I have worn over 8 pair of hearing aids over the past 20 years, representing 7 different companies. First, I have found that the hearing tests that audiologists do have not changed much in 20 years and are not that relevant to hearing in the real world. Second, the engineers working at hearing aid companies do not understand something very fundamental: 90% of the time (at least), hearing impaired people mostly want to hear people (and not air conditioning coming out of a vent or regular car noises or keys jingling or dishes and silverware clanking, etc.) I am totally fed up with the whole industry!

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Palm Bay, Florida, United States #949039

I've just ordered my first set of hearing aids. This thread is the best one I've found...lots of great information.

We do have retrain our brain. Think about what terrifying noises a new born must hear!

If you're not happy within your 30 days don't take no for an answer. Since we've missed all that back ground noise for years........yep it's still there.


I've had a chance to read through some of these so called "complaints" about hearing aids. I am a current user and have used hearing aids for close to 10 years.

Folks, hearing aids provide artificial stimulus to your brain that your current hearing isn't able to provide. Plain and simple! Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. In fact, they do hone in on the spoken word and manage background noise as to not to over amplify it like in the old days.

The fact that so many want to only hear the spoken word and not be aware of their soundings is insane.

I can't imagine how completely unnerving it would be to see leafs flying down the street without hearing any wind. Early detection and daily usage goes a long way for people like myself to be successful.


The fact that you believe a hearing aid can only allow speech into the ear canal kills me. Your brain trains itself to "hear" properly, not the ear.

If fitted properly...

wearing your aids daily.... the brain would adjust.

Houston, Texas, United States #687999

I was never suggesting that all "mechanical" or "background" noise should be eliminated, just that I believe technology could be developed to reduce the level of such noise significantly, so that it is not "equal to" or "greater than" the volume of human speech (even if it is, in fact, louder in real life). People who don't hear risk being "cut off," socially, and have a much higher risk for Alzheimers as a result.

It is the human connection that is important, which mostly comes through speech. Thus, I submit, again, that human voices are the most important thing, from a quality of life standpoint, that hearing-impaired people need and want to hear. Again, I don't think the hearing aid companies have really focused on that--they are trying to provide as close to "normal" hearing as possible, but, again, that is not necessarily what all hearing aid consumers want. I imagine that if the very finest audio engineers in the world went to work for the hearing aid companies, as opposed to working for companies like Pixar (for example), we would all benefit from substantial technical improvements in hearing aid quality much sooner.

Hearing aids have improved over the 20+ years that I have been wearing them, but not as much as other technology that I use. We need people in the hearing aid companies who are able to "think outside the box" in coming up with ways to address these issues better. And, yes, people with "normal" hearing hear all of these other noises, too, but their brains are able to ignore the irrelevant other noises while hearing aids are designed to provide hearing-impaired people with ALL of the noises out there (most of which don't matter).

I have no doubt that there will be substantial improvement in the future, especially as the Baby Boomers start demanding better quality hearing aids. The company that can develop and implement technology that really helps reduce the mechanical and background noises (not all of which are so important that they need to be equal to or greater than the volume of human speech) is going to become mega-rich.

to Anonymous Sacramento, California, United States #741687

I really agree with this blog, both the comment above and the original post. I suffered pretty severe ear damage racing motocross and have had to deal with progressive loss from the age of 20, to my current age of 40.

I desperately want to get another hearing aid (my Siemens aid worked pretty well). The main reason I want a hearing aid is to hear other PEOPLE. I hate being in groups of conversations and missing 80% of it.

Some background noises are cool, I couldn't hear the blinker clicking on my motorcycle until I got a hearing aid...but other noises are just annoying (my ex-wife banging dishes and doors when she was mad - which was all the time). The hearing aid company that best developes a hearing aid to focus on human speech, and not the general loud banging and outside noises will indeed capture the largest percentage of the hard of hearing market....

to Anonymous San Francisco, California, United States #768395

@anonymous in Houston: I agree with what you say and am incredulous that the hearing aid technology is so expensive compared with, say my new iPad Air or my iPhone. Why must I pay almost $300 just for a blue tooth device so I can hear my music while exercising because I can't use my ear buds?

I just purchased a set of aids for $6000 and can't get a real answer from my health insurance co. about how much they are going to help with! I am not "elderly" in the sense of the word because now we are very tech hip and can/want to do comparison shopping.

I have been searching the net for information and much of what I find is company sponsored. My main thing is that the consumer is hard put to compare prices and this is what will drive prices down now that the boomers are needing products.

Palm Bay, Florida, United States #687920

The sound of a refrigerator is called white noise. White noise is also the sound of a vehicle going down the road. If you can't hear these things it is dangerous. Not coincidentally the sound of white noise is included in speech. Try to say the fricative th or sh without making a white noise.

