How headphones and earphones can help with hearing loss

Improving the quality of sound with headphones


Using headphones does very significantly improve the perceived quality of electronically generated sound, and it is true for music systems, radio, television and computers. If your hearing loss is only moderate, it is certainly worth trying them.

When I say improve the quality of the sound, I really do mean 'quality' not loudness. With headphones the sound is significantly clearer, and it is loss of clarity that most deaf people complain about, not so much lack of loudness.

Relatively cheap headphones are better than no headphones, but the more expensive ones with separate inputs for each ear, external noise reduction and sound level controls are naturally better, and are what I use.

Headphones for personal use with a computer

All modern laptops have a socket to take headphones. This is particularly useful as sound directly from computer speakers seems far too quiet for me even when turned up to maximum volume.

Headphones for listening with others

Headphones are likely to be worthwhile for personal use in any situation. However, watching television and listening to sound systems can be social events in which deaf people like to participate with those with normal hearing who can listen unaided.

Unfortunately though, a major problem arises when headphones are plugged into the headphone socket of a sound systems: it mutes the external speakers. This means that although the person wearing the headphones can hear well, no-one else can hear anything at all. This makes listening with others impossible without the solutions explained below:

How to listen to TV using headphones without cutting off the sound from the loudspeakers

There are two straightforward ways of dealing with the problem of plugging in headphones automatically cutting out sound from the device's speakers.

  • If you use a set-top box (Freesat in my case), it probably has its own socket for headphones. Plugging into this usually allows the television speakers to continue to function alongside the headphones which are driven from the box.

  • You can buy a splitting device to plug into the TV headphone jack so that you have two output sockets from the one. Plug the headphones into one socket and use a small external separate speaker plugged into the other, so, again, getting two sources of output.

Ron Havenhand

Noise cancelling headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are considered on the review of ear protection page.

Ear defenders

Ear defenders are considered on the review of ear protection page.

10 coping strategies for the deaf


Disclaimer: The information on this site is for a lay audience and I cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. The views, strategies, advice and suggestions etc are based on my personal experience and are not necessarily appropriate for anyone else. They should, hopefully, stimulate individuals to develop their own strategies.