Best Hearing Aids for Music (Plus Listening Optimization Tips)

December 13, 2023
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Written by
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A
Amy Sarow, AuD, CCC-A

Dr. Amy Sarow is a practicing clinical audiologist and serves as Audiology Lead for Soundly. Her expertise and experience span topics including tinnitus, cochlear implants, hearing aid technology, and hearing testing. She holds a doctoral degree in audiology from the University of Iowa. During her residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Sarow was inspired by the three-tiered, patient-centered approach, incorporating clinical work, teaching and research.

Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Soundly Staff

Soundly conducts in-depth research to guide prospective hearing aid wearers. Our work is funded through reader support. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

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Music makes life more enjoyable. Whether it’s a live concert, in the car, or as background noise, music is a way to lift your mood, relax, meditate, and practice self-care. 

As an audiologist, I have met many patients who are either musicians or enjoy music and experience hearing loss. Patients commonly express their love for music and its essential role—they want to continue enjoying music, but hearing loss poses a challenge. 

This is where hearing aids come in. After all, these devices can significantly affect the quality of life of people with hearing loss. Keep scrolling and I’ll provide tips to optimize your music experience and review the best hearing aids for musicians.

In this article, get the intel on the music listening experience, plus a close look at hearing aids and their ability to process sound and music.

How Hearing Aids Work

Regarding sound processing, hearing aids amplify speech sounds and other environmental sounds. 

How hearing aids work:

  1. The sounds are picked up by the hearing aid microphones, which send electronic signals to the processor. 
  2. The processor appropriately enhances the signals for hearing loss and sends them to the speakers, where they are delivered to the ear canal. 
  3. The key to hearing aids’ effectiveness is the sound processing algorithms that are built into the device.

How Hearing Aids Process Speech

The primary purpose of a hearing aid is to improve speech audibility. 

What the hearing aid does with the sounds it picks up depends on two factors: 

  1. The type of sound 
  2. The volume of the sound

More specifically, the hearing aid distinguishes noise and speech, reducing noise while enhancing speech. 

The goal of the hearing aid is to amplify soft and normal conversational speech adequately while providing minimal amplification to loud speech. Based on your audiogram, the hearing aid applies frequency-specific volume to provide the volume that you need.

How Hearing Aids Process Music

Essentially, music is approached the same as other sounds by hearing aid processing.

The hearing aid’s primary goal is to amplify speech; however, sound processing to optimize speech may conflict with optimal settings for music listening. 

For example, the hearing aid behaves differently with soft than loud speech sounds (e.g., soft sounds are amplified more than loud sounds). 

Music contains a wide range of volumes, a wider range of frequencies, variety of sounds and may or may not include speech or lyrics. Sounds that are typically “noise” in another setting might be a desired part of the music. 

For example, the hearing aid often reduces a sudden, loud impulse noise (i.e., door slam), but that sudden volume change may be a desired part of the music you’re listening to.

Therefore, enjoying live music requires appropriate settings to preserve the fidelity of the sound. So what is an audiophile to do? Fortunately, there are plenty of options for music lovers and high fidelity sound enthusiasts.

Music Programs and Fine-Tuning 

Music programs and fine-tuning can significantly improve the quality of music through hearing aids. 

Are you a musician? Fine-tuning for your instrument can help improve sound quality. 

Many hearing aids have music programs specifically designed to adjust the device to allow sound to come through with less distortion to the music’s sound quality. 

For example, a music program disengages noise reduction programs, directional microphones, and frequency-lowering features. As music incorporates sounds that hearing aids may classify as “noise,” disengaging features, such as noise reduction, will help preserve the fidelity of the music.

To note, hearing aids are often programmed to enhance higher-frequency speech sounds. So that means depending on your instrument, the target frequency region may differ from the hearing aid’s default settings. 

What The Best Products Have In Common

The best hearing aids for music share certain features and they can handle a broad range of frequencies and sound levels. 

A wide dynamic range allows for a more realistic sound output. Jumping on this point, the processing speed of the hearing aid and appropriate coupling to the ear (e.g., dome tips or earmolds) are also important. 

Which means that these devices have music programs that can fine-tune the hearing aid for music listening and additional customization features. 

What style is best?

The most popular style of hearing aid is the RIC style. This style of hearing aid is first to market when it comes to the newest hearing aid technology.

Best Hearing Aids to Enjoy Live Music

Let’s look at some of the best hearing aids for live music in 2024. 

1. Widex Moment Sheer

Widex is a top hearing aid choice among musicians. The Widex Moment Sheer achieves its natural sound quality through its Zero Delay and Pure Sound technology. In addition, it is pared down, which speeds up the processing of the hearing aid to deliver a less distorted and smoother, more authentic sound quality. 

Read More About Widex Moment Sheer

Widex Moment Sheer Review
Widex Moment Sheer
Fastest Sound Processing

Widex Moment Sheer

Widex Moment Sheer

$2,798 - $4,598 / pair
Listen to a demo
pause
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

Widex Moment Sheer was introduced in September 2022. The new line of hearing aids is focused less on extra features like fitness tracking or transcription and more on sound quality. Customers who try Widex often stay with the brand for decades. Widex Moment Sheer has the fastest sound processing among all hearing aids in the industry. The reduction in delay gives the brand a leg up when it comes to sound quality and music fidelity.


Widex Moment Sheer is also often considered the leader among receiver-in-canal hearing aids for tinnitus. The brand's SoundRelax program streams fractal sounds into your hearing aids to reduce buzzing and ringing.