Jingling keys are a part of life, again, hearing aids don't know if that sound is keys, or your valves in your engine making noise.

Speech priority, and environmental noises are reduced in quality hearing aids, however it is impossible to amplify "only" the sounds one would like to hear.

Bringing all of the sounds of life, including paper crinkling, water running, and vent noise from AC/heating vents should be audible.

If those noises are too loud they must be adjusted by manipulating the frequency response or venting the hearing aid, depending on your loss.

Years ago the hearing industry was called out for claiming to eliminate background noise. If three people are talking and you want to listen to one, the other two are background noise. How can the hearing aid know which one you want to hear.

If you discuss this with your provider, he should try to adjust the aids, and you must learn to adapt to hearing again.

No matter how advanced hearing aids get it takes a motivated user and an empathetic pro to get the best results.

to Palmbay hearing center guy Durango, Colorado, United States #699399

I have been wearing aids for over 40 years. Audiologists are glorified hearing aid sales people that are focused on their next sale and the manufacturers that supply them are selling a commodity and have all sorts of excuses as to why they can't be involved with the consumers that buy their products.

Hearing aids all work about the same and anyone who has worn one for any length of time will tell you that background noise is clearly amplified and speech is a struggle.

It is almost humorous to take one of the voice recognition tests. They are all the same and the audiologist will say to you; "say the word *******in a slow deliberate voice. Not hard to understand why I can score in the high eighty percent range of guessing the right word.

We all know that when we watch and listen to a movie in a theater we come home wishing we had read a book first as most movies are impossible when it comes to voice recognition.

If these aids are as great as dealers make them out to be why do people with normal hearing understand the movie dialogue and us poor saps with aids are leaving the theater asking, "What happened?" Same story for most group discussions. Aids are not helping people hear much better than they were 40 years ago and in some cases worse.

to Palmbay hearing center guy #728523

As a wearer of hearing aids for over fifteen years, and as a trained industrial audiometrician, I stand ready to validate your learned commentary. In my experience, you are absolutely correct.

Many people expect hearing aids to correct their defective hearing and, moreover, do not understand that they not only have to learn how to use hearing aids, but also must more or less relearn how to hear.

The quiet world of the hard of hearing suddenly becomes abrasively jangly upon becoming suddenly amplified by the new hearing aids.

Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada #680971

I am a Hearing Instrument Specialist in Canada and in response to your comments you are correct that the fundamental proceedure for testing hearing hasn't changed much. The reason you are tested in an environment that is not like the real world is a controlled environment is required for any test to be reliable and reproducable.

Hearing aids can only restore audibility and as others have commented cannot filter out unwanted sound as the hearing aid has no idea which sound or voice you are wanting to hear at any given time. Most decent digital hearing aids should "reduce" steady state noise (such as AC) but can never illiminate it altogether.

"Noise" is simply sound we don't want to hear and needs to be filtered by the brain as in the case with a normal hearing person.

to Glenn Fort Worth, Texas, United States #694597

I think engineers are missing the point. It is not that we don't want to hear background, it is that we don't want it amplified to painful levels.

One that make me pull my hearing aids out or run for another room is a potato chip bag being opened, used, or folded back up. It blows out the television and anyone talking

Tampa, Florida, United States #672311

For someone who has been wearing hearing aids for over 20 years, you should try and learn a little about hearing. First of all, without your hearing aids you can't hear the air conditioning coming out of the vent because of your loss.

People with normal hearing can. The brain in normal hearing knows to put it into the background, yours sees it as something unfamiliar and makes that harder to do.

Furthermore, there is no hearing aid or computer in the world that can remove unwanted sounds and just allow you to hear voices as they are all made up of the same frequencies, and, if they could, how in the world would it be able to tell what voice in a crowd do YOU want to hear?? Educate yourself and get better counseling and you may actually appreciate the benefits that hearing aids provide.


They give you a test before you get hearing aids but never give you a test with the hearing aids they have fitted you with. Also, why not give us a program that allows us to minipulate the channels of the hearing aid to our particular circumstances.

When hearings aids are paid for by WSIB do they also get charged for every visit while they set the hearing aids.

A comp any like apple should manufacture hearing aids. Robert.

to robert San Francisco, California, United States #768400

@robert - I agree completely! Technology is available.

If consumers could know at the outset what the cost is they would be able to discern price/quality and drive down the cost of the hearing aids. Not exactly what apple does since their products are expensive, but they are top quality and people are willing to pay more for that, and the industry could develop other brands for a lower cost for people who were will ing to forego the brand for good technology.


Hearing aids are devices that assist you with your hearing. They are not magical devices that can eliminate sounds that you don't like.

