I hate it when I purchase something and it has so many buttons, bells and whistles that half of them go unused. I just want the thing to work. It can be sparkly. It can be pretty to look at. But really, I want to know that my money was well spent and that the thing does what it’s supposed to. I think that people with hearing loss want the same thing from their hearing aids. Manufacturers can talk all day about the new sound processing or the latest microchip or the “best in class” this or that, but when it comes down to it, people really just want to know one thing: Does it work?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many great features available in hearing aids today. The technology advancements in the past several years have been truly amazing. Manufacturers truly have listened to their customers and have worked hard to give people what they want in a hearing aid. The main goal of any technology, though, is to improve hearing and make it as easy to do so in as many environments as possible.
So, how do you know what features (i.e., “bells and whistles”) you should be looking for in a hearing aid? Are there some features that are more important than others? You might be surprised to hear that it is actually more important to work with well-informed audiologist than to worry about the features in the hearing aid you purchase. It really doesn’t matter if your hearing aid has all the latest and greatest features if you don’t need them or want them. What your audiologist will do when you first meet with her or him is discuss what difficulties you are experiencing and in what situations you’d like to hear better. You will need to place your trust in your audiologist to be able to openly discuss the difficulties you have been experiencing with your hearing loss and the communication difficulties it has created for you. Being open and frank about the impact your hearing loss has on your spouse, your family and friends, as well as your performance at work is critical to your success. Then, using the information obtained from diagnostic testing, the audiologist will determine what hearing aid and what features will best suit both your hearing loss and your needs and wants.
Placing your trust in someone you’ve just met is a difficult thing to do. You may have a bad experience in the past that makes you want to be cautious. You should be cautious. By all means, do your homework before you choose your audiologist. Talk to your doctor about who they recommend. Ask your friends or family members who they see. Look at the audiologist’s website to see what their educational background is. Are they professional? Does what they say about themselves and their clinic fit with what you are looking for? Do they give you a clear reason why you should select them? What sets them apart from the other professionals in the area? Is their website an information resource?
In the end, the hearing aid technology itself will be successful for you when you work alongside an audiologist who is interested in working together as a team and who is dedicated to your success. Don’t get bogged down in the many choices hearing aids offer today. Make an appointment with your audiologist and trust that he or she is going to find the very best choice for you. You’ll be glad you did.
You want the best hearing aid available, and for good reason. The investment in hearing aids in both time and hard-earned money is significant. When you make your final decision on which hearing aid to purchase, you want it to be the best decision and one that is a solid investment for years to come. The truth is, there really is no single product that is best for everyone. Finding the best product for your hearing loss, your lifestyle and your needs requires that you to take some time to consider several key factors before moving forward. Once you have done so, you will find it much easier to make a well-informed decision; one that benefits both your hearing loss and your pocket book.
The first key factor to consider has nothing at all to do with the hearing aids themselves but with the choice of provider. The person you choose to work with to select and program the hearing aids is almost more important than the choice of which hearing aid to purchase. You are going to be spending time with this person for years to come! It is important that it is someone you feel comfortable around and someone you can communicate with. You will need to trust this professional to be able to discuss the difficulties you have been experiencing with your hearing loss and the communication difficulties it has created for you. Being open and frank about the impact your hearing loss has on your spouse, your family and friends, as well as your performance at work is critical to your success.
The second key factor is weighing price versus performance. The goal is to find a high-quality hearing aid that offers affordable pricing for the most effective solution. So, how do you find such a hearing aid? The answer again lies with the professional you choose to work with. You can easily find information about manufacturers and the different models of hearing aids they offer by searching online. There are also many different consumer forums online offering personal opinions and experiences. But that’s actually one of the problems. There is almost too MUCH information to be found online. Who do you trust? Which manufacturer is best? What technology is right for you? When you want to find the best hearing aid for you, your lifestyle and hearing needs, the best place to start is with an audiologist you trust. Your audiologist’s job is to take what he or she knows about you from your hearing evaluation and from interviewing you about your needs and wants and then use that information to narrow down your choices from the thousands available to a much more manageable and understandable choice of several instruments to consider. The audiologist will then explain to you the pluses and minuses of each choice to help you reach your final decision.
