November 14, 2014

Hearing Aids and Music

Will I Be Able to Listen to Music With My Hearing Aids?

A common concern among many hearing aid users is how amplification will affect their ability to appreciate or create music. Whether you are a professional musician, an avid concert attendee or you simply enjoy the occasional tune on the radio, you may notice that how you listen to music will be affected by amplification.

Many hearing aid users report an increased appreciation of music through their hearing devices. The reason for this is simple. Music is dependent on hearing a wide range of frequencies, and hearing loss can greatly limit which frequencies you have access to. Amplification can provide access to those specific frequencies, allowing for music to sound more like it was intended to sound. Also, hearing aids can increase loudness overall, which makes both the notes and the singing more audible.

However, keep in mind that hearing aids are designed to pick up speech, as that is arguably the most important thing we listen to throughout our day. Speech is very different than music in regards to which frequencies are emphasized. Vowels and consonants are higher in pitch than the sounds that are important for a melody, so those are the frequencies that hearing aids focus on amplifying. The loudness of the notes in music is also typically quite variable, which is another challenge for hearing aids.  Some features present in the hearing aids to maximize speech understanding can actually be detrimental to the ability to appreciate or produce a tune.

So what does that mean for you, as a current or potential hearing aid user? If music is an important part of your life, than that is something you should discuss with your audiologist when you are picking out a hearing aid. Most hearing aids have the ability to create special programs just for listening to music. These programs can give emphasis to lower frequencies and use different sound processing strategies to improve the quality of song through the hearing aids.

In a previous blog post, we wrote about what to expect from new amplification and the adjustment period that new users go through. Listening to music is no exception. Your favorite song will likely sound different through hearing aids but that is not always a bad thing. With a few programming changes from your audiologist and some patience and persistence on your part, you may notice that music sounds richer, fuller and overall better than before. To learn more about music appreciation in regards to your hearing loss or specific hearing device, make an appointment with your JHBI audiologist today.


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