Best Hearing Aids for Musicians: A Lifeline for Hearing Impaired Artists
Hearing is one of the most important auditory senses for us, but sadly it can get damaged at any point in our life. Therefore, hearing health is one of the prerequisites of having a normal life and getting on with things comfortably. Especially people in the music sector need perfect hearing health more than anyone else, as they have to listen properly to what they are trying to create. So, suppose if any musician or music producer faces hearing loss to some degree. In that case, it is important to take measures to prevent further problems that affect your work and daily life. Still, your career is completely dependent on your hearing ability if you are a music producer.
How Hearing Loss Affects Musicians
Musicians need to have an excellent hearing ability to compose new music, as compositions usually include vocal tracks and multiple instruments running simultaneously Therefore, great hearing is essential whether you’re singing, playing an instrument, or mixing the song.
However, the harsh reality is that musicians are always at significant risk of hearing loss. Phil Collins, Pete Townsend, and Chris Martin were heard to be suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus. It shouldn’t be a surprise if musicians face hearing loss due to long-term exposure to loud noise in the studio and on tours.
Musicians tend to have progressive hearing loss in many cases. Even if a hearing loss might be mild right now, it can gradually worsen to higher degrees. So, it is a must to take steps if there’re symptoms of hearing loss.
Professional Musicians Need Professional Technology
When you are a professional musician with hearing loss problems and have to work with music all the time, you can’t just get on with general hearing aids. Even though available hearing aids collections might help you listen to music and watching shows or movies without any trouble, you need better and more enhanced OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids while you are constantly working to create or produce music. You need to understand every note, change in rhythm, drop in tone, and other stuff in order to pursue a professional career in music, and if you have hearing loss problems, it becomes challenging, but you can still do it. However, you’ll need hearing aids behind the ear with professional technology that will particularly help you in terms of music and help you to pursue your career in the music industry properly. You can’t do so with generic hearing aids. So hearing aids specially made for music professionals are needed here.
Speech Versus Music
There are many common grounds between music spectra and speech, and there are many differences too. And it’s the same case for the intuitive requirements for music and speech too. Speech is usually a better-controlled spectrum with predictable and established perceptual characteristics than music. On the other hand, the spectra of music are variable on a higher number, and the intuitive requirements of music can differ based on a musician and their instrument.
Usually, manufacturers design hearing aids in a way where the aid’s primary focus’ acoustic signal is speech. And for that, you can’t use them for music too; you’ll need different technology. Manufacturing hearing aids that will work better for music too can be quite a tough job. However, generic hearing aids can use specific parameters to allow the amplification of a musical signal of high fidelity. And the thresholds of the compression detector can also be increased, and the detection of musical signals can also be altered by compressors. And these might improve the usefulness of these hearing aids for singers and musicians with hearing loss problems. Hearing aids need to allow the users to adjust it easily to gain requirements to listen and understand music.
What the Audiologist Suggests
If you are a musician and facing obstacles in your career due to hearing loss problems, you must consult with an audiologist to help you determine your next steps. However, an audiologist will suggest the proper hearing aids that will best suit your needs in order to pursue your career properly, and help you adapt to the new systems and fits. Also, the audiologist will sit with you to understand what type of setting you need from hearing aids by letting you play your preferred instruments and let you work in your usual way to find the best possible setting and fit for you so that you can have an excellent career in music despite hearing loss problems.
Relieve Tinnitus with Music
You might not know, but music can help to get rid of some sort of hearing problems too. There is a specific hearing problem called tinnitus, and when someone suffers from it, they tend to listen to a buzzing, beeping, or ringing sound in their ears constantly, even though there isn’t any source for these sounds around. To help patients with these problems, there is a special type of hearing aid. Tinnitus hearing aids use “tinnitus masking” to help people with tinnitus to get relieved of it. And in tinnitus masking, special sound effects or music is used to divert the patient’s hearing so that they can learn to ignore the buzzing sound they’ve heard due to tinnitus. So, through the tinnitus masking process, music can indeed help relieve tinnitus.
Hearing Aids For Music Lovers
If you are a musician or music producer, you must take care of the problem efficiently and quickly, as hearing loss is too severe of an issue for you. However, if it is determined by an audiologist that you are suffering from hearing loss, hearing aids are most likely the best possible solution. As you can’t grow your hearing back naturally, you can enhance your hearing ability by using hearing aids. They won’t only increase your hearing; they’ll also keep your hearing healthy and safe from further damage.
In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are preferred mainly by the musicians of the three main types of hearing aids, as these hearing aids fit perfectly in the ear canal. Among the others, there are also headphones with hearing aids. The behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids don’t catch the noise if you play through headphones. Also, you can prefer in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids, as they provide a natural and good listening experience.
There are quite some hearing aid features and styles designed specifically for musicians and your audiologist might also help you choose the best options for your certain needs. The best hearing aids for musicians feature technological advancements, which can provide huge convenience to musicians. Speech enhancement technology is an available feature liked by musicians that will allow you to understand song lyrics better. Also, music can directly be transmitted to hearing aids from custom accessories such as wireless streaming devices, which will make the sound safer for you to hear.
Modern music hearing aids can distinguish between music and voices, and process them differently to provide better clarity to the user. And they can also process a bigger sound resolution range. Sound therapy and aural rehab can also be used cooperatively with hearing aids, but choosing an ideal device is the best option.
Hearing Aid Adjustments for Musicians
There are some adjustment options for the hearing aids for musicians, which can be vital during setting the aids properly for them. These adjustment options are:
Peak Input Limiting Level
Peak input levels are really important while you want to select a bunch of electroacoustic parameters ideal for enjoying enhanced music via your hearing aids. Many hearing aids have a clipper or a limiter, which stops sounds that are above 85-90 dB SPL from getting through it effectively. But these days, advanced hearing aids mostly feature peak input limiting levels of 100-105 dB SPL.
