View Full Version : OT-Hearing Aids

08-20-2010, 04:02 PM
Based on past forum age queries, I figure there is a sufficient base of old farts to ask about personal experience with hearing aids. I'm going seriously deaf and need to finally visit this issue. I think I pushed the, "....sorry Hon, I didn't hear you", reason once too often. ;)

I'd like to know how many people that either tried or use hearing aids, find them beneficial and to what degree. Are higher cost units worth the additional money? Any particular brand that you find as above the rest? Any particular high noise environments that your device can't handle, such as your shop (here come the wife jokes)?


08-20-2010, 04:08 PM
My brother is stone deaf. It happened very quickly and was complete in a matter of days. He's gone through a lot of aids over the years including some very expensive ones ($5k), and they help to this degree - he can understand friends and family somewhat, but strangers, not so much. Without the preconditioning of already knowing what we sound and inflect like, they're just ear plugs.

And he advises anyone who works around noise to wear the kind of ear plugs that deaden sound so they won't eventually have to wear earplugs like his that cost so damn much :)

Bill Pace
08-20-2010, 04:13 PM
Ahhh Fred! You definitely hit a topic that I'd like to get some info on also, I worked for a 'major airlines' for 35 years and screaming jet engines didnt help my hearing! And as you say, I bet there are several of us in need...

Hearing aids are in that category with funeral homes and car salesmen and a few others as having a bad reputation for overcharging and faulty/poor quality products. Though obviously, as in those other cases, there are some good products on the market, but with some of the prices - in the thousands - I'd sure like to have some first hand experience!

08-20-2010, 04:25 PM
Are higher cost units worth the additional money?

No. Hearing aids are in the 10,000 percent markup category. If you want something that will actually work well you need a slim pocket amplifier and a noise cancelling headphone on one or both ears. It's called a "body hearing aid" and they can be bought for under $200.

If you want to try out a hearing aid for dirt cheap to see how it suits you it won't cost squat if you buy one (or two) from DX. A standard ear hook type with batteries included is available for $10.55. That isn't a misprint. It is the same thing that you would pay $500 to $1000 for at a hearing aid clinic with normal markups.

I have a very good idea what you are needing as I went stone deaf for several months a few years ago due to an ear infection. Fortunately I recovered almost all of my hearing except for some high frequency loss in my right ear.

See here:


08-20-2010, 04:53 PM
Good subject.

Before you buy anything, go have a hearing checkup by a qualified professional.

That means DO NOT GO to a hearing aid store and be checked out.

That is like asking the used cars salesman whether or not you need another car.

If..and only if the professional testing shows that you have hearing loss that can be helped by an aid should you then start looking at buying anything.

Hearing loss can be due to many things...some are correctable...some are not.

Some hearing loss can be due to wax buildup.

FYI...it's not just the old farts.


If they can help you, be prepared to respond to the wife..or buy earplugs. ;<)


08-20-2010, 05:10 PM

I think those are not good long term solutions as they don't have or at least don't claim to have compression or limiting, so they can actually advance your hearing degradation by over driving what's left of your inner ear and the all important auditory hair cells. But they are an excellent value and self-prescribed introduction to hearing aids.

Another solution is to get a personal digital recorder - you get playback that way, and is useful when in a group or presentation.

I have this: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921665963672

and this mic: http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10151&catalogId=10551&langId=-1&productId=11028763

The mic is a stereo dual cardoid unit with interesting directional characteristics.

This is how it performs when set on a mic stand on stage in front of a group of women singers. The audio on the video was taken from too far away so I spliced my audio stream into the video. The mic is just in front of the director's stand.


I'm wearing ear buds with it running now, and I'm amazed at the amount of motor noise in this house (refrigerator and freezer) and traffic noise :). We have a recirculating water dish for our cats and I hear it splashing which I cannot without this device.

However - it has the same problem of compression/limiting, so is not a good solution, and because of the size, not particularly convenient.

08-20-2010, 05:51 PM
Im deaf, my friends talk to me and if they dont look at me I dont know what they are saying at all. hearing aids wont do much for me but amp up the background noise and make my problem worse. All I can hear is HHHHHHHHSSSSSSS.

08-20-2010, 06:44 PM
I am deaf in one ear and have a severe loss in the other. With the best correction available I can't understand enough of movies to bother going any more. TV news is ok but I can never hear the punch line of a joke on TV. I can hear one person (on my right side) in a crowded restraunt. I started with the mail order fit-all about 10 years ago and have graduated to something called a Unitron Next 16. It has put up with any kind of noise I could produce in the shop and on the farm. Heat, sweat, dirt, humidity. One $20 repair just lately after 2 or three years. I looked and saw an on-line price of $1349/ ea. Technology changes rapidly. I'm sure I'm a generation out of date.

