Can anyone recommend computer headphones?

Posted by nancsw @nancsw, May 9 10:28pm

Hi, I need to get computer headphones to use for video conferencing for work. I'm considering BOSE 35 or 70, but I've seen comments that there is a fair amount of sound "sculpting" – I have no idea what that means. It seems like all the reviews and recommendations I've read focus on using headphones to listen to music rather than speech.

I haven't had a hearing test for awhile, but I think my hearing loss would be characterized as moderate, fairly level in the speech tones with a drop off at the high end. I don't have hearing aids at this time, since I've mainly been using email and IM for work. Any recommendations are appreciated, thanks!

Hello @nancsw, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I haven't had my hearing tested for awhile but I think I probably have a hearing loss since I'm always told the TV is on too loud 🙂 Bose headphones are really great but a little too expensive for me. I have a friend who has a hearing aid and uses them for watching TV. A few months ago I purchased a Plantronics wired headset that uses the mic and speaker inputs on my computer that I like really well – https://www.plantronics.com/in/en/product/audio-355. You can also get similar headsets that use bluetooth if your computer has bluetooth. I use it for conference calls over the computer. I'm looking for a webcam so that I can aslo use it for Zoom meetings with the video which now forces me to use my laptop where the webcam, mic and speakers are all included.

The decision probably boils down to how much you want to pay. I like the quality of the high end stuff like Bose. I just don't like paying the price when there are alternatives that work just as well. I might think differently if I had perfect hearing and was listening to music and needed to hear the really high and low frequencies.

Liked by georgechinsr

REPLY

Headphones are problematic for those who wear hearing aids, but I'm interested to know if any HOH individuals have tried trading their hearing aids for headphones connecting to the computer or TV. I haven't, but would like to know if it can be done. Also I have greater hearing loss on one side and am wondering if headphones could be adjusted for my particular problem. I would be cautious about putting headphones on over my hearing aids due to feedback, which in my experience is excruciating.

REPLY
@ner

Headphones are problematic for those who wear hearing aids, but I'm interested to know if any HOH individuals have tried trading their hearing aids for headphones connecting to the computer or TV. I haven't, but would like to know if it can be done. Also I have greater hearing loss on one side and am wondering if headphones could be adjusted for my particular problem. I would be cautious about putting headphones on over my hearing aids due to feedback, which in my experience is excruciating.

Jump to this post

@ner I have a friend who has hearing aids with bluetooth device that hangs around his neck that connects his hearing aid to different electronic devices – TV, cell phone, etc…

REPLY

I bought a set of DJ headphones. Just one sided, but with all channels on that side. They work the best for me for my computer and music.

REPLY
@ner

Headphones are problematic for those who wear hearing aids, but I'm interested to know if any HOH individuals have tried trading their hearing aids for headphones connecting to the computer or TV. I haven't, but would like to know if it can be done. Also I have greater hearing loss on one side and am wondering if headphones could be adjusted for my particular problem. I would be cautious about putting headphones on over my hearing aids due to feedback, which in my experience is excruciating.

Jump to this post

If you have hearing aids that are equipped with telecoils, you may want to purchase a basic neckloop. You can plug the neckloop into the computer just as you would headphones. Then, put the loop around your neck, turn your telecoils on and bingo. You should hear well. That neckloop also works with cell phones and other audio devices. Quite honestly, it should be standard equipment that comes with hearing aids that have t-coils. A quality Willliams Sound neckloop sells for around $55.

REPLY
@johnbishop

@ner I have a friend who has hearing aids with bluetooth device that hangs around his neck that connects his hearing aid to different electronic devices – TV, cell phone, etc…

Jump to this post

That device he wears around his neck is probably an induction loop or neckloop. Most BlueTooth devices plug into an audio source and broadcast directly to hearing aids with BT capability. The technology continues to change, but that good old fashioned induction loop that works with the telecoils in hearing aids still does the trick and doesn't cost a fortune.

REPLY

Stimulating conversation, thanks to everyone.

REPLY
@ner

Headphones are problematic for those who wear hearing aids, but I'm interested to know if any HOH individuals have tried trading their hearing aids for headphones connecting to the computer or TV. I haven't, but would like to know if it can be done. Also I have greater hearing loss on one side and am wondering if headphones could be adjusted for my particular problem. I would be cautious about putting headphones on over my hearing aids due to feedback, which in my experience is excruciating.

