Jump to content
IGNORED

hearing aids for audiophiles


Hailey
 Share

Recommended Posts

Well, the time has come...I need hearing aids. I'm experiencing moderate hearing loss (30-40 db) across the spectrum, dropping off to severe at 8k hz (80db!).

 

The problem: What I can hear, I hear really, really well. I am an audio enthusiast with a very discerning, if compromised, ear.

 

Right now I'm trying Phonak's Lyric hearing aids, which fit deep in the ear canal, supposedly availing one of benefits of the canal's acoustics. They're also analogue, rather than digital: I wasn't going to subject of output of my $2000 DAC to yet another (and certainly inferior) analogue-digital-analogue signal processing cycle.

 

The result: I'm hearing all right. In glorious, living FM.

 

As test, I went to Boston's Symphony Hall, one of the world's finest acoustic spaces.

 

The experience left me wanting to open a vein.

 

Ok, so there's my tale of woe. With that windup, might anyone here have any advice?

 

Many thanks....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several years ago, in desperation, I sought out one of the top ENT doctors on the East Coast for problems similar to yours. When he said there was no cure, I asked if hearing aids would help. He said no, there was no existing technology, including cochlear implants that would provide the hearing acuity that would satisfy an audiophile.

 

I contacted him again a few months ago to learn if technology now offered any new options. He said no.

 

I have found the best option is very high quality headphones. For me, they offer good SQ without constantly reminding me of my hearing loss the way speakers do.

 

On the other hand, I will be watching this thread in case a miracle surfaces.

 

You are not alone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi - CA newby here - I have been lurking on and off on this forum for many years - however, I am very passionate about this subject. I too have a hearing impairment that means I too have to wear HAs. I have such a sever treble roll off in my right ear that @ >4Hkz I am classified profoundly deaf. The left is not better. However, I have never enjoyed my hi if as I do now. IMO it is better to invest in your equipment than top of the range HAs - sure HAs have their place, but for hi fi listening I have now totally discarded them.

 

If you do a simple frequency sweep on your hi fi, I suspect you can hear up to 8-10khz+, only the higher frequencies will be at a lower volume. The audiogram would have you think your hearing is terrible - the SPL decibel calibration is very misleading and is all to do with the minimum sound you can hear. It is nothing to do with listening to music.

 

So this is my six point plan for a digital set up;

 

1) Trust your ears - no dealer or reviewer will hear as you do - hi fi shows are great places to audition equipment in a neutral environment.

2) Correct equipment - I have found clarity + emotional engagement to be the most critical factors - current set-up is NAS/JRIVER/Ifi IUSB/IDAC2/ITUBE/Bel Canto Class D monoblocks/Amphion One18s - the speakers are studio monitors and they let you peer deep into the mix. I heard them at a show and they are the closest to actually being in a studio that I have ever experienced.

3) DSP - Studio Pro quality as a minimum - don't waste time with freebie software - it needs to be drop drawer, which does not mean expensive - I use a studio PEQ - when you come to set it up forget insertion gain - trust your ears - you will find you need less gain than you think. My wife of great hearing doesn't even notice when I have tweaked the sound :-) Be prepared to experiment with getting dsp right. You will find you will settle on a "good for all" setting.

4) Correct listening position - nearfield works better for me as it eliminates room reflections - hence headphones are great - be prepared to pay a lot as all mid range phones sound boxy to me - I have noble CIEM Kaisers - truly exceptional clarity.

5) Correct sound level - even for a person with good ears will hear different frequencies at different levels dependant on volume - you will settle on a sweet spot.

6) Right music - I still find some complex recordings difficult - but they may because they are not recorded well :-)

 

I should be helping with Christmas preparations - so a rather hasty response - please feel free to email for any specific questions. Anyone on the Welsh/English border is welcome to visit me.

 

Hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derekc, what a helpful and encouraging response. Thanks for coming out of the wood work, so to speak.

 

I'm also interested in the subject although I'm not yet in need of hearing aids. I was hoping and had a bit of an inkling that something like your experience was a possibility and am so glad that you confirmed it.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's an article that might be of use, from an audiophile in your situation:

The Aging Audiophile - a Tale of Sorrow and Redemption

 

And here's an older article, but still might be helpful, with audiophile reviews of hearing aid models

Feature Article

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A high quality pair of headphones, and a far better than average source and headphone amplifier may be the way to go.

My Neurologist told me that it's the close coupling to the ears that matters.

Don't think that you are wasting your time listening to anything better than AM radio, .mp3 either.

In my case , even Youtube 187Kilobits .aac , which is their maximum audio bit rate with 1280 video resolution ,sounds vastly inferior to good RB CD !

Well recorded High Res material may sound even better, which perhaps sounds a little weird given severe HF hearing rolloff.

If you try boosting HF detail to try and correct for HF loss, it just doesn't sound right, at least not for me.

