Why is a hearing aid speaker called a receiver?

Why do audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers refer to the speaker in an aid as a “receiver”?

Surely “speaker” is the correct term?


I guess it “receives” the signal from the aid??

One of those weird things about hearing aids. I also find it confusing that the convention is to put the results for the right ear on the left side of the page, or computer screen.

Kind of like in the UK, people got started driving on the wrong side of the road, instead of the RIGHT side, and just kept doing it! :slight_smile:


I wrote the preceding yesterday in another topic.

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Don’t think of them as left and right; rather, as blue and red. :grinning:

Traditional mnemonic: R for Red and for Right. (But don’t use that for airplane wingtip navigation lights!)

Probably for the audiologists perspective looking at you?


Anatomical view for the audiologist. Which means facing them.

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True, and I am sure that is where it comes from, but I am not an audiologist, so I find it confusing.

Here’s an article I found that gives some of the history. It’s an interesting assessment.

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It is confusing just like the English language when one word has different meanings. I think of receiver has an amplifier and other functions like tuner, radio, preamp, etc, in it.

Simplified nomenclature…

It’s just derivative from the telephone industry where you lift the receiver and place it near you ear.

The way you describe a transducer is always contentious given that they are merely a method of transforming one energy to another.


Yes, I agree. The receiver on a telephone is were you receive the other party’s voice. The terminology predates modern electronics and our modern perspective.

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Ah yes! The telephone. That explains an otherwise strange terminology. Telephones came first so audio terminology does not apply?

No, I’ve never understood why. Back in the days when I used body worn hearing aids, the “receivers” were in the white button like things on the ends of the cords and clipped on to my earmoulds via magnets.

It is wire-centric, not user-centric.

Alex Bell patented (specific aspects of) “sound on a wire”. The thing you put to your ear Receives the sound from the wire. The thing you talk to Transmits sound onto the wire (“transmitter”).

Bell was selling a way to put your voice blocks or miles away via a wire. The wire was central to the whole invention. (He didn’t patent the wire, or a good transmitter, but he sure commercialized The Bell System of wires and end-bits.)

For a century all telephony called the ear-thing a receiver.

Many early electric hearing aids WERE telephone parts. So the names carried-on.

The modern balanced-armature receiver is a very developed thing, but more closely related to classic telephone ear-things than any other common audio transducer.

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Re: the mnemonic, I learned “red, right, and round.” LOL!

In the 1990’s as a tech we called them earphones

I agree with your comment of the right aid being represented on the left side of the screen, etc.

My HAs stopped working and the Aud replaced the “speaker.” So they do use the term.

Maybe the print option can flip them?