Jump to this post

@ner, any piece of Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) that uses your hearing aids will give you the best results. Your hearing aids are tuned to your hearing loss. All of the big name hearing aid manufacturers can sell you a device that plugs (or not) into your computer or TV that will stream the audio directly into your hearing aids. I mention the "or not" case since you can buy a remote microphone that is specific to your manufacturer. In this case, you place the remote mic near the TV or computer speaker to stream the audio to your hearing aids. The biggest drawback of going the "manufacturer specific" route is that if you change to a different manufacturer of hearing aids in the future, you'll have to buy their product to attach to the computer or TV. Every manufacturer uses a propriety signal to connect to their aids. There is no standard. Also, the manufacturers take us to the cleaners when it comes to this additional hardware that is needed. We pay more than we should. I say this because I don't think this hardware is considered a medical device. I'm not certain. However, we typically have to buy this manufacturer specify hardware from a third party (your audiologist), which adds an additional markup. A universal solution (non manufacturer specific) would be to use an induction loop. @julie04 already responded about this. You need to make sure your aids have a telecoil. If you can find headphones that do not feedback when you have your hearing aids in, an FM system is an option.
Tony in Michigan

REPLY
@tonyinmi

@ner, any piece of Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) that uses your hearing aids will give you the best results. Your hearing aids are tuned to your hearing loss. All of the big name hearing aid manufacturers can sell you a device that plugs (or not) into your computer or TV that will stream the audio directly into your hearing aids. I mention the "or not" case since you can buy a remote microphone that is specific to your manufacturer. In this case, you place the remote mic near the TV or computer speaker to stream the audio to your hearing aids. The biggest drawback of going the "manufacturer specific" route is that if you change to a different manufacturer of hearing aids in the future, you'll have to buy their product to attach to the computer or TV. Every manufacturer uses a propriety signal to connect to their aids. There is no standard. Also, the manufacturers take us to the cleaners when it comes to this additional hardware that is needed. We pay more than we should. I say this because I don't think this hardware is considered a medical device. I'm not certain. However, we typically have to buy this manufacturer specify hardware from a third party (your audiologist), which adds an additional markup. A universal solution (non manufacturer specific) would be to use an induction loop. @julie04 already responded about this. You need to make sure your aids have a telecoil. If you can find headphones that do not feedback when you have your hearing aids in, an FM system is an option.
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

Tony in MI, once again you've provided great info! However, I continue to believe that what we deafies really need is a manual to lead us through all the underbrush of various types/makes of aids and all their accessories!

You've just mentioned mics that pair with a specific brand of aid. Had one, tried using it, worked with my aid (which has a telecoil), but wasn't strong enough to even pick up TV audio when placed right in front of the TV speaker. Failed miserably during meetings. I finally just gave up on it.

Several people, you included, have mentioned induction loops. which apparently are useful WITHOUT needing to be purchased specifically for your brand of aid. The Williams induction loop has been mentioned often, as has the Williams Pocketalker (which seems to have received mixed reviews from people on this forum).

Am I correct in assuming that, if I buy a Williams loop and Pocketalker that it will simply work with my Bernefon (Oticon) aid?

Again, I'd be more than willing to do the work and front the costs to produce a simple manual for people who need aids and all their accessories. I don't doubt that it would have a small market–i.e., I'd eventually earn back the cost of publishing it. Decades ago, I nagged VEDA into publishing three books about inner ear disease and subsequently saw posts from people who had benefitted from them. In that case I edited, designed, prepared for printing, found the printer, and managed the distribution for VEDA, but didn't front the cost. Yes, books are "old school" these days…except for manuals or "how to" books that are not for reading but for reference. There's also a tiny market for books that are stunningly beautiful, and am working on one of those right now. Hard to discourage book designers!

REPLY
@joyces

Tony in MI, once again you've provided great info! However, I continue to believe that what we deafies really need is a manual to lead us through all the underbrush of various types/makes of aids and all their accessories!

You've just mentioned mics that pair with a specific brand of aid. Had one, tried using it, worked with my aid (which has a telecoil), but wasn't strong enough to even pick up TV audio when placed right in front of the TV speaker. Failed miserably during meetings. I finally just gave up on it.

Several people, you included, have mentioned induction loops. which apparently are useful WITHOUT needing to be purchased specifically for your brand of aid. The Williams induction loop has been mentioned often, as has the Williams Pocketalker (which seems to have received mixed reviews from people on this forum).

Am I correct in assuming that, if I buy a Williams loop and Pocketalker that it will simply work with my Bernefon (Oticon) aid?