Surprisingly, with my Class A HA / Preamp and 15W Class A amplifier, and modified DAC projects in another forum, if it sounds right to me , it also sounds right to almost everybody else.

Go figure !

 

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derekc, what a helpful and encouraging response. Thanks for coming out of the wood work, so to speak.

 

I'm also interested in the subject although I'm not yet in need of hearing aids. I was hoping and had a bit of an inkling that something like your experience was a possibility and am so glad that you confirmed it.

 

Chris

 

Hi Chris - thanks - it is a known fact that as we age our hearing deteriorates - so agree, best to tackle it head on ASAP. I was in denial for way too long about my condition and as a consequence made quite a few poor (& really expensive!) equipment choices. The prospect of losing your hearing can be quite depressing, especially if you love music/hi fi - I know. The world of audiophile and hearing impaired are worlds apart, I found no one I could turn to for help and have tried to piece together a solution as best I can, that fits my needs. There may be other solutions of course.

 

This shows age vs. hearing lose;

 

https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9741

 

I had a better web page than this but cannot now find it - however, it does show the gradual deterioration. The values are I believe audiogram SPL dbs - not to be confused with our audio db scale where 3db = half power.

 

Things are further complicated when you consider that musician, sound engineer, producer and listener will all have a different hearing profile.

 

Hi fI has been totally fixated with a straight line representation of sound, I am pleased to see that DSP usage is becoming more widespread and challenging the norm.

 

P.s. for live music/cinema - I do occasionally wear the HAs - I asked for my aids to have a non filtered setting and have also asked for grommets to be fitted that let the outside sound in. I.e. I fully use what hearing I have and the HAs only feed in the higher frequencies.

 

Derek

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alex - if you are using some sort of EQ then I agree it sounds awful. You need to use what the studio guys use. Part of my learning was to spend a day with a renowned studio engineer. I learnt more that day about sound reproduction than I had in years of reading hi fi articles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO it is better to invest in your equipment than top of the range HAs - sure HAs have their place, but for hi fi listening I have now totally discarded them.

 

If you do a simple frequency sweep on your hi fi, I suspect you can hear up to 8-10khz+, only the higher frequencies will be at a lower volume. The audiogram would have you think your hearing is terrible - the SPL decibel calibration is very misleading and is all to do with the minimum sound you can hear. It is nothing to do with listening to music.

 

So this is my six point plan for a digital set up;

 

1) Trust your ears

2) Correct equipment

3) DSP - Studio Pro quality as a minimum - don't waste time with freebie software

4) Correct listening position - nearfield works better for me as it eliminates room reflections - hence headphones are great

5) Correct sound level

6) Right music

Hope this helps.

 

Good call derekc! I found there really is no such thing as an audiophile audiologist. I have tinnitus issues so doing the usual low volume listening test is a waste of time as the test signals disappear into my background noise level.

The audiologist would have me using HAs with huge boost to frequencies in the 4kHz - 8kHz level, based on their faulty techniques. And told me I would get used/adjust to the initial tinny sound!

When asked if this would mean that listening live orchestra (without HAs) would then sound dull once my ears adjusted, he didn't have a clue.

So I set up my own frequency comparison hearing tests with headphones, but at my normal music listening levels. And found that there was no perceivable hearing loss at all up to 10,000Hz. Mind you it fell away sharply then - but at my age that is expected.

Playing at your normal listening levels with a good source and capable EQ software using headphones will soon tell you what you need or don't need.

 

I do have a hearing problem. My tinnitus does cause conversation hearing problems, but not when listening to music. If I were to use a HA it would boost volume for conversation only, but no EQ! HA would be removed for music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks - interesting response XP9433 - it confirms my findings that even with a poor audiogram result, one can still hear the higher frequencies. However, I do give the higher frequencies a few db boost. It doesn't need much but to me it transforms both the sound and soundstage.

 

Apologies for straying off thread - tinnitus is another bane of my life. It was a constant companion for many years, then one day it disappeared. So could only assume the advice I had been given about it being a permanent defect were wrong. Sadly, it came back and some days are worse than others - however, some days are silent bliss. Just recently I have been having cranial osteopathy and this appears to have stabilised the problem. It might be worth checking out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alex - if you are using some sort of EQ then I agree it sounds awful. You need to use what the studio guys use. Part of my learning was to spend a day with a renowned studio engineer. I learnt more that day about sound reproduction than I had in years of reading hi fi articles.

 

Derek

What surprises me, when listening through very expensive gear, or better than average DIY gear, is that I still appear to hear the same flaws as those with good hearing, in fact I am more likely to hear problems than they are, with issues such as grain and masking due to low level wideband noise, which is why I developed a very low noise PSU for my Regen.

According to presently accepted theory I shouldn't be able to pick up on those things, let alone what I report in other areas.

