Why can i hear so much better with headphones than hearing aids?

I have been wearing analogue hearing aids for 27 years, although they wernt always great they could at least reproduce music in an acceptable fashion. Surely if i can buy a set of £100 headphones that sound great then i should be able to experience a similar sound from £3000 HAs? I am talking about the bud style with small drivers. I feel the hearing aids are trying to be too clever in that if i am watching a film and there are loud explosions i want to hear loud explosions not sudden sound loss because the hearing aid decides its too loud! This is not helpful nor natural!!! My partners voice sounds as though it is through a tin cup!! and dont get me started about the guitar!!! If digital are so much better why do i get headaches because my brain knows there is a sound there that the hearing aids will not replicate! These make me feel as if i have a real problem! when i had analogues after a few weeks i forgot i had them in and my brain decided what i need to hear!! surely this is better than a computers guess. There are benefits to the digitals but if the SOUND QUALITY is not there what is the point? I liken it to digital tv if the signal is great fine, but if it isnt expect blocky or frozen pictures coupled with loss of sound contrasted against analogue where overall quality goes down slightly but remains watchable. I want HAs that can fit in with my life NOT the other way round. If it aint broke comes to mind.:(:confused::confused:

A lot of the things that you seem to refer to as minor are necessary for a person with a severe or profound loss. One of the biggest complaints people who wear aids make is that they can’t hear in a noisy evnvironment. Manufacturers try to compensate for that by compressing what is known as background noise so that the listener can hear speech better. It’s not a perfect world. The aid doesn’t know that you want to hear the full volume of something exploding but can be adjusted by an audiologist to compensate for that. Analogue pretty much amplified everything. Digitals can be adjusted to amplify what you want, and the sound is much clearer.

I’m sure that’s right.

But many hearing aids do have multiple programs that one can select for various situations. My Phonak Savia’s have a “Music” program that supposedly calls off some of the electronic dogs and just lets the sound come through - supposedly with an appropriate frequency response.

Even so, in the “Music” mode the resulting sound quality is no match for my earphones fed by an appropriately adjusted equalizer and amplifier (and witnessed by the same listener). This remains the case even when the hearing instrument’s microphones are inactive and telecoils are used.

Now that we have RITE configurations one would think that the some of the excuses for the distortion, unacceptable dynamic range and sloppy frequency response would cause the manufacturers and fitters to raise the hoop a bit and deliver even mid-quality earphone performance - at least in the music mode.

Perhaps once the “Medical Device” designation for hearing instruments is removed, the resulting competition would raise instrument quality levels to what they could and should be.

Part of it is that headphones have an easier job. They know what you want to listen to and what you want to block out, so noise cancelling headphones know they must concentrate on the sound coming up the wire and cancel out the sound not coming up the wire. Simple. Hearing aids have a harder job, as they have to try to figure out what you want to hear and what you do not. They do this based on various sets of programs that are keyed into what most people listen to. Some hearing aids can be taught over time that you want to listen to the opposite noise, like sometimes I want to listen to the constant drone noise while people are talking, and the aids think I need to block out the drone and focus on the speech. That’s when you need additional programs.

I agree about the dynamic range, though I have kind of the opposite problem. I have a very small usable range, and I want to set up a “movie mode” on my aids which will compress everything to within a very small window, whispering and explosions will sounds very similar in my ideal movie mode. You have the opposite problem.

The medical device classification is part of the problem, yes. You can buy headphones and they have a warning in the book saying don’t listen to these headphones really loud for hours at a time, but that’s as far as they have to go. With hearing aids the audiologist must restrict the volume to what is safe for you to hear. Different aids handle this in different ways, or indeed a different set of programming might handle it differently, that instead of cutting out entirely you would be able to hear the explosion but have it compressed down to the dB level that is the maximum output of your aids. My new aids do this better than my old ones for sure.

Another problem is to do with lost sound quality in the air. Hearing aids are amplifying a sound which is already not as good because it has travelled from your TV speaker across the room to your ear. Headphones convey the entire sound directly from the source to the ear, no quality is lost. It is also not mixed with background noise. Whether or not you can personally hear the background noise there is always some form of background going on in life. It doesn’t matter how loud you make nonsense, it will still be nonsense. The aids cannot put any of the quality back in, and that’s where additional devices like streamers and FM systems come in. More expense, though!

Yes heading aids have much tougher jobs to do. But in a dedicated “Music” mode you would think all those extra jobs would get turned off and it would act simply as a headphone with an equalizer driver. In iPFG I went into the “Music” program made up a “custom” one from it. I made sure that as many of the features (noise canceling, feedback suppression, etc., etc.) were turned off as was possible. It was still no match for the headphones.

Has anyone reported on using the RITE canal receivers by themselves as passive earphones? In this case they would be driven directly from the music source as earphones are. It would be interesting to get feedback from anyone who has tested them this way.

