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Singers with disabilities: What's the best kind of Hearing Aid for singing?

First of all, thanks to several colleagues who replied. Here is a
compilation of messages.


Bob Edmondson
Woodland Chamber Singers
Woodland, California

Just spoke to my hubby-- an ENT doc--we also have an audiologist on
staff for his private practice and hearing aide business, so he deals
with these questions on a daily basis. He said a digital/programmable
HA. The digital will give the best overall sound and with the
programmable feature, the HA can be programmed
for different hearing situations--the best you do if you need a hearing
Marie Grass Amenta, Director
ARTS ALIVE! community Children's Chorus
and Director of Choirs
1st Presbyterian Church of Homewood, IL
Bob and Ann Edmondson wrote:

I started wearing digital hearing aids in August, and I'm still adapting to
them. I don't believe that any hearing aid available will allow you to
hear your own voice naturally. In fact, your own voice is emphasized
because you are hearing it both through the hearing aid and through bone
conduction. The result is a lot like your perception of your own voice
when you have a really bad cold and are all stuffed up. On the other hand,
of course, nobody EVER hears their own voice the same way other people do,
because part of what you're hearing is through bone and tissue conduction.
For a singer, it's necessary to judge what you are doing more by feeling
than by listening--but of course that's how a singer should be operating

Pitch is definitely not a problem. But matching pitch exactly and blending
well might take lots of getting used to, simply because you hear yourself
more than you are used to. You definitely perceive the sounds of music
differently than without the aids. On the other hand, I'm sure that the
"natural" way I hear music without the aids is not the same as other
people's perception, since I have a moderately severe high frequency loss.
I do hear some instruments differently, simply because their place in the
sound spectrum happens to coincide with frequencies that are being
emphasized in my prescription. (Snare drums are nasty!!)

The advantage of the digital--and the reason I sprang for the very high
price--is that it is an active mechanism. Essentially I'm wearing a 40
megahertz computer in each ear. It samples the incoming sound 40 million
times a second, makes decisions about that sound, and adjusts its own
response accordingly. There is a limiter (also known as a compressor)
circuit that brings down the amplification if I am getting background noise
loud enough to trigger it. I need to have that adjusted at the moment,
because it interprets concert applause and other sounds like running water
as dangerous and kicks in! But of course the real advantage of digital
aids is that they CAN be adjusted. The cheapest kind simply amplify
everything equally. The programable kind can be set to your own
prescription, but are stuck at that setting. Programable ones that can
switch between 2 or 3 programs for different auditory environments can be a
very good choice for some people, but cost almost as much as the more
flexible digital ones.

As for advice, make sure that the practitioner your choir member works with
understands that music is important in his or her life. Their primary
mindset is to make speech intelligible over background noise. Music is a
whole different ballgame.

All my best to your singer. Things will be different but not necessarily
worse. It's amazing what we can adjust to and come to use without even
thinking about it.


John & Susie Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034

I forwarded your e-mail to my brother, John Wright, who is head of audiology
at Children's Hospital in Birmingham Alabama. His response follows. After
looking at it, I'm not sure it completely answers your question, but maybe
it helps.

In answer to your question - if the question is simply which is better for
music appreciate, analog vs digital, then digital is obviously the answer.
am of the opinion that digital hearing aids are always the way to go now.
The quality of sound is so superior in digital products versus analog that
there really is no comparison. Another advantage of the digital hearing
is that the hearing aid automatically samples the incoming sound hundreds of
time per second, filters out noise from speech spectrum and digitally
optimizes your listening environment.

If you are looking at what kind of digital hearing, well that is pretty
broad. There are several excellent companies out there and several
kinds of hearing aids. That would take finding a reputable audiologist with
experience in digital hearing aids for a hearing aid consultation. The
audiologist would need to interview the person to see what his listening
habits are and they would work together to fine tune the hearing aid.

Bottom line - digital hearing aids are definitely the route to go.

Hope this helps.

Stay in touch.



I would appreciate knowing the answers to your inquiry. I may have to
get hearing aids at some point as my hearing is deteriorating. I have
looked into the digital but they are so expensive.

The answer would be helpful - thanks.


Dr. Lon T. Dehnert
Director of Choral Studies
University of Central Oklahoma

Dear Bob:
I have taught music for 27 years and have had hearing aids for over 20 of
them. I have tried single aids, binaural aids, analog, analog with tone
controls, and digital inner ear. The best ones have been the ones I have now
but they were very expensive. They are not totally digital and are the small
inner canal type. I have them in both ears. The only draw back has been when
trying to perform with a pre-recorded tape. I need the tape very loud to be
able to hear over the sound of my voice that is ALSO amplified by the
aids. Regualr accaompaniment poses the same problem but on a much smaller
scale. Does that help a bit? My first ones were Miracle Ear but they have
really started cutting corners in quality and I do not believe insurance is
accepted by them.


Bryant Christenson
Isle High School
Isle, MN

on October 3, 2002 10:00pm
Does anyone know what the BAHA might be able to do for my hearing in a choir. I'm a student musician, hoping to conduct eventually, and I'm going to get a BAHA in about a year. I know it will be an adjustment but what might be a recommended course of action for me?