Q. I read your columns about ZVOX AccuVoice AV50 noise-canceling headphones and VoiceBud VB20 hearing aids and I have something of an odd question. Can they work together? The reason I ask is I fly from California to Pennsylvania often to see my children and grandchildren, and would like to enjoy some audiobooks during the long flight. Given my age I do not hear quite as well as I used to, and the droning or the airplane engines means I miss every other word. Besides the issue of the headphones fitting over the hearing aids, it seems counterintuitive to use one device to cancel noise, the use another device that does the opposite.
- V.T., San Jose, Calif.
A. I have not tried them together so I contacted the manufacturer. ZVOX representatives said while the hearing aids will fit under the headphones, the microphones rub against the padding and it results in constant squealing sounds. Given this, it is either one or the other. "One or the other" or more accurately, "one and the other" sums up my recommendation to you.
The AccuVoice noise-canceling headphones are likely all you will need to make your audiobooks understandable. The active noise cancellation will remove much of the exterior noise, while the AccuVoice feature will simultaneously bring voices forward to make them easier to hear. It does not get any better than that, and the reason I praised the AV50 headphones as the best headphones you can buy for enjoying in-flight entertainment. They work with either Bluetooth or a wired connection, another plus for flying.
If you think your hearing is not quite what it used to be you may want to try the hearing aids as part of everyday life. Now that hearing aids are an over-the-counter item more and more people are trying them to see if they make a difference. Some users report that while they can get by without the hearing aids, they learned they were missing a lot more sounds than they realized and did not want to go back to life without them.
It is interesting how hearings aids can help those with limited hearing enjoy music more fully again. I read an interesting article by Michael Fremer, perhaps the world's leading authority on high-end audio, about the elderly enjoying music through the help of hearing aids. He went on to discuss his 89-year-old mother-in-law discovering what a profound difference better hearing made in her life. The article is charming and a good read, especially since old age and its infirmities will someday come to all of us, if we are fortunate enough to live a long life. Visit https://tinyurl.com/musichearingaids if you would like to read it.
If you are still interested in the headphones or hearing aids, for the holiday season ZVOX is running a Black Friday promotion all the way through the end of the year. The AccuVoice AV50 Noise-Cancelling Headphones, regularly $149.99 each, are on sale for $119.99 each or two pairs for $199.99. (The two for $199.99 deal strikes me as a good way to get a pair for you, while getting a great gift for someone at the same time.) The $299.99 VoiceBud VB20 earphones are buy one, get one free, allowing you to outfit both ears for the price of one. Both promotions run through Dec. 31. zvox.com
(Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadvicenews.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.)