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

Hearing aids aren’t meant or designed to do the same thing as high end ear buds. Hearing aids are designed for the ones of us that can no long get any pleasure out of the high end ear buds because of the damage that had happened to our hearing. To so many of us the sound of high end ear buds is a lot worse than our hearing aids. And I have to even question your need for aids if you can still hear so well with the ear buds.


Yes I am not talking about OTC HAs. I have no experience with them.

Yes I only use Hearing aids to get attention and think it is cool.

Well I wear hearing aids to be able to hear enough to survive in this crazy world. Most music sounds no different than an emergency siren to me, and i am happy to just be able to hear my family’s voices.

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I’ve trialled ReSound Nexias and the streamed sound quality was superb. I’ve just tweaked (with my audi) my Oticon Intents and the streaming sound quality is now also excellent. So IMO they can.


Just speculative, but noise canceling hearphones/earbuds I would think are designed to provide a wide frequency spectrum and to selectively “sanitize” the sound by removing all that isn’t streamed directly to your ears. Hearing Aids on the other hand aim to compensate for your hearing loss, not to replace what you hear but rather preserving much of what you naturally hear, wanted or not, and to emphasize speach recognition while minimizing size. Hearbuds compared to HA receivers are much bigger. Streaming via a HA is less than ideal and more for convenience. If you want the best Streaming experience, either use dedicated headphone + HA, or earbuds with adaptive sound settings.


Your question is a little ill-formed. You ask “Why can’t HAs process sound (speech or music) as well as a plugged in set of earbuds.” The problem is that they are doing very different processing with different goals and requirements, but a comparison like “as well as” depends entirely on what you’re asking them to do. As stated, you’re kind of asking why HAs can’t be better earbuds, which is like asking why trucks can’t be better cars. It’s a fair question, but saying which is “better” in general is entirely subjective.

There are a lot of differences between what hearing aids and wired earbuds are trying to do.

Fundamentally, the basic goal of HAs is to unobtrusively help the wearer understand speech (and other important environmental sounds) in their daily life. The job of wired earbuds is generally to make a music recording sound good. These aren’t the same.

HAs use (tiny) microphones to listen to all the sounds in your environment, and try to figure out which sounds to enhance and which to suppress. This is a very hard problem that all the HA companies are working on. When you instead use wired earbuds to listen to a connected audio source, none of this hard work is needed: the signal being presented is exactly what needs to be amplified without background noise, wind noise, etc.

Another key difference is that HAs are optimized for speech comprehension, not music fidelity, so they focus on frequencies relevant to speech: roughly 200hz-4Khz. HAs also try to be as small as possible, so they use tiny microphones and speakers that simply cannot handle low frequencies. This is why HAs generally don’t sound great on music.

Earbuds, on the other hand, focus more on music, so they have wider frequency ranges, larger speakers, and emphasize music fidelity. When the input source is largely free of noise and distraction (what you get from a wired source like a PA system or music track), this sounds great for music and speech. And while wearing big white earbuds with speakers capable of producing lower frequencies is now something of a style, similarly-sized HAs don’t yet have the appeal.


@cjb4 I am unable to get any specifications on the Jabra. Their website is meant to get you to purchase. And they didn’t get into hearing aids until the gov’t came up with rules for over the counter. So I can’t say much about them but would not consider them high quality.
As for the Resounds they have been around for a but there are multiple styles and levels so can’t answer this either. But can say I have found many times it is all in adjustments according to how a person hears and programmed for different settings.
As far as comparing to headsets and such for music there are many differences. Its funny how when it comes to these systems they don’t have to try and be nearly invisible so they can use larger speakers and leave room in the ear canal so they don’t feel plugged up like we would have to do with hearing aids. In fact, for me when traveling, especially by plane or train, I put on closed domes that block my ear canals and the sound is very good then as there is no loss of sound and still tuned to my loss.
Let me recommend Dr Cliff on youtube as he covers all of these things in detail and even rates hearing aids and I know has done some OTC’s comparisons as well. And Yes I still consider the Jabra an OTC


I think that the title is wrong.
“Why are hearing aids so bad at doing the job they are made for?”