Again, I'd be more than willing to do the work and front the costs to produce a simple manual for people who need aids and all their accessories. I don't doubt that it would have a small market–i.e., I'd eventually earn back the cost of publishing it. Decades ago, I nagged VEDA into publishing three books about inner ear disease and subsequently saw posts from people who had benefitted from them. In that case I edited, designed, prepared for printing, found the printer, and managed the distribution for VEDA, but didn't front the cost. Yes, books are "old school" these days…except for manuals or "how to" books that are not for reading but for reference. There's also a tiny market for books that are stunningly beautiful, and am working on one of those right now. Hard to discourage book designers!

Jump to this post

Loops, whether they be room loops or personal neckloops are not brand specific. All they need is to relate to telecoils in personal hearing devices; cochlear processors or hearing aids. I've mentioned Williams Sound only because I've had good success with them. They have enough power to allow the volume I need. There are other personal neckloops that use batteries that allow volume adjustment. Also some other products I've tried w/o batteries that do not have sufficient power to generate the volume I need. You can actually construct a neckloop out of telephone wire attached to an input jack if you're electronically creative. Not recommended, but pointing out that it's very basic technology. The key to this is the telecoil in the hearing aid or CI processor. THAT also has to have sufficient power to be effective. Far too many hearing aid fitters diss the value of telecoils. Perhaps the reason for that is that it's more profitable to sell clients on BlueTooth and other means of connectivity. Telecoils have been in hearing aids since the 1940s, and effectively connected people to landline phones of that era. The hearing aids then were much larger than what we have now, so including the T-coil component was much easier. When 'small' became the goal and 'tiny' became the greater goal, it became difficult to find space in hearing aids to include it. Thus, for a few decades it was left out. The movement to go back to loops and telecoils started in earnest in the late 90s and has been growing as people with hearing loss have started talking about their needs. Still, providers will refer to this a 'old technology'. YOU HAVE TO TRY IT TO SEE HOW IT WORKS FOR YOU. If they do not physically demonstrate it for their clients, the clients leave without any knowledge of what a telecoil is capable of. Providers should be required by law to fully explain and demonstrate what a telecoil is capable of doing. That is a law in 9 states now, thanks to HLAA advocates, but this movement needs more support in all states. Things like this will change ONLY when the people who benefit from that change speak up and are heard.

Liked by tonyinmi

REPLY

@joyces, I can explain what you may or may not have experienced. Your audiologist should be your go-to person whenever you have a problem with any product that they sell to you. Don't give up on them when you have a problem. The manufacturer specific products (hearing aid, remote mic, streamer, etc) are setup by the audiologist. So, you mentioned that you had a remote mic and it wasn't strong enough. Chances are, it was setup by your audiologist incorrectly. Hearing aids are programmed to NOT make your hearing worse. They do that by limiting the volume. When you use a manufacturer specific remote mic, it has its own profile programmed into your hearing aid. You would have to make sure your aid was in the remote mic program when you want to use the mic. The same is true for a telecoil. You have to make sure your aid is in the telecoil program mode when you are using your telecoil to pick up the signal from and induction loop. The audiologist programs how much input comes from the hearing aid mic, remote mic, or telecoil. The hearing aid smartphone app may give you control over these inputs. For example, when I use my remote mic, I have to put my hearing aids in the remote mic program. Since we may want to be able to hear the person next to us, the hearing aid microphone needs to work. My phone app lets me control how much signal can come in from the hearing aid mic and how much can come in from the remote mic. I may not want to hear the person next to me so would give ALL input to come from the remote mic. Your app or hearing aid may not give you this functionality so your audiologist would have to program your aid to your needs.
Now, regarding your question on an induction loop. First, you do not need a Pocketalker if you have a telecoil. Keep in mind that the telecoil needs to be activated by your audiologist. If you have a telecoil program, then you have the telecoil inside your aid. Even if you do not have a telecoil program, you may still have the telecoil in the hearing aid, its' just not been activated by the audiologist. In your case, the Pocketalker would be used if your hearing aids die. It's an amplification device, same as a hearing aid, but with a built in telecoil. You would use it with headphones or earbuds. Note that the older Pocketalkers did not pick up the signal from an induction loop. The Pocketalker 2.0 will.
Let me know if there's something that I haven't covered enough
Tony in Michigan

