Hearing Aid Evolution is Music to Musicians Ears

Blind listening experiment reveals that musicians hear more


Copenhagen, Denmark, 5th July 2018 – Music has remarkable benefits. It can boost your mood, motivate you to complete a task, or soothe you when you need to relax. Many studies across the globe have even linked listening to music with restoring memory loss, pain management and reducing stress and depression[i]. Can you imagine a world where music doesn’t exist? German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, famously said: ‘Without music, life would be a mistake’. For people living with hearing loss, the capability of their hearing device can make a significant difference to the level of benefits listening to music can deliver.

Ironically, listening to loud music can be damaging to your hearing ability. A recent hearing loss survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by leading hearing aid provider, Oticon, revealed that millions of Brits risk their hearing by listening to loud music, with over a quarter doing so at least once a week. This survey also discovered that certain music related events in particular are a cause of hearing damage concern, with respondents reporting symptoms of tinnitus, such as; a ringing, buzzing, or persistent noise in their ears, after attending loud concerts and nightclubs.

Unsurprisingly, musicians and entertainers are especially prone to hearing damage. Working in venues with high noise levels, as highlighted in the Oticon hearing loss survey, is a natural occurrence of their occupation or hobby. Facing hearing loss is daunting, challenging and life changing, and for musicians, the loss is even more poignant.

Up until recently, hearing solutions have struggled to enable musicians with hearing loss to take pleasure in their passion. Hearing aids have been limited to sound levels closer to speech, with louder sounds becoming distorted and unenjoyable. Thankfully, a hearing aid has finally been proven to not only handle listening to music without distortion, but also to deliver the naturalness and clarity of sound that trained musical ears appreciate.

An independent blind music and speech sound quality listening experiment[ii], which featured both musicians and non-musicians, compared the listening experience results of the Oticon Opn™ hearing aid with a predecessor from Oticon. Not only did the study conclude that Opn™ reduces listening effort in noisy locations, improves the ability to hear speech cues and speech in quiet, and makes sound generally more pleasant, the experiment also posted results that musicians better noticed the difference between the two generations hearing aids, proving that they hear more detail in sound.

When listening to music, everyone that took part in the experiment noticed that Opn™ delivered more natural sound with more clarity, and were able to hear more instruments, as well as, better distinguish between levels. However, the difference the hearing aids made to the listening experience of the musicians in the experiment was more considerable than that of the non-musicians that took part, and arguably more momentous.

Mezzo-soprano opera singer, Janine Roebuck, notoriously suffers from incurable, progressive nerve deafness. Janine has been able to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an opera singer thanks to the evolution of hearing aid technology, and has gone on to become a global star despite her severe hearing condition. When Janine was fitted with Opn™ hearing aids, her audiologist conducted a music test using a rudimentary set of speakers. Janine Roebuck commented:

“When my audiologist tested me for music, I got terribly emotional because I had not heard the clarity of music that Opn™ allowed me to hear for years and years and years. It had just become a cacophony of sound, yet there I was hearing all the individual instruments again far more clearly than I had done for such a long time. I don’t have to change channels on the hearing aids when I am listening to music, which is absolutely amazing.”

Thomas Behrens, Chief Audiologist at Oticon comments: “We are really pleased that our Oticon Opn™ hearing aid proved capable of helping musicians and non-musicians alike to more fully appreciate the finer details of music, especially considering the considerable amount of evidence that health and wellbeing can be improved by listening to music. Opn™ has proved to be a paradigm shift in hearing loss treatment thanks to the application of BrainHearing™ technologies. We are delighted to offer a hearing aid that makes such a difference and better enables the full potential of music to be appreciated by even highly trained ears.

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Declarations of financial conflict: Remuneration from Oticon has been received by the author for subject recruitment and partial payment of salary for a research associate and administrative overhead at the Musician’s Clinic’s of Canada, Toronto, Canada. Non-labelled test hearing aids were provided by Oticon with the “new” (Oticon Opn) and the “old” technologies and these were returned to Oticon after the end of testing.


About Oticon

500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. The majority are over the age of 50 while eight percent are under the age of 18. It is Oticon’s ambition that our customers – hearing clinics throughout the world – prefer to use our products for people with impaired hearing. Through passion, dedication and professional expertise, Oticon develops and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children. Oticon supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to severe and we pride ourselves on developing some of the most innovative hearing aids in the market. Headquartered out of Denmark, we are a global company and part of William Demant Holding Group with more than 13,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 13 billion. www.oticon.global


[i] For example:

“Music Therapy For Dementia: Awakening Memories” – https://www.alzheimers.net/2013-06-04/music-therapy-for-dementia/

“Singing is beneficial for memory and mood especially in early dementia” – https://www.j-alz.com/content/singing-beneficial-memory-and-mood-especially-early-dementia

“BU research shows music therapy reduces depression in children and adolescents” – https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/2016-11-03/bu-research-shows-music-therapy-reduces-depression-children-adolescents

“The Power of Music To Reduce Stress” – https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/

[ii] Use of a novel technique to improve amplified sound quality for both music and speech: Marshall Chasin, AuD. Research approved through the University of Toronto Institutional Review Board.