Mastering Hearing Loss — How I Improved the Sound Around Me with My Bionic Ears

bionic ears for hearing loss

Hearing aids, bionic ears or in-ear mixers – whatever you want to call them, they have the power to counteract hearing loss and change a person’s life.

This is the story of how I got my hearing upgraded.

Hearing loss and the upgrade

Ever since I can remember, I’ve suffered from hearing loss. It’s been an issue throughout my school years that followed me into adulthood. Wearing hearing aids helps me make sense of the world around me.

As humans we have a yearning to feel the emotions and a desire for the chemical rush of pleasure. For me, music, especially finding that new track or mix, really lifts my spirits.

There’s just something about the feeling of discovery. Whether that’s a new release from a favorite artist on Spotify’s release radar or a recommendation from a friend.

We listen to music in all aspects of our lives. This could be in the car on the way to the 9-5, hitting the gym, firing up a fat zoot with your squad or in my case at helping to take take in the minute beats of a killer track while working away on my laptop or taking in a live performance at a festival.

A chihuahua ate my hearing device

A Chihuahua strikes again
A chihuahua strikes again

Wearing a hearing aid (in my case, two hearing aids) has not always been great. Especially for one main reason – bullying as a child hit my confidence and kept me away from accepting that I have a physical condition that plagued me for years.

Considering that I’m the co-founder of a music and subculture magazine where I’m constantly interacting with music professionals, and listening to new music, I find this to be extremely ironic.

Since I moved out of the UK, I’ve been relying on NHS-issued devices, which were obvious looking and starting to become a little worse for wear. As if that wasn’t annoying enough, somehow one of my precious devices ended up in the jaws of a chihuahua (don’t ask) leaving me with one.

I hear you (hah?), why didn’t I go and see a specialist about my hearing loss?  

In all honesty, money was a large factor, so I just kind of accepted and learned to cope with my hearing diover time. Then there was the acceptance and confidence factor that was in play, even after all these years.

That’s when only device I have left starts to falter. It’s time to book that overdue appointment to see the hearing specialist. That meant it was time to confront the problem head on and get my life back.

Appointment day at the hearing clinic

Can you hear?
Can you hear?

As I’m making my way to the hearing clinic, I have no idea that the way I hear the sounds around me and the way I listen to music, is about to drastically change.

The situation I was in was acceptable. When you “lose” a sense, it’s extremely hard to envision life any other way.

The appointment takes an hour and a half. During the final 15 minutes in the clinic I’m fitted in both ears and the devices are switched on. An abundance of sound smacks me in the face. All I can do is smile. A few minor adjustments by the specialist and I’m ready to go.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I have my hearing back. Is this how everyone is hearing, or do I have a new acquired superpower?

After exiting the clinic I am immediately hit with a wall of sound. This feeling leaves me a little confused but at the same time excited, as I begin to realize what I had been missing out on over the years.

Adjusting to the sound and new technology to counter hearing loss

My thought process is that I need to adjust myself and the devices settings via the hearing app that I downloaded back at the clinic. I make a beeline for a coffee shop close by to get my bearings in this new world of sound.

Taking a seat, ordering a coffee and grabbing my phone, were my next three steps. It was time to discover the Bluetooth activated application that controls the hearing devices. I’m keen to see and hear exactly what different features the application can do.

I can literally personalize my experience with sound. Comparing to the older models that I had previously been using, it becomes apparent just how behind I was with the new technology that’s now available. This is the next generation. It’s time to accept and embrace next level sound.

Technological advances for hearing loss

Technology advances
Screenshots from the app

Technology has come a long way in the area of automated hearing. It’s a world where technology and human senses meet.

If you’re an android user, unfortunately you don’t get as many features as an Apple user. However, I’m in luck. There’s an array of different features and benefits that you can play with such as switching between devices to stream music, audiobooks and podcasts.

For example if you switch from one device to another the hearing devices will disconnect from that DnB track on your iPhone to a movie on your iPad. The features also include the ability to stream phone and video calls directly to your ears giving any wireless headphone brand a run for it’s money on sound quality.

Some other great features that are available on the app to both apple and android users such as, “find my hearing aid” that users GPS tracking to locate the devices when you have misplaced them after a heavy night.

The open sound solution is another great feature will that let you adjust to the environment that you’re in. You can choose where the focus of sound comes from by limiting listening effort by up to 20% when in a noisy environment and increasing the sound of speech up to 35%.

True freedom!

Annoying American, beat, Purple Haze and whiskey

Annoying American & Whiskey
Annoying American (aka Luc), whiskey and me

As I play about in my new world it dawns on me that music – especially live events – were about to get a hell of a lot better. With the coffee I was drinking now cold from being sat in the café, it’s time to move on and discover more new sounds

I jump into a cab to make my way over to Luc’s place for a scheduled meeting. It’s an understatement that I’m eager to tell him about my experience so far. When I arrive, I don’t let him get in a word for a good 15 minutes. However now he’s started to ask questions I realize how annoying his American accent really is.

Then he speaks the words I needed to hear, “should I play Calibre”?

Smoke fills the air

Beats in the distance
Beats in the distance

“What are you are you waiting for?” We spend the next few hours planning world domination with Underground Sound. Playing track after track and filling his room with smoke from Purple Haze.

Not long after we finish our meeting, I start to get the feeling of wanting to go out. I want to get more out of my day. I want live music.

There’s a minimal techno event happening this evening. We hadn’t planned on attending, but this is a special occasion. Again, I want live music.

Still a little high at this point, it’s clearly a great idea and we convince ourselves to go.

We book a cab and pour another round of whiskey. Cheers to my new found superpower!

Upon arrival we make our way across the carpark of the club. Hearing faint sounds of techno in the distance brings to mind a meme I had seen previously .

As we edge closer, I become increasingly eager to get in to the club.

Into the night

Once we arrive we have a quick stop by the bar for drinks and chat with the manager of the club. In a staggering voice I explain why we had decided to swing by. It’s with this that we are gifted shots on the house. “To hearing”.  

“Not to be rude guys, but I need techno”. Luc agrees without hesitation, a quick click on to the app to adjust the settings from the “all around” hearing to the “music only” setting, and it’s time to make our way deeper into the night.

On another note… wanna know how the sound of music can turn you on?

Check out our article Musical Aphrodisiac: Why Is Sex Better with Music?


Written by The Hinky

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional." – Hunter S. Thompson

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