It's programmable. I think the 16 in the model number is the number of frequency bands it divides sound into to process separately. The programming screen looks like it has dozens of sliders and tweaks to adjust and sound quality varies a great deal depending on adjustment. I've gotten the last two from hospitals who claim to sell at cost and have no incentive to upsell, etc. Got some supplies for the privious one from a local heavy advertiser who bitched that hospitals were "giving 'em away".

I wanted to stick one in once in a while when hearing was important but finally bought in to the audiologist rant about requiring a commitment. She was right. They won't work part time. If you don't put 'em in, leave 'em in and stick with the process of programming they will end up in your sock drawer.

The one I have is tiny, light, tough as nails, nearly impossible to lose, takes a cheap battery a week and allows me to hear a great deal.

Good luck.

08-20-2010, 07:21 PM
I don't recommend it either for long term use but it is a very cheap way to do a test drive.

08-20-2010, 07:29 PM
+2 the high mark up.
I went to a promotional clinic for Oticon, nice but Very expen$$ive( four figures).
I got the free audio chart from them and got them from a NY Clinic on ebay that set them up according to the chart for under 50% less.

08-20-2010, 07:42 PM
Why does the high mark up exist?

Considering that the population is getting older and more people have hearing loss, why isn't the price lower?

Will it take the Chinese offering a hearing aid at Harbor Freight to lower prices by increased competition?


Weston Bye
08-20-2010, 08:02 PM
If you're a vetran, try the VA. I have no personal experience with them, but a lady whose husband died gave me his VA hearing aids. I fashioned my own ear piece from a piece of urethane alligator clip boot and used one of them in my worst ear for a while - until a mouse ate the earpiece one night when I left it laying on the workbench.

Just recently, I heard about a local guy who went to the VA. After testing they pronounced him disabled because of hearing loss and awarded him a disability pension. ...??? He was already retired. ...???

08-20-2010, 09:56 PM
Just recently, I heard about a local guy who went to the VA. After testing they pronounced him disabled because of hearing loss and awarded him a disability pension. ...??? He was already retired. ...???

Our tax dollars hard at work!

08-20-2010, 10:11 PM
I have worked around extreme noise machines for 30 years , and I have a ringing or hisss in my right ear, its been getting worse for the last 3 years is this the start of hearing loss?

I am 48 years old.


08-20-2010, 10:13 PM
I have 30% hearing loss in both ears.
I've had one STARKEY hearing aid in my left ear for the past 10 years, and it still does the job.
I just 'upgraded' to two new UNITRON hearing aids, but I'm afraid I've grown accustom to the old one.
Funny thing about hearing loss, is that your brain will get used to the muffled sounds it's hearing, so if you go a long time long un-aided, and then suddenly get hearing aids, 'normal' sound doesn't sound good at all.

08-20-2010, 10:23 PM
I have worked around extreme noise machines for 30 years , and I have a ringing or hisss in my right ear, its been getting worse for the last 3 years is this the start of hearing loss?

I am 48 years old.


Not the start...it has already occurred.

- Ringing, roaring, hissing, or buzzing in the ear (tinnitus).




Once hearing is lost, it rarely returns.


08-20-2010, 10:26 PM

I had their Sequel CIC (completely-in-canal). I now have their
(Receiver-in-Canal) model.

I can not give a rousing endorsement of the current model.

While I suspect that the audiologist may be to blame for failing to
be able to configure the many settings to best suit my needs, the
bottom line is that this rather costly instrument is at most, a
necessary nuisance required to function in a business environment
and reduce communication frustrations with family/friends.

Sad to say, Starkey is considered one of, if not THE leader in the

I cared for my hearing, genetics let me down. If others have any
choice in the matter, they would be foolish to neglect protecting
their hearing.


08-20-2010, 10:31 PM
A quick and simple way to test your hearing...can you still hear crickets?



J Tiers
08-20-2010, 10:45 PM
My boss paid for a couple of the big $$ hearing aids for his mother (nursing home loses them, then just says "sorry").

Finally someone clued him in and he went to one of the hunting stores.... there is a hearing booster sold to hunters that is a lot cheaper, and works every bit as well for his mother as the big $$ ones.

The folks at the store mentioned to him that they had a LOT of people doing that.....

This is obviously not a "prescription" solution, and possibly the big $$ versions actually work better, sometimes.

No doubt the audiologists would howl in disbelief and dismay..... and predict dire consequences.

But it is worth considering.

