Advanced hearing aids distort music more

The more advanced an hearing aid is today, the worse experience it would offer to music lovers who use such aids, says a study.

IANS| Updated: Oct 28, 2014, 14:59 PM IST

New York: The more advanced an hearing aid is today, the worse experience it would offer to music lovers who use such aids, says a study.

Less sophisticated hearing aids might actually be more compatible with listening to music, especially recorded music that has itself been processed to change the way it sounds, the findings showed.

"Hearing aids have gotten very advanced at processing sounds to make speech more understandable," said lead researcher Naomi Croghan from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

"But music is a different animal and hasn't always been part of the hearing aid design process," Croghan said.

Modern hearing aids use processing called "wide dynamic range compression", which leaves loud sounds untouched but amplifies softer sounds.

This kind of processing is useful in helping people with hearing loss follow a conversation, but it can distort music, which often covers a wider range of volumes than speech.

"The recorded music is processed through multiple layers by the time the person with hearing loss actually hears it," Croghan said.

The study involved 18 experienced hearing aid users.

Regardless of which music sample the participants listened to, they generally preferred using the hearing aids with the simplest additional processing - essentially devices that just boost the volume.

The study was published in the journal Ear and Hearing.