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Can We Re-visit Hearing Aids?

hawker

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The last time there was a thread on this issue was 2018 and a lot of technology has changed since then. And unfortunately, we all play an instrument that can really impact our hearing...not just at the gig but throughout our lives. And unlike our eyes...there is no surgery or medicine that will help your hearing once you begin to lose it.

I started wearing COSTCO hearing aids two years ago. I started playing drums when I was 13 and I'm now 72. I've lost most of my highs and other frequencies as well. I stopped gigging a three years ago for multiple reasons but now I realize I was not hearing any vocal cues, song titles, etc. on stage. Also why band members were saying things about my drums and cymbals that didn't make sense to me. And why I could never hear the piano out front or on stage...when no one else was having issues. Losing your hearing happens so slowly over such a long period of time that you just don't realize it. Are you 35 and when you get in your car you can't believe at how loud you had the volume? That's where it starts; actually it's already started. And it ain't getting better unless you make some changes. My generation did not grow up with headphones, but if yours did then you MUST address this in your life. If you're gigging in a loud band without hearing protection...take action while you can. It's a tiny investment that will make the last half of your life much more effective and pleasurable.

Sorry, didn't mean to make a speech. But while hearing aids are much better than they were, they are still a hassle and a pain in the butt. And if you ever lose your keys or glasses.....wait until you get hearing aids. OK, I'm using the actual COSTCO brand hearing aids even though COSTCO carries multiple brands. They run from $1300 to $2800 with different features. I have the $1300 ones and I have not yet played a gig with them. This Saturday I am going to a jam session with the guys I used to play with to see how then might or might not work out. Before I bought them I heard from several drummers here that they could never use them on the bandstand. I'm hoping now that's it's been a few years that maybe current technology will allow for it. It's not fair for me to try to play in a group when I can't hear certain frequencies or volume levels. They won't like it and I'd feel terrible about it.

So, anyone hear using newer hearing aids and doing well with it on the gig? Any thoughts or suggestions would helpful I'm sure.
 
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bbunks

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How are they working for you when you play on your own?

I saw Carmine Appice in a clinic a year before Covid and he took his out before he played saying his snare was too loud when he wore them.
 

cruddola

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A big thank you for bringing up the often-ignored issue of our hearing! It was the reason my brother left his mastery of the flute and saxophone for the drums. Hearing loss. His high-frequency sensitivity went to the crapper. Hearing aids on the sax and flute just made things worse. So, it was the drums.
 

Treviso1

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I've been thinking about buying them for my mom. What else can you say about them? Are they easy to attenuate and get used to? My poor mom's hearing has gotten so bad that she is missing entire conversations and it's nearly impossible to talk to her on the phone.
 

hawker

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How are they working for you when you play on your own?

I saw Carmine Appice in a clinic a year before Covid and he took his out before he played saying his snare was too loud when he wore them.

Yes, when playing at home I have to turn them down almost all the way. The snare is too loud but some cymbals also problematic. My hearing aids can be "tuned" a bit with my Iphone and that helps. I also went back to the store a couple of times for some additional adjustments. By chance, the guy working with me was also a drummer! He at least understand many of my issues and was sympathetic. You may be worried about using Costco for a medical device, but I and lots of other people I've spoken with have experienced nothing but great service and expertise. But that's been MY experience. I'm sure there are some dissatisfied customers out there as well.
 

hawker

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I've been thinking about buying them for my mom. What else can you say about them? Are they easy to attenuate and get used to? My poor mom's hearing has gotten so bad that she is missing entire conversations and it's nearly impossible to talk to her on the phone.
No offense, but they are fairly easy to figure out if your Mom is still thinking clearly, able to drive, use a computer to some degree etc. I'd say they are pretty user friendly over all but they take a few months at least to really fine tune. Watching TV at home is different than eating out at a restaurant, than going to a rock concert, than going to church, than walking down Times Square. You generally have to adjust the hearing aids a bit throughout the day (easily done) and also adjust your expectations.
 