BTW, all my DIY gear is designed for the flattest, and most extended frequency response. Not only does it sound better to me, but sounds right to others too.

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alex - glad to see you are following rule 1 - trust your own ears :-) Very good point - I also find I have absolutely no issue differentiating between equipment, 16 and 24 bit etc. My personal observations of the equipment I own/heard are always echoed in reviews/other people's observations. E.g. you mentioning your regen PSU - I just introduced the IFI IUSB into my system and it greatly improved SQ.

 

I am finding all these responses very encouraging.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the time has come...I need hearing aids. I'm experiencing moderate hearing loss (30-40 db) across the spectrum, dropping off to severe at 8k hz (80db!).

 

The problem: What I can hear, I hear really, really well. I am an audio enthusiast with a very discerning, if compromised, ear.

 

Right now I'm trying Phonak's Lyric hearing aids, which fit deep in the ear canal, supposedly availing one of benefits of the canal's acoustics. They're also analogue, rather than digital: I wasn't going to subject of output of my $2000 DAC to yet another (and certainly inferior) analogue-digital-analogue signal processing cycle.

 

The result: I'm hearing all right. In glorious, living FM.

 

As test, I went to Boston's Symphony Hall, one of the world's finest acoustic spaces.

 

The experience left me wanting to open a vein.

 

Ok, so there's my tale of woe. With that windup, might anyone here have any advice?

 

Many thanks....

 

My wife tells me I have needed a hearing aid for at least a decade.

The

Problem she looks away and mumbles. I find I can still listen to my stereo and tell component changes and when something is either working well or performing properly.

But I will look into getting one, my hearing will continue downhill. It kind of like bifocals, only old people have them. Guess I am old people.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it is well known that there is a bright side to everything.

 

I noticed a year or two ago, when I had a severe allergy turn into a nasty sinus infection, that my hearing was a little different after I recovered. It turned out I had lost a tad more of my hearing at around 58hz. (That just happens to be the frequency that the T56 engines on a P3x patrol aircraft produce, odd coincidence? Not!)

 

The upside however, was that even very familiar music sounded different. I believe that is because I was concentrating more on the music than usual, but it was and occasionally still is, a treat to hear well loved music almost like hearing it for the first time. :)

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several years ago, in desperation, I sought out one of the top ENT doctors on the East Coast for problems similar to yours. When he said there was no cure, I asked if hearing aids would help. He said no, there was no existing technology, including cochlear implants that would provide the hearing acuity that would satisfy an audiophile.

 

I contacted him again a few months ago to learn if technology now offered any new options. He said no.

 

I have found the best option is very high quality headphones. For me, they offer good SQ without constantly reminding me of my hearing loss the way speakers do.

 

On the other hand, I will be watching this thread in case a miracle surfaces.

 

You are not alone!

 

 

This has been a good friend of mine's experience as well. He is a very discerning audiophile and musician, and he has been looking for decent "audiophile grade" hearing aids for several years with no luck. You'd think that by this time, with DSP and modern electronics that decent hearing aids would be available, but there aren't.

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife tells me I have needed a hearing aid for at least a decade.

The

Problem she looks away and mumbles. I find I can still listen to my stereo and tell component changes and when something is either working well or performing properly.

But I will look into getting one, my hearing will continue downhill. It kind of like bifocals, only old people have them. Guess I am old people.

 

 

Wives (and sometimes girlfriends) are always complaining that their men are hard of hearing and need a hearing aid. They don't seem to understand that we aren't deaf, we just don't listen to what, in many relationships, amounts to constant female bitching. In other words, its not that we can't hear, its that we don't want to hear! :)

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

George

Be VERY careful, or Eloise will come gunning for you !

 

Regards

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wives (and sometimes girlfriends) are always complaining that their men are hard of hearing and need a hearing aid. They don't seem to understand that we aren't deaf, we just don't listen to what, in many relationships, amounts to constant female bitching. In other words, its not that we can't hear, its that we don't want to hear! :)

 

George,

My wife does not always complain. But she does start talking and then turn around and walk away while talking in the same voice. After 10-12 feet it is difficult. This prompts the bitching that I need a hearing aid.

The lower hearing acuity may be one reason my system has evolved. No need for a mega buck system anymore.

Happy with a 300.00 dac, diy amp, homemade cables, and 25 year old speakers.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wives (and sometimes girlfriends) are always complaining that their men are hard of hearing and need a hearing aid. They don't seem to understand that we aren't deaf, we just don't listen to what, in many relationships, amounts to constant female bitching. In other words, its not that we can't hear, its that we don't want to hear! :)

 

Ha, ha, ha.... That's what I would call 'selective listening', but I believe it's in the DNA because I remember the same from my father and grandpa :)

 

Roch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ha, ha, ha.... That's what I would call 'selective listening', but I believe it's in the DNA because I remember the same from my father and grandpa :)

 

Roch

Roch

What makes you think that 'selective listening' is a male only thing ? Try saying "I feel frisky (etc.) tonight" and see how often your wife/GF doesn't appear to have heard you.