08-20-2010, 10:45 PM
can you still hear crickets?
Yeah TMT, I noticed that quite by accident.
I was wearing my hearing aids outdoors one summer night, and I could hear Crickets.
I hadn't heard them in a long time.

08-20-2010, 11:17 PM
I can not hear anything below 120 Db in my left ear. I can not hear anything below 65 Db in my right ear. Back ground noise makes it impossible to ear much. A room full of people like chruch or a restaurant is impossible to talk to anyone. I can read lips a little but not good at yet. I can hear the TV but it just sounds like a much of jumbled up sounds I can't tell what anyone is saying. They refuse to even try to give me a hearing aid for my left ear and I can't tell a hearing aid in my right ear helps the problem in a room full of people like chruch I still can not talk to people.

I bought a listing device for TV and I can hear sounds I have not heard in 30 years. It has a balance control for left and right side so I turn it all the way to the left so it is much louder in my left ear then turn the volume up a little and I can hear like I use to hear 50 years ago. It is totally amazing. Radio Shack has these for $100 it has only 1 receiver. You can buy both online $100 with 1 receiver and $200 with 2 receivers. They work great but after 1 year the plastic broke and I took it the my shop and repaired it. Had to repair it 2 times finally today I redesigned it now it will never brake again. The ear pieces don't last long either so I replaced them with 5/8" long pieces of 1/4" gum rubber hose. Here is a link if you guys want to see what they look like. I like the 2 receiver unit I can keep one on charge while I use the other one. If the battery gets low in the middle of a good TV show I can swap them for the one with a full charge. Range is 25 ft from the transmitter that plugs into the sound out put jack on the back of the TV. Its not as handy as those $5000 hearing aids that plug into each ear or lay over the back side of your ear but this thing works much better and a 9 volt battery from the $1 General Store lasts a long time.


If you want to build yourself an excellent hearing aid buy two 386 ICs and a hobby circuit board at Radio Shack. Build 2 amplifiers one for each ear with a volume control for each ear. 2 microphones and a 9 volt battery. $35 worth of parts and you can build a hearing aid that works great. I can hear excellent in my left ear now. This thing is not small it can all be built into a tiny little box about 1" x 2" x 4" just put it in your shirt picket. Put a sterio phone jack on the box then plug in a small set of sterio ear phones and put them on. The maximum voltage on the IC is 15 volts DC the high the voltage the better the hearing aid works. 8 AAA batteries = 12 volts DC you can still get this all in the same box. You can get 8 AAA rechargable batteries and a charger at Wal Greens for about $20.

Bob Ford
08-20-2010, 11:48 PM
I have been deaf / hard of hearing since I was about 3. I did not realize that I had a problem. In school I thought that if you wanted to learn you sat in the front of the class. In the second grade we had a band I was given a Tambourine I could not understand why they had a Tambourine as it was the only instrument that did not make noise. I was soon given a drum. After High school I applied for the military. Taking the pre-induction physical I was failed for my loss of hearing. Went through 7 booths and had about 24 doctors? standing looking at my disk charts. Finally one came over and asked if I really wanted in, as you are totally deaf. I told him he was full of ****, he then started talking to me and as he did he would put his hand in front of his mouth. When his hand was up I had no clue what was said. Took about 2 minutes to convince me that they were right. It wasn't until several years later the mid that hearing aids started to be made that would work with my hearing loss. The lows were good, but everything above about 1350 cycles was gone. I have been wearing aids since about 1985.

Interton, Siemens, Phonak Have all worked well. Each time I get a new set they are better than what I had as technology is improving all the time. The main thing you need to do is get a real hearing test. Then ask around for a hearing aid specialist that cares and understands. You must put them in turn them on and learn what all those strange sounds are that everybody else hears. good example the first set I wore I was doing a lot of welding. Before the aids I did not know that welding rod makes all kinds of noise. I knew the frying egg sound, but with aids when I struck the arc the rod squealed and I dropped the stinger. Thought about it had not made strange sounds before so I turned off my aids and everything sounded normal. Turned my aids on and learned the new to me sounds.

My present aids are Phonak $4400 for both + the bluetooth parts that let me hear TV and work with my cellphone. For the first time in my life I understand about 90% of what is said on the phone. Now I have to get used to using a phone. Bluetooth does not work with a metal detector, but using the old inductance loop that goes around your neck like a shoestring tie I can hear new sounds and found things in my yard that were always there, but could not detect before. I have had the new aids for about 3 months and have been back to fine tune sounds 5 times. The specialist tells me that is why I am here so we can get the most out of the aids for you.