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hawker

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A big thank you for bringing up the often-ignored issue of our hearing! It was the reason my brother left his mastery of the flute and saxophone for the drums. Hearing loss. His high-frequency sensitivity went to the crapper. Hearing aids on the sax and flute just made things worse. So, it was the drums.
Here's one for you. My dentist now uses ear protection because he told me that lots of dentists lose some of their hearing due to the high frequencies of the dental drill. That never crossed my mind.
 

bbunks

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I've been thinking about buying them for my mom. What else can you say about them? Are they easy to attenuate and get used to? My poor mom's hearing has gotten so bad that she is missing entire conversations and it's nearly impossible to talk to her on the phone.
My mom has had hearing issues since her 50s - she’s now 95. Without her hearing aids, and she has a model that fits entirely in her ear canal, she wouldn’t hear anything.

Hope your mom gets some - it will have a big impact on her quality of life.
 

Treviso1

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My mom has had hearing issues since her 50s - she’s now 95. Without her hearing aids, and she has a model that fits entirely in her ear canal, she wouldn’t hear anything.

Hope your mom gets some - it will have a big impact on her quality of life.
Thank you for that information. My mom is a very active, high energy 82 year old and I think she'll take to them well. She's not a computer person, however...
 

Treviso1

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No offense, but they are fairly easy to figure out if your Mom is still thinking clearly, able to drive, use a computer to some degree etc. I'd say they are pretty user friendly over all but they take a few months at least to really fine tune. Watching TV at home is different than eating out at a restaurant, than going to a rock concert, than going to church, than walking down Times Square. You generally have to adjust the hearing aids and adjust your expectations.
Thanks for the information. Good to know. Are these adjustments to volumes/venues made on the hearing aid themselves or via blue tooth and a device?
 

cochlea

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Some of you may or may not be aware that we will soon be seeing "the next big thing" in making hearing aids available at a lower cost. This "next big thing" is OTC (Over The Counter) hearing aids. I'm not talking about the cheap $29 devices you see advertised on TV or in the back of magazines. There are some pretty big players (Bose, Apple) that will likely be getting involved, allowing them to apply some of their audio R&D into wearable hearing instruments that will likely run in the $500 - $800 range. As an audiologist (and drummer), I have mixed feelings about OTC hearing aids. However, they may provide benefit to those who currently cannot afford traditional hearing aids through an audiologist or dispenser. Stay tuned!
 

RockrGrl

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something else you all might not be aware of, I know this is true in Oregon and Washington, I believe its federal. Even if you're not a member of Costco you can have an eye exam/buy glasses, or get a hearing aid, I think it also works for prescriptions as well. You will not be allowed to purchase anything else while in the store. I've been getting my eye exams and prescriptions for glasses from Costco for many years. I find the dr.'s to be good, equipment is top notch, and the prices are on par or lower than most nation wide glass chains. When you get to the door instead of showing your costco card simply tell them you have medical apt. and they'll let you in.
 

Erik

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I've had the Costco (Phonak) hearing aids for almost two years. Mine take a battery, but I understand that the new version is rechargeable. Costco sells several models, but the basic phonaks met my needs. I waited way too long. I can't emphasize how much these are a "quality of life" appliance to me. Being able to hear is amazing and I didn't realize how much I was missing. I was having trouble participating in conversations, especially in restaurant environments, and was always asking people to repeat themselves. Coworkers would email or text me things rather than talk to me... My wife said I had become withdrawn. I'm a second-generation drummer and loud music has always been around me. I have tinnitus in both ears and upper mids and highs are difficult. The Phonak app on my phone is OK. Being able to change the EQ in a restaurant helps. I can also listen to phone calls, music, and TV through bluetooth. (TV volume was an issue). An unexpected benefit, when I'm wearing the hearing aids the tinnitus ringing is reduced.

Anyway, I would never play drums with these in. I have a couple pairs of earplugs or even bluetooth earbuds that I wear to cut band volume. No need to amplify me or my band with hearing aids.

They can be expensive. I took advantage of flexible spending to set $ aside, knowing I needed them.