For most of us, the cost of the hearing aids is a major concern. No one wants to spend more than they have to. You simply want the best possible solution for a reasonable price. Price itself can vary widely and depends on the features available in the hearing aid and the “package” the hearing aids come with. If you are “shopping around,” make sure that you are comparing apples to apples when considering pricing. You may find that one clinic charges significantly more for the same product as a clinic you’ve recently visited. The cost difference could simply be the “package” the hearing aids come with. Questions you should be asking are:
• What’s included with my hearing aids?
• Are batteries provided?
• What is the warranty coverage?
• Is there a deductible if I lose a hearing aid?
• What services are included?
You can buy cheap, generic hearing aids, of course, but you won’t get the quality that you deserve and you might possibly receive less-than-effective care. You don’t have to pay a lot for quality, but you should never settle for a cheap model just because of the price. To make sure you get the best hearing aid for your hearing loss for the best price, work with someone you trust. A well-educated and reputable audiologist may cost a little more, but in the end, you’ll find that you are satisfied with your purchase because ultimately, the most expensive hearing aids are the ones that sit in the side-table drawer, untouched.
With a new digital chip called Era that out-performs all of its previous generations of hearing aids, Unitron joins three other leading manufacturers that offer true wireless technology to those with hearing loss. Wireless technology allows the hearing aid on one ear to communicate with the hearing aid on the other ear, improving sound quality and noise reduction capabilities. Wireless technology also allows the hearing aids to connect to personal listening systems such as MP3 players, stereo systems, cell phones or to a television. The new Era chip is a more advanced system that allows for better manipulation of sound to improve the listening experience as well as allowing for faster processing of sound coming into Unitron’s new families of hearing aids, Quantum and Moxi.
The Quantum and Moxi families of hearing aids incorporate the new Era chip and were developed to offer better understanding of speech, especially in background noise. They also promise a more natural sound quality. Both Moxi and Quantum are offered in three different levels of technology, allowing those with limited budgets to have access to the latest advancements in sound processing, noise reduction, feedback management and wireless connectivity. Quantum is available in the behind-the-ear (BTE) style as well as custom pieces that fit in the ear. Moxi is a canal-receiver technology (CRT) which places the speaker of the hearing aid in the ear canal while the body of the hearing aid, which holds the working parts of the hearing aid and the Era sound processing chip, is housed in a discreet case that sits directly behind the ear.
Quantum and Moxi both have four signature features that set them apart from other hearing aids available:
• SmartFocus is an automatic feature which provides optimal speech intelligibility when necessary and at other times, offers a comfortable listening environment when sounds might otherwise become too loud or distorted.
• Pinna Effect provides natural sound quality. Historically, behind-the-ear hearing aids have had a difficult time correcting for the wearer’s poor ability to find where sounds are coming from, called localization. When the microphones of a hearing aid sit outside of the ear, the natural localizing effect that the shape of the outer ear allows, called the pinna effect, is lost. The Pinna Effect setting in Quantum BTEs and Moxi CRTs corrects for the fact that the hearing aid sits outside of the outer ear (the pinna).
• Natural Sound Balance is focused on making sure that natural sound coming into the ear canal from the environment blends with the amplified sound coming from the hearing aid. The result is a clear and balanced signal.
• Wireless connectivity provides ease of use to the wearer. The broadband wireless technology in the Quantum and Moxi family of hearing aids allows for communication between hearing aids and gives the wearer more freedom with the hands-free use of personal listening devices such as an MP3 player or cell phone. With an accessory called the uTV, wearers can also connect wirelessly to television.
With Quantum and Moxi, Unitron is able to offer the features that those with hearing loss are looking for. The new hearing aid families both promise to be industry-leaders and are a significant step forward in Unitron’s technology offerings.
Hearing aids can seem complicated. Do you understand or even know about all of the features your hearing aids include? Do they have directional microphones? What about a volume control or wireless connectivity? If you are unsure, you’re not alone. I’m amazed at how many times patients aren’t even sure if their hearing aids have multiple programs. If they do, they’re often unsure of what those programs are or what they do. Many times, easily accessed features that are meant to improve hearing for the listener go unused. One of the more under-utilized features in most hearing aids is the telecoil or “t-coil.”
