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Headphones for hearing aid users

I just re-read the information that Rick Steves sends out when you book a tour and it suggested bringing your own headphones if you wear hearing aids. I just started wearing hearing aids in August. Do any of you forum posters have a brand that you recommend. I’m interested in some headphones that aren’t huge. I don’t want to take up my whole backpack with headphones.
Thanks.

Posted by
3652 posts

I don’t have answer for the headphones but I know I would love to see RS tours move to Bluetooth technology so hearing aid wearers could just use their Bluetooth enabled hearing aides. Just throwing the idea out there……….

Posted by
3039 posts

A lot depends on the type of hearing aid you're wearing. DH has aids in both ears. He used Sony headphones for a few years before moving to a Bose noise canceling set.

Posted by
295 posts

I wear hearing aids but take them out when using the Whisper system on the tour and turn up the volume as far as it will go. It works totally fine.

Posted by
8669 posts

"I know I would love to see RS tours move to Bluetooth technology so hearing aid wearers could just use their Bluetooth enabled hearing aids."

I suspect the rental sets used by most of the tour groups are all the "old fashioned" kind. I was just on a Road Scholar tour that used the whisper sets and silly me, had brought my own ear buds BUT too late realized I'd brought the ones for my iPhone with the lightning connecter instead of the round kind. Had to wind up using the one that comes with the set that is not terribly comfortable.

No advice for Janet...sorry. I've been on tours where hearing aid users did use the kind of big over the ear headphones but I know what you mean about them taking up room.

Posted by
75 posts

I use a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other. I have absolutely no natural hearing in my right ear. I went on a tour of South America a couple of years ago with another tour group and brought a mini mic that connects to my hearing aid and my implant via Bluetooth. All the the guides and docents agreed to clip it to their lapel and use it during talks and orientations. It worked very well even though none of them had ever used one before. I'm hoping to use the same on my upcoming RS tours of Italy.

Posted by
306 posts

@Carol, now retired - Bluetooth would be wonderful. My hearing aids work great with the Bluetooth on my phone. Maybe Rick will switch to that some time in the future.
@CJean - my hearing aids are “Behind the Ear” and I would need a headphone that completely cover my ear. All the Sony and Bose that I have looked at are huge. I can’t imagine wearing the big headphones and a Covid mask in addition to my hearing aids.
@ Luv2Travel - I think your solution will probably work best for me. My hearing loss is not extreme, so I will probably just leave the hearing aids out and turn up the volume.
@ Pam - Don’t you hate it when you think ahead and still bring the wrong thing. I had some Bose headphones, but they were so big that I didn’t want to use up valuable space in my backpack. I gave them to my daughter. My husband has some Bose headphones that are small, but they are several years old. I don’t see them available for purchase now.
@ Jim - your microphone idea is very good. I’m glad you suggested it. I will look at the price of the microphones and see if that will work for me.

Posted by
4900 posts

I have the same problem. On my last tour (first with hearing aids) the assistant guide (thanks, David in Spain!) loaned me an earpiece that looked like this one, but had a standard single-prong plug that fit into the console. I wore it over my hearing aid, it worked fine, returned it at the end of the tour. You might consider something like that if you can find an adapter or a single-prong version. It's cheap enough to be worth a try.

I also have a low-cost headphone set from a big-box store that I use with my computer, has the standard single-prong plug. Its sound quality isn't very good, and it takes up more space, but not as much as one of those Bose types, and it's not like I'm listening to music or such. It was about $15, so cheap that I can't find a brand name on it.

For sure, the earbuds won't work with hearing aids. Another "solution" would be to take out one hearing aid while you're using the whisper device. But keep it secure so you don't lose it! ;-)

Posted by
33 posts

Hi, everyone. I'm a new hearing aid user so I was happy to see this topic on a thread. I googled around and found the website for Whisper. They sell and rent audio technology to tour operators. I emailed them asking if they offered a solution to broadcast audio to bluetooth enabled hearing devices. They replied that they offer a "transductor neckloop" as an optional add-on to tour companies who use their equipment. I think it plugs into the guides' audio microphone and will enable the audio to be broadcast to bluetooth compatible hearing aids. I forwarded their reply to Rick Steves Tours and will let you know what they say.

Your next question may be if this transductor would enable tour members to use wireless earbuds such as AirPods, etc. I didn't ask and don't know the answer to that. I will let RS Tours take it from here with them and will share what l learn on this thread.

Happy Holidays and fingers crossed that tours will run in 2022!

-- Linda

Posted by
947 posts

My husband wore hearing aids and wasn’t happy about removing them to put in earbuds for the whisper systems used on RS tours. We purchased a set of Aftershockz, which fit over the bone in front of or behind your ear and conduct sound through that bone. That way he could keep his hearing aids on. He found them to be quite effective.

Posted by
33 posts

I got the following reply from Rick Steves Tours:

*Thank you for your message! I’m glad you were able to get in touch with Whisper. The devices they’ve provided us in the past have not been Bluetooth compatible, so I don’t believe the models they will be us for 2022 will be compatible either. However, we do provide a special type of headphone that wraps over your ear and over your hearing aid for those who wear them. There are have always been a few folks on my previous tours who wore them and they were able to listen in clearly.

If you really would prefer not having to wear another earpiece as you mentioned, you could possibly look into purchasing a cheap aux/Bluetooth adapter. That should enable you to plug your Bluetooth adapter into the aux port on the Whisper Device and connect to your hearing aids if they are Bluetooth compatible. I believe they sell these on Amazon. I hope this helps!*

I searched on Amazon for "bluetooth aux adapters" got a number of items in the $15-$30 range. Looks like they plug into the receiver each tour member wears and transmits the audio to hearing aids. Will buy one and also bring a pair of wired earphones as a backup. I can hear OK without the hearing aids so I should be ok.

Posted by
746 posts

I searched on Amazon for "bluetooth aux adapters" got a number of items in the $15-$30 range. Looks like they plug into the receiver each tour member wears and transmits the audio to hearing aids.

I bought one of these adapters a few years ago specifically to use on RS tours. It was a very cheap one on Amazon and didn't always connect to my Bluetooth earbuds quickly but eventually did. Still not the most elegant solution but far preferable to extra headset wires dangling and getting in the way of my camera strap, backpack straps, etc.

I tried to use the adapter recently and couldn't get it to talk to my earphones anymore. So if I were to get another one, I'd probably not opt for the cheapest available, especially if trying to connect to hearing aids.

Posted by
75 posts

I just checked the Amazon site for 'bluetooth aux adapters'. There are a whole bunch. Can anybody recommend one?

Posted by
306 posts

Wow, you guys are a lot more tech savvy than I am. Thanks for all of your research. I’m waiting to hear if someone has a specific recommendation for a Bluetooth aux device to use with the Whisper system.

Posted by
655 posts

I second the request for bluetooth enabled whisper systems.

I had a bad experience in Florence switching out my hearing aids for the earbuds. I got lazy and put the removed hearing aid in my shirt pocket that also held my reading glasses. Outside of the Baptistery, I pulled out my glasses with my hearing aid unknowingly hooked on. The hearing aid fell to the ground. I realized it about ten minutes later after we moved on. I went back to the same exact spot and found the hearing aid, crushed and worthless. Lesson learned the hard way. Fortunately, insurance covered the hearing aid replacement, but not until I got home.

Bluetooth technology? Yes.

Posted by
4900 posts

This is the kind I used on the tour in Spain, costs $11. My hearing aids aren't Bluetooth compatible. I'll get one before my next tour.