Music cause emotions and feelings and has been seen by people as a means to energise, relax and inspire themselves. But what about the hearing impaired? Are they able to enjoy their favourite music with hearing aids?
No, listening to speech is not actually same as listening to music with hearing aids. These devices are designed to improve an individual’s (with hearing loss or impairment) understanding of speech in everyday environments and not specifically programmed to process music similarly.
That’s why the hard of hearing using hearing aids often complaint about the music being distant, muted or unclear.
What’s the problem with using hearing aids to listen to music?
Many people struggling with hearing loss are reported to listen to music through their aids. However, the experiences aren’t too pleasant and many of them end up giving up on their interest in music.
The reason? The clarity and quality of the music when listening through hearing aids is distorted and sounds compressed and fuzzy.
This happens because music signals possess different acoustic and structural characteristics from speech signals. The goals involved in improving the listening ability are also different from intentions in listening to music.
While some hearing devices use programmes that help improve a person’s ability to understand speech, others focus on the volume of incoming sounds. Thus, high frequency sounds in some kind of music are automatically reduced or eliminated by the hearing aid causing distortion.
Enhancing the quality of music for the hard of hearing listeners
While music hasn’t been a consideration around the hearing aid design process, the advanced hearing technology focuses on speech and music processing separately.
Working closely with hearing aid wearers, engineers and programmers, some popular brands specialising in hearing devices have come up with innovative technology that focuses on music processing in particular.
Starkey, Widex and Oticon hearing aids are the likes of hearing solutions some recognised hearing aid manufacturers and providers that has changed the music listening experience for the hard of hearing.
With an assortment of state-of-the-art features that are designed specifically for music, hearing loss patients can now enjoy their music without distortion. Not only the new programming code, particularly designed for listening to music, helps affected people enjoy music better than before but it also helps enhance speech clarity at the same time.
With that said, if you’re planning to buy new or upgrade your hearing device, be sure to consult with your audiologist or hearing healthcare provider to find a solution that best suits both your music and speech listening needs.