Posts for category: Hearing Aid Reviews
Signia Hearing Instruments (aka Siemens for those who have been around a long time) has released Styletto. A sleek, rechargeale hearing aid that reminds us of something that Steve Jobs would have debuted with a lazer show as it came up out of the stage to a fanfare of trumpets. It makes you want to bust out your iPhone and color coordiante with your Apple watch, head phones and maybe even your fashion jewelry. But as the dust settles, what is left?
So Is The Styletto a Hearing Aid?
Yup. Every inch of this is in fact an amplification device. It has Signia's new Nx chipset (which in all reality is one of the more novel things to come out of the hearing aid world in awhile). It's slim design and lack of buttons make this look more like an accessory than a hearing aid, so I can see where the confusion is coming from. It is significantly thinner and a skosh longer than a normal hearing aid. Like with everything it has Pros and Cons, but at the end of the day it's all about what you NEED. So let's see what makes Signia’s Syletto stand out.
Styletto’s Slim Design and Rechargability
While the industry standard in rechargability uses either a lithium ion, rechargeable interchangeable or zinc-air button battery, Styletto is the first to use the slim-pin design. This is what allows the aid to be much thinner (think the diameter of a regular water straw) than your typical hearing aid. To accomplish this slimmer design, the device itself is in fact longer than your typical hearing aid. It has a brushed metal plate that faces outward from the ear without any push buttons or on ear manipulations. Don’t worry, you can still change your volume and programs from the phone app OR the little key fob remote control (this has a name, but right now it has left me).
Here is where, the road warrior - I hate changing batteries or plugging something in every night - individual is going to get excited. Like the Apple Air Pods, the Styletto’s carrying case IS THE CHARGER. Yup, you can get 3 - 4-ish charges off of the case itself. All of the spec sheets say 19 hrs of wear time. If your day takes you to a dinner meeting, after hours happ-hour or all night sales schmooze-a-thon, putting the devices in the case for 30 min will get you an extra 5 hours of run time. So think, driving in the car to get to your meeting, or sitting in the salon getting your hair done, put the Styletto in the case, and presto, 5 more hours of play time. The case fits easily in your purse or pocket and can be recharged using an external power bank. So if you REALLY had to, you could honestly not plug anything into a wall for about a week if needed. This is honestly, from my perspective the best feature about this hearing aid.
Does Syletto Have Direct Connectivity to iPhone or Android via BlueTooth?
Sadly, no. With everything in technology, there is a give and take with everything. Getting the slim design, cool charging capabilities AND Signia’s Nx chip came with a price, direct connectivity. I would hope in the next 3-5 years that will happen, but right now that is not an option. You CAN in fact have a program built into the aid where you can have the phone calls go into both ears. BUT to do this you have to either go to the app and change programs before you call, OR once you pick up the call say “Oh, can you please wait?” And then go to the app, change programs and go. Now this will work with landline OR phone, so that is something. For those who need the hands free streaming, this won’t be the hearing aid for you. But for those with the mild-moderate hearing loss, where this isn’t a problem, working in an office where phone calls aren’t part of your every day, this is still a viable option.
Because it does not connect via BlueTooth, changes to volume and programs are made via a high frequency tonal signal. This is standard within the hearing industry and is of no surprise here.
Does the Styletto use Signia’s New Own Voice Processing (OVP)?
Why yes, yes it does. Hinting to how long I’ve been in this industry, every now an again Siemens (now Signia) comes out with something that truly changes how the hearing aid world functions. When their e2e (ear to ear) processing started back in the day, I can remember being in Topeka, KS at the VA Medical Center thinking “Holy ____, this just changed the game.” This my friends is one of those times. Outside of hearing conversation in noise & hearing the television, the complaint I hear the most is “my voice is too loud” or “I don’t like the echo in my voice.” This is due to a few things, and I won’t bore you with the physics (if you really want to know, call me or make and appointment and we’ll have a chat) but Signia has developed within their algorithm an ability to genuinely combat this. You may not get streaming, but you DO get Own Voice Processing, and that isn’t bad.
Tele-Audiology To the Rescue
As you may know, I have quite a background in Telehealth, it’s kinda my passion, which is why we have a Tele-Audiology clinic at the hearing & Balance Center of Austin. Of the main six manufacturers only a few have the capability of functioning in a tele clinic. Signia’s first instance for this delivery model was limited, but effective. With Telecare 3.0 they have stepped up the game, and Syletto comes equipped with this capability.
So Is There Anything You Don’t Like About the Syletto?
