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The long-term costs of hearing aids...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by SoulReflection, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. SoulReflection

    SoulReflection Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    I played bass in bands for over six years, back in the '60's...six to seven nights a week. Bare in mind, I was playing with a 60 watt tube amp, through a 2 x 15" cabinet. My guitarist(s) didn't have stacks, they had one or two speaker combo amps. The organist had a Hammond B15 with Leslie speaker and the drummer(s) were, at times, heavy handed. I always stood to the right of the drummer. Some nights, I would try to sleep, but the ringing in my ears kept me awake.

    When I was in my 40's, people mumbled and I couldn't understand why people watched TV if they couldn't hear it. I turned up the TV in my apartment and the neighbors complained. My wife said, "maybe you should get your hearing checked". I did and my left ear was the worst, so I got one hearing aid.

    Several years later, I am back to the same problem. This time I get new right and left hearing aids. Great for another few years.

    I recently went through my old check books and found that I have had to buy new, digital hearing aids every 4 to 5 years at a cost of $4K each time. My hearing progressively got worse to the point that it is now classed as "Profound". Hearing aids are like computers and smart phones...they are built to last 4 to 5 years.

    So, my fellow members with 500 and 800 watt amps, if you do not protect your hearing, you can count on paying over $1K per year for the rest of your life or, until the hearing aid manufacturers can no longer sell you hearing aids that are powerful enough. In that case, you will live in a very silent world...your choice.
  2. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    I hear you. Without the hearing aid, for now...:D

    In my case the damaged hearing came as a result of thousands of hours in the recording studio, with headphones on. My ability to hear high frequencies is almost non-existent. And - as you've mentioned yourself - conversations often seem like the participants are mumbling.

    There are way too many things that a lot of us have taken for granted in our younger years, just to end up paying a steep price in our maturity. And the cost of hearing aids - as high as it is - is not the worst of them IME.

    Stay well and rock on.
    slapshot and SoulReflection like this.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    2 years ago I threw the towel in and went to an audiologist for hearing aids. Tried them for 90 days and then took a $400 hit to return them. I knew going in that that was a risk I was taking, so I was OK with it. The guy helping also put in enough time to warrant the $400. The aids would have cost me right around $4000 too. I learned a couple of things going through that, and I was glad my audiologist was up front with me right from the start about them crapping out. He flat out told me what you just said. They're designed to fail after about 4 years. How is that not illegal?

    Anyhow, I also learned that even at $4000 they're not going to perfectly restore hearing. I was hoping it would give me an edge back for mixing and stuff, that it would bring my hearing back to what it originally was, but it didn't. It gave everything a tinny sort of effect that we couldn't equalize out, and in the end he told me that aids really work best for people with profound hearing loss. Its not quite like glasses, where things get cleared up. Its more like if you CAN'T hear, we can get you to hear. The difference in sound wasn't worth it for me.

    Sorry you're dealing with what you're dealing with. Sadly, I have a feeling its in my future too. I use IEMs now, but there are many times where even with them, the club volume is deafening. Literally.

    The only good news in all this is that so many kids are blasting music in their head sets these days that in another 20 years we're all going to be on the same page :). Everybody will be blasting their TVs and the neighbors will quit complaining.
  4. nomaj


    Apr 2, 2012
    My hearing on my right side is greatly diminished, with hearing perception at 20% of normal. So far, I've not used hearing aids, especially since the audiologist I saw told me that they tend not to work very successfully when one ear is noticeably out of synch with the other.

    Perhaps a greater annoyance is the constant feeling of fullness in the bad ear, like a pillow is jammed inside my inner ear - it's as if I have both an ear infection (I don't) while the ear canal is plugged with wax (it isn't). Maddening.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  5. fretlessbass

    fretlessbass Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    Yup, been wearing them for about 15 years---since I was 50...they're a drag, but without them, it does, in fact, sound like everyone's mumbling...I really didn't think it could happen to me....it did.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    I have them, coming up on a year. I sing better and my pitch on the upright/fretless improved. I paid $7k and they are ‘hidden’ in the ear canal.

    I like the improvements, don’t like the costs, will replace as necessary probably behind the ear and cheaper.

    There is some stigma about them. Younger people think you’re grandpa old, and I am, middle age guys seem to reminded of their time on earth and old guys have recommendations.
    kesslari and SoulReflection like this.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I work in a HS and I can tell ya this... that stigma thing is quickly disappearing. As ugly as some things are seemingly getting on the world, kids are get MUCH more accepting of differences in people - as well as handicaps. Also, 90% of kids have something sticking out of their ears these days. There are so many new bluetooth gadgets coming out that I think nobody even notices or cares anymore. They think you just have something too high tech for them to afford :) .
    Bob_Ross, Dubsly, JimmyM and 3 others like this.
  8. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Montreal, QC
    So true about the headphones. When I'm on the train, I can frequently identify what song someone is listening to when they have their headphones on. If I can do that from a distance, the volume has to be insanely loud for them.

    Maybe for the young generations, designer hearing aids will be a coveted thing when they're older.
    GrooverMcTube and SoulReflection like this.
  9. SoulReflection

    SoulReflection Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Thanks for all the comments, people. It's got me thinking of all the short-comings of hearing aids and I am reminded of a PM discussion I had with @agedhorse a while back. As many of you know, he is an expert on amps and audio in general. His comment was regarding how the hearing aid manufacturers design their products for the frequencies of the human voice. That made a lot of sense because all of my attempts with my audiologist to process bass frequencies resulted in distortion. So, here I am with another $4K set of hearing aids and get better results from a $25 set of Rocuso earplugs connected to my PC, smartphone or amp! But, that has me working on a project that just may be a good and relatively inexpensive solution. I will keep you posted ;).
  10. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Well now...