Hindsight being 20/20 I really wish I would have worn earplugs, starting in marching band. Every concert with ringing ears was a warning I didn't pay attention to.
 

hawker

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Thanks for the information. Good to know. Are these adjustments to volumes/venues made on the hearing aid themselves or via blue tooth and a device?
on the hearing aids themselves. Easily and quickly done on the fly in less than a second or two. And almost invisible to people around you; looks like you're scratching your ear. Also, whenever I have mentioned to someone that I was wearing them, they always tell me they had absolutely no idea. Even when I point them out most people have trouble seeing them. However, I have realized one real downside this past year or so; wearing a mask along with your glasses and your hearing aids can be a real disaster as everything can get tangled up. I'm mean how much space do we have behind out ears!!! And if anyone here wears an erring as well....you just might end up electrocuting yourself. :)
 
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drumsforme

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The last time there was a thread on this issue was 2018 and a lot of technology has changed since then. And unfortunately, we all play an instrument that can really impact our hearing...not just at the gig but throughout our lives. And unlike our eyes...there is no surgery or medicine that will help your hearing once you begin to lose it.

I started wearing COSTCO hearing aids two years ago. I started playing drums when I was 13 and I'm now 72. I've lost most of my highs and other frequencies as well. I stopped gigging a three years ago for multiple reasons but now I realize I was not hearing any vocal cues, song titles, etc. on stage. Also why band members were saying things about my drums and cymbals that didn't make sense to me. And why I could never hear the piano out front or on stage...when no one else was having issues. Losing your hearing happens so slowly over such a long period of time that you just don't realize it. Are you 35 and when you get in your car you can't believe at how loud you had the volume? That's where it starts; actually it's already started. And it ain't getting better unless you make some changes. My generation did not grow up with headphones, but if yours did then you MUST address this in your life. If you're gigging in a loud band without hearing protection...take action while you can. It's a tiny investment that will make the last half of your life much more effective and pleasurable.

Sorry, didn't mean to make a speech. But while hearing aids are much better than they were, they are still a hassle and a pain in the butt. And if you ever lose your keys or glasses.....wait until you get hearing aids. OK, I'm using the actual COSTCO brand hearing aids even though COSTCO carries multiple brands. They run from $1300 to $2800 with different features. I have the $1300 ones and I have not yet played a gig with them. This Saturday I am going to a jam session with the guys I used to play with to see how then might or might not work out. Before I bought them I heard from several drummers here that they could never use them on the bandstand. I'm hoping now that's it's been a few years that maybe current technology will allow for it. It's not fair for me to try to play in a group when I can't hear certain frequencies or volume levels. They won't like it and I'd feel terrible about it.

So, anyone hear using newer hearing aids and doing well with it on the gig? Any thoughts or suggestions would helpful I'm sure.
I am 68 years old and was able to get $3000 Hearing Aids at an Audiologist last year (Medicare helped). He recommended that I DO NOT use them while playing drums and cymbals especially.
 

BoomBoom

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This is great information. Thanks.

I'm 63 and have been playing 50 years. I never did the 5 nights a week loud gig thing, but have played some. I used protection in drumline last time I was in one ten years ago. I do have some ear ringing. I think my hearing is pretty good. I have a physical next month and plan to talk to the doctor about it and get a hearing test.
 

JimmySticks

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I spent a lifetime in construction, the military and as a guitar player, so I came into drumming with hearing loss.

But it's the tinnitus that is getting scary loud for me. I've actually taken a break from drumming for over a week now to see if the tinnitus will calm down some or not. So far, it's still pretty loud and I'm hoping it isn't permanent. And yes, I always use headphones when I play.

Does anyone know if hearing aids help or hurt tinnitus? (Disregard if this might be a bit off the topic)
 

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I’ve been seeing a hearing specialist for quite some time and got to try out the most high-end hearing aid he had for two weeks. It costs north of $6000. Included was an app whith a sound mixer. It had bluetooth so I could speak on the phone, listen to music and the works.

After a few days I hated it. The sound was thin, no low frequencies and I realised it didn’t increase my quality of life one bit. Maybe as I get older and the hearing loss gets more severe but apparently I’m not there yet so it just felt really awkward and unpleasant.
 

cruddola

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Here's one for you. My dentist now uses ear protection because he told me that lots of dentists lose some of their hearing due to the high frequencies of the dental drill. That never crossed my mind.
Yup, my dad before he went to the Great Beyond lost some hearing using the Dremel as a shortcut to his woodwork back when he was building harps and custom piano bodies for Steinway innards. I'll be 67 this month, wanna keep what hearing I got left. When my drums go back up after the renovation, I'll be miking them again to my mixing board and hearing then through that via my GK Ultraphones.
 
