of outside environmental noise goes right past my HA receivers straight to my eardrums, which still hear low frequency noise pretty well without any help from the HA’s. The noise, whatever it’s frequency is, competes with and sometimes even drowns out the human voices in a podcast. Perhaps if I had closed domes or worse low-frequency hearing on my own, the noise-cancellation within the HA sound processing system of the Quattro’s could have a better crack at removing droning background noises.

I’ve now had a long trial walk with the noise-canceling headphones. Streaming from phone to headphone, I can report the sound is much richer and fuller than I get out of streaming direct to my Quattro HA’s either through the ReSound Phone Clip+ or through the ReSound Multi-Mic hard-wired to my phone via the headphone jack and the M-M’s line-in. Probably as other users have remarked because the over-the-ear headphones have bigger, better drivers, especially for delivering bass, than little old HA receivers and the sound delivered is both being amplified through my HA mics and also going straight through the open domes.

Outside noises were largely suppressed and the podcast streamed through the headphones was generally very clear with quiet background. With the cheap gun muffs I was wearing before, some sound from my feet padding against the street contributed background noise. Not sure if that was from the vibration of foot impact working its way up my body and rattling the gun muff frames and/or ear muffs. Perhaps any premium noise-cancelling headphone will just have such a good, cushy mount that any body vibration will not be transmitted to the vicinity of the ear lobe or perhaps noise-cancellation also works against that sound, too?

So I think that I got what I paid for. Less ambient environmental noise and a better, clearer streaming sound to play through the noise-canceling headphones than my HA’s alone can deliver just wearing cheap gun muffs to suppress outside noise. Guess whether it works for anyone else would depend on their hearing loss, type of HA’s with open domes or not.


#8

Thanks to @Mark_Chambers great suggestion about driving, road noise, relative hearing aid and radio volumes, I’ve been able to apply the same approach to the use of over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones in the gym and other noisy places.

The principle is effectively the same. Just imagine your streaming headphones are the radio and anything you don’t want to hear is like the road noise in a car. Turn up the volume of streaming in your headphones via your podcast player (but don’t overdo it) and turn down the volume of your hearing aids. The relative volume of what you want to hear will be enhanced, the relative volume of what you don’t want to hear will be relatively much less. And if the headphones are noise-cancelling, it works even better.

My Surface Headphones don’t block out loud noise, especially sudden noises, completely. Depending on one’s point of view, one could look at it as an advantage or disadvantage that one still has some awareness of sudden loud noises in one’s surroundings. For instance, at the gym, I still hear relative soft whfft, whftt, whfft-whfft! of someone hitting a punching bag, or plop,plop,plops, much more faintly of someone running very flat-footed on a treadmill. But by adjusting the relative volume of a streaming podcast in the headphones vs. a soft volume for the hearing aids themselves, speech from the podcast comes in loud and clear over the very muted sounds of running or boxing, same for whirring of machinery. The active and passive noise cancellation of the headphones do a major job of sweeping unwanted noises under the rug. If I were just wearing my ReSound Quattro HA’s with open domes, without hurting my ears, turning up the volume on streaming focus setting, where I hear nothing from my HA mic’s, isn’t going to do the job because of my open domes and relatively good low frequency hearing are still getting overwhelmed by loud noises in the gym going right to my ear drums.

I haven’t thoroughly tested it but the noise-cancellation features of the headphones do seem superior to anything built-into the ReSound HA’s. There does seem to be a slight quaver introduced in voices with the headphone volume up, the HA volume down - don’t know whether it’s the headphone noise-cancellation or HA distortion for the relative loud headphone volume used, e.g. - but I only notice the slight distortion if I focus on it and for having a talk show that’s easy to understand in the din of the gym with boxing, running, stair-stepping, weight clanging, people nearby trying to talk to each other loudly above the din (and add in overhead “Muzak”), I don’t mind the result at all for being able, finally, to listen clearly and easily to podcasts in very noisy environments. Also, with these relative settings, if the podcast is stopped, I hear a slight bit of hissing/fizzing noise from the ramped up headphone drivers/speakers if nothing else is coming through the headphones-and it goes away if I go back to more normal settings.


#9

Discovered a BIG short-coming of premium noise-canceling wireless headphones - they’re not very moisture or humidity-resistant. Both Microsoft and Sony noise-canceling headphone manuals say avoid conditions of high humidity - which one would general take to mean humidity above 80%. Sony’s 1000 MX3 manual is even more explicit. It says not to touch the headphones with sweaty hands! Bose’s QC35 II manual is more circumspect. There is no reference to humidity but only two references to liquid or moisture. Avoid exposure or you may get electrical shock. Do not exposure the inner earcups to moisture (a tough one to avoid if you’re sweating!). So I guess premium headphones are meant to be used only during premium listening conditions, not to be worn when you’re sweating like crazy at the gym or going for a midnight walk on a dank and dark night… OTH, I see lots of folks at Gold’s gym working out in Beats headphones, so maybe they’re built for more practical everyday use. The point of mentioning the moisture sensitivity of headphones is it puts a damper on my enthusiasm for enhancing my open-dome HA experience by using noise-cancelling headphones to help block out unwanted noise in very noisy places. I have worn my 1990 vintage premium wired Sony headphones in light rain but I guess they don’t have any ports or switches on the outside of the earcups and the ear cushions effectively keep any water from getting inside. I guess it’s back to gun muffs for sweaty endeavors or dank night walks! The funny thing is that in my OP starting this thread, I was worried about the HA’s encased in the humid ear cups of the headphones - when I should have been worrying about the headphones themselves!


#10

Sometimes a “simple” solution may be better. Have you considered using an isolating earbud type device (without hearing aids) for exercising in the gym? Mine are at least somewhat water resistant (ipx4), cheap (less than $15) and sound really good to me. Their isolating nature will block out a lot of outside noise. If you damage them, no great loss. Downsides: you need to take your hearing aids in and out.


#11

That was my dilemma in trying to find headphones for my use, gym and walking. The only ones I found were the Under Armour Project Rock headphones. Unfortunately, when I checked them at the store, they are ON ear and not full OVER ear, did not cover the BTE body of my Forte 8, so I passed on that.

I’m using my Apple Air Pods mostly, except at the gym, there I use the Nuheara IQBuds Boost (tried before real HAs) that uses NAL_NL2 setting, so I get some high frequency correction and can turn off the outside world with what I guess to be ~80-90% occlusion.


#12

Thanks for the suggestion. I have used wired earbuds in the past that were much more occlusive than my open-dome HA’s-and I have quite a collection from past phone purchases!. And I have a phone arm band to hold the phone and earbud wires near me - but I don’t like wearing it because it’s hard to see and control the phone on my upper arm. Using gun muffs over my HA’s works well - it’s just that I like the sound from the headphones better than direct streaming to my HA’s. As I get older, I’ve been transitioning to longer less vigorous exercise, too, both for the fragility of advancing age and because the anti-cholinergic suppress-the-urge-to-urinate medicine I’ve been taking for BPH actually reduces my ability to sweat and cool myself during really vigorous exercise. So maybe just continuing in the direction of longer, less vigorous exercise at the gym will help handle the don’t-sweat-in-or-onto-the-headphones problem.

In the midnight walks department, maybe just walking much earlier in the evening and checking the weather report before I leave home will help a lot there. And I guess I’ll want to be packing a plastic bag to stash the headphones in if I get caught out in unexpected rain as happens from time to time. And just like the gym, the gun muffs work surprising well to cancel out environmental noise but they’re nowhere near as pleasant to wear as the headphones, unfortunately. But I’ll be using the gun muffs anytime there is the possibility of rain or a condensing fog as there was for my walk last night - or giving my old, less moisture-sensitive Sony wired headphones a try-they may be deteriorating with their 30-year age!


#13

Thanks for the suggestion, too!


#14

Seems like the slight quaver in sound might be induced by aggressive noise cancellation when there is a lot of noise in the environment, e.g. Gold’s Gym. I’ve used similar headphone/HA settings on quiet night walks and not had any problem with quavering sound even though I have noise cancellation turned up to the max - but there is little or no noise to cancel, hence, apparently, no quaver. Not very scientific, just my subjective impression, since I wasn’t even listening to the same podcast in trying to compare results.