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Using Headphones with your hearing aids
  • May 10, 2018

Using Headphones with your hearing aids

Until recent improvements in hearing aid technology, you could not wear headphones with your aids. You can now - this opens up a great many scenarios previously not available.

The squealling ("acoustic feedback" or just "feedback") of a hearing aid when you cup your hand over it would be a sure sign it would not work when confined in a set of headphones.

So imagine the delight in being able to use a high quality set of noise cancelling headphones with your hearing aids.

Noise Cancelling headphones work by creating a noise-cancelling wave that is 180° out of phase with the ambient noise.

Originally designed for travellers on long flights.

The same technology is used by software to reduce noise in a recording.

So we can now hear using hearing aids and noise cancelling headphones with amazing clarity.

Headphones Covering Ears

Why better quality headphones are safer

Headphones with better quality reduces the need to raise the volume to hear well. Noise cancelling headphones which enclose your ears are good. Also high quality flexible headphones that fit in your ear can be good.

Sometimes the hearing aid interferes with the seal or the comfort of the fit. Many prefer to use headphones that completely overlap your ears. Some hearing aid wearers report great success with Unitron Hearing Aids and Bose headphones. Certain styles of the Unitron RIC hearing aids, fit behind the ear and are tiny. A good set of noise cancelling headphones (eg Bose) will still allow you to hear noises in your environment, you are not completely locked out. The hearing clarity is amazing.

Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds - a test drive

We tested the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds, with emphasis on whether they would be useful for people with a hearing loss. We were impressed, how useful they would be to you does depend on the severity and type of hearing loss.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is a feature hearing with a hearing loss will appreciate. Many of our worst hearing scenarios stem from trying to hear in background noise. Hence in certain situations you would hear more of say a YouTube video when using the Earbuds in the presence of background noise, due to the quality of the ANC.

Listening to music is a pleasure with Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds, they incorporate similar features to the latest Phonak Hearing Aids like tap to easily dial the ANC all the way up (10), go into full transparency mode (0), or any blend of the two on a scale of 0-10. The default is 0-5-10 as you tap toggle through, via the left Earbud.

Listening on an iPad to YouTube you can use the tap functionality to stop the video, which also moves the ANC into full transparency mode (0), meaning you can easily conduct a conversation. If your are in 10 full ANC you sim will not hear anyone speaking in a normal voice.

Unlike hearing aids programmed to your hearing loss, the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds have a beautiful preset sound profile, ideal for music with a nice base sound.

The wireless capabilities are very good, better than many hearing aid streamers (Accessories for Hearing Aids). These are not discrete buds, they are quite large and fit comfortably in your ear. High quality hearing aids will always be more comfortable, these are designed to be worn all day.

These are not a substitute for high quality hearing aids, but our experience is they can be used successfully if you have a hearing impairment. Its the distortion in poor quality headphones that can cause problems. Hence good quality audio is always an advantage for people with hearing problems.

Unlike headphones, you would probably not wear the Earbuds and your hearing aids at the same time. Say if you were charging your hearing aids, you could pop these buds in and hear very well depending on your hearing condition.

The Bluetooth capability of the Earbuds works better then uStream streamer you can purchase for Unitron hearing aids. So typically you could put your iPhone into a receiver into your TV watch SBS or ABC iView and even go into the garden and still hear audio clearly. If you need to hear noises around you a tap of the left ear reduces or increases the ANC.

As a surfer you may not want to put your $6000 hearing aids into your salty ear on the way home from the beach. The Earbuds would be fine and very safe behind the wheel to make a few phone calls even when driving.

Hearing your mobile phone ring

One issue facing people with hearing loss is hearing your mobile phone ring from a different room in your house.

There are now some standard phones that can be used to connect to your mobile phone via Bluetooth.

One that works well, and is widely available is the Uniden XDECT 8355 series.

You don't actually require a landline connection you can simply use this phone as an extension of your mobile phone.

The benefit is you can hear this phone wherever your mobile phone is.

Another great feature is the do not disturb mode.

The audio quality is good - at least as good as your phone. The Uniden XDECT 8355 series also comes with options for more phones and locations so in a large house you can leave your mobile where it gets the best reception and pick up the Uniden wherever it is closest.

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