High-end hearing aids and loudspeakers

October 6, 2017
 by Paul McGowan

8 comments on “High-end hearing aids and loudspeakers”

  1. You said "of course our ears are connected to our brains."

    I'm sorry to report that given the state of the world, I've concluded for society as a whole this is increasingly rare.

  2. This is, of course, the approach that has made Apple so successful. Control the entire system end to end. I'm looking forward to cables for those new AN speakers, too.

  3. I'm approximately Paul's age (70 next January) and have moderate high frequency hearing loss. My hearing starts rolling off above 1.5 kHz at a fairly rapid rate. A few of years ago I saw an audiologist for testing and ended up being fitted with a pair of Siemens Pure digital hearing aids which are fully programmable. These hearing aids retail for several thousand dollars each and are considered pretty much SOTA. One of the programs Siemens has is for listening to music. Unfortunately, IMHO digital hearing aids are totally unsuited for music. The frequency range is limited and they introduce digital artifact which are easy to hear and they're subject to overload.

    Fortunately, researching for a better solution I found an article about musicians in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with high frequency hearing loss and which hearing aids they use. It turns out that they pretty much universally use hearing aids made by General Hearing Instruments. These are analog hearing aids and use the K-amp signal processing technology developed by Mead C. Killion, founder of Etymotic Research. They boost high frequencies starting at approximately 1.5 kHz with a very smooth upward slope. They sound very natural compared to the Siemens digital aids and I use them exclusively. The Siemens have been relegated to the drawer for the last couple of years. Better yet, they cost a fraction of the price of the Siemens and are available through Walmart or for a couple of hundred dollars less, Sam's Club, and an audiogram or prescription isn't needed to purchase them.

    Hearing loss is an insidious disease that sneaks up on us as we age. We don't really realize how much we are missing until some of our hearing loss is corrected. I was unaware how much I was missing but I had lost a lot of the joy of listening to music before finding the Simplicity Hi Fi aids by General Instruments. Now, even though I can't hear like at 20, the joy is back.

    Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in General Instruments, Etymotic Research, Walmart or Sam's Club other than spending my money with them.

    1. Thank you very much for posting this information, Denis. One of the few good things Trump has done is sign into law the right to sell supplementary hearing devices over-the-counter, without a "prescription" from an audiologist. This will open up the playing field to the many people that cannot afford the high priced "individually tuned" hearing aids that dominate the market.

      I remember back in the '60s there was a famous French film director who was hard of hearing. He used a hearing aid that was the size of a pocket-size headphone amp. I've often wondered why the industry couldn't come up with a high-end microphone that would plug into such a device and allow us to use our high-end headphones with which we are already familiar. Digital microphones that are built into camcorders do a fairly remarkable job, and could easily be designed as mics that would clip onto eyeglasses and plug into such a DAC/headphone amp. For a company like Sony such a device would be a piece of cake that could be relished by a rather large niche market, better known as Baby Boomers. And as you've pointed out, analog circuits would make it sweet.

  4. I know this is an old post...but, I just wanted to comment about my first set of hearing aids. Widex Moment 440. I know can enjoy my music again. I thought my days as an audiophile were gone. I just wanted to let everyone know it IS possible to enjoy music with hearing aids. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting Arnie Nudell out of the blue a couple years before he passed. I was just shocked when I walked in the room and there he was. I was speechless.

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