REPLY
@tonyinmi

@joyces, I can explain what you may or may not have experienced. Your audiologist should be your go-to person whenever you have a problem with any product that they sell to you. Don't give up on them when you have a problem. The manufacturer specific products (hearing aid, remote mic, streamer, etc) are setup by the audiologist. So, you mentioned that you had a remote mic and it wasn't strong enough. Chances are, it was setup by your audiologist incorrectly. Hearing aids are programmed to NOT make your hearing worse. They do that by limiting the volume. When you use a manufacturer specific remote mic, it has its own profile programmed into your hearing aid. You would have to make sure your aid was in the remote mic program when you want to use the mic. The same is true for a telecoil. You have to make sure your aid is in the telecoil program mode when you are using your telecoil to pick up the signal from and induction loop. The audiologist programs how much input comes from the hearing aid mic, remote mic, or telecoil. The hearing aid smartphone app may give you control over these inputs. For example, when I use my remote mic, I have to put my hearing aids in the remote mic program. Since we may want to be able to hear the person next to us, the hearing aid microphone needs to work. My phone app lets me control how much signal can come in from the hearing aid mic and how much can come in from the remote mic. I may not want to hear the person next to me so would give ALL input to come from the remote mic. Your app or hearing aid may not give you this functionality so your audiologist would have to program your aid to your needs.
Now, regarding your question on an induction loop. First, you do not need a Pocketalker if you have a telecoil. Keep in mind that the telecoil needs to be activated by your audiologist. If you have a telecoil program, then you have the telecoil inside your aid. Even if you do not have a telecoil program, you may still have the telecoil in the hearing aid, its' just not been activated by the audiologist. In your case, the Pocketalker would be used if your hearing aids die. It's an amplification device, same as a hearing aid, but with a built in telecoil. You would use it with headphones or earbuds. Note that the older Pocketalkers did not pick up the signal from an induction loop. The Pocketalker 2.0 will.
Let me know if there's something that I haven't covered enough
Tony in Michigan

Jump to this post

Tony, thank you! Good info. I thought about the Pocketalker for meetings, one of my great challenges. The mic I tried to use was paired with my aid, but just didn't have much ability to pick up sound. Tried it in groups, but it wasn't strong enough to pick up voices around a table. Because the groups are discussing technical stuff, I've found that even Live Transcribe muddles the "strange" terms, leaves me wondering what in the hell's being discussed. <g>

At present, I'm afraid to set out even for the little 60-mile drive to the nearest city and my wonderful Costco woman, plus, of course, there are no meetings at present. My situation is made difficult due to the fact that Meniere's offers distortion, recruitment, and, perhaps hardest to understand, fluctuation from hour to hour, day to day. Right now, I need to get the crises under control, so hearing problems need to wait until I can move around the world comfortably, with the assurance that I won't do a face plant!

REPLY

Sorry for the delay in responding. Thank you to everyone who replied to this thread 🙂

@johnbishop, I’ll check into Plantronics, thank you for the suggestion.

@ner, your idea of trading hearing aids for headphones is basically what I had in mind. Though I’ve worn hearing aids for decades, I don’t have them currently (and won’t be visiting an audiologist any time soon). I can't hear much of anything through the computer speakers, so I will need to reply on headphones for now.

@IndianaScott, thank you for the tip, I'll check into DJ headphones as well.

@tonyinmi, you make a good point about using technology that works with hearing aids which are programmed for your specific hearing loss. But currently headphones are my only option. Even once I get hearing aids, I think it would be great if the audiologist could also provide a separate device with the same program as used in your hearing aids, but that you could plug into the computer and use with headphones.

@julie04, thank you for the info about neckloops. I’ll check out Williams Sound, once I get hearing aids again.

@joyces, I read print books all the time – it's a nice break from working on the computer all day – so there are still some of us out there 🙂

REPLY

@ner – 'rely on headphones' not 'reply on headphones', sorry 🙂

REPLY
@nancsw

@ner – 'rely on headphones' not 'reply on headphones', sorry 🙂

Jump to this post

Wow, @nancsw, I'm sorry you find yourself in this jam during the lockdown. What a terrible ordeal. Let's hope you catch a break sooner rather than later. and can get back to a more normal hearing capability.

Thanks for your post. I think you ask an excellent question, though I don't know if the HOH forum is the the best place to get the answer you seek. We are all very HA-dependent and perhaps we don't track solutions that don't involve HAs (and our responses reflect that). Still, I am interested in this and hope if you get a good tip about headphones off list you will post it.

I am interested in headphones because, while my HAs do flow the sound from Apple mobile devices, bluetooth support is unavailable for my Apple laptop, as far as I've been able to determine. If I am missing something I hope someone will correct me and send me to a better source of information. I would love to be wrong about this!

I listen to numerous webinars and online workshops/classes for professional education. These are not streamed like entertainment through a TV. Sometimes I can dial in on my iPhone and listen while watching the Powerpoint slides or other display on computer–but not always. So if I can't bluetooth the speaker via phone, and the computer speakers are inadequate, what other options are available if I want to hear the content better? I think headphones may be the thing, no? So do post if you get a good recommendation, though you may need to ask hearing people about it.

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.