Headphones And Hearing Aids – Can You Wear Both?

One question I get a lot from people who are getting hearing aids for the first time is “Can I wear headphones to listen to music while wearing my hearing aids?”

There's really two (2) parts to this question:

  1. Can you physically wear headphones with hearing aids?
  2. Will headphones make my hearing loss worse?

The answer is: it depends on your hearing aid AND it depends on your headphones.

Below you will find the three main types of headphones that work well with hearing aids, along with a chart that includes our top picks.

Top Bone Conduction Headphones

Best for: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC)

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AfterShokz Aeropex Wireless Headphones

AfterShokz TREKZ Air Open-ear Wireless Headphones

AfterShokz TREKZ Titanium Open-ear Bluetooth Headphones

Vibrabeats Vidonn F1

Aftershokz AS500 Bluez 2 Open Ear Wireless Headphones

4.6/5
4.4/5
4.3/5
3.9/5
3.9/5

$$$$

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Additional tips: If you're interested in bone conduction headphones make sure to read our detailed guide that includes frequently asked questions and more in depth reviews.

Top on-ear Headphones

Best for: completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-canal (IIC).Can also be used for in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) and open-fit receiver-in-canal (RIC). However,  feedback is more likely to occur with these types of hearing aids.

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Koss KTXPRO1 Titanium Portable Headphones

Skullcandy Uproar Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphone

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

AmazonBasics Lightweight On-Ear Headphones

Sony MDRZX100 ZX Series Stereo Headphones

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

SOL REPUBLIC Tracks HD2 On-Ear Headphones

JBL E45BT On-Ear Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Headphone

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Additional tips: For ITE hearing aids you may also be able to wear the circum-aural headphones (or headphones that rest completely cover them unlike supra-aural headphones). With ITE hearing aids of all sizes (ITC, CIC), the round opening in the center of the headphones sits right over the hearing aid, allowing the hearing aid to pick up the music through the microphone.

For IIC or extended wear hearing aids (such as the Lyric) it is easier to wear headphones with your hearing aids because the hearing aid is seated deep in the ear canal. You can easily wear on-the-ear headphones with these hearing aids.

Top over-ear Headphones

Best for: in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), invisible-in-the-canal (IIC).Can also behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC). However,  feedback is more likely to occur with these types of hearing aids.

We just talked about “on-ear headphones,” and now we're talking about “over-ear headphones.” They may sound the same, and many people may even use them interchangeably, but trust us, they are completely different.

For a better understanding, check out the image below which differentiates between the two types. On-ear headphones (or supra-aural, left) sit on the ear, while over-hear headphones (or circum-aural, right) sit over the ear.

Supra-aural headphones (left) sit on the ear, while circum-aural headphones (right) sit over the ear.

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Mpow 059 Over Ear Headphones

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

Sony WH1000XM2 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones

JVC HARX500 Full-Size Headphones

Photive BTH3 Over-The-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Panasonic Full-Sized Lightweight Headphones (RP-HT161-K)

Sony MDRRF985RK Wireless RF Headphone

Bluedio T2s Wireless Stereo Headphones

$

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$

$

$

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$

Additional Tips: For BTE hearing aids and RIC or RITE hearing aids, it is unlikely that you can wear headphones with your hearing aids unless you carefully position very large over-the-ear headphones like these over your hearing aid. (Note: these over-the-ear headphones are sometimes also referred to as “circumaural headphones”)

The headphones have to completely cover the ear, including the top of the ear where the hearing aid sits.

The positioning of the headphones may be a little different, with the center of the headphone opening up over the top of the hearing aid. This will allow for the hearing aid wearer to pick up the music through the microphone of the hearing aid.

What about earbuds and hearing aids?

I hate to say this, but it's not likely that any style of earbuds are going to work with hearing aids. The issue is quite simply that the hearing aid already sits in your ear or ear canal, so putting another device in there just isn't going to work.

(Note: also read our thoughts below about using your hearing aids as earbuds)

We've officially covered the most common types of hearing aids and which type of headphones works best with them. So, now let's move onto question number two from above.

A few more things you should know about wearing headphones with hearing aids.

A lot of people are going to tell you that you shouldn't wear headphones because they are a primary cause for hearing loss, especially in younger generations. Unfortunately this is only partially true.

Yes, headphones can cause hearing loss. No, they don't have to…if you use them properly.