First set was about $1800 from a hearing specialist. Worked Ok. A few years later I was in Costco and they had a sign hearing aids $440 Thought they must be junk. I stopped and they told me 90 day free trial, so after thinking about it I had a set fitted. They worked better than what I had been wearing. I used Costco for next 2 sets. The person who was doing the fitting moved and the new person is just doing a job. Last set cost $ 2000 and they could never quite adjust them for sounds. I now suspect that name brand Costco hearing aids are like others they spec a little less quality to sell for a cheaper price. If your hearing is not too bad I think they would be Ok. Kind of like a Chinese lath or a old American lath.


08-21-2010, 10:28 AM
A quick and simple way to test your hearing...can you still hear crickets?



Yes I can hear crickets but I haven't found their advice very useful.

08-21-2010, 11:08 AM
Yes I can hear crickets but I haven't found their advice very useful.

How to calculate the temperature by listening to crickets:

Find yourself a cricket. A Snowy Tree Cricket is the most accurate, but in a pinch, any cricket will do.

Count the chirps in a 14-second interval
Add "38" to the total
That's the current temperature, in Fahrenheit

08-21-2010, 11:47 AM
How to calculate the temperature by listening to crickets:

Find yourself a cricket. A Snowy Tree Cricket is the most accurate, but in a pinch, any cricket will do.

Count the chirps in a 14-second interval
Add "38" to the total
That's the current temperature, in Fahrenheit

That's absolutely amazing!
Who'd have ever thought crickets could count? AND, read a thermometer and stopwatch while doing so! :D

08-22-2010, 06:06 PM
Check this out they work great. I can hear sounds I have not heard in 30 years.


08-22-2010, 06:34 PM
Be careful what you ask for.


I tried some of the $10.99 ones and it reinforced a previous primary care doctor's suggestion that it might be cheaper to prevail upon my wife to stop trying to mumble at me over her shoulder, facing the other way, from across the house. He must have been married :-)

Seriously, I wasn't sufficiently motivated to mess with the annoying damn things to watch TV - maybe if the programming hadn't deteriorated so much.

David Merrill

10-17-2010, 10:07 PM
I think the hearing aid industry is filled with scammers, and don't believe that anything that you can fit over or in your ear cost enough in parts and labor to justify charging thousands of dollars for one of the "state of the art" models. I don't believe that the number and size of advances in hearing aid technology is so great that it would warrant the high prices. So outside of greed, I can only assume that proprietary rights help keep the cost of these devices up.

Nevertheless, I recently went through several different sets of hedaphones in search of one that would work decently enough for me to watch(and enjoy) a DVD, and I still have to read my way through a movie. :-(

If there were headsets with three band equalizers, it would make things better for me.

Darren Harris
Staten Island, New York.

mike os
10-18-2010, 04:07 AM
something well worth doing... try a cheap one & see but then get a professional audiologist to test & calibrate a proper set...so you only get the boost at teh frequencies you need.

I wear one about 20% of the time & usually "in company", not a perfect solution but a damn site better than without in many situations. IN the shop/work I dont bother.

10-18-2010, 11:59 AM
A number of years ago I went to a public event celebration of Herbert Hoover's 88th birthday. They had a platform set up in the park and the usual row of dignitaries sitting up there to give speeches or be seen with Hoover. It was only after several of the speakers had given their remarks that Hoover put in his hearing aids. That's my kind of guy. Wish I had hearing aids to remove in this runup to the election.

The other thing has me really alarmed. I've heard that they've identified a new deadly disease they're calling hearing AIDS. They reckon you get it from listening to too many a$$holes. I might be in real trouble. :eek: :D

mike os
10-18-2010, 01:06 PM
The other thing has me really alarmed. I've heard that they've identified a new deadly disease they're calling hearing AIDS. They reckon you get it from listening to to many a$$holes. I might be in real trouble. :eek: :D

OMG .... at serious risk then :eek: :D

10-18-2010, 06:37 PM
My father has 2 hearing aids, has had them for a number of years. What he found was that having 2 hearing aids works much better than 1 because it lets your brain process the signals so you can pick out the sounds you want to hear from all the other sounds around. The better hearing aids have multiple adjustable filters that let the frequencies you need amplified to be amplified without making everything loud.

Only problem will be learning to listen again... You will probably find yourself asking for things to be repeated as you have gotten out of practice listening because you couldn't hear it anyway...

An interesting use of the brain to sort out signals was used by ham radio operators - a set of stereo headphones with a high pas filter for one ear and a low pass filter for the other ear. Diferent signals that are close together in freqency would be heard as if they were arranged left to right and it was much easier to hear the signal you wanted.