Listening Devices

Listening devices have come a long way especially in the last 2-3 years.  Listening devices is a broad category and that includes various technologies in all shapes and sizes.

Listening devices can be broken up into the following categories:

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are the most sophisticated listening device.  Hearing aids aim to enhance speech for the hearing impaired.  The are small and technically advanced devices that should only be fitted by a hearing aid specialist.

A hearing aid’s basic components (for simplicity) are:

  • Microphone
  • Receiver (speaker)
  • Chip
  • Battery
  • Amplifier

What sets the hearing aids apart from other listening devices is the computer microchip.  The complexity of these today is mind boggling.  The engineering and research and development that goes into developing these chips is extraordinary.  A common argument among clients is that the iPhone chip is better than a hearing aid chip.  Not so.  Anyone who understands engineering will appreciate what the hearing aid technology can do with the extreme size constraints.

A good example of this is the hearing aid chip used in the Phonak Marvel hearing aid.  This chip, that is only 6 square millimetres in size, allows up to 5 wireless protocols:

  1. Bluetooth low energy

– Used by Audiologist to program hearing aids

– Used to adjust hearing aids volume/programs via app

  1. Bluetooth Classis
  • Allows aids to connect directly to iPhone and Android phone
  • HFP (hands free protocol) – allows you to talk on the phone so that you can hear them and they can hear you
  • A2DP (advanced audio distribution profile) – gives you best stereo audio connection for music listening
  1. Airstream Protocol
  • Allows connection to TV adaptor for TV audio to give you Dalby stereo sound
  • Streams with very low latency so audio syncs with mouths talking
  1. BVST Protocol (Binaural voice stream technology)
  • Allows aids to communicate to each other which gives rise to technologies such as beamforming stereo zoom
  1. Roger 2.4G Wireless Protocol
  • Allows connection to Phonak’s Roger accessories such as the Phonak Roger Pen and the Phonak Roger Select

 

Over the counter hearing devices

These listening devices have been available for a few years now.  They are basically wireless ear buds that are similar to Apple AirPods in appearance.  Like the AirPods you are able to stream audio from your phone but they also allow amplification of live voice.

The chip capacity is not at the level of a conventional hearing aid, however, for mild losses they can be quite an effective listening device.

 

Headphones/Earbuds

This category of listening devices covers products such as Sennheiser TV headphones, Apple’s Airpods and Bose Sport.

TV Headphones are used to wirelessly transmit the audio from the TV to the headphones.  They are very effective.

The earbuds are mainly used to stream audio wirelessly from any Bluetooth device.  Wireless headphones are also available to do this.  The earbuds can be a good choice if you are wanting to stream audio while you are exercising.