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#2273171 - 05/09/14 09:13 AM hearing aids effect on piano tone?
RonTuner Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 1790
Loc: Chicagoland
I recently got a new client with a Steinway upright - She's in a retirement community. She wasn't pleased with how the last tuner had left the piano and was referred to me by an older teacher who is particular about tuning...

I sat down to play a bit and it sounded pretty good - the whole thing was a little flat and a bit worse at the break, but not bad. Uh oh..

She uses hearing aids and got new ones a few months ago. Years ago I had a client with hearing aids that changed her perception of the tuning. I ended up having her sit by me and altering the stretch in varying sections to get the octaves where she could stand them - the tuning ended up super-stretched, right from the temperament out, with obvious beats to the octaves.

So the process starts anew - I'm not really sure yet at this point if it is tuning or tone that bothers her, we started out with a good solid tuning first. I tried voicing down just a little on C5 - she picked the C4-C5 octave as a particular problem.

I'd appreciate any experience you've had with changes to hearing and anything you've tried for your clients that works. I did have her try playing without the hearing aids, and she still wasn't real happy with the sound. We opted to have her play for a week or so and then I'd return to start experimenting...

Ron Koval
Piano/instrument technician

my piano videos:

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#2273183 - 05/09/14 09:42 AM Re: hearing aids effect on piano tone? [Re: RonTuner]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1300
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
In my experience, hearing aids are terrible for listening to music in general and piano in particular. I think it's because the speakers in them are so tiny that they cannot reproduce a flat frequency response. They end up accentuation higher frequencies and attenuating others. I've tried quite a few and all I've tried end up making the piano have a sort of metallic sound.

I usually end up just turning them off even if the other people in the room think I'm playing too loud. Many people don't have this option (their hearing is much poorer than mine) and I think we just have to get used to poorer sound. Not good, but at least we can hear music even if it's not how a 10 year old hears it.

Take care of your hearing folks, you can't get it back.
Laugh More
Yamaha G7 - Roland FP7

#2273347 - 05/09/14 05:05 PM Re: hearing aids effect on piano tone? [Re: RonTuner]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2488
Loc: Maine
Two clients about ten years apart had hearing aid issues. I did every sonic contortion that I could think of and NOTHING worked. I now tell hearing aid wearers that the piano will be tuned correctly even if they don't hear it as being correct. Life is to short to try tuning for narrow spectrum circuitry and itty-bitty speakers.
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service


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