 

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just tried sort of a down and dirty test of hi frequency hearing that matters (at least for me).

 

The setup. I can still hear fairly well to 12 khz. I used Jriver, AT 900 headphones and some hi frequency test bands to determine my hearing capability. I then used JRiver's built-in PQ and a hi freq shelf filter (-15 db) at various frequencies. I found that using the shelf filter at about 6 khz made only a slight difference when it came to classical music and the music remained highly listenable.

 

However when I listened to jazz (Keith Jarrett, Changes, a particularly well recorded album in the percussion) the difference was quite noticeable in the percussion even with the filter set at 8 khz, when comparing. However when not comparing everything else sounded very good, the front edge was still there on the bass for instance.

 

A more complete well recorded album (Patricia Barber, Distortion of Love) sounded great; there was edge and air and the only really noticeable shortfall was again (as expected) in the percussion (cymbals in particular). Not a big problem in my mind if you're not comparing.

 

BTW, there are other recording/equipment defects that matter more to me, i.e. glare and grain and grunge. The Three Gs.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating thread.

 

I'd always been very, very careful with my hearing over the years. Not a single loud concert in my youth, never playing my set-up over 90 dB (I was obsessive about keeping listening around conversation level at all times), and wearing ear plugs in loud movies to protect myself (I once walked out of an overly loud blockbuster film because I'd forgotten my plugs ... not worth it, I thought).

 

Unfortunately, you can do everything right and still get burned:as it turns out, fate decreed that I'd wake up one morning a decade ago having lost all my hearing over 8kHz in one ear, never to return. Cause? Meniere's. Bleh. I don't recommend it. :-)

 

But as some other posters have noted, hi-res music has paradoxically been a godsend. I know, I know ... it makes no sense. Best I can figure is that the range I *can* hear is richer (denser?) at 24/96 than 16/44.1. That's important and covers the deficit fairly well. Plus I think the hearing I have left in the sub 8kHz range in the left ear has grown more discerning to the point where I can hear frequencies from about 1.5 kHz to 2.5 kHz far *better* than I can with my good ear which still hears up to around 13 kHz (I'm old. :)

 

The point is that I like the advice here to improve the source first and foremost and the way the source is played to your ear. You might be surprised how feeding the Really Good Stuff (which doesn't have to cost a fortune) teaches your ears to compensate. In fact, if the hi-res market wants to expand its audience, it should be going after the old and deaf like me. LOL We're going to benefit more than some nimble-eared 20-yr-old. Or at least we'll know to be grateful. <g>

 

Hope this helps.

 

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At three score and ten, I have lost a fair amount of high frequency hearing in my left ear. Right ear is a lot better. So I went to Costco this summer and they recommended a Bernafon HA for its musicality compared to other HA's they carry. It goes pretty deep in the ear canal. Since I wear glasses, it is essentially invisible. Fortunately, my insurance (supplemental to Medicare) paid for it (I think they pay for two HA's every three years). The audiologist gave me three different sets of curves which I can change with a push of a button. After a month of listening to my system, I had a follow up where I had her adjust the response of the HA, boosting the volume and HF response of one of the settings which improved my hearing of my system - a big, positive difference. What was nice about Costco was that they have a money-back 90 trial period, so if it doesn't work or you want to try a different model, you can, with no risk.

 

One thing I do notice, is that in one particular venue, where we attend concerts usually sitting in the third row left center (First Congregational Church in Berkeley), I can hear the bounce off the left wall, which is annoying. So for those concerts, I change the setting on my HA. However, for listening to my system and other concert venues, my normal setting works fine. My system sounds a lot more balanced and much more enjoyable. I can even hear my wife better.

 

Good luck, Larry

 

PS. The audiologist gave me some drops which made my ear much less itchy when wearing the HA. After about a week, I got used to having the HA in and don't need the drops anymore. I know that several friends and relatives who have HA's don't wear them much because of the comfort issue. I wear mine 16+ hours a day, and most of the time, I don't feel them.

Analog-VPIClas3,3DArm,LyraSkala+MiyajimaZeromono,Herron VTPH2APhono,2AmpexATR-102+MerrillTridentMaster TapePreamp  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacificMicrosonicsModel2; Dig Play-Lampi Pacific, mch NADAC, Roon-HQPlayer,Oppo105  Electronics-DoshiPre,CJ MET1mchPre,Cary2A3monoamps Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR

Other-2x512EngineerMarutaniSymmetrical Power+Cables Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.7KR2Rtapes,1.5KCD's,500SACDs,50TBripped files

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...