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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 SmartRIC
Fastest Sound Processing

Widex SmartRIC

Widex SmartRIC

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

Widex hearing aids are popular among musicians, those with tinnitus, and anyone who appreciate natural sound quality. The Widex SmartRIC integrates the performance of the Widex Moment chip, known for its ability to produce incredibly natural sound, with a discreet and stylish design that appeals to today's fashion-conscious users. While other brands offer a similar slim design, such as Phonak and Signia, Widex has a slight advantage in design. The stylish, L-design is the shortest of its kind on the market, according to Widex.

The Widex SmartRIC distinguishes itself with a unique microphone placement that differs from traditional Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) devices, offering wearers more effective support in background noise. This thoughtful design means that the directional microphones are more in the horizontal plane, and better able to pick up on your conversation partner thanks to the L-shaped 20 degree curve at the top of the hearing aid.

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 SmartRIC 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, tinnitus masking and natural sound.
  • Price: The national average price for Widex 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
Soundly Scorecard
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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.


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 SmartRIC 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
First Hearing Aid With Auracast



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

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

Great for background noise management

Auracast compatible

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


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

Hand holding Oticon hearing aids
Oticon Intent
Most Advanced Sensors

Oticon Intent

Oticon Intent

As low as $4,898 / pair
Behind the Ear
Professional Fitting

Oticon is the second most popular hearing aid brand (after Phonak). The brand has built a fanbase around its “open” sound philosophy by using advanced methods to support natural sound. Their newest device, the Oticon Intent, goes a step further, offering open sound quality customized to the user’s intent.

The newly designed devices continuously adapt based on four built-in sensors. Together, the brand calls this MoreSound Intelligence 3.0.

  • Conversation sensors: Search your soundscape for speech sounds.
  • Head sensors: Track your movement to gather information about where you are focused.
  • Body sensors: Track your movement through the room and open the field of sound when you walk
  • Acoustic sensors: Analyze background noises, echo and room dimensions

None of these sensors are brand new to the world of hearing aids, but Oticon claims to be the first brand to use all four together in one connected system. Add in Oticon's already impressive Deep Neural Network and you get what might be the smartest hearing aid in the industry.

  • 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 Intent is $6,330 per pair. In my price research I found some national providers with prices as low as $2,898/pair. Click here for more on prices.
  • Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth LE Audio, 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

Open sound quality that many users prefer

Bluetooth streaming from Android and Apple devices

Offered with both rechargeable and disposable batteries


Oticon Real hearing aids start at $2,898 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 Intent breakdown 👉
Learn More

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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.

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