The Hearing Aids for Music Project

The Hearing Aids for Music Project is a new project from Leeds University in England.

Traditionally, the two phrases “hearing aids” and “great sounding music” do not belong in the same sentence.  There are a number of reasons for this and include issues relating to frequency bandwidth, compression, front end analog to digital features, and how “advanced features” interact with music.

To a great extent everything that we know about how hearing aids process sound is how they process speech. Reporting standards such as ANSI S3.22 are designed with speech in mind, but never music.  Even outcomes measures that have found a home in the clinic are speech based.

Having said this, what we have learned over the decades about hearing aid processed speech can be applied to hearing aid processed music.

There are a number of approaches that have been tried in the field of audiology, ranging from assessing hearing aids that have been optimized for speech, with music stimuli to instituting any number of “music programs” for trial in real life situations, typically as part of a one month trial period.  Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses- one being in situ, the other being in vivo, but there are still more approaches that have validity in the study of hearing aids and music.

A survey has been developed by Doctors Alinka Greasley, Harriet Crook, and Jackie Salter, with assistance from an advisory board of experts, which will provide one more piece of the puzzle.  It can be found here.  

A short Youtube video has also been developed that summarizes the intentions of the researchers and gives an overview of what will be asked about in the survey. This can be found here.  

This is a survey for hearing aid users (either air conduction hearing aids or bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA)) who wear them for at least one hour a day and are 18 years of age or older.  At this time, this survey is not for people who wear cochlear implants.

It is to be hoped that surveys such as this, along with both laboratory-based, and clinical-based research will get us one step closer to being able to fit hearing aids that have been optimized for both speech and music.

For any questions or comments, please contact the researchers here.

About Marshall Chasin

Marshall Chasin, AuD, is a clinical and research audiologist who has a special interest in the prevention of hearing loss for musicians, as well as the treatment of those who have hearing loss. I have other special interests such as clarinet and karate, but those may come out in the blog over time.

2 Comments

  1. It really hasn’t been until the past 5 yrs. that I’ve truly appreciated being able to differentiate the instruments playing with my hearing aids. Yes, I heard melody and thought I appreciated what I heard, but it is better now with the faster processors and newer algorithmns for music, despite my increasing hearing loss that I enjoy music even more!

  2. I’m very happy to have had the chance to take part in the survey. Thank you for posting the information.

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