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Harry Burridge

Commercial Audiologist

Hearing Equipment for Musicians

Posted on 2023-08-18 13:39:00 in General

While conventional hearing aids excel at improving speech comprehension, musicians encounter a unique challenge. The expansive frequency range of music, spanning 20Hz to 20,000Hz, often strains the capabilities of typical hearing aids, leading to distortion. Musicians, with their discerning ears, can find these distortions very noticeable and particularly bothersome. This guide explores tailored solutions, from precision in-ear monitors to specialised plugs that safeguard hearing while preserving music's essence. Each option caters to specific needs, offering insights to help musicians harmonize their auditory passion with well-being.

Navigating Hearing Equipment for Musicians: Striking the Right Chord

Most hearing aids provide amplification between 250Hz and 8kHz as this is what is measured within a hearing test and is relevant to speech understanding for the average person. Most non-musicians want to be able to communicate verbally with others and that is the extent of their needs generally.

Hearing aids for musicians becomes a bit trickier.  Most contemporary music with have a bandwidth between 20Hz and 20kHz. Because of this, most hearing aids will compress the true sound of music and it may sound distorted or off-key. Additionally, musicians as a rule have a more ‘trained ear’ and can be more sensitive to distortion or harmonic differences with hearing aids. As such, they find them a bit harder to get used to.

So, what’s the best musicians hearing equipment solution?

There are far too many different types of musicians hearing equipment on the market to list them all here. Also, there is not one piece of equipment that will be suitable for every situation. You will need to think about your set-up and needs when discussing with your hearing care professional. Different types of equipment have different purposes.

Different manufacturers of hearing aids for musicians

Each manufacturer of hearing aid has different feature for music. Some of these will be activatable programs that are more suited for the true sound of music. Others will have features incorporated to the baseline prescription that allow the hearing aid to interpret music better.

Direct streaming can bypass some of the difficulties of hearing music if you have a hearing loss as the music is input into your ear directly, but this is not available in all hearing aids. Additionally, most hearing aids are designed as a hearing aid first and a Bluetooth device second. As such, the quality of the streaming may not compare to a dedicated music headphone.

 It is important to discuss with your hearing care professional what your needs are so that they can best recommend hearing aids to you for this. Typically, you will have more options going privately for this. If you are interested in going privately, please contact the Chime Hearing Centre at 01392 953 060

In-ear Monitors (IEM’s)

In-ear monitors are devices are specialist musicians hearing equipment that allow a musician to listen to the music they are playing with a direct input into the ear. The monitors will usually connect to an instrument or amplifier and allow the musician to hear what is being played. However, this is only useful for music, it cannot be worn as a hearing aid or in other listening situations. Depending on the model, some will have mixers that allow you to modify the sound you are getting. This is particularly useful for sound engineers. The best quality IEMs will have a custom moulded earpiece to deliver an accurate sound into the ear. When wearing IEMs, you may struggle to hear ambient noise whilst playing.

Music Plugs

These are plugs that are made specifically to reduce harmful noise from loud music. Depending on the quality, some will just block noise out, others will have filtered plugs that have different attenuations that allow the person to hear music (or speech depending on the need) whilst still blocking ambient noise. It is important to protect your hearing if you are exposed to noises above 85dB regularly. Most electronic instruments will far exceed this limit, so wearing protection is highly recommended.

In short, it is important to know what your needs are before considering what you would be using any musicians hearing equipment for. Most devices have a specific purpose. There is no perfect device that fixes all the problems that musicians face. You should discuss this with your hearing care professional so you can find the device you need.

Our Audiologists at Chime are available to help find the equipment that you need. You can book an appointment to visit the Chime Hearing Centre in Exeter by calling 01392 953060 or get in touch to request some advice.