Stereo DIA Hearing Aid Cables
Ever since I purchased my iPod back in February, I've been struggling to find a way to actually use it. Since I wear hearing aids, I cant use the included fancy white earplugs; the sound generated is not even audible to me, even with the volume turned up all the way.<br /><br />First I started with the inductive neckloops and earloops that I've always used. Though they required I turn the iPod up all the way, I got the typical buzzing background noise, and even with the volume cranked up - I could barely hear anything. So I decided to start seeking out Direct Input Audio (DIA) cable options. DIA enables someone to plug their hearing aids directly into the audio equipment, instead of depending on RF inductance to transmit the signal to their hearing aids.<br /><br />Finding a monoural DIA cable was easy, but I wanted that stereo sound. Both because music sounds so much better, and because I cant understand speech without it. So I needed a stereo DIA cable, after quite a bit of research, including tapping the folks/resources in the <a href="http://community.livejournal.com/hearingaidhacks/">Hearing Aid Hacking</a> group, the only cables I could find were:<br />1) Connevans attenuated stereo DIA <a href="http://www.deafequipment.co.uk/store/viewCategory.do?id=208">cables</a><br />2) Hearing Loss Help Co's unattenuated stereo DIA <a href="http://www.hearing-loss-help-co.com/2398.html">cables</a><br /><br />Both cables are pictured here, the Connevans is on the right (click on the image to enlarge).<br /><a rel="lightbox" href="http://gregg.berkholtz.net/images/DIA-Cables.jpg"><br /><img alt="DIA Cables" src="http://gregg.berkholtz.net/images/DIA-Cables.jpg" style="border-style: none;" align="middle" height="96" width="128" /><br /></a><br /><br />Both cables have been tested with two models of hearing aids:<br />Starkey DaVinci PxP, with the boot's attenuation disabled.<br />Phonak Supero 413AZ, with AS4 and AS4-MLx audio boots.<br /><br />I started with the Connevans cable, as Hearing Loss Help Co's product wasn't even for sale yet (though it's available now).<br /><br />The Connevans cable is well-manufactured, though a bit cumbersome and bulky. The fact that there is an entirely separate cable run to each ear significantly contributes to the cumbersome aspect of the cable. The material used is a bit rubbery, and tends to stick to the skin; making it difficult to wear under a shirt or even let sit between a shirt and coat. The difficulty largely stems with the fact that the cable tends to rub between materials and then cause a great deal of tugging on the ears. The attenuation is also a major issue, as sounds are barely audible, though keep in mind that I use the market's most powerful hearing aids, which are also maxed out in terms of amplification levels - yes, my hearing is that bad.<br /><br />Hearing Loss Help Co's cable is like a slice from heaven. The cable material is thin and slick, like the iPod cables, though black in color. Despite its thinner size, the cable still feels very strong. In addition, there is a "single" cable running between the plug up to almost the ear. Near the ear, the cable connects to a unobtrusive "Y" splitter, and a separate run goes to each ear. The "Y" split was placed well enough that even the "largest" of folks should be able to use the cable without issue. The fact that the cable was not attenuated made things even better; I can set my iPod volume at about half-way, and everything sounds great. The 3.5mm plug, which connects to the audio player's <a rel="lightbox" href="http://gregg.berkholtz.net/images/3-5mmPlugs.jpg">headset jack</a> (click for an image), is also smaller and less obtrusive than the Connevans cable. The <a rel="lightbox" href="http://gregg.berkholtz.net/images/EuroPlugs.jpg">euro-plug</a> (click for an image) is also smaller and less obtrusive on the Hearing Loss Help cable.<br /><br />Since Connevans has no US presence (as confirmed with Connevans), your option for obtaining Connevans cables is shipping directly from the UK. Connevans charges a minimum rate of roughly $50 (actually it's exactly <span style="">£</span>25), and blames it on international shipping charges - though the postage on the delivered package was clearly only a fraction of <span style="">£</span>25... In-fact, I've shipped things from the UK many times, and was never faced with such outrageous shipping charges for something so small and lightweight. Delivery time was about one week.<br /><br />Shipping with Hearing Loss Help Co was a breeze; the package was delivered in just a few days, and shipped at a reasonable rate (yes, it fairly matched what was on the delivered package).<br /><br />While both cables give that true stereo sound, I strongly recommend the Hearing Loss Help Co's cable for its more thought out, and ultimately minimalist, design. These folks are also very pleasant to work with, and I've done business with them a number of times; I recommend them without hesitation (something I rarely do).<br /><br />Finally, if you must use attenuated cables, then I believe Connevans is your only choice at this time. Though I am personally looking to sell the three Connevans cables that I have, email me at gmail.com (berkholtz@...) - address obfuscated to trick spambots. So please contact me if you'd like to save on an outrageous shipping charge for attenuated cables. If you can wait a while for attenuated cables from Hearing Loss Help Co, they are very responsive folks, and I believe with enough encouragement they will manufacture and sell attenuated cables someday too; so send them an email.