This is about my experience with different types of earbuds, especially Apple earbuds. In particular, it is about a discovery I made that let me use the AirPods to compensate for my mild hearing loss.
If you like listening to music or podcasts, or regularly talk on your smartphone, you might benefit from my experiences. Especially if you have any type of hearing “issues”.
Wired vs. Wireless
I bought a set of wireless (Bluetooth) Apple Air Pods in 2017 to replace the wired earbud headset that I mostly used at the gym. I found it annoying to exercise and move around with wires hanging down from the headset to my iPhone. The wireless Air Pods were a welcome convenience both at the gym and also when out walking or hiking.
In 2019, Apple released an upgrade – Air Pods Pro. The feature that caught my attention was that they could be switched between full immersion sound and transparent mode. Transparent mode allows the user to hear nearby ambient sounds such as speech at home or in a work setting while listening to a program. The transparent mode is also a safety feature while walking or hiking to alert me to sounds of nearby traffic.
Hearing and the Apple Health App
Since I am a walker and hiker, the utilities in the Health App that I used most besides archiving my essential health information were the step tracker data: walking speed, walking asymmetry and flights of stairs climbed. Paired with the Air Pods Pro, I now also monitor Headphone Audio levels to avoid damage to my hearing from overly loud headset volume levels.
Headphone Accommodations: A New feature Discovered in the Apple Health App
In Accessibility -> Audio & Visual, I can adjust my headphones to my hearing needs. Headphone Accommodations walked me through a series of audio samples to select the one that sounds best. I applied the settings to both phone calls and music.
Mimi Audio Test App
I later learned that I had the option of importing an audiogram (the standard output from a hearing test) from a compatible audio test app. I chose the Mimi Audio Test App and after taking the pure tone audio test, it produced an audiogram showing the frequency loss in each ear.
How It Worked
I uploaded my Mimi audiogram to the Apple Health App on my iPhone 10. Right away, Headphone Accommodations in the iPod Pros compensated for the damage I experienced in higher frequencies. The sound of voices became noticeably clearer, improving the experience of listening to audio books as well as podcasts while out for long walks. The results may vary by individual depending to frequency range loss, but from my experience I recommend giving it a try.jm
Editor’s note: You can see more about the idea of using earbuds to help with hearing in Hearables: Better Hearing, Less Stigma?