Easily the best and most significant sonic tweak one could ever make!


Well hearing aids of course (if you need them and many don’t realize they do). I was diagnosed with asymmetrical hearing loss in my right ear over a year ago at only age 52. Entirely in the upper frequency. (As hearing loss per my ENT is almost always symmetrical, the protocol for this unusual diagnosis is a MRI brain scan to rule out a tumor; thank God everything was normal there).

Anyway, while expensive (partially covered by Insurance in most plans in the States), the different listening to music is in absolute terms startling. The proverbial veil is wayyyyy lifted particularly on lyrics but really the whole presentation is improved from the midrange thru to the top registers.

Keep this in mind before upgrading your electronics or speakers and perhaps instead upgrade the most critical precision instrument....your ears! I share this and if it helps one member on here, well that would be really great.
aj523
Good to hear that aids can assist. Obviously, deafness of any sort is a problem in this game.
I’m near needing hearing aids....what brand/model did you get...were they represented to be good with music too? (From what I know...most are optimized for speech...but some claim cake and eat it too)

Anyway, any details you’d be willing to share would be appreciated.
If you don’t get them from Costco yer overpaying.
My rich uncle went through 3 overpriced sets before he came to that conclusion.
Even if you don't have one near you, can save more than the membership.
Or wirh 2 weeks of gas in Hawaii.
@noromance 
Yes the technology today is amazing. No longer the need to feel embarrassed as many of the current models (and being an audiophile I got the rolls Royce version) are basically invisible to others and blue tooth controlled by your mobile.   Too many Iron Maiden and Rush concerts did me in. 
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@ml8764ag
Sure I’ll pm you. It was my Primary care physician that had a hunch and sent me to an ENT for more extensive testing. I wouldn’t go to those hearing centers cause it really comes down to a medical doctor diagnosis and then the skill of the audiologist since it’s really like EQ’ing your aids different curves etc. —that’s just me.
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AJ...thanks so much...please do.

I went through dozens of speakers, amplifiers and pre-amps before I realized it was not the right channel that was bad, but that my right ear was weaker than my weak left ear.Insofar as appreciating analog playback the first time with hearing aids, it was very much like my first pair of eye glasses as a kid. Wow! What a difference.So at 79 years of age, whenever I think one of my systems is going bad, I go to the audiologist first.
I Know you can get HA that will really increase your ability to hear. 25 % of the people I worked with were wearing them or needed them. Our company would help either side of the hearing problem. They would pay for your better hearing and the preventative side was a given. Even down to noise cancellation plug, inserts for noise pollution, or hypersensitivity.

That will keep you pissed off if your not careful. HIGH NOISE environments..or Hypersensitivity, exacerbated by a heart problem or something, like that. Like to drove me nuts a couple of times...Got the ol ticker fixed, helped a heck of a lot...

I forgot, saw my boss get knocked over by a backing PU as the BU beeper is at 113 or something like that.
I felt pretty good that day. Only problem, he missed his head...CRAP! He just wasn't paying attention, as 15 of us are waving orange vest and hardhats at him... Ka plunk... Dummy!

Regards
@stebut
Yes ! The doctor said it was more common than you think.  Anyway what an upgrade (if you need it)!
AJ, one of the best posts I have seen on here.   It has always seemed to me likely that given the cost of our shared hobby that it is likely many of us are, shall we say, mature!   Much the same in my other dalliance, motor racing.  given that demographic, it is inevitable that a large proportion of us suffer age related hearing loss. I do. But worse is my tinnitus = and for that single line 3khz whine I use special HAs that teach my brain to ignore that frequency.  It works for me.  Thank you for relating your experience.  I may try using some and see just what I have been missing.
I need them too.  But I only use them in particular situations--never when listening to live music (bec. in a sense, am I not then listening to miked music through a bad stereo system?)
Was a wondering exactly what the last poster referred to - with all the concern about every aspect of our systems I would think the sound quality coming from even the best hearing aid would be a compromise- it’s another microphone, amplifier and transducer in the chain...
Agree we don’t have many options but should makes us appreciate and protect our hearing while we have it.  
I don't mind some mild hearing loss...typically high frequency...then I'm less irritated by anything that may sound shrill to someone with perfect hearing, lol. 
   I believe I can offer some constructive input as pertains to hearing loss. Years ago in one of my sales positions I sold hearing aids for Beltone. I learned a lot. Some hearing loss is a natural condition that comes with aging. This condition is more severe in people that have been subjected to loud sounds during their lifetime. Whether it's on the job, firing guns, listening to loud music, or whatever. The loss can appear much before one reaches their "Golden Years" depending on how much noise one was subjected to early in life. In olden times most businesses didn't put much emphasis on hearing protection.

