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
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
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
left), then on "Conversation Tubes" to see the details of this
other conversation tubes.
Click the above buttons to see general information on the next
(or previous) category of non-electric hearing aids.