Actually, yes. From an audiological standpoint I really don’t like the fact that the receiver is not interchangeable. You read that correctly. The component that goes from the hearing aid to the speaker in your ear is part of the whole thing. Part of the beauty of a RIC (receiver in the canal) is that if anything happens to the receiver (moisture, you need to change the receiver, change length, someone breaks it) you can just change it right then and there like a LEGO block. Believe me I do this a lot. You can’t do that with Syletto. Now, Signia has come up with this quick replacement system. That sounds good, but environmentally I’m not a fan and it seems like a huge waste.
Overall, I think that this is a solid, out-of-the-box solution. I think this has the possibility of being and accessory and moving us past the stigma associated with hearing loss. This is NOT grandma’s hearing aid. But let’s be real here, I like to look into the future, and what Signia has done here is create something that they can market test and then I think, de-feature for the OTC classification that will drop in 2020. OTC aids will be for mild to moderate loss, like the Styletto, which honestly is a brilliant idea. For the mild to moderate hearing loss crowd, this is really something to look into.
To find out more, or to see if Syletto is a fit for you, call (512) 258-2300 to schedule an appointment with our Audiology staff today.
An Honest Review of the Signia Nx Hearing Aid: Is it Worth the Hype?
Please welcome to the direct streaming stage:
Signia released their newest chip in October 2017 in a variety of styles including three receiver-in-the-ear sizes (Pure 10, Pure 312, and Pure 13), a rechargeable option (Pure Charge&Go), and a behind-the-ear option (Motion 13). A step up from the Primax platform, these options on the new Nx platform allow for direct streaming from any Apple smartphone for phone calls and music (and the sound signal goes to both ears simultaneously, don’t worry *cough*) in a variety of options other than the size 13 battery. Patient reports indicate the quality of streaming audio is clear and natural-sounding. I would anticipate this as they are late to the game in terms of direct streaming, but it’s important to hear that confirmed from wearers. Now that all six major manufacturers are in the direct streaming game in some way, we need to see why else the Nx stands out.
The direct streaming capability of the Nx is by far one of the least interesting new features from Signia. With this new platform comes the introduction of “Own Voice Processing” or OVP. According to the feature overview provided by Signia, OVP utilizes “real-time recognition of the wearer’s voice to deliver a natural own voice impression.” This allows proper amplification of the voices you want to hear without over-amplification of the wearer’s own voice. Having seen OVP in action with patient reports of noticeable differences between settings, I am highly impressed with this feature solely dedicated to addressing one of the most common patient concerns.
One feature Signia has continued with in the Nx is the ability to remotely program hearing aids without the need for a patient to be physically seen in clinic. Starting as TeleCare 2.0 in the Pure 13 BT on the Primax platform, TeleCare 3.0 can be enabled on any Nx device to allow your hearing healthcare specialist to provide complete live remote adjustments for quick, efficient troubleshooting. This also allows audiologists across the country the opportunity to reach hearing aid users living in remote areas-a win for hearing healthcare all around.
Signia can also brag about their rechargeable option on the Nx platform: the Pure Charge&Go. Unlike several other manufacturers that require the purchase of alternate battery doors and rechargeable batteries to retrofit their current MFi hearing aids, Signia can brag about their integrated wireless inductive charging system. This means exact placement of the aids on the charger is not required and there are no electronic contacts to maintain. Even the charger for the aids is sleek and non-obtrusive. Charge&Go hearing aids should reportedly have a daily runtime of 19 hours without streaming, and 17 hours with 5 hours of direct Bluetooth streaming. While a full charge doesn’t last a full 24 hours, it certainly covers the daily wear time of an average hearing aid user (16 hours).
They didn’t stop at an integrated rechargeable option. The very first CROS device to provide direct streaming is the Signia CROS Pure 312 Nx. The CROS is compatible with any Nx device except the Pure 10 (yes, this includes the Charge&Go). There is literally an option on this line for almost anyone.
Now that I’ve hyped up the Signia Nx, I have to keep it real. There is a significant drawback to the receiver-in-the-ear styles: no T-coil. There is an option to change the standard battery door on the behind-the-ear Motion to one with an integrated T-coil, but this does not come standard. It is not an option for any other Nx style.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed so far by Signia and their new Nx line. I can’t give it a perfect score due to the absent T-coil in the R-I-C models, but the Charge&Go model, a direct streaming CROS, and OVP and TeleCare in every style make this a new go-to MFiPhone option. 4.5 out of 5 ears!
Phonak Audeo B-Direct Hearing Aid: A User's Review
It is no secret that the latest hype and buzz word in the amplification industry is direct connectivity. With so many to choose from, as a hearing aid user myself, and an audiologist, it is confusing even for me. The newest manufacturer to throw their hat into the connectivity ring is Phonak. In true Swiss fashion they were late to the game, but they did come with a twist.