   The ear is basically divided into three sections....the outer, middle, and inner ear. If a hearing loss is confined to the outer or middle ear there are medical/surgical procedures to help. But, most hearing loss occurs in the inner ear. That's where nerves (cochlea) transmit sounds to the brain. There is no surgical treatment for that. Most commonly called "nerve damage".

   Most people experience hearing loss in the upper frequencies but it can occur in some of the lower ones depending on the type of sound that caused the loss in the first place. The first hint of a hearing loss is the inability to hear normal conversation in a noisy environment such at a bar or party.

   This is IMPORTANT!! Do not go to Costco, Walmart, or anywhere else that offers over the counter hearing aids. All they will do is make everything louder. What is really important is to find out what frequencies are affected. That's where an audiogram of one's hearing will map out exactly which frequencies need boosting. An audiologist or certified hearing center can provide this information. As important as a hearing aid is the other part is the mold (the part that actually is placed in the ear). That mold is constructed to work in concert with the hearing aid itself to optimize the best hearing possible.

   Please listen to my advice. Don't go for a "one size fits all" approach.
OP, I can’t hear over 12k, and I’m 48.  I wonder when I’ll need some help.  I recently added some 3 way crossovers and some super tweeters to my 2 way Altec system.  I can’t hear it but my wife can as she’s only 31. This is really a valuable discussion.  Thanks for posting. 
I'm into my 3rd week on a pair of Eargo Neo hi-fi hearing aids and couldn't be happier. Eargo is the only FDA approved hearing aid you can order direct on-line. They're rechargeable, have a unique floating design for placement in your ear canal, nearly invisible, and have 4 programmed levels that you can change on the fly by tapping your ear. The Neo hi-fi is their top model and was designed for audiophiles. Best week ever. Worth checking out.

J.Chip 
18 months ago I got HA for reasons unrelated to audio listening (difficulty distinguishing individual voices in group settings, a common complaint with aging ears). What I found was a shock. Audio system came alive, while in social situations the HA were more annoying than clarifying.

As burtlake3 says, the HA is itself a sound reproduction device and just another one in the chain. It cannot be neutral. Mine cost $3k and is probably not "Rolls Royce." Never checked at Costco, just lazy and went with the first one to come along. 

On top of plain aging, had a fungus that ate a hole in my right eardrum. A very nasty surgery was scheduled, but the thing healed itself, albeit with scar tissue. So right ear hears about 65% of left. With HA right it is around 90%. Greater clarity, both ears.

Bottom line: be realistic in future system tweaks. Everything must funnel through HA. So what's THEIR audiophile cred? Surely someone is out there testing and researching this. Whoever that may be, please post your findings. Surely a forthcoming review in TAS? Sounds like a highly receptive audience in here.
I have had to wear hearing aids for over 15 years. I just bought my 3rd pair this year. The technology had really improved from my first set. I currently have a set by Starkey that are rechargeable, bluetooth, adjustable on my iPhone and I use their TV unit to listen to programs. If I get a phone call it comes through the aids and what a difference it made. My hearing even with aids is still pretty bad and I was excused from jury duty several times because I could not understand what was being argued in court unless I was able to see the individuals speaking. At least I do not need to turn up the volume when listening to music. Most of what I listen to has no words.
Before you drop $3K to 5K on hearing aids, check out Nuheara. They have been widely reviewed and have won multiple awards. For $400 you get first class noise-canceling earbuds, Bluetooth, and excellent hearing aids that you self-fit using a version of the same test many professionals use. Their ability to leverage multiple mics to enable the devices to focus is remarkable. 

I'm not saying to not visit an ENT, just that there is no justification for the markup I see on almost all hearing aids. Keeping the medical services separate keeps everybody honest. 
My aids correct for high frequency ..but they screw up the phasing and I actually prefer nothing in my ears
Just be sure to charge them with a dedicated 20 amp circuit! Ha! Glad you were able to improve your situation. A good friend is mostly deaf in one ear and doesn’t really have any viable options. When he’s working on his setup he uses my ears to help get things dialed.
I went to the Village Vanguard once, and my table-mate had cochlear implants.  Had lost hearing as an infant. He told me he had learned to hear language through Books-on-Tape...and it had taken him awhile to realize he was on auto-repeat.  Said he had come to hear Tom Harrel because his brain had just recently begun to hear/process the trumpet. We sat in the front row.