Compression of hearing aids is used to turn louder sounds down, exceeding a set volume level. It reduces a sound’s dynamic range, and it is also used to provide a person with hearing loss with more audible sounds. However, less compression is recommended for music that is more natural-sounding.
Feedback Reduction Systems
As the music’s spectral intensity is greater than speech, the feedback received by the aids is not much of an issue. It’s less than speech typically in the cases of inputs of a higher level. But feedback reduction needed in various cases, or you won’t be able to disable the feedback circuit in music programs. Also, having systems utilizing a reduction method for gain in the hearing aid can be the best for music.
It’s best to disable the noise reduction system of the hearing aid while listening to music. The signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is usually quite favorable, so noise reduction is unnecessary. However, you can’t disable the noise reduction system for some hearing aids. As the primary benefit for noise reduction systems is to improve listening comfort rather than reducing noise, choosing an approach with minimal effect might be beneficial.
Best Hearing Aids For People In Music
Depending on different features, we have put down a list of some hearing aids that will serve musicians with hearing loss in a great manner. They have all the above-mentioned specialties that can help a musician to safely and properly continue their career. The list of best hearing aids for musicians contains-
Oticon Opn 1
Oticon Opn 1 is one of the best and most advanced hearing aids for musicians out there. These aids are elegant and discreet and available in 8 different colors so that you can choose a color matching with your skin tone to blend in easily. Oticon Opn improves the ability to understand speech even in challenging environments, which means less listening effort for you. You don’t have to work hard to understand, many mental energy to analyze what you hear correctly.
You can enjoy life to the fullest with Widex Beyond hearing aids. The Beyond hearing aid provides an incredibly advanced sound quality. And you won't have to find the most ideal listening conditions, As it optimizes sound based on your environment. they're created for you no matter where you are. In addition, beyond hearing aids have SMARTWIND Manager, which is the best wind noise algorithm in the industry. Wind noise annoyance is reduced by it significantly and speech understanding is increased.
These hearing aids need less power than most hearing aids of similar features, so that you can use them for longer without any inconvenience. In addition, they are specifically designed to provide better connectivity options and to work great for musicians.
Nano X2R is one of the most impressive hearing aid devices out there. These hearing aids have rechargeable technology and excellent background noise-canceling technology. This hearing aids are Bluetooth enabled. They have an extremely discreet design and look nearly invisible. Also, extremely easy to use, and they have 2 directional microphones per device. They can be of great use for music producers.
The Resound Linx hearing aids are one of the most advanced and high-tech hearing aids out there, and the Resound app it uses can help you hugely increase your hearing ability and understand the speeches way more clearly. Moreover, You will be able to easily differentiate between sounds in different environments, as the adjustment system of these hearing aids is amazing. And it will specifically help musicians while creating music due to its advanced features and technology.
This is another model from the famous Widex brand, which also can be great for musicians. These provide a modern and stylish feeling, and they are 20% smaller than a conventional BTE hearing aid. You’ll be able to hear the complete sound picture as these hearing aids feature the True-Input Technology. Conversations will sound better, as the users of this hearing aid experienced a speech perception that is around 21% better in the case of loud noises. Many professional musicians with hearing loss use it. Around 60% of musicians prefer Dream hearing aids over others.
Hearing Aid Fitting Settings for Professional Musicians
To have the perfect fitting settings of the hearing aids for a musician, the audiologist will understand what music is to the musician they are sitting with. There are so many variables like the instrument type, room acoustics, orchestra or group size, and the style of music. This difference impacts the music’s acoustic properties directly, such as the long-term standard spectrum, the dynamic range, or the crest factor. So, having a common solution for all the musicians out there with hearing loss problems is not possible.
An audiologist can perfect the fitting of hearing aids of a musician by letting them work with the instrument they play during the hearing aid settings fitting session. The musicians can provide direct feedback and live adjustments to the audiologist during the session that will allow them to use the hearing aids to their full technological potential until they get to listen to their instrument the way they want to listen to it. Even though this approach is alluring and might lead to better gratification in terms of clinical settings, it's impossible to generalize the findings of a clinical setting to various other listening situations, such as when they rehearse, practice, or perform in various musical setups.
Finding a Community of Musicians with Hearing Loss
The AAMHL or the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss can help you find your fellow musicians with hearing loss. Being in the community of musicians with hearing loss can help you pursue your career with the same enthusiasm and confidence despite your hearing loss problems.
This association allows musicians to come together from all over the USA, help each other in various ways, and even organize shows to perform together. Being a musician with hearing loss, you can meet others who have experienced similar things as you and who’ll understand what you are going through and the other preconceived notions that are associated with hearing loss. Here you can learn from others about making your peace using hearing aids and how to properly make music by using them to your advantage, even though the hearing aids can’t fully help you with that. So, you’ll need to learn to adapt, and the community can help you a lot with that.
If you have a career in music, good hearing ability is crucial for you. So, make sure to take measures as soon as possible if you find out you have hearing loss to some degree. And the hearing aids mentioned in the list can help you with that. You can easily choose one from the list, as all of them are of great quality.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Can hearing aids play music?
Ans: Yes, they can. You can always tune your hearing aids into a wireless stereo headset. Thanks to the Looping systems that serve as wireless loudspeakers which stream audio waves for voice calls, sounds, and external noise.
Q: How do you reduce background noise in a hearing aid?
Ans: Hearing aid with the latest technology has adaptive noise reduction to provide less amplification to noise than to speech. This can be achieved by adjusting the amplifiers and identifying the intensity of noise, a place that creates the event of inaudible or excessive noise.
Published in: 2015 International Conference on Pervasive Computing (ICPC)