A t-coil consists of a tiny coil of wire wrapped around a metal core. The core will generate an electric current in the coil when it is in the presence of a magnetic field. It can act as an alternate or supplemental source for sound coming into a hearing aid. Normally, a hearing aid gathers sound through its microphone or microphones. It then amplifies that sound and sends it into the ear canal of the listener. When a telecoil is used as the input source instead, the hearing aid bypasses the microphone and picks up the electro-magnetic signal produced by a telephone or an assistive listening device, such as an FM system. Then, the hearing aid will amplify that signal and convert it to an audio signal. The result is a clear signal with less interference from background noise.
The t-coil was originally designed only for use with a regular land-line telephone, which has a speaker that is driven by magnets. When someone wearing a hearing aid that has a t-coil switches the t-coil on, the sound heard through the phone is often much stronger. Now, there are many other systems that can be accessed with a t-coil in order to improve sound quality.
Telecoils are especially helpful when there is a lot of background noise. If you happen to have access to an assistive listening device, such as an FM system, you may find that you can hear much better through your t-coil with the FM system than with just the hearing aid microphones. This is because the hearing aid microphones are often turned off when the t-coil is in use. The sound that is being amplified comes directly from a microphone in the assistive listening device, which is often much closer to the sound source. This decreases the amount of background noise that is amplified. Many public places such as movie theaters, auditoriums and sports stadiums provide assistive listening devices to their patrons at no charge. Many of these systems are hearing aid compatible. So, if your hearing aid has a t-coil, you can easily improve your hearing in the situations that are often most difficult.
A telecoil can provide the extra help you need to hear in situations that otherwise might seem impossible. Ask your hearing healthcare provider about telecoils and whether your hearing aid has one. The more you know, the better you’ll hear.
Starkey is an American hearing aid company with a world-wide vision to change the face of hearing aids as we know it. The company has been working diligently to offer smaller and better technology to those with hearing loss. For the past several years, Starkey has done a great job in this endeavor, offering better sound quality, improved noise reduction, less feedback and better connectivity to those with hearing loss. The latest hearing aid from Starkey, called Xino, was released in August 2011 and promises “something small that will deliver big benefits.” Xino is a receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aid and is Starkey’s smallest RIC yet. It is the only RIC hearing aid using a 10A battery that offers a push-button control, which acts as either a volume control or memory selection. It also has a tcoil, which makes telephone conversations easier and connection to personal listening systems more attainable.
What Is a Reciever-In-the-Canal Hearing Aid?
Receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids are worn behind the ear. A small tube carrying speaker wiring runs down the side of the ear to the receiver (speaker) in the ear canal, which then delivers sound to the ear. This design sets it apart from other types of hearing aids because it is discreet and allows for more power, allowing people with severe hearing loss to wear a small hearing aid for the first time without the worry of feedback. Starkey’s Xino offers what people with hearing loss are looking for: options in a small package.
Xino includes Starkey’s new Spectral iQ feature, a smart solution for people who have steeply sloping, high-frequency hearing loss, which is commonly seen with noise exposure damage and exposure to ototoxic (ear damaging) medications. Spectral iQ is Starkey’s frequency lowering technology.
What is Frequency Lowering Technology?
Imagine playing a piano with keys missing for the high-pitched notes. Trying to play a piece of music around those missing keys will distort the music. But, if you played the same piece of music in a lower key, it may sound a little different but you will hear all the nuances of the music that the composer intended. Frequency lowering technology works in the same way. It is designed to improve the clarity of speech by identifying high-frequency speech cues and replicating them in lower frequencies. This makes the sound a little different but research says that many listeners don’t recognize the change and if they do, they become accustomed to the difference relatively quickly.
Xino also includes all of Starkey’s incredible performance features such as Voice iQ2, PureWave Feedback Eliminator and HydraShield®2, Starkey’s proprietary moisture protection technology designed to repel wax, oils and moisture. With its discreet style and many options, the Starkey Xino promises to be highly sought after and Starkey proves again that they are a leader in hearing aid technology advancement.