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Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants: Remote Microphone Technology

Let’s talk about remote microphones that work with hearing aids and cochlear implants.  Hearing aids are better than ever but they still have limitations. Cochlear implants are great yet they too have their limitations. What are the limitations? 

Background Noise

Even though hearing device technology is better than ever, background noise can still be a problem. Some places are so damn noisy that it’s hard to zero in on voices. (Even hearing people have a problem.) Chelle attended a health fair in bad acoustics; a wall of windows, high ceiling and cement floors. Reverberation is hard on hearing devices. People were crammed together. Even with her speech in noise program, it was tough to hear people talking 2 feet away. She pulled out her Phonak Roger On microphone which made a difference. Along the way, she educated several people about remote mics. “My mom could use that!” 

Another time, she went to a restaurant with a friend. A small band set up about 12 feet away and started playing music. Chelle could barely hear her friend. Again, she had the Roger On so she asked her friend to wear it. It was instant relief, so wonderful to follow the conversation easier. The background music was still there but her friend’s voice came through above the music. 

Hearing aid companion microphones help make up for certain limitations. Nothing is absolutely perfect but every little bit helps! 

Using the table setting on the Roger On to block out background noise.
Mics expand hearing reach. 

Most hearing aid brands have a companion remote microphone.  Search the web using your hearing aid brand with the words “remote microphone”. Example: Widex hearing aid remote microphone. There are a variety of places that sell them. Prices vary per technology/brand. If shopping on your own, be sure you know how to pair the mic to your hearing aids and have all the right equipment to make it work. For ease, check in with your audiologist (AuD) or hearing instrument specialist (HIS) and they can get you one and pair it for you.

Hearing in cars, another challenge.

Hearing while in cars is difficult. There’s road noise, traffic, engines, air leaks and possible music. Remote mics are an advantage here too. Some mics allow you to change the environmental noise. What that means is you can hear from your hearing aids/cochlear implants and the mic. Or you can arrange it to hear only from the mic. With ambient noise turned off, there’s less distraction from the environment. 

Take down environmental noise for more listening focus.

While streaming with the microphone, go into the hearing aid app and look for a button that says ambient balance or surroundings. (Different brands might have different names.) Hopefully you can make those adjustments. Sometimes you’ll want to hear only the person talking, or you might want to listen to a lecture (giving the presenter the mic) and be able to listen to audience participation.  

More Options
Chelle uses her Roger On with the computer. She shuts down all ambient noise for more independence in meetings.
  • Some mics will plug into the computer.
  • Some are table mics and you can choose from which direction you want to hear.  
  • Since hearing aids and cochlear implant work best within 6 feet, remote mics extend our access to communication. They help eliminate the distance.
  • A few posts ago, Julia shared how her husband can use his phone as a remote mic receiving the sound via his bluetooth headphones.  

Tell us how you use your remote microphones. What are the places they help you? The more we share, the more we help others.  

Learn more with Hearing Loss LIVE!

Learn about different hearing aid programs available. Cochlear implants have similar program options.

Check out the Illinois Augmented Listening Laboratory project: Improving Remote Microphones For Group Conversations. It lists the drawbacks of remote microphones for hearing aids. Note: LE (low energy) Bluetooth is available with some hearing aids now.

Learn more about the history of hearing aids and Bluetooth with Hearing Tracker, June 2023.

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