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How to amplify a grand piano to aid a partially hearing-impaired pianist (Read 1485 times)

Offline chrisbutch

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Essentially I want to use mics and headphones to help the pianist hear better those parts of the aural spectrum where his hearing is weak, while still allowing him to hear the piano naturally at the same time. It will thus be a kind of external hearing aid. I'm prettty clear about choice and placement of mics (plenty of info out there about micing a grand piano). But I'm completely at sea about the type and choice of the amplifier etc between the mic and and headphones (I'm a complete novice in this field). Ideally should be something (not too expensive) which can filter out the frequencies where his hearing's OK, and just amplify the weak areas. Also I obviously need to find headphones which won't block off the natural sound. Any advice much appreciated.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to amplify a grand piano to aid a partially hearing-impaired pianist
«Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 08:12:39 PM »
Before you start the do-it-yourself route, be sure and check that some of the modern, top end hearing aids WON'T work.  Note that we are not talking here about a few hundred dollars, pounds, or euros; we are talking here in the thousand plus bracket.  Most of these have very powerful digital equalizers built in, which can be adjusted to tweak the response curve of each unit (you will want two -- one for each ear) to compensate for the specific loss of that ear.

Now if you have found that such units won't work, you have a very expensive adventure ahead of you, as you will have to assemble your own amplifier (two channel) for the earphones which shouldn't be all that expensive -- and equalizer, which will be that expensive.  The equalizer will need a capability of bands no more than 1/3 octave wide (narrower is better) which are completely independent and which function without distortion -- and a frequency response from no higher than 20 hertz to no less than 14,000 hertz.  If you do go that route, any really high quality open ear headphone should work.
Ian

Offline chrisbutch

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Re: How to amplify a grand piano to aid a partially hearing-impaired pianist
«Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 08:05:01 AM »
Thanks for those suggestions.
We were pursuing the hearing aid route until reading Marshall Chasin's authoritative recent book 'Hearing Loss in Musicians', which, although it describes how a suitable hearing aid for this purpose might be programmed, gives the impression that it doesn't yet exist.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to amplify a grand piano to aid a partially hearing-impaired pianist
«Reply #3 on: September 04, 2012, 12:59:56 PM »
Hearing aid technology is moving incredibly fast -- don't discount them until you have tried them out and seen what's available (especially on the basis of a book which, however well intentioned, is at least two years out of date -- which is a lifetime in the electronics and computer field which is where you are playing here).
Ian