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dcrigger

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The last time there was a thread on this issue was 2018 and a lot of technology has changed since then. And unfortunately, we all play an instrument that can really impact our hearing...not just at the gig but throughout our lives. And unlike our eyes...there is no surgery or medicine that will help your hearing once you begin to lose it.

I started wearing COSTCO hearing aids two years ago. I started playing drums when I was 13 and I'm now 72. I've lost most of my highs and other frequencies as well. I stopped gigging a three years ago for multiple reasons but now I realize I was not hearing any vocal cues, song titles, etc. on stage. Also why band members were saying things about my drums and cymbals that didn't make sense to me. And why I could never hear the piano out front or on stage...when no one else was having issues. Losing your hearing happens so slowly over such a long period of time that you just don't realize it. Are you 35 and when you get in your car you can't believe at how loud you had the volume? That's where it starts; actually it's already started. And it ain't getting better unless you make some changes. My generation did not grow up with headphones, but if yours did then you MUST address this in your life. If you're gigging in a loud band without hearing protection...take action while you can. It's a tiny investment that will make the last half of your life much more effective and pleasurable.

Sorry, didn't mean to make a speech. But while hearing aids are much better than they were, they are still a hassle and a pain in the butt. And if you ever lose your keys or glasses.....wait until you get hearing aids. OK, I'm using the actual COSTCO brand hearing aids even though COSTCO carries multiple brands. They run from $1300 to $2800 with different features. I have the $1300 ones and I have not yet played a gig with them. This Saturday I am going to a jam session with the guys I used to play with to see how then might or might not work out. Before I bought them I heard from several drummers here that they could never use them on the bandstand. I'm hoping now that's it's been a few years that maybe current technology will allow for it. It's not fair for me to try to play in a group when I can't hear certain frequencies or volume levels. They won't like it and I'd feel terrible about it.

So, anyone hear using newer hearing aids and doing well with it on the gig? Any thoughts or suggestions would helpful I'm sure.
I started wearing hearing aids close to 15 years ago. And am an avid supporter of Costco and the hearing aid centers. I believe they have revolutionized that industry that has always consisted of nearly entirely small boutique type shops - which there's nothing wrong with, it's an excellent model for quality service. It is also about the most expensive business model to base an industry on. So while there are some compromises, Costco's establishing in-house hearing centers and using their ability to mass purchase and pass on the resultant savings resulted in my first Costco receiver-in-ear aids costing $3400 a pair (rather than the then typical $6500), the next improved pair costing less than $2500, and I believe this most recent, even more greatly improved pair costing $1800 (maybe less, I can't remember).

Hawker - your need to use them while playing is perplexing - as yes, the common practice is not to. Though for many years, I never wore my aids while mixing or editing or working with music in front of speakers. The earlier models - even just a few years ago - simply sounded to horrible in the top end. They were slow electronically - so that the processing created a small delay that just smeared that heck out of transients. Plus they simply didn't sound all that good - to listen to music through them via bluetooth was akin to a bad 60's transistor radio. Thin, brittle, lacking in any lows, but also harsh and scratchy in the high end.

But my newer Kirkland 9's are absurdly better harmonically than my former 6's. I actually can listen to music through them via bluetooth - is it really really great? No, but it is listenable. But as aids in front of speakers - they are world's better. SO between my top end just getting worse without them - I'm finding I use them most of the time now in front of speakers.

For the longest time - I just sort of knew the translation I had to make when not wearing them - so I didn't overly boost the highs on everything while mixing. But as my hearing continues to digress - many of the highs are down where there's nothing to translate - they're just not there, or not enough for me to hear without the aids.

One note though - if you try them while playing - I would suggest just like I do in front of speakers - always switch to a "music" program that included no compression. This gives you the baseline frequency correction without the aids always trying to push it further with compression. So using a "music" program plus turning them down to no louder than required for you to get by. That's what I would try anyway.
 


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