  • If wearing your hearing aids with headphones, be careful to turn the music down, as the music will be amplified.
  • If the headphones push on the hearing aid or sit too closely to the hearing aid, you may experience feedback, a whistling noise coming from the hearing aid. This is an indicator that you either need to re-position the headphones or are unable to wear those headphones with your hearing aids.
  • Noise cancelling or noise isolating headphones should be your primary choice. The biggest problem with headphones is that people turn the volume up a lot higher than it needs to be primarily because of background noise (i.e. people talking on the bus, loud co-workers, etc.). Noise isolating and noise cancelling headphones help to remove the background noise so you don't crank up the volume to dangerous levels. Regardless, you should always use a simple sound volume meter app that tells you exactly how loud your music really is. You should aim to be lower than 85 dB if you are listening to music for an extended period of time.

The Better Option: Listening to Music with Your Hearing Aids

With the improvement in hearing aid and wireless technology, hearing aids can now BECOME your headphones. There is no longer a need to figure out how to wear headphones over your hearing aids, or take your hearing aids out completely to listen to music with headphones.

We've put together a table of current headphones that may also be classified as hearables thanks to their wireless connectivity.

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Starkey Halo

Resound LiNX3D

Beltone First

Oticon Opn

Widex BEYOND

Phonak Audéo™ B

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Made for iPhone/Android Hearing Aid

Made for iPhone/Android Hearing Aid

Made for iPhone/Android Hearing Aid

Made for iPhone/First Internet Connected Hearing Aid

Made for iPhone/Android Hearing Aid

Made for All Bluetooth Devices

With wireless hearing aids like the ones above, you can connect your Bluetooth iPod or iPhone directly to your hearing aid with no wires!

This lets you listen to music through your hearing aids, just as if they were headphones themselves. And the best part is, you're already wearing your hearing aids so all you have to do is push play!

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses. Duncan has been working alongside Florida-based audiologist Lindsey Banks, Au.D., to make sure that Clear Living has the most up-to-date content.

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Clear Living.

106 Comments
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  • Annie
    Is there a way to stream from a movie theater right to my hearing aids, wireless thru my iPhone?
    • Lindsey Banks
      Not unless the movie theater sound system can be connected to your iPhone (via bluetooth) and you also have your hearing aids paired with your phone for streaming. At this point I don't believe it's possible, but it should be coming very soon with the introduction of new bluetooth protocols in hearing aids.
  • David Wright
    Hi All. I have been using Phonak Audeo B90 hearing aids now for about three years. I decided to try out Bowers & Wilkins PX9 headphones. As soon as I put them on the aids gave a familiar re-boot sound, similar to that which happens when near neodymium magnets. I tried them again after the aids had re-started and they seemed fine except for slight occasional feedback. I wonder if anyone else has had a similar problem with Phonak Audeo B90s?
  • Theo Schuurmans
    Hi . I have a set of Siemens hearing aids which is now getting oldish but they still work pretty well. However at times when with some soft / low volume speaking people I do not hear clearly. This usually happens in the home situation. For these special occasions is there a wireless head phone available that picks up the speech of the person sitting close to me but speaking too softly or indistinctly ? Thank you. Theo Schuurmans
    • Lindsey Banks
      Instead of getting a separate pair of headphones that you would have to take on and off you could consider a wireless remote microphone that would work with hearing aids. The soft-spoken person can wear the small microphone clipped to their shirt and it will pick up their voice and stream it directly to the hearing aids. When you're ready for new hearing aids be sure to talk to your audiologist about this option.
  • Robyn
    Hi I wear a pair of Phonak Nadia hearing aids as I am quite deaf I still struggle to hear the TV can you recommend a good set of head phones please that can be used with the TV and maybe the phone ?
    • Clear Living
      You should talk to your hearing aid provider about the Phonak accessories that work WITH your hearing aids to enhance your TV and phone experience. The TV Link by Phonak is the best option!
  • colin bradshaw
    Hi All, My question is slightly different. I've played in bands, record and produce musc for years. I now have significant hi-end loss so mixing has become a problem as ||I struggle to here cymbals and some percussive shakers so, when I place them in the mix, they are much too loud for everyone else. Hearing aids don't really work as they give an odd tinny quality to the top end of music. Can you get headphones that can be digitally tuned to my hearing loss? I would still do the basic mix with my ears but then put on the phones [if such things exist] to finalise it. I use BTE aids
    • Clear Living
      If the headphones were tuned to your hearing loss I would suspect that you would perceive the same tinny quality that you get with hearing aids.