I’ve had exceptional hearing aids that were set up beautifully by a skilled audiologist.

I’ve had wonderful hearing aids that didn’t work because they were set up badly by another one.

I think the hidden need is to find someone that can really really help you and I because they care, have knowledge and skill and real passion for what they do.

Some of those wonderful people are here.



You are so very correct. The audiologist is well over 50% of a great fitting. I have said a number of times a great audiologist can take an average hearing aid and make it great. And an average audiologist can make the highest quality hearing aid to be just barely average. And a poor audiologist can not make any hearing aids usable. .

But I also have to say a patient with the capacity to explain his or her hearing needs and explain what is being heard or not heard can make their on hearing fitting experiences so much better too.


Which Jabra models are you referring to, not the Costco rebranded models right?

Agreed! Streaming to my HAs is garbage compared to my Samsung Buds Plus or pretty much any bluetooth headphone or earbud I’ve tried.

I can see that with your hearing loss, but for me ear buds are useless.

Jabra Enhanced Pro ver 1.35.1 from Costco

Yeah I was thinking that, but was wondering if @Dr_Palmer has made a mistake in claiming that he considers them OTC, the models sold directly from Jabra website would be.

Just for interest I looked up the frequency response of my Shure earbuds, which starts at 20hz, and HA at best @80hz, more like 100hz. Upper limit, is irrelevant as both go above human hearing capability. The larger driver (and physical size) of the earbuds brings in the lower frequencies that the minute receivers of HAs are physically incapable of generating. Added to that my earbuds sounds isolating characteristics aims to eliminate all that isn’t coming from the buds themselves. Therefore depending on your favorite musical style and HA style, one will perceive more or less of a difference. The signal coming through my earbuds is unprocessed (no NR), the signal coming through HAs 100% processed + natural noise. Interestingly enough, incapability of noise reduction algorithms in NR headphones to eliminate language makes them good at isolating speach… to a point (it isn’t emphasized, just isolated albeit muted), but you’re missing out on everything else, which isn’t the intent of hearing aids nor is “normal hearing”, which HAs aim to restore. Thankfully most hearing impared humans don’t have much limitations below 100Hz.

OP, I had many years of gradual, uncorrected hearing loss before I obtained hearing aids; because of this, my perception of the music gradually altered. I came to enjoy hearing the bass notes a great deal. When I got hearing aids, trying to play the same music through the hearing aids made me feel that the high notes were undesirably loud, so I use the equalizer function to bump up the bass and/or lower the treble to compensate for what I like to hear. For quite a while I enjoyed my favorite tunes more when not wearing my hearing aids, than with them (but I’ve mostly re-adjusted now).

What I’m suggesting is, it’s possible that one factor affecting your music enjoyment is your brain’s adjustment of ‘what it likes/expects to hear’ and of what your brain ‘perceives’ as better sound quality. I’m betting that’s not the only factor, but perhaps it is one factor affecting things for you.

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The Jabra is basically a Resound aid so you only compared 1 aid really. Try some others.
Size matters. Fitting AI hardware, 20 hr battery life, nearly invisible at half the size of the smallest bt earbuds, a micro speaker inside, all day comfort and usage in such a tiny package hurts in some ways but helps in others. Try using bt ear buds for 18 hours with no charge.

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Also, my hearing is similar to yours except my loss is greater and my Resound aids help a great deal. Without them i couldnt function. It did take trying different molds and many different adjustments. I even went the diy route to tinker with settings and find what works and what doesn’t. Everyones loss is so unique it may take trying different aids, molds, and if you do decide to get some, expect multiple adjustments or go the do it yourself route maybe. Have you had an eval for surgery? How is your bone conduction?

Version 1.35.1 is latest release of the Jabra EnhancePro ‘app’ for the Jabra Enhance Pro 10s and 20s.

The Enhance Pro 20s are the same thing as the ReSound Nexia 9s. You should have had a similar experience from both…the difference being the HCP doing the fitting.

Version 1.35.1 is the same as the ReSound Smart 3D app as well. They are interchangeable also and differ only in color.

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