Most direct connectivity amplification systems (notice I do not use the term hearing aids here, as I have said before hearing aids are part of an amplification system an are a therapeutic device) only work if you have drank the Apple Kool-Aid and have an iPhone. I'll whole heartedly admit, that is the reason I returned to the Apple family from my beloved Android device. I wanted direct connectivity, plain and simple. I didn't want to wear something around my neck, or have a bridge device that allowed me to stream phone calls and music. Now here comes Phonak with their Phonak Audeo B-Direct hearing aid, it has the capability of pairing with ANY mobile device with Bluetooth 4.2 technology. Say WHAT?!?! But like with everything in the tech world, this comes at a cost, and in my opinion a pretty hefty one that isn't related to the monitary value.
To achieve this Phonak utilized their Belong technology platform and developed their Sword™ 2.4 GHz chip. Now from a user standpoint this sounds really exciting because the Belong platform is awesome. The regular Audeo B hearing aids have great speech in noise capabilities and Sound Recover 2 is this side of magical. This new marriage allows the user to stream their phone calls and walk away from their phone, because the hearing aid uses the microphones in the aid to pick up your voice and you can answer/end calls from the hearing aids onboard button. The downside is that you can only do this to one ear. But wait, if you had a bluetooth headset you'd only go to one ear, right? Well yes, in 2009. Today people are used to their wireless headphones that can do the same thing in stereo. We know from an audiological standpoint that binaural summation (use of both ears amplified) has a very positive effect on the outcome of speech intelligibility for those with hearing loss. In less nerd terms, if you use two ears and you have hearing loss, you'll hear better. Yes, you can pair it to your beloved Android, Jitterbug or old Nokia that you just refuse to give up. That is super cool actually. But that my friends is where the cool factor ends. I will admit, the sound quality while on a call is fantastic, and the connectivity of the phone call is beautiful. I did experience fewer dropped calls and the answering/ending of calls on the ear was nice, but I personally really needed that call in two ears.
I love to listen to music through my aids. It helps with my tinnitus on days where my masking and hearing aid just won't do the trick. Now come the downsides to these hearing aids. You can't stream directly. Nope, not at all. You again have to have a third party bridge device in the form of a hockey puck looking thing, or the trusty neck loop. All of the lovely binaural hearing features that Phonak has built it's very existance on and that the regular Belong platform excells at, yup all that's gone too. And you remember that trusy telecoil that works well in theaters, churches, movie theaters, schools etc. Yeah, that's gone too. I'm pretty sure the Hearing Loss Association of America is going to have a field day with this one. Yes, its old technology, but its good technology, and I am a firm believer that everyone with hearing aids should have a t-coil.
Audeo B-Direct Hearing Aid Pros:
Audeo B-Direct Hearing Aid Cons:
GN ReSound Linx2 Haring Aid Review:
GN ReSound launched their MFiPhone product in February 2014 and began paving the way for other manufacturers to get on board to offer this compatibility. MFI compatibility is available in all levels of the LiNX2, so it is accessible to those unable to afford premium level technology. Money ain’t no thang here for that feature!
One of the best things about the LiNX2 is that the tinnitus sound generator doesn’t disappear with the addition of MFI capabilities. This means that you can utilize a variety of maskers for tinnitus and still have the ability to stream directly to your phone. ReSound also offers a customizable tinnitus streaming program through their tinnitus application.This is not possible in all MFI hearing aids from other manufacturers (at time of this blog going live). Additionally, you can ALSO have T-coil compatibility-you just need the larger model size of the RIC (receiver-in-canal). The difference in size is minimal, and worth it if you just can’t let go of that T-coil option. I personally don’t think either model of the LiNX2 RIC is entirely sleek and up-to-date looking, but that’s my opinion.
The GN ReSound app is pretty user friendly. Hearing aids can be adjusted individually as needed per environment (meaning you can turn the volume to your left hearing aid down while increasing the volume in the right if you are driving and want to hear your passenger better… kind of cool, right?!), and the iPhone can even be used as a microphone that streams directly to the hearing aids. The app has the ability to give a wearer LiNX a LOT of options for adjusting settings though, so keep this in mind if you as a provider do not want a patient monkeying with all your hard work! As a user, you’ll love it if you’re tech savvy, and hate it if technology makes you cringe. Also-just like the previously reviewed Oticon OPN, any updates to hearing aid firmware will need to be pushed through in office and cannot be done directly through the app.