Hearing and music are wondrous gifts.
Loudspeakers transduce electrical energy back to acoustic where the long transduction chain began. Now the HA pick up the sound waves in the air, transduce to electrical, amplify, then retransduce to acoustical. If the loudspeakers are outputting average SPL of 70db, then the HA will give you up around 90. Or so I understand. Of course HA are supposed to do more than amplify, and IMO, they do, though I can't say how. Maybe someone can clarify the mechanics and audionics here.  
I blow my nose before serious listening. Clears my ears and everything seems clearer. No kidding!
Hearing aid user since 2007.  Third set, Oticon OPN-1 which was their top of the line 3 years ago.  Bluetooth, all the bells and whistles plus custom molds.  The Oticon have tinnitus compensation which does offset that annoying ‘whistle’ but doesn’t make it disappear.  I’m 69.

How did I know something was an issue?  Besides my wife complaining I discovered that the music I listened to was becoming more distorted.  My system at the time was 70s vintage McIntosh with JBL 4311’s.  I honestly thought something was failing.  I borrowed a friends receiver and heard the same kind of distortion.  Eventually I saw an ENT whose practice had an audiologist and that helped get my issue under control.

Yep, I hate the cost of those things.  For my second set I tried Costco but you are at the mercy of their fitter who may or may not be an accredited audiologist.  They offer a no questions asked refund if you’re not happy, I wasn’t and I had no difficulty getting my money back.

if you can find an audiologist who has worked with musicians that’s a plus.  
You can expect a lifespan of 5 to 7 years for a set of HA’s.   Like everything else older designs lose manufacturers support.  So far no issues with Oticon.
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The bulk of my hearing loss was mid-range; bass and lower highs still 'there' even @ 69.  Conversations, individual and group, subject to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Certified audiologist, had worked with musicians.

Phonex Audeo' works for me.  Mid-range back in all its' glories. *S*
Phone calls direct to ears; anything Bluetoothed as well.
So much for headphones..

Funny thing, though....my eq settings for mids are untouched from 'before', relatively 'flat'....

*L*  I learned to trust my DSP, I guess. ;)
Maybe a good start is to clean the 10kg of wax out of your ears. Seriously though, speaker positioning and finding the sweet spot is usually free of charge. 
@asvjerry

Amazing huh the technology for hearing loss improves every day since they are basically EQ’ing the sounds picked up and amplified in your ear by the device. I’m due for a tuning /upgraded software. I remember there were 3 frequency curves - pre-hearing aid, normal for my age, and then the gap filled in by the HA. Doesn’t get you quite to where you should be, but very close in my case and as a bonus my left ear which has mild hearing loss got one too to balance out both sides which is critical.
When I’m listening to music and I take them out, its like a big heavy blanket was thrown over the speakers. Remarkable
I agree that hearing aids can make a world of difference when listening to music. I bought a pair of heavily advertised and very well reviewed hearing aids that go into the ear canal so they're not conspicuous. They  nearly drove me insane. I found that I cannot tolerate anything in my ear canal. I worked with the company and tried everything they suggested but it just wasn't right for me. I was given a full refund without any problems whatsoever. I give the company (which I will only name if asked) very high marks for customer service. I may try a different type that doesn't fit in the ear.
@aj523
So just that I’m clear, you keep them in while listening to music? You don’t get any feedback or distortion?,

Thanks.
For what a lot of these custom hearing aids cost you could but two microphones, amp and EQ, and some nice headphones, like HD600 or better. Then some in-ear phones for social situations where you don't want to be the one wearing cans.
Headphones are not a real great idea for those that have tinnitus.

@wallyaudioAll true. Costco or anywhere else.
Of course there is a human element involved. If you get an unsatisfactory one at least trial and return are painless.

The local reviewer here gives The Sound Of Metal on Amazon an A.

@ericsch

Hey dude. Zero feedback or distortion. No echoing or anything like that just great hearing again. The most significant tweak/upgrade to any system if needed to live a healthy and normal life otherwise.

I wear them regularly and have gone to some bars with live music before the pandemic with no issues. For real concerts, I don’t use them although I could, but instead I wear ear plugs which kinda sucks.
Thanks to @aj523  for sharing their experiences. 10 or more yrs ago I posted on this site something like 'shouldn't we all be getting our hearing tested' which also was a lively thread. I'm not using HAs now but wish I had discovered earplugs way earlier given all the bar bands I've seen back in the day. 
@burtlake I know there are probably other Burt Lakes but do you happen to be from northern Michigan? Looking for other audiophiles in the area.
@aj523
Y
ea, I also wear earplugs at loud concerts  Thanks for the information.
Interesting too is the fitting process.  They gradually (over a period of weeks) adjust them to compensate for whatever frequencies you've lost  (If they do it all at once, you can't tolerate it).   But the brain soon gets involved (as it does in all matters related to audiophilia or mis-audio):  it 'compensates for the compensation'.  You'll notice this in many ways, but the most striking feature for me was how much the hearing aids sensitized my brain to sounds I was NOT hearing before.  When I took them out, I could actually hear those frequencies (or some of them) without hearing aids.  God knows how much this affects our hearing of music:  I go to live music to learn what live music sounds like (and I'm sure my brain then translates my audio system's music into that).  I'm also sure my home audio trains me to hear details in live music I might have missed in the massive wall of sound at, say, a symphony.
@electroslacker Appreciate you relating this story. We often fail to appreciate that which we take for granted.
No feedback, no distortion other than that of the head betwixt...*G*

