(Last updated Oct 6, 2018)

What do Hearing Aids Sound Like?

So you think you might have a hearing loss and are wondering what hearing aids sound like? You may have tried a friend or family member’s hearing aid on yourself. But what most people haven’t done is listened to a hearing aid that is actually fine-tuned for their loss. That’s right, most hearing aids today are actually precision fit for an individual’s hearing loss, so they aren’t one-size-fits-all. So if you were to listen to someone else’s hearing aid, it’s not likely that it would sound good, clear, or natural to you. In the same way that wearing someone else’s prescription eyeglasses probably won’t help you, you won’t get a good idea of what hearing aids sound like unless you wear one that is programmed for your hearing loss.

I’ve listened to thousands of hearing aids and fit thousands of hearing aids, and the reaction people have  to hearing them for the first time is varied, but the majority of people say that things sound “noisy.” This is because you lose your hearing so slowly as the years go by, and then with hearing aids, all that sound comes back at once. Having all those sounds come back all at once can be overwhelming and sometimes sound terrible, but that’s why the first time you try hearing aids, your hearing provider is probably going to have them set at a more conservative volume level- so you can get used to them. In time, usually a few weeks, once you’ve acclimated to the hearing aids, the volume can usually be turned up with no problems.

A lot of people also say that hearing aids sound “microphoney”. To a large extent, many of them do. Hearing aids are utilizing microphones after all. However, when properly programmed, most people don’t notice this or get used to it very quickly. For the majority of people, just hearing clearly again vastly outweighs any “microphoney” sounds they are hearing.  A lot of people also say that wearing hearing aids sounds like you’re talking in a barrel, like there is an echo in your voice. Meaning, you say something, and then you hear it back (booming in your head). Sometimes, this echo is actually a real thing, and it’s called the “occlusion effect.” If this is a problem for an individual, they would probably benefit from wearing open-fit hearing aids, which greatly reduce occlusion. Sometimes the problem is not occlusion, and the wearer is simply hearing their own voice for the first time in a long time (at the appropriate volume level).

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about hearing aids is that when you wear them, everything is very loud. When hearing aids are fit properly, this isn’t the case. Because they are fine tuned to your loss, hearing aids only amplify sounds that you don’t naturally hear clearly. So it’s not like turning up the volume on the TV, where everything gets louder, it’s much more precise. Most hearing aids simply help you hear those things that you weren’t already hearing, and if they are overpowering, it’s probably a matter of getting them readjusted by your hearing provider. Although there are many different ways people will describe how hearing aids sound, one thing is certain- today’s technology can be very fine-tuned to your hearing loss so they will sound almost perfect for you.

If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.

Jeff Hall Jeff Hall Jeff is a California licensed hearing aid dispenser and the President of ZipHearing- one of the largest discount hearing aid suppliers in the United States. Jeff lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and young daughter. You can learn more about hearing aids and watch Jeff on ZipHearing's Youtube channel.

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