When your hearing’s close to perfect, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how ears work. But when your hearing fails — you’re misunderstanding conversations or missing out on music — thinking about your ear’s function becomes a lot more miraculous.
Ears can pick out a single voice in a noisy room. They can absorb the crash of a cymbal and still hear the whisper of a flute right after. They can hear both the information in a noise (a conversation or a melody) and also hear all its nuances (scratchy, rich, shrill or smooth). How does it all work, and how do hearing aids attempt to replicate it?
“Hearing aids are meant to absorb and reproduce sounds faithfully, while also compensating for the hearing loss of the wearer,” says Kim Galick, owner of Ears Hearing Clinic in Langley. “It’s not as simple as amplifying the sounds around you. There are lots of factors to consider, and a lot depends on individual needs — what you want to hear, and what hearing loss you’ve experienced.”
How hearing aids collect sound
Sounds have different frequencies (the full spectrum from bass to soprano), different intensity, and fluctuate in different ways. When it comes to music, many people wonder if a “music” program is necessary for hearing aids? The main purpose of hearing aids is to help people understand human speech, but more and more, people want to listen to music in a high-fidelity sound.
“Music and conversation are noticeably different. In most cases, music has a much wider range of volume and frequency than speech. The normal speech range is typically in the frequency range of 250 to 6000 Hz, and hearing aids are generally programmed and optimized for regular conversation,” Galick says.
The range or frequency and volume for music is much larger. A piano, for example, has about a 40 percent bigger range in frequencies than the female voice. Music often includes important sounds that are softer or louder than speech sounds, and also sounds that are lower-pitched and higher-pitched that those sounds commonly found in speech.
Discussing your needs with a Hearing Instrument Specialist is the best way to determine what settings are right for you.
Hear the symphony
Collecting sounds is only half the battle — hearing aids also have to send that sound on to your brain. A fancy speaker with a full spectrum of sound doesn’t do much if your damaged hearing can’t absorb it, but a hearing specialist can optimize the sound just for you.
With the right hearing aid, you can adjust settings on the fly to make both a quiet conversation and a full symphony sound rich and full of life.
Book a free appointment with Ears Hearing to test your hearing and discuss your options! Call 604-427-2828 or email email@example.com. Find Ears Hearing at Unit C 20568 56 Ave. in Langley, online at earslangley.com and on Facebook.