Why are hearing aids so bad at doing the job they are made for?

I’m not sure about Bose, but I did a lot of experimenting with Airpods before giving up and getting Phonaks. They work in fundamentally different ways, which means they’re each better for different situations. Airpods (and I think Bose) use active noise cancellation, which basically sends out ‘anti-noise’ waves calibrated to cancel out background noise. Hearing aids don’t do that. Their background noise ‘cancellation’ is a combination of blocking it out via occlusion and selectively not amplifying it, which will never be as effective. Depending on one’s type of loss, that can mean Airpods are better in certain situations. The same is probably true of Bose and anything else that uses active noise cancellation in combination with a halfway-effective algorithm for what not to cancel. I’m not surprised the Bose worked better for hearing announcements on a plane. I haven’t flown since getting Phonaks, but my Airpods and a similar product (Nuheara IQBuds2) were great for that.

Hearing aids are assistive devices for helping with understanding speech in the same way as an artificial leg is an assistive devices for helping an amputee walk.
Both can never give back to a person what the original organic part provided, a person needs training in their use and must adapt to make the best of what the device provides.


If I understand you correctly, when you used earbuds, the announcements were piped directly to them, whereas with hearing aids you were listening to the loudspeakers in the cabin. Well, of course! This is comparing apples to oranges. The question is this: in a crowded restaurant which works better, earbuds or the hearing aids? If the earbuds work better, the audiologist did a very poor job.


If you can’t understand the plane pa system then try using Google live translate on your phone


This is absolutely not the case, hearing devices have very limited bandwidth compared to earbuds 8-12kHz versus 48kHz. It won’t be “the same”.
The bandwidth was chosen because that’s where the speech resides and due to past hardware limitations.
But for the money that I’m paying, nowadays I expect significantly more.


You may be able to hear the higher frequencies but I really don’t think so. I know that I can’t hear anything above 10K hz. And your hearing isn’t much better than mine.

1 Like

Yeah could you imagine paying 7k or more for some earbuds/headphones! We need another chip dedicated just for music.

My hearing was damaged about ‘72. I’ve had Tinnitus ever since.

You’re right about music. I think they’ll add it to gain marketing share. Or to overcome market loss.

Meantime my hearing tests got worse every year. Except when I was with CVA. My hearing improved


1 Like

Signias IX/AX have extended bandwidth - 12kHz, and I can definitely hear the part beyond 10kHz, as I self-fit my HAs and tested them many many times across the whole spectrum.
The bandwidth is not only related to what you can hear but also to how sound can be processed and its naturalness.

That being said. I’m quite happy with the music and streaming experience when it comes to Signias, it should be much better considering the prices, but I’m content with what they are at.


I am a retired IT professional and Electronics Technician/engineer, my discipline is audio communications. I don’t DIY anymore. When i finally retired i decided I was going to do the things that I didn’t have time for while still working. But i did keep my audio generator and know just where my real hearing loss is at. There was a time i could here well above 16Khz but no more, my tinnitus drowns any possibility of hearing above 10Khz or may 12Khz. Music isn’t something that i can even try to enjoy anymore. All I ask for is to understand speech. Ear buds are useless for my hearing loss, even with the best equalizer. I stream all my calls to my aids as well as audiobooks. Also I enjoy text to speech with my Fire Tablet and kindle app. Music wise i enjoy some guitar, brass horns, and piano. Just instrumentals not singing, because i can’t understand the the songs.

1 Like

I’m also an IT professional [engineer too] and I perfectly understand where You are coming from.
Our cases are very different tough. Music is an important part of my life.
Ability to hear above 10kHz diminishes with age but I’m not at this point yet [nor I’m close to].
To add to this, my tinnitus, when appears, resides at ~10kHz frequencies, and I couldn’t mask it with other devices.

We should always expect more for the significant money that we are paying, no matter what your personal expectations are. Otherwise manufactures will start giving us the same trash each year, gouge our pockets, all that while laughing in our faces.