    I'm on the cusp of this right now. I went to the audiologist and have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. I get most conversations but I miss some of what my wife says (no comments please)., especially if I'm not facing her. And recently I noticed that I don't hear some dialogue when we watch TV (which isn't often).
    My intonation on fretless is actually still quite good (just did some recording yesterday...)
    My insurance will cover most of the cost of hearing aids.

    What are y'all using? What do you recommend and why?
    I've been thinking that with as much as my insurance will cover I could go with ReSound LiNX 9's. It has some nice features for phone control, customization, and streaming/phone.

    @Joe Nerve 's comment is my biggest concern:
    pjbassist likes this.
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I don't remember the exact ones I had, but they were Phonaks and I went with all the options i felt were necessary. I think it was 1 level below their top of the line that had a few extra bells and whistles I wasn't interested in.

    My suggestion: Check their return policy and get OK with it. And make sure your audiologist is one who gets rave reviews. It takes a lot of time, patience, experience, and know how to get those things working to their true full potential. As much as I liked my guy, he was an older dude and had to work with me while on a conference call with the company. I don't think he was as savvy as some other, newly trained audiologists might be.

    I'll add that from what you describe, my hearing loss is worse than yours - and the hearing aids didn't really help. All they did was make everything sound different (and not in a way I liked). My decision to return them happened when I was team teaching in a classroom one day. The other teacher heard everything the kids were saying, and even with the hearing aids on and the volume up - they were mumbling to me. Either he had super hearing, or I was was throwing $4000 out the window. I chose to believe the latter.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    SoulReflection and pjbassist like this.
  12. pjbassist

    pjbassist Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Great thread...this is humbling. I recently had my hearing tested by an audiologist. When the doctor came in to discuss the results, he said "Having never met you, but looking at your results, I'd guess you're about 65." My heart sank...I am not yet 48! Darn bass cabs!
    SoulReflection and ajkula66 like this.
  13. Huw Phillips

    Huw Phillips Life is like TV if the channel sucks change it Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2019
    I worked on yachts for 18 years in the summer checking the engine room and in the winter using power tools, both without protection, I Also Djed and like loud music, at 50 I started to notice problems with higher pitches women and children!
    So I see an audiologist and I need hearing aids.
    I tried out a few different ones I didn’t like the recharging ones, I finally settled on a pair of semens they were the best available, hook up to the phone, available in different colors etc, I looked around a lot and found a mom and pop place the guy took $800 plus the cost of the aids as above round $4k, if you are going down this road e aware that you can return free in the first 30 days by law it’s to protect older folks
    Happy hearing
    pjbassist likes this.
  14. stigbeve


    Sep 24, 2014
    What? :laugh:
  15. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    They are. ;) They do this to drive you crazier than you already are. ;)

    My issues mostly stem from the Ilford 2240RC that was just a few feet away from me in the darkroom that I used for almost 22 years. Then there were the three bands in my later years that just didn't know how to play at reasonable volume levels (they never did figure out why our audiences always sat near the back of the venues :rollno:).
  16. Decades of playing 4 nights a week, 20 years in a welding shop as my day job with grinders and hammers. Not to mention the ,probably, 100 or so concerts. Back before " assigned seating " we always fought our way up to the stage and those huge PA banks.
    Small wonder then that if someone turns their head while speaking to me, I can't hear them. And background noise is the worst.
    If my wife speaks, and the TV is on, and a dog across the street is barking, it just becomes a soup of sound .
    Life + bad choices = lousy outcomes
    And I don't have 4000$ for 4 years of whatever improvement I'd gain.
    How much will a book on sign language set me back?:D
    Huw Phillips likes this.
  17. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    Interesting thread. At 60, I feel like my hearing is still pretty good. I listened to a lot of loud music growing up, but not so much in my 30s - 40s (raising kids will do that). Been playing and gigging for about 15 years. I use ear buds when exercising or doing yard work, but am careful to make sure they aren't so loud that I can't hear ambient sounds. Only thing I've really noticed is that sometimes noisy parties will make it tough to hear conversations.

    I hope some young tech genius will come along and disrupt the hearing aid industry. It seems ripe for someone to develop an effective and affordable alternative.
    Plectrum72 likes this.
  18. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Well, I've got lots of experience, now on my 3rd set of aids in both sides. The last (current) set were acquired last year, from Costco. Way cheaper (like $2,400 for the pair - top of the line vs $5-7K) from an audiologist and the service from the audiologist was superior in every way. Highly recommend checking them out for anyone in need. The private HA market is a total racket.

    In my case I had fairly mild hearing loss until about 15 yrs ago, then rapid deterioration not due to noise exposure, but something called Meniere's Disease that is an inner ear problem that causes severe vertigo (thankfully managed after a few years of PT) and significant hearing loss. I'd be lost without the hearing aids. Still not great hearing, but I can manage quite well and no hindrance on musical activities.
    Ronzo likes this.
  19. JeffJ2112

    JeffJ2112 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2016
    Nowhere Indiana
    I'm lucking in this regard. Since my hearing loss can be traced back to machine guns and explosions rather than music., the VA picked up the tab on mine. Even back in the eighties I was wearing earplugs.
  20. KJMO


    Feb 6, 2015
    Something I had never thought about was how much energy it takes to try to make out what people are saying. It literally wears me out sometimes.

    My hearing is not super bad yet, but I do have tinnitus, so I'm not all that optimistic. I literally have earplugs on my key ring, and if it's even moderately loud and I don't want to hear it, in they go. IEM's when playing, which if you do it right helps a lot. If it's too loud, I turn it all the way down, then back up to a little lower volume, and it isn't such a bummer, if that makes sense. I haven't seen anyone who uses their hearing aids regularly after buying them. There must be a reason for that, and someday soon I may have more insight into that.

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