Use Your Smartphone as an External Hearing Aid Mic

A number of hearing apps have arrived on the marketplace recently that uses your smartphone as an external mic to filter out background noise.

External mics enable your hearing aids to better focus on specific sounds while filtering background noise, which is the greatest impediment to understanding speech.

Hearing aids are constrained by their small size. Combining the power of an external mic with the processors in your hearing aids can help garner the best of both worlds.


How does Chatable work?

Chatable uses artificial intelligence to remove background noise from speech through a process called end-to-end neural speech synthesis. Neuroscience led AI listens and renders speech in real time, enabling the app to provide loud and clear speech.

The app is for 1-on-1 conversation. Chatable claims users don’t require a hearing test to remain effective (a bold claim), and works for all hearing loss types (mild, moderate, severe, profound)—this may be a stretch.

ChatableApps smartphone external mic for hearing aids.

How do you use Chatable?

The app is for 1-on-1 conversation. Download the app (link below), connect to headphones (or hearing aids or CI sound processor), switch it on, and adjust the sliders.

Place your phone near the person speaking to you or if further away, point your phone to the person you wish to hear better.

Play around with the two sliders for comfort: move the background noise slider down if required, and start low with the volume and move up as needed.

ChatableApps has boasted some remarkable stats in pre-clinical trials:

  • 76% said conversation was easier because of the background noise slider, 15% in a life changing way
  • 80% said conversation was easier because of the volume boost, 15% in a life changing way
  • 86% of hearing aid users prefer Chatable over their hearing aids for conversation in real-world conditions

Personal Thoughts After My Trial With ChatableApps

I’ve only been able to trial Chatable during the COVID pandemic and therefore have not been able to use it in real world conditions with background noise (restaurants, noisy office environment, malls, etc.)

Using the app with my wife at home while wearing my hearing aids, I find it more difficult to understand my wife with Chatable on that with if off. There is a slight latency (delay) which creates an echo that I find quite distracting. Chatable also appears to make the sound less clear (without background noise).

I have to stress, this is my experience only. It may work better for you. I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. I use an Android phone (LG G7 ThinQ). It’s possible the iPhone version has greater performance.

ChatableApps for Android:

ChatableApps for Apple iOS:



HeardThat smartphone app external mic for hearing aids.

HeardThat™ lets you get back in the conversation in those challenging noisy social situations. It runs on your smartphone and works with the hearing devices you already have.

This is a pre-release (beta) version of the HeardThat app. HeardThat helps you hear speech better in noise by turning your smartphone into a powerful hearing assistive device.

Connect your hearing device to the phone, start the app, and put the phone on the table with the top pointing toward the person you want to hear.

HeardThat separates the speech from the noise and delivers just the speech to your ears.

Personal Thoughts After My Trial With HeardThat

Similar to Chatable, I’ve only been able to trail HeardThat during the COVID pandemic and therefore have not been able to test it under more rigorous background noise conditions.

In comparison to Chatable, HeardThat appears to have clearer speech. Speech also sounds more natural and less “electronic” in comparison.

I’ll report back once I’ve been able to do more testing.

HeardThat for Android:

HeardThat for Apple iOS:

Not available at this time