Are you physically connected into your hearing aids when you use them in the music mode? If you are comparing music through headphones to music through speakers into hearing aids then that is still apples and oranges. But if you are connected directly to the music source with a streamer or DAI cable that’s different. I get the richest music sounds by placing headphones behind my ear to use via bone conduction. I have too much air conduction to get a BAHA hearing aid, but it would give me miles better quality but for the problem of an echo delay if I am hearing both through the aid and round the aid. The best I can get with music into my ear is definitely through the hearing aid, a direct input cable.

3 questions.

How big are the £100 headphones when compared with the average RIC speaker ?

How many of those exact same heandphones did Mr Sennheiser make last year?

Would you imagine that the hearing aids are primarily designed to enhance speech or enhance music?

Don’t get me wrong, an organic system like the ear that can detect the finer nuances in music while also detecting speech would be brilliant, but we’re not there yet.

If one should expect to take a hit in sound quality when compared to $70 ear-buds, then let’s demonstrate it in advance.

I expect many would be interested in listening to RICs hardwired to a music source in place of ear-buds and experience the limitations first-hand. At minimum we could judge for ourselves where the real sound quality limitations of the hearing instrument really are (i.e. electronic or transducer).

If by-passing the hearing instrument electronics this way results in much better audio reproduction, then perhaps providing a “direct speaker input” jack (not a DAI) on RIC BTEs would be useful for music applications.

I agree that headphones are better, if you turn those puppies loud enough. In a loud theater I’ll take out my aids and experience the movie much better. At home when wife out, I’ll watch a movie with the surround turned way up (hands over ears loud for her). Listening to music at PC, it’s Sennheiser time.

But, interacting with my grandkids and hearing them well is a job for my HI. Different tasks, different tools.

Maybe you need the ability to adjust your own aids. You adjust your stereo to what’s best for your headphones and hearing condition, why not your aids? Why shouldn’t you have the ability to set up the programs on your aids for the conditions as you see fit?

I agree and would like that very much. However as my Audi stated, if I sold you an iCube then you wouldn’t need me. Well, I would like to have an Audi that was mostly interested in my hearing performance.

There is a lot they have to offer that I don’t know, such as how frequency response affects HI settings. I would like them to put me on the right path and let me tweak settings within a range to fit.

I am hopeful my #2 Audi will work out. He is said to be expert in adjusting and accepts that “I won’t know it until I experience it” and appears willing to do more than one session. I’ll probably do a journal of some sort to describe an environment and worked or not.

There I go getting all optimistic but why not. There’s a lot more important things going on and that’s why I’m adding my “turn out okay” motto to my sig line.

Yep,spot on!


It’s already happening…:cool:</EMBED>

If you mean some compines like America Hears (www.americahears.com) supply you with hardware and software to adjust your own aids, then yes it is happening. My mom has used America Hears aids for over 5 years and is pleased with the aids and the company.

Yes, once self-programming companies give up on that diabolical triangular design in a limited range of colours and adds on DAI and other capabilities I am right there.

I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP breathing machine every night. The docs and techs try to keep the system closed but support forums are teaching patients about the problem and how to deal with it including how to record and analyze data to adjust their own machines. I tweaked mine until it’s in the groove and have been stable a couple years now.

This is what I want for my HI, but this industry does a better job of keeping the door closed. Perhaps a rogue tech or Audi will start a site to teach us what things mean and how to adjust HI.

Try going to www.audiologyonline.com and viewing some of their recorded online courses. Many are by manufacturer. You might learn a lot about your specific aid.

sorry if i wasn’t very clear, what i meant was even in direct audio mode the hearing aids do not come close to sounding like a pair of good headphones, if in direct mode i cannot understand this unless there is still a degree of sound processing going on or if the manufacturers are cutting corners with sub-par drivers in the speakers which makes me mad as they dont exactly give these things away! dont think its too much to ask for a decent set of drivers for the ear pieces is it? how much would it add to the cost 10 dollars? not a lot if it improves the sound quality is it?

@jhp49; Thanks for the link, very interesting!! I have iPFG6 and going through tutorials, etc. but it’s proof that I still need an Audi. It doesn’t do much good to know how to do something if I don’t know what to do.

Oh that’s easy. Your hearing aids are optimized for speech, which is in a pretty narrow frequency bandwidth. Music and other sound take up much more of the frequency spectrum than speech. Further, Hearing aids use compression to keep from feeding back and the Max Power output, what makes them cut down explosions and the like is a safety to protect what’s left of your hearing. You might want to ask your dispenser or audiologist to give you a music program with the compression taken out and with a relatively flat frequency response. That way you get closer to headphone style sound but in your hearing aids. Also that way, you aren’t likely to violate your max power output safety too badly and your aids shouldn’t shut down quite as readily on you.