Many of our customers ask if they can wear headphones with hearing aids. It has always been a complicated question because the answer always was dependent upon the type of hearing aid the customer wore. However, now with advances in both headphones and hearing aids, it is possible to wear both in some instances.
Consumer Reports1 (CR) recently reviewed headphones with the hearing aid question in mind. Their reviewers and researchers found that some headphone models were easier to wear with others. It all depends on the design of the headphones and whether or not it is compatible with the function of the specific type of hearing aid.
For those who wear behind-the-ear (BTE) or receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids
Headphones must connect with the speaker on the hearing aids in order for the hearing aids to pick up sound from the headphones. Therefore, people wearing BTE or RIC hearing aids should look for headphones that cover the ear. That means avoiding ear buds in favor of full over-the-ear headphones. Headphones should sit one centimeter (.39 of an inch) from the hearing aid speaker to avoid feedback.
Consumer Reports rated HiFiMan HE-400i2 as the top headphone of this type. It sells for $250, and “delivers superb audio and is particularly roomy”.
For those who wear hearing aids that account for noisy environments and manage ambient sound
A different type of headphone system is required to accommodate this type of hearing aid. While the hearing aid focuses in on conversations and reduces ambient noise, the headphone will have to account for that, as well. Noise cancelling headphones meet these requirements.
Consumer Reports gives the highest ratings to the over-ear Bose QuietComfort 353 that sells for $330 . CR says “It functions wirelessly using Bluetooth or through an audio cable included with purchase, and it can be used with the noise-canceling feature turned on or off.”
Consumer Reports gives good reviews to cheaper systems as well including:
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x4 that sells for $150
- Monoprice HiFi DJ-Style Pro5 that sells for about $50
For those who wear in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
“On the ear” headphones can be used by those who wear ITC hearing aids. For this type of headphone CR likes three different models:
- Plantronics BackBeat6 Sense which is wireless and usually sells for less than $70
- Skullcandy Grind7which sells for $50
- Grado SR80e8 which sells for $100
For those who wear completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids
Both types of headphones, over the ear and in the ear, can be used by those who wear CIC hearing aids. CR recommends Bose SoundTrue Ultra because its design seals the ear canal to eliminate some ambient sound. The headphone fits in the ear canal while still allowing room for the hearing aid. This model of headphone sells for $80.
As technology continues to shrink the size of hearing aids while improving the precision of the sound they deliver, it will become easier for individuals to wear headphones. We can help you select the model that best accommodates your hearing aids and your specific type of hearing loss.