Hugh Hetherington Hearing Aid Museum
Hugh Hetherington Hearing Aid Museum

The Hearing Aid Museum

Hearing Aids of all types—Ear Trumpets, Carbon Hearing Aids, Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids, Transistor Hearing Aids, Body Hearing Aids, Eyeglass Hearing Aids and much more!

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Conversation Tubes—General Information

Conversation Tubes—General Information

Conversation Tubes, which are sometimes referred to as Speaking Tubes, have been around almost as long as Ear Trumpets. The CID-Goldstein Collection¹, which has now been merged with the Bernard Becker Medical Library at Washington University School of Medicine, has one in the collection that dates back to around 1796.

If ear trumpets can be considered hearing aids, then conversation tubes could be considered the equivalent of assistive listening devices. The talker speaks into the funnel end of the tube and the sound is directed along the tube to an ear piece that the listener places in the ear canal.

These devices were made in many shapes and sizes to accommodate different listening situations. They are made from a multitude of different materials, such as, wood, hard rubber, celluloid, and even ivory. The tubes are generally made of a metal spiral covered with material such as cotton or silk.

Sometimes conversation tubes and monaural stethoscopes have been confused with each other as they superficially look much the same. If you are interested in telling them apart here is a good illustrated article showing their differences, "The Differences Between Flexible Monaural Stethoscopes and Conversation Tubes". You can learn more about the history and development of monaural stethoscopes in the illustrated article, "The Monaural Stethoscope". This article shows you a number of monaural stethoscopes so you can understand their differences from conversation tubes.

¹Historic Devices for Hearing – The CID Goldstein Collection, Koelkebeck, Detjen, and Calvert (1984).


Click picture for larger view

Example of a Conversation Tube

Click on the "Non-Electric" button (on
the left), then on "Conversation Tubes" to see the details of this and other conversation tubes.


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