AirPods perform almost as well as premium hearing aids in new study

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in General Discussion
A new study reveals that AirPods Pro are roughly on par with prescription hearing aids, although they can't replace the medical-grade devices in all situations.

AirPods Pro 2
AirPods Pro 2


Apple has some features designed to help people with mild hearing loss. One, called Live Listen, allows people amplify the sounds in their environment using AirPods.

Next, Conversation Boost uses the beam-forming microphones on AirPods to achieve a similar boost in sound, but specifically for conversations.

A study published Tuesday in the journal iScience found that the features helped adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss hear speech almost as well as two prescription hearing aids from other companies.

The AirPods Pro didn't meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for hearing aids. But they enhanced sound as well as some less-advanced hearing devices.

"They won't replace hearing aids but it's a good way for people to experience what the world would be like if they could get some help, an upgrade for their hearing," said Yen-Fu Cheng, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, who co-wrote the study.

Dr. Cheng and his colleagues also found that AirPods 2 couldn't alleviate the hearing loss acceptably.

During the study, 21 adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss were given hearing tests while wearing Apple AirPods with the Live Listen feature activated. They also took the test while wearing a basic pair of hearing aids and a premium set.

They reported the best experience with the premium hearing aids that cost $10,000. However, the AirPods Pro performed almost as well, and the AirPods 2 performed notably worse.

The AirPods Pro met standards in four out of five categories, while the AirPods 2 met criteria for two categories in a sound and clarity test. The AirPods Pro surpassed the ideal threshold for internal noise levels to assist wearers in distinguishing between softer sounds and speech.

According to Michele DiStefano, director of the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Audiology Center at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York, limitations of AirPods as hearing aids include their battery life.

Users can expect up to five hours of listening time with a single charge and up to three hours of talk time with a single charge. The second-generation AirPods Pro can deliver up to six hours of listening time with a single charge, and up to 4.5 hours of talk time.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    As an Audiologist this is awesome!! I already advise my patients with mild loss and an iPhone to get AirPods instead of forking out thousands for hearing aids. Although $10,000 is ridiculous!! (Come to Costco. Disclaimer - I work there.) 
    lolliverbaconstangiqatedoAlex_Vllamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,388member
    Anilu_777 said:
    As an Audiologist this is awesome!! I already advise my patients with mild loss and an iPhone to get AirPods instead of forking out thousands for hearing aids. Although $10,000 is ridiculous!! (Come to Costco. Disclaimer - I work there.) 
    Yes, I was kinda shocked when I went into a Walgreen's last week and they were promoting professional-grade hearing aids, "now available". Cheap too, about $800. After I did a little research I found that drugstores and such can now sell those hearing aids that used to require an Audiologist. 

    EDIT; Best Buy has them at $200?? Geesh.
    edited November 2022 Alex_Vwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 12

    Assuming that AirPods can be programed if modified, it seems obvious to me that a "filter" could be designed to conform to an audiologist's prescription.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12

    I've been waiting for someone to point out how much better Conversation Boost is than Live Listen. It's like this study was done years ago rather than in 2022.

    It took some experimentation with my AirPods Pro 2 to achieve optimal settings, but the Conversation Boost is really amazing for hearing conversations that would otherwise give me challenges, and I just turn my head toward the person speaking for more clarity through the AirPods. 

    In the past I tried Live Listen, but it really only works if i can put my phone near the person speaking and picks up room noise as much as it picks up the voice. I never really used it for those reasons.

    I love being able to change from Noise Cancellation to Transparency with Conversation boost with a squeeze of the Pro's stem. And back to NC as soon as the conversation is complete.

    flashfan207lolliverAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    I find I like conversation boost more for listening to others. I don’t care for the break up in the sound of my voice. I’d love to know how to adjust that. My hearing drops off after 12kHz. Conversation boost may not be meant for me. I guess I need to see an audiologist. 
    Alex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Audiologist could help patient program his/her AirPod.
    Alex_V
  • Reply 7 of 12
    Has anybody noticed that with the latest Airpod Pro 2 firmware update that they now have the worst noise cancellation in the business.  Used to be so good.  Now so bad.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,222member
     Am surprised apple hasn’t gone in hard on actual headphones (boomers run the place after all). It could do it very well, and no doubt as a disrupter, cheaper than ones that integrate with your smartphone already on the market.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,222member
    Has anybody noticed that with the latest Airpod Pro 2 firmware update that they now have the worst noise cancellation in the business.  Used to be so good.  Now so bad.
    Umm, no, I haven’t. Are you sure you aren’t imagining it?
    llamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,388member
    entropys said:
     Am surprised apple hasn’t gone in hard on actual headphones (boomers run the place after all). It could do it very well, and no doubt as a disrupter, cheaper than ones that integrate with your smartphone already on the market.
    Ummm... Doesn't Apple already sell headphones? Airpods Max, Beats Solo.... 
  • Reply 11 of 12
    Has anybody noticed that with the latest Airpod Pro 2 firmware update that they now have the worst noise cancellation in the business.  Used to be so good.  Now so bad.
    This is likely the consequence of Apple being sued for patent violation. AI has covered the legal challenge in a number of articles.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    A study consisting of a mere 21 people is highly unlikely to be statistically relevant. We already know the benefits of the AirPods Pro are greater than the AirPods and less than dedicated hearing aids; whether the APPs are "good enough" is largely a subjective judgement that should be made on an individual basis.
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