by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A woman wrote:
I read your article on the Pocketalker and found it helpful. I am encouraged by the fact that although you have a severe hearing loss, (and my loss is “moderate to severe”) yet you are able to use the Pocketalker with earbuds. Although I hear well through headphones, I would prefer to use earbuds, as you do.
I have dual earbuds, but they keep falling out of my ears. And I only hear through one of the earbuds. What do you suggest? I would certainly appreciate your advice.
PockeTalkers and other similar personal amplifiers are certainly wonderful little devices for some difficult listening situations.
You have two separate issues. First is the fact that you only hear from one earbud. This could be caused by a broken wire going to one of the earbuds. In that case, you need to get new ones.
However, assuming that both of the earbuds are working properly (and you can hear in both of your ears), this problem is most likely caused by plugging stereo earbuds into the mono jack on the PockeTalker. When you do this, you short out one earbud to ground and thus hear nothing in that ear.
The earbuds that come with the PockeTalker have mono plugs so you can hear in both ears. In contrast, almost all earbuds sold in consumer stores have stereo plugs.
You can easily tell whether you have mono or stereo plugs. Just look at the plug. If it has two metal sections separated by one plastic ring, it is a mono plug. If it has three metal sections separated by two plastic rings it is a stereo plug.
If you have stereo earbuds, the solution is very simple. Just go to any Radio Shack store and pick up their little stereo to mono adaptor (Part no. 274-882, $3.99, or Part no. 274-368, $2.99). Plug the adaptor into the PockeTalker and the stereo earbuds into the adaptor and you will hear in both ears.
Your second issue is keeping the earbuds in your ears. Earbuds just don’t seem to stay in some people’s ears. You may be one of these. You need to try various earbuds and find the ones that best fit your ears.
My favorite earbuds of all time came with my Sony Walkman a number of years ago. They have a shape more like a hearing aid ear mold. Not only are they very comfortable, but also they stay in place and never fall out. Unfortunately, I have looked high and low to find similar earbuds but can’t find any.
I suggest you go to Radio Shack, Walmart and other consumer electronics stores and actually try out their different earbuds until you find a pair that fits your ears comfortably and stays in place. Any of these stereo earbuds will work with your PockeTalker with the above-mentioned adaptor.