Frequently Asked Questions

What will my donation be used for?

Now that our app has been published, donations will be used to accomplish the following:

  1. Add new features, with an emphasis on implementing more advanced pitch-shifting algorithms
  2. Keep our app up–to-date and compatible with new versions of Apple’s iOS.
  3. Refine binaural headset design and search for sources providing completed headsets that don’t require assembly.
  4. Provide long-term user support.
  5. Maintain communications with developers via Github, where our source code will be made public.

While we are absolutely committed to producing and publishing the first iOS version of our app (with or without sufficient funding), what happens after that necessarily depends on our success at raising enough money.

Will "Hear Birds Again" help you?
Our app is aimed at birders and other nature-lovers who have high frequency hearing loss and are unable to hear the high-pitched songs of many birds and insects, yet still have reasonably good hearing in the lower range, such that they can converse with other people without the need of hearing aids. Go here for more information.

If you do not have a recent audiogram that shows your hearing sensitivity at different frequencies (preferably up to 8000Hz), we strongly encourage you to obtain one. In the meantime, you can do a preliminary test yourself using the following online resources:

1. Go Here to test your hearing using a great online hearing test provided by the University of New South Wales in Australia. If done correctly, this will yield useful information about your hearing sensitivity from low to high (up to 16,000 Hz!).

2. You can also learn a lot about your hearing by visiting Hear For Yourself on our website, where we provide numerous examples of pitch-shifted bird songs, along with the original field recordings. If you suffer from high frequency loss and set your playback volume to a very low level, you probably will not be able to hear the vast majority the un-shifted songs (this depends, of course, on how much of the high end you’re missing), while the pitch-lowered versions should all be clearly audible.

The Optimal User:

Our pitch-lowering approach to bringing back the birds requires that the user still have reasonably good hearing in both ears up to around 2000 Hz (2 kHz). The audiogram for such an “optimal” user might look something like this:

NOTE: For potential users who have audiograms, feel free to contact us and request that we take a look. We can generally tell at a glance whether or not you are a good candidate for our pitch-shifting approach.

How does it work?
In brief, our app will lower the pitch of high singers into the range where the user’s hearing is still more-or-less intact. Go here for more information.
Is a special headset required?

The answer is YES! While our app will certainly work using a mobile device’s onboard mics (which will be suitable for rough testing), if one wants to experience the pitch-shifted songs in a natural and pleasing three-dimensional space, our app must be used in conjunction with a specially-designed “binaural” headset with microphones mounted at each ear that will allow users to determine the directions and distances of songs and then go find the singers.

An affordable though somewhat flawed off-the-shelf plug-and-play solution is the Ambeo Smart Headset.

However, if you are a nature enthusiast who desires the best possible listening experience, we strongly suggest that you obtain the High-Fidelity Binaural Headset, which will require some assembly work on your part (mostly the simple twisting of cables).

Where will I obtain the headset?
Currently, the only prebuilt plug-and-play solution is the Ambeo Smart Headset. Although no longer being manufactured, the Ambeo is still available in the marketplace and provides an affordable (can be purchased for as little as $50) and workable headset solution but with one major drawback: the mics are quite noisy (hissy), which can be annoying, especially on calm mornings when the ambient background noise is low. So the Ambeo does not provide a high-fidelity solution for serious birders who desire the best audio quality.

To meet the demands of birders who want the very best, we have come up with an alternative that requires some assembly on the part of the buyer. It is the High-Fidelity Binaural Headset, which employs super low-noise mics. We have partnered with, a firm in Great Britain that specializes in building miniature low-noise mic-modules that will work beautifully for this application. Users will be able to order everything that is needed and then assemble the final headset with minimal do-it-yourself effort.

NOTE: If you are comfortable with soldering miniature components, you might consider building your own headset. Go here for a complete list of components (located at the bottom of the web page). In addition … if you are interested in building fully-completed binaural headsets to be offered for sale, please contact us to discuss this possibility.

What will all this cost?

Our app will be entirely free. Our Recommended Binaural Headset will cost about $175 (USD). Note that our non-profit will not make any money from the sale of headset components or kits, which will be handled separately by third parties.

Can I use this app if I already wear hearing aids?
While we cannot guarantee results, our recommended headset is designed in a way that allows it to be used with hearing aids, as long as the earphones can be placed over the hearing aids mics. While this occurs naturally if your hearing aids are of the “in-the-ear” (in-canal) type, it can be very tricky for “behind-the-ear” aids where the mics are generally positioned at the top-center of the aids, behind the upper portion of the pinna of each ear. For behind-the-ear aids, a different headset should be used, allowing for easy positioning of the earphones near the top of one’s ears. Go here for a more detailed discussion.

Note that the most common problem encountered when using our app with hearing aids will be the “feedback squeal” that often occurs when external objects (in this case the earphones) are moved near the hearing aid mics. In spite of this, many owners of the original SongFinder bird song listening device were able to use it in conjunction with hearing aids, with acceptable results. So we believe that in most cases, our app indeed can be used effectively with hearing aids. We just can’t guarantee the result.

Will there be an Android Version?
The short answer is “No, at least not for awhile.” So what should Android users do? One possible solution is buying a used iPhone and dedicating it for use with our app. While one can find very good deals on older iPhones, we recommend that you try to stay fairly current because upgraded versions of our app (which become necessary due to Apple’s operating system updates) may or may not work with mobile devices more than four or five years old.
I own a SongFinder Bird Song Listening Device ... What should I do?
The SongFinder Bird Song Listening Device, which is no longer made, still provides a good solution for birders with high frequency hearing loss. In fact, the initial version of our app displays the same basic controls and employs the same pitch-shifting algorithm. So what’s the point in upgrading to our new app and headset?

Our new headset is equipped with super low-noise mics with a “self-noise” that is considerably lower than the mics used in the SongFinder device. Quieter mics definitely make a difference, allowing you to hear faint and distant bird sounds that the SongFinder is unable to discern.

Nonetheless, if your SongFinder seems to meet your needs, there is nothing wrong with continuing to use it, at least until such time that we add new, more advanced pitch-shifting algorithms and controls to our Hear Birds Again app and you can no longer suppress your desire to experience the latest and greatest solution.

Can I use my SongFinder headset with the new app?
The answer is NO … the wiring and powering of the SongFinder headset renders it incompatible with the Rode Ai-Micro audio interface.
What does "open source" mean?

Not only will our app be free to the public, the source code will be fully available to other developers, allowing them to freely modify and share it with others. Open source projects such as ours celebrate principles of collaboration, the free exchange of ideas, and community-oriented development. Go Here for a more complete explanation.

Henslow's Sparrow © Lang Elliott

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