Hearing sounds like the air conditioner and other ambient noise is a GOOD thing! Speech encompasses a range of thousands of different frequencies so by eliminating sounds that are annoying, you would be eliminating clarity of speech as well. My suggestion is to practice retraining the brain. Your provider should be working with you to help with your adjustment to new sounds.

Just because you don't like a sound does not mean you should not hear that sound. your brain depends on those sounds to feed it and stimulate otherwise it's capacity to comprehend sounds will diminish. The success of hearing aids is divided in thirds: 1/3 - is the product in your ears ( the hearing aid does not do all the work) 1/3 is the person helping you (your hearing instrument specialist or audiologist) 1/3 is your own motivation to hear better. Please don't think that the hearing aid will fix all your problems on it's own.

It's a team effort. Make sure you are doing your part.


I've never had a hearing aide before, I'm looking at the IIC from Starkey or phnoak but don't know the difference or if the ICC is good or not.

i'm so confused, I tried to get reviews on line but can't seem to find anything but from the manufacturer. can somebody send me an email and give me their thoughts.

i'm not sure how to get back on here to check so if you could email me to Torebro@aol.com that would be great. and thanks


Hi Karen,

I am so sorry that you are having trouble with your hearing. As others have said, hearing aids will ALWAYS pickup sounds such as your air conditionner, keys jingling etc.. These are sounds that people with no hearing loss hear each and every day.

Has anyone ever explained the parts of the hearing test to you? Has anyone ever spoken to you about acclimitization? As I said, the sounds you complain about are sounds that we hear every day. Most patients get accustomed to those sounds once they start wearing hearing aids. You didn't lose your hearing overnight, you lost it but by bit over the years. You are not going to get used to all those sounds overnight, it is going to take time to get used to those sounds again. I usually tell my patients about my own problem: the furnace. When I first turn the furnace on in the fall I just can't sleep at night. It's all I hear. After a few days, my brain gets use to it and starts to ignore it. The same thing happens to you when you use hearing aids.

I know that I may not be of any help right now. I woud suggest that you speak to an audiologist and have them guide you. I suggest one in provate practice. Chances are someone in private practice has worked with MANY people who are having the same problems that you are.

No hearing aid will ever get rid of background noise. All that they can do is make it more comfortable for the the end user. The higher you go in technology, the more noise management will be available to you. Sinse you've had hearing aids before, look at the manufacturer websites and find the features that you think would work best for you. Then find an audiologist who can help you. No audiologist or dispenser is going to know everything about every manufacturer, try to find someone who works with more than one manufacturer. If you go to a chain they will most likely only work with one manufacturer. Find a hospial or someone who private practice who isn't owned by a hearing aid company. Here is a link to a site which will show you what chains are owned by hearing aid companies. Google: fnatiqus and who-owns to find out who owns what.

Good Luck.



I totally agree with Jack the AUdiologist. I have seen hearing aids dispensed by someone who has been in the business for 50 years.

When that customer came to me I was shocked to see the precription in her aids. The H.I.S.

doing the programming was 80 years old, had no clue where to set the TK point and had them compressed at 3.97. HIS/AUD who are not comfortable programming aids, shouldn't.



Unless you work in the industry you should do more reseach. The price a dealer or hearing aid seller gets at cost is of course marked up in order to pay for the follow up care and services.

Most places offer this for free, if you can tell me when you go to the doctor for one thing everyother appointment realated to that first problem is free, then you have a valid point. DME, durable medical equipment is usally sold with no follow up care where as hearing aid are.

If you are an uneducated consumer then the best idea would be to find the HHP or AUD that works best with your situtation. In response to the fact that AUD are just out to sell hearing aids, again if you researched more you would realize that its the opposite audiologists do not have a reputation for being the best sellers of hearing aids because they are more foucused on the test and underlying problems, no offense AUD's, but they are doctors of audiology no hearing aid dispensers, thought they may be allowed to sell hearing aids.

Richard and others. It is hard to understand what those with hearing losses go through when you yourself does not have a loss.

What is easy to understand about hearing loss is that it is not simple. Richard hit the nail onthe head that the sounds you hear when you wear hearing aids are what people with no loss hear all day, its just that their brains have become acclimated with those sounds and have learned to tune them out. You cannot make a hearing aid differentiate between those sounds it take time, patience, persistence, and lost of follow up care. Switching hearing aids every year or few years cannot help the matter because you just start yourself from ground zero all over again.

The best advice I can say is to hang in there and find a provider who works best with you just like you would an MD.

I wish you the best of luck but expecting miracles jsut like getting a heart transplant and thinking you can run a mile the next day, is setting yourself up for failure. :sigh

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