1 Like

The main reason (in my experience) is that most audiologists don’t know how to set them up properly. If you find an audiologist that really knows their stuff, and is prepared to work with you, you will have a much better experience.

FWIW I have gotten superb music reproduction from ReSound Nexias, both on streaming and audio. But then I don’t like the sound of most headphones because they artificially boost bass/mid frequencies.


I have to be honest my hearing loss is military service related, i am a disabled veteran and my benefits pay for my aids. I have been wearing aids for 20 years, I have never gotten anything less than top-tier hearing aids and service, supplies, etc from the VA. In fact I was told if there was anything or anyway that I could be helped to improve my life experience to just ask.


I second the VA, I recently signed up with them in case I got to the point where I didn’t want to do my own fitting, but recently have been using them along with Kaiser Permanente for general medical issues. Every time I request something from the VA, I am dazzled by how great the experience is.

I can relate to your experience. Way back in the early 60’s being around artillery and qualifying with small arms without any real hearing protection probably didn’t help my hearing much.

There is a simple answer based on the acoustics of sound and transmission of signal (the speech you want to hear). With hearing aids, you are WEARING a microphone. The signal (the speech you want to hear) must travel across space (which may be full of competing noise) to reach the microphone, all the while losing sound energy, quality and distinction. The speech you want to hear is an enormously complicated signal and it is probably coming at you from 3-6 feet away. Much of that speech signal degrades before it reaches your microphone (especially the weak high-frequencies where much hearing loss lies). At the same time, that background noise is also making its way toward your tiny, little microphone. You can see what the problem is. AI will have to work much harder to overcome that issue. Moving the microphone close to the signal would be helpful but we can’t do that easily with body-worn technology.


The first thing here is we have no idea what your hearing and comprehension is. So there is no way to really answer your question. But, I can say that every companies vary in how they handle sound and what they provide. But, as far as music this is not true anymore. Some hearing aids are designed to give great music quality if the program is added. And may are starting to give you some equalizer adjustments to make it more like you listen to it. How great it would be if everyone listened the same and had all the same environments. WAIT that isn’t the case. We all are different and listen differently and have different environments. So what feedback you give your audiologist helps fine tune as well as the app that accompanies it. Like all medicine each individual is different (thankfully) and like as we try it is impossible to get it prefect without the user’s input. Also you can’t compare an over the counter (Jabra) to a good hearing aid. Over the counter (OTC) is supposedly to help more people start to help their hearing. Some are fairly good (and more expensive). you get what you pay for so don’t compare an OTC to a quality hearing aid.

With all this said you haven’t given us enough info to really answer your questions. Your audio has no word recognition which is really the important part. But, I can say is likely to have high frequencies that are distorted. Remember we can only give the best signal to the brain and the brain is the one the decifers it. If you send a poor/distorted signal then you will struggle like putting a radio slightly off channel so there is noise.

Sorry to go on like this but I deal with this daily and many have expectations that are just not reality. Unlike the knee or hip joint we can’t just replace the auditory system. We have to work with what we have. And as both an audiologist and user of hearing aids. I can relate more than many but I tell my patients if they aren’t satisfied with what I can do for them then they need to find a different audiologist


And no wonder! See the charts here which rank hearing devices (OTC and prescribed) that rank THE BEST for speech compehension and what-not.

Most are missing the point of my rant. Why can’t HAs process sound (speech or music) as well as a plugged in set of earbuds. Is it because HA have to translate sound over the airway and earbuds are connected by a wire. I think it is more than that, you can deliver sound to earbuds via Bluetooth or WiFi and the sound can be just as good. Is the mikes in HA do a poorer job of translating. My question had nothing to do with cheaper over the counter HAs vs some ridiculously expensive models which can’t match the sound quality of high end earbuds.

An answer that makes sense

1 Like

I personally read nothing in the OP’s post to assume they are using using OTC hearing aids.

Jabra and ReSound HAs are both high quality prescriptive hearing aids. Yes Jabra does make OTC also but they did not specify anything about OTC experiences. That is not how their posts read to me.

@cjb4 ?