In terms of streaming, patient feedback has been mixed. I have had many patients report excellent sound quality for phone calls, and less-than-stellar quality for music. Depending on what you will be primarily streaming, this may be a turn-off. It is also worth noting that at the time of publishing Dr. Peterson currently uses the LiNX platform for her tinnitus and hearing loss.
As always, hearing aids should NOT be chosen based on direct-to-iPhone compatibility. GN ReSound has a very distinct algorithm for processing sound that may or may not work for your brain. The ultimate goal in selecting amplification is to allow access to speech with ease in a variety of environments-not stream the latest Ed Sheeran hit without interruption (although, a major plus).
GN ReSound Linx2 Hearing Aid Pros: Available in multiple technology levels, able to utilize tinnitus masking, t-coil compatibility available.
GN ReSound Linx2 Hearing Aid Cons: mixed reports on streaming quality, in-office visits for firmware upgrades, larger RIC model is significantly less sleek than other MFI options.
The ability to maintain tinnitus masking and T-coil functionality give the LiNX2 a step up. However, if exceptional streaming quality is your primary concern when investing in a MFI product, this would not be my go-to recommendation. I give the GN ReSound LiNX2 3 out of 5 ears.
Oticon Opn Review: Is The Hype Worth It?
Oticon became the third major hearing aid manufacturer to develop and release a Made for iPhone (MFI) hearing aid, first out in 2016. At that time, this technology was only available in the top tier (premiere level) of hearing aid, but has since been released at lower price points with varying levels of technology. This makes MFI amplification accessible to a variety of patients, but that doesn’t mean the OPN will work for everyone!
First things first: hearing aid users should not make a decision on amplification based SOLELY on direct streaming capabilities. Taking into account the primary reason for obtaining amplification (documented, diagnosed hearing loss, duh), the Oticon OPN offers excellent processing of speech in a variety of environments. The OPN is hailed as one of the most effective hearing aids for making speech clear to a listener in noise, and reduces listening effort compared to other comparable devices. Patient report has been EXCELLENT in our clinic, and feedback from users indicates to me that Oticon is not overstating their claims. It really is a solid choice for amplification, particularly to address speech in noise concerns.
Now, on to why you clicked here. The OPN has been the MFI hearing aid I have been fitting most often ending 2016 and beginning 2017. I won’t lie: this aid is SLICK. It has a sleek, modern, low-profile style that appeals to many in younger generations and the working population. It allows direct streaming of both phone calls and music/podcasts/audiobooks. Patient feedback has been very positive, and my patients have been extremely happy with the sound quality of both speech on the phone and music. Keep in mind, battery life varies based on how much you stream! Plus, the app can control your hearing aids in addition to communicating with other internet-controlled devices. Want to stream your Smart TV? Know your alarm is set at home? You can do that, and hear it all from your OPN devices.
However, the OPN is not for everyone. Are you suffering from tinnitus? Guess what-the OPN does not offer a tinnitus sound generator or any masking techniques. If amplification for your hearing loss does not offer relief from your tinnitus, and you are still bothered by it constantly, the OPN is NOT the MFI hearing aid for you. We cannot program tinnitus therapy in any level of the OPN. Additionally, you cannot add the widely known t-coil function in the OPN. Want to directly stream LaLa Land from the big screen at the theater to your aids? Can’t do it. This functionality is not a turn-off for everyone, and by not offering this, Oticon can keep the sleek, compact style the OPN has become known for. Just providing information here!
Last but not least, only one manufacturer currently offers firmware upgrades through their own app. Oticon is not that manufacturer. This means that when you upgrade your phone’s iOS software and there is an upgrade in the firmware in the hearing aids, a visit to your audiologist is required to ensure proper upgrading and pairing of devices.
THE QUICK AND DIRTY**:
Pros: sleek style, offered in multiple tier/technology levels, excellent direct iPhone streaming quality for phone calls and music.
Cons: incapable of programming tinnitus management, no t-coil, in-office visits for firmware upgrades.
While there are some limitations to what can be programmed in the OPN, the sound quality Oticon provides for both everyday amplification and through direct iPhone streaming is excellent. Overall, I give this product 4 out of 5 ears.
REVIEWS of MFiPHONE HEARING AIDS:
**Disclaimer: there are other hearing aids on the market that will also connect directly to an Apple device. However, our clinic fits the newest platform of chip from the six major manufacturers, and we do not make it practice to provide technology that is rebranded, outdated, or defeatured.
The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin is the hearing and balance division of Great Hills ENT and serves the greater Austin area including the Arboretum, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, tinnitus, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders