Totally distorted music - am I alone?


I am new on here, but would just like to ask:
I have deteriorating hearing (one ear Moderate, the other Severe), and I have UK NHS hearing aids in each ear. Whilst I fully accept that at 70 years old, loss of hearing is just a fact of life, I don’t understand why the sound of any form of MUSIC (not speech) now sounds so totally distorted.
Only last week I went to our village concert to hear a jazz trio playing some old classics, all superb musicians, but I was unable to even identify what song the pianist was playing. I had to rely on recognising the song from the words of the vocalist!
So I’d just like to know, is this normal, or am I unusual in this respect? If fairly common, then I’ll simply accept it.
Any comments gratefully received. Thanks.


Are you talking about with your hearing aids? Hearing aids can do several things that help with speech understanding, but that would distort music. 1) They (hearing aids) amplify soft sounds more than loud sounds. Makes soft speech easier to understand, but messes up the dynamics (difference between loud and quiet sounds) in music. 2) Some hearing aids lower the frequency of high sounds to make them audible again. This can make things sound out of tune. 3) Hearing aids will sometimes eliminate very loud sounds entirely. All of these things can contribute to hearing aids distorting music. If your hearing aids have the ability to have separate programs, ask your audiologist for a music program. Many of these effects can be mitigated.


I have had exactly the same issues. Music has always been a big part of my life. I paid for my college education singing in acapella groups. Some of the things members such as MDB have suggested may be the reason. I have the capability to program my KS8S, so I am going to play with that a little.


Thanks MDB, your reply is really helpful and informative.
I was talking about what I hear, so I need to try with and without hearing aids.
Either way, you’ve answered my question so I’ll look into a music prog for my aids.
Like DanTheMan, music was also a big part of my life, being a finger-picker.
Great to have your input.
Much appreciated.


Agreed. Keep in mind that hearing aids are primarily designed to optimize speech comprehension. Music can and by default often does lose something in the translation. The hearing aid companies know that natural sounding music is very important to many of their customers as well–you’re not alone in wanting it to be better and feeling like your aids on their current settings are making music sound worse. The technological challenges to accurately reproduce music in hearing aids are formidable and higher than with speech; consider how tiny those hearing aid “microphones” and “speakers” are compared to what musicians use.

Different models of hearing aids, different ways of getting the sound into your ear (in terms of earmolds,or dome style, and so on), whether you most often listen to music live, through speakers, or through headphones, and different program options and settings available to the audiologist for the aids you’re using are all adjustable variables.

I wouldn’t say your audiologist can make music sound as good with hearing aids as it did if and when your hearing was perfect (that doesn’t happen with speech, either), but your audiologist can probably help you find some combination of the variables above to make music sound much better than it does to you now. This may take a number of sessions with trial-and-error adjustments.


You might look into the new ReSound LiNX Quattro. Music listening is quite spectacular! Even streamed music via my iPhone is very decent. But listening to music, or movie soundtracks, through the air via my TV’s soundbar and subwoofer is simply wonderful!


I found music distorted for the last year, even with my music program. I was amazed and delighted that the switch from domes for my BTE hearing aids to molds made even cheap car radios sound soooooo much better.


I am also new here. I have two thoughts to share.

First, I am just trailing a hearing aid this week. I am not a regular hearing aid wearer (yet).

When I listen to quiet music (without the aids) it sounds clear, though I am missing the high frequencies. But if the music gets loud, I start to perceive it as badly distorted. The “distortion” sounds exactly like what happens when an electronic amplifier is overdriven. I experience this distortion even with music that has no amplification or electronic instruments at all.

With the trial hearing aids, I have only one experience to relate. I went to a college basketball game, where they had a 90-piece brass pep band, which of course is very loud. I went to the farthest corner of the arena and listed to the band with the aids for a few minutes. The music was uncomfortably loud and rather “muddy”. This was with the hearing aid set to the programs “general” and “speach in noise”. Then I switched to the “music” program. The music became clearer, much louder, and higher pitch sounds started coming through. (It was also painfully loud; I have hyperacusis).

I believe that for quiet music, this “music” program will sound good to me.

This trial hearing aid is an Oticon Opn 1.


Use the app to turn the volume down on loud music.


No. You are not alone. Most sounds are great with my Phonak Virto B70 titaniums except music. Music sounds like it has a trill in it. My previous hearing aids did not do that. My AuD is working on it with me and I hope we can find a solution.