I've been fitted for 'in canal' pieces with the receiver/driver 'on ear', the only issues being my glasses (nearsighted) and removal of the au courant' maskings...

Reasonable comfy, although my Q-tip use has gone up....*L*  'Before and after' install in ears just feels good to do....😜

I'm wearing them f/t, as my speech recognition was a main issue w/spouse and conversation in general.  As for listening to music (or what I listen to, which is subject to discussion...), they stay in.  Otherwise, the eq would be 'ideally' warped to my ears, and sound wierd to others.

The only limitation I'd note is the limits of the 'on-board' eq, which is really pretty basic.  But hoping for 1/4 octave eq in a h/a is a bit of a stretch...;)

Overall, I'm pleased.

MC, I'd agree on eq'd headphones with a dedicated amp for the 'serious listening hour(s)', but a bit of overkill in some ways....clunkly unless Bluetoothed...one can forget you're wired into the stack.  Nothing like having the cans yanked when you're trying to reach that which is 'just out of reach'.  We've all been there at some point. ;)

And, even then, you'd have to corelate your 'loss' with the eq you need.  Do-able, but again, subject to taste and preference, which may not end up 'correct' in an audio sense....

'Practical vs. theoretical', yet again...*S*
Interesting discussion. I am close on getting hearing aids but have a question of principle understanding:
The hearing aid - from a principal point of view - consists of a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. If you listen through this device, doesn't that have an influence on the sound quality, i.e. isn't what you are hearing the sound quality (?) of the earpiece rather than your hifi system?
@agosto.  The answer is no. I forget how it was explained to me by the audiologist and doctor, but basically the HA needs to be programmed /calibrated/EQ’d whatever the right technical term is to fill in or raise the volume at the frequencies that are no longer audible.  Like having a volume control at those specific frequencies, for me entirely at the high frequencies where I couldn’t hear anything to begin with. And it’s very simple to do an a/b with or without test to see and the results for me at least were startling - it fills in the missing information you aren’t hearing to begin with so it’s not altering the sound and if it was you wouldn’t know cause you can’t hear it to begin with lol.  
Someone else may be able to explain better or talk to your ENT. 
AJ, Thanks for the good post. Could you pm me as well?
Oticon user for several years. Definitely provides a huge improvement to music enjoyment and life in general. Don't put it off and the concerns about will a hearing aid not provide good sound quality are baseless, at least with my setup. You really can't (and IMHO shouldn't try to ) tune your system to accommodate hearing loss. Modern hearing aids are much more accurate and better for that. Oh, and I wouldn't waste my time with the in the ear canal type. They are a big compromise for vanity. The behind the ear versions work better and are now very small and discrete. Mine have no external controls and automatically adjust to volume and ambient noise levels. They work incredibly well, including for live music. Just do it and don't put it off, you'll be glad you did!
 @agosto .  I had similar concerns about the sound being degraded with hearing aids. It depends on the type used. I use open type with microphone outside ear and tiny tweeters inside canal. The small tweeters do NOT block natural sound. They only fill in some missing higher frequencies. I got mine from Costco for about $2600 and I am very happy with them. My insurance paid for the majority of the cost. I sometimes use a Schiit Loki EQ to boost the highs but I think the hearing aids work a little bit better. Good luck. 
@aj523--Since your hearing is "asymmetrical" (I have exact problem you did--HF loss in right (too much rifle range)) are the aids also tuned asymmetrically ?  If you don't really need one for the left ear do you still have to wear one if you use one in the right ?
@wyoboy

Yes, at least in my case, I needed to wear one for the left and they adjust it to match your right. I think it’s an equilibrium thing and will also help preserve your left ear longer if it’s a genetic trait. I have hearing loss in my left ear too but it wasn’t as severe and I could have survived without one had it been symmetrical (meaning the right matched the better hearing in the left). My left hearing for a 51-52 year old male was slightly below the curve.  My right was no bueno! Like over 30 percent loss though they don’t like to use a metric like that to describe it.  that helps.