One hearing aid and one earbud
September 17, 2016 12:09 AM   Subscribe

I have one bad ear and one good ear. Would there be any way to wear one hearing aid and one earbud and have my phone push audio to both of them at once?

My hearing aid died so I'm looking to get a new one. I like listening to music and podcasts while I walk around town, but wearing my headphones over my hearing aid always felt uncomfortable. So I'd always put my hearing aid away when I was listening to them. But really, that meant that I just wasn't using the hearing aid as much as I should. I wouldn't bother putting it in to have a conversation with someone on the corner, for example.

I really like the idea of being able to listen to podcasts in my hearing aid (and phone calls too, for that matter). I'm wondering if there's any possible way that I could have my phone push audio to an earbud and a hearing aid at the same time.

I got to wondering about the new Made for iPhone hearing aids. Could an iPhone 7 communicate with one of them and one of the new Airpod speakers simultaneously?

I suppose that I could use something like this along with a streamer, but that feels like an incredibly kludgy solution.

Is there some simpler solution that I haven't thought of yet? I'm sure I can't be the only person in the world who wants to be able to do this, but I'm not sure what to Google.
posted by roll truck roll to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted any of the manufacturers of the Made for iPhone products to see if they have something that matches your needs? It does feel like a niche that someone should fill. I'm not sure you're going to find anything that matches your needs right now, but if hearing aid companies start making Airpod compatible hearing aids, you might be able to get something the next time you replace it.

One reason you might have problems finding something that will mix wireless protocols is that they can have different latencies, which could lead to disorienting stereo imaging.
posted by Candleman at 4:52 AM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the hearing aid side of things, but if you work that part out, you might find a Samsung Galaxy phone useful. They have a feature which allows you to personalise audio according to how you hear in each ear.
posted by KateViolet at 8:10 AM on September 17, 2016

NuHeara reviewed here, Starkey Halos reviewed here and Resound might be interesting to you.
posted by firstdrop at 8:27 AM on September 17, 2016

Those hearing aids are ReSound Linx. I'm not 100% positive it's possible, but it is theoretically, since both the hearing aid and the earbud can connect with Bluetooth. As Candleman noted, delay might be an issue, as the latency for the hearing aid is probably a bit longer than the earbud, but I'm not sure you'd notice.

You should contact your audiologist and have them call ReSound and find out for sure.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:30 AM on September 17, 2016

I listen to podcasts and music through my hearing aids and a bluetooth streaming receiver thing.

As it currently stands, there is no way to do this without hacking the hearing aids or a bluetooth headset. At least not through iOS, there may be something possible with android I don't know. I can also say that the hearing aids that didn't need a streamer box (the ReSound mentioned above) had hard rectangular boxes on the hearing aid wire that were hella painful for me. I wasn't able to make it through my trial week with them because of how uncomfortable they were. I know plenty of people can wear them with no trouble, but make sure you try before you commit.

The ReSound can not be connected at the same time as another Bluetooth devices as far as I or my audiologist was able to ascertain.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:22 PM on September 17, 2016

This New Rice Bluetooth Transmitter might work since it says it will support two bluetooth devices at once. It is linked in the first Related Question at the bottom of this very page.
posted by soelo at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2016

Thanks a lot, everyone. Posting a follow up for anyone who stumbles on this post in the future.

stoneweaver is right: it's impossible to do this. After a confusing interaction with an Apple Store employee, I found out that there's a 24/7 Apple support number just for accessibility issues. The person I talked with said that my only option would be to use two hearing aids. She also said that Apple always keeps this list of hearing aid models up-to-date.

soelo: I thought about that too. But then I'd need the bluetooth splitter as well as a streamer--seems like a complicated solution that would take forever to set up.

firstdrop: NuHeara is a cool concept. I'd definitely consider it as an alternative to a traditional hearing aid. But the dealbreaker is the short battery life--clearly not made for people who actually need assistance all the time.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:12 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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