The Challenge of Enjoying Music with Hearing Aids

Anyone who goes to a concert, listens to their favorite music at home, or plays an instrument wants to be able to fully concentrate on the music. This includes people who wear hearing aids. However, wearers often find that listening through their hearing aids reduces the richness of music and wind up frustrated by the experience. Why is it that hearing aids can be great at amplifying and clarifying speech, yet fall short when it comes to reproducing a natural music listening experience?

Significant differences between spoken and instrumental sounds

Musical sounds are extremely varied when compared to speech. Researchers have identified significant differences between verbal and musical output and perception that explains why the latter poses such a challenge for hearing aid manufacturers.

Human speech is created by a set of tubes and cavities that make up the vocal tract. No matter what language comes out, the way we form speech sounds is very much the same, which means the sound spectrum for speech is relatively limited and consistent. So, when engineers create hearing aids targeting this spectrum, their task is straightforward ―identify which sounds require amplification and/or clarification. Conversely, music is comprised of a significantly larger spectrum of sounds. Different instruments are capable of producing extremely diverse sounds at varying frequencies and loudness (think of a violin vs. a bassoon). Therefore, the task hearing aid engineers face becomes much more complex .

The goal of most hearing aids is to make speech sounds loud enough and clear enough for people with hearing loss to perceive. But when it comes to music the core challenge is that judgment of sound quality is highly subjective. What sounds good to you doesn’t necessarily sound right to others, even if you’re listening to the exact same performance or recording.  On top of that, think of the variations between musical styles, e.g., classical and rock music. When you factor all of that into the equation, it’s understandable why making music sound “right” poses such a challenge.

Signia has a solution

Special sound technology can now be activated at the touch of a button. Integrating multiple music programs tailored to different music situations can enable you to enjoy live music at concerts in clear, detail-rich HD quality, no matter whether it’s a rock concert, a classical recital, or something in between. Another program for recorded music can allow you to enjoy every note of a home music collection. And for singers and musicians with hearing difficulties, a special setting enables appreciation of every nuance of your performance, and of your fellow performers, in a full dynamic range.

Music enriches lives. Just because you wear hearing aids doesn’t mean you should have to miss out. We’ll soon have more information about our latest hearing aid technology that will allow people who wear our hearing aids to benefit from special HD Music programs. Stay tuned!