  • Overall notes: Widex Moment Sheer goes toe-to-toe with prescription leaders in the category. The perfect candidate for Widex wants care through a local hearing professional, natural external music quality and natural sound.
  • Price: The national average price for Widex Moment Sheer hearing aids is around $7,200 per pair. We've found some national providers with prices as low as $3,198/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth, Behind The Ear Style
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Pros

Focused on sound quality, delivering clear sound with the lowest delay in the industry.

Includes industry leading tinnitus features.

Widex Moment Sheer hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth streaming capabilities.

One of The Smallest RIC products on the market.

Cons

Only sold through local clinics.

Remote adjustments require an additional accessory.

Widex offers a premium product at a premium price that may be out of budget for some.

Get Widex Moment Sheer Details Here 👉
Learn More

2. GN ReSound NEXIA

With the natural placement of the M&RIE receiver in the ear canal, GN ReSound offers an excellent option for those who appreciate music. In addition, their technology provides a wide dynamic range and many customization options for your hearing healthcare professional to adjust and tweak your settings. The GN ReSound app is also user-friendly and allows you to change settings. 

Read More about ReSound NEXIA

Soundly team reviewing NEXIA hearing aids
ReSound NEXIA
First Hearing Aid With Auracast

ReSound NEXIA

ReSound NEXIA

As Low As $3,198 / pair
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

ReSound unveiled NEXIA in October 2023. If you’ve read our past reviews, you might know that ReSound is a regular innovator in the hearing category.

The brand was the first to partner with Apple for Bluetooth streaming back in 2013. In 2022, ReSound released an impressive algorithm update with improved beam-forming tech that boasted a 150% improvement in background noise.

ReSound is also the only manufacturer that places a microphone inside the ear to use the natural shape of the pinna to sort out background noise. Those popular features will remain with ReSound NEXIA with some exciting additions.

The first is a visible reduction in size. Impressively, NEXIA maintains a 30-hour battery life while cutting 25% off the overall size—big thumbs up from us.

The second big announcement is that NEXIA has an updated Bluetooth capability that allows Auracast streaming in public places. If you aren’t familiar with Auracast, check out our guide to the topic here.

ReSound is among the best in the industry at separating speech and noise in a background situation. Our lead audiologist recently put NEXIA in a test box and found the hearing aids could consistently provide up to 8-10 dB of background noise reduction.

ReSound NEXIA is on most of our shortlists for the best premium, receiver-in-canal hearing aids on the market.

  • Overall notes: ReSound NEXIA is an all around excellent product with an innovative approach to microphones and one of the smallest form factors in the industry. ReSound NEXIA has strong Bluetooth connection that now boasts Auracast compatibility.
  • Price: The national average price for ReSound NEXIA is $7,410 per pair. In our price research we've found some national providers with prices as low as $3,198/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth with hands-free calling for iPhone and iPad, Small behind the ear style
  • What audiologists say: “ReSound offers elegant design and good (if not elite) sound quality. These hearing aids are high quality and reliable.” - Garrett Thompson, AuD
Pros

Great for background noise management

Auracast compatible

Small form factor and an optional 3rd microphone in the ear

Cons

More expensive compared to direct to consumer and OTC options


NEXIA's in-ear M&RIE microphone is a bit larger and can be uncomfortable for some

Get the full ReSound NEXIA breakdown 👉
Learn More

3. Oticon Real

Oticon’s mild, mellow sound quality is another favorite among musicians. A higher technology level also allows finer frequency band adjustments so that settings can be adjusted and fine-tuned to meet your music needs and preferences. 

Read More About Oticon Real

Man wearing Oticon hearing aids
Oticon Real
Best for Natural Sound

Oticon Real

Oticon Real

As low as $3,198 / pair
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Professional Fitting
Rechargeable

Oticon Real was released in February 2023 and is positioned to become one of the most popular hearing aids in the world.

This hearing aid is rechargeable offers hands-free calling via iPhone and audio streaming via Android.

What makes the Oticon special is the way the hearing aids handle sound. While most hearing aids suppress background noises and prioritize only voice, Oticon Real gives the brain a more natural, full sound landscape.

Oticon used a 360 spherical microphone to capture sounds from 12 million real-life situations to achieve this new approach. Their new Oticon Real model also has some built-in features to increase listening comfort in the presence of intrusive sounds like dog barking or doorbells ringing.

  • Overall notes: Oticon Real is an undisputed leader among top-tier hearing aids. If you are attracted to the idea of hearing more of the sounds around you vs. solely focusing on voices, this product is a great choice.
  • Price: The national average price for Oticon Real is $6,330 per pair. In my price research I found some national providers with prices as low as $3,198/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth (not hands-free), Behind The Ear Style
  • What audiologists say: “Oticon is among the best. If you are looking for all-around, top-of-the-line technology, this is an excellent choice.” - Ramsay Poindexter, AuD
Pros

Open sound quality that many users prefer

Bluetooth streaming from Android and Apple devices

Offered with both rechargeable and disposable batteries

Cons

Oticon Real hearing aids start at $3,198 and can cost as much as $7,000 with walk in care

Oticon Real hearing aids require a visit to an in person audiologist and are not sold online

Get the full Oticon Real breakdown 👉
Learn More

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Conclusion

Hearing aids can significantly affect the quality of music and sound for people with hearing loss. The key is to choose a hearing aid that meets your needs and fine-tune the music program to your preferences. 

It is also essential to communicate with your hearing healthcare professional about your music needs and preferences. If you’re looking for more resources, try our Live Listen feature to hear sound quality from different hearing aid options.

Frequently asked questions

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