Future Media, Hearing Aids

Oticon Epoq XW Hearing Aid Review

The first hearing aid in my trial was the Oticon Epoq XW. I did a comparison test with it and the Phonak Audeo Yes in the audiologist’s soundproof booth. The Oticon was the clear winner in that test. I liked the sound quality better immediately, and the brief hearing test he gave me scored the Oticon significantly higher in word recognition than the Phonak. I picked both of these hearing aids to test because they offered Bluetooth integration, and I was excited to take the Oticon Epoq home and try it out with my Bluetooth enabled devices.

Bluetooth and the Epoq

I spent about $7500 on the Epoq and its Bluetooth enabling companion, the Streamer. A comparable pair of hearing aids without the Bluetooth would cost around $6000.

In other words, I spent $1500 to get my hearing aids to act like a Bluetooth headset.

If I spent $1500 on a regular Bluetooth headset, I would expect it to work FLAW-LESS-LY.

The Oticon Bluetooth did not work flawlessly. Not even close.

Pairing with multiple devices

I wanted to pair my hearing aids with my iPhone, my MacBook Pro, and my Mac Mini. I ran into immediate problems when trying to connect to multiple devices. Although the documentation says that you can connect up to eight devices, after unpairing and repairing I was only ever able to connect to two at a time. This wasn’t a dealbreaker, but I was frustrated by the troubleshooting I had to do, and disappointed when I realized that I was better off only connecting two at a time.

Wireless Streaming from Computer

I watch TV and movies from a Mac Mini hooked up to my TV. Usually I watch with captions, but when that’s not possible, I sometimes put on headphones so I can listen more closely. Wirelessly streaming audio from the computer to my hearing aids was a compelling prospect, but a disappointing reality. The sound quality was very soft and unacceptably tinny — so much that a Bluetooth connection was in no way better than just normal listening.

Wired Streaming from Computer

I also tried listening to music from my laptop with a wired connection. The wire ran between my laptop and the Streamer (worn around my neck), and then the sound was sent wirelessly between the Streamer and the Epoqs. The sound quality was so weak and tinny that I can’t imagine ever choosing it over listening to music with headphones. My old hearing aids are Widex Divas, and they have a good music program. I was really excited about the potential for wireless music streaming to my hearing aids. The reality was a poor quality, wired connection. Headphones plus hearing aids were still a better solution.

Mobile Phone

I was able to successfully make and receive calls on my iPhone using the Streamer. If this is the only Bluetooth integration you wanted, it would probably suffice. The sound quality was good and there was something magical about being able to push a button and have calls come in via my hearing aids. The downside is that you have to wear the Streamer around your neck in order to make and receive calls. Also, some of the people I talked to on the phone complained that I sounded like I was on a bad speakerphone.

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

I really, really, really wanted to love these hearing aids. I was so psyched to get them. But a couple of things pushed me over the edge:

Background Noise

Never have I appreciated my Widex hearing aids so much as the first time I took my Oticons into a noisy restaurant. I am accustomed to being able to hear relatively easily in restaurants, at conferences, and in other noisy situations. I assumed that all hearing aid manufacturers had similar noise reduction programs to the Widex. I was wrong.

Now, I admit that I am accustomed to the Widex and so a shift in manufacturer may have been more disorienting for me. Someone who was not as familiar with Widex may not have experienced the same dissatisfaction that I did. But I was shocked! There was a dull roar of noise in the background of the restaurant that I was used to having filtered out. This extended to other environments — I particularly remember visiting my mother and asking if her birds had always been so loud. I found myself thinking that smarter hearing aids would have made better choices about what sounds to filter out.

Streamer Fail

The last straw for me was the failure of my Streamer, only two weeks into my trial. I went on a ten-day trip and the Streamer stopped working on Day 2. It refused to charge, but it would blink a flashing orange light to let me know that it was still doing something. I couldn’t find any documentation or guidance online about how to fix the problem. The instructions in the user’s manual about how to reset the Streamer didn’t work.

Onward

So back they went. Let me offer some proactive defenses here about why this was a reasonable solution:

  • I had three fittings. I went in for fittings on three separate occasions, and spent a fair amount of time with my audiologist on the noise reduction program in particular. I don’t believe he could have done anything else to resolve that problem.
  • I tried to get help on the internet. Someone might be able to tell me here how I could have fixed my Streamer problem. And if everything else had been great, I might have been willing to sort that one out. But I was not willing to pay a significant premium for spotty Bluetooth on hearing aids that weren’t meeting my basic needs.
  • I’m an expert user. I am probably in the top 95th percentile in terms of technology savvy hearing aid wearers. I am willing to experiment to get things right, and I’m comfortable searching the internet for help. But the balance between cost and effort on one hand, and benefits on the other, was just not good enough with these hearing aids.
  • My next choice was the Widex Mind 440.

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58 thoughts on “Oticon Epoq XW Hearing Aid Review

  1. Ganesh Kumar says:

    I am also disappointed with the Streamer performance. My audiologist told me that there may be a firmware upgrade for the Streamer, but I am not sure. You may have to call Oticon tech support for that. If you do find out, please keep me apprised.

    Also, another option is to have DAI shoes and cables to act as a headphone rather than to use the Streamer

  2. bev kaiser says:

    I just purchased Oticon Epoq…. thanks for review. Usually the streamer works with iphone and most of the time with iphone music. I do have trouble with bluetooth and my imac…. it pair, connects but cannot get the music to happen. The background noise is horrible…. I agree. I will complain again… on 2nd visit back in 2 weeks.

    However, I paid only $4400 Cdn including streamer. I love the aids for voice sound quality even in noisy environments. iT is the background noise that drives me.

  3. Jaidu says:

    I bought the Epoq XW, and in Restaurants or other loud places, I use the ‘adaptive’ program which cancels the background noise and concentrates on speech recognition. Otherwise I use the program ‘dynamic’.
    I am very satisfied with them, they sound great, very natural.
    The fact that background noise is present in quiet environments helps reduce and forget about my tinnitus.
    Therefore for me they are perfect.
    I did not try the Widex but I tried the Phonaks (Audeo V, IX ..) and did not like their sound quality at all.

    I did not take the bluetooth streamer, I actually don’t need it. I can hear my phone OK without any aid. I however tried it and also found the sound quality to be very poor. It is also not practical at all having to carry it all the time, what a waste of time and money! I can change programs and adjust volume directly on the aids so did not bother with this useless device.

  4. James Moore says:

    I finally gave up on the Epoch. Streamer seldom worked correctly in blue tooth mode, and I had endless problems with one of the hearing aids whenever I spent time in humid climates. The right one would always quit working and no matter how many times it was returned to be fixed, it would fail on the next trip to a humid climate, despite use of a Dri-Aid.

    I also found them to be very poor in noisy environment and I could hear better by simply taking them off.

    I have found Oticon support to be poor at best. My audiologist has worked hard to try and solve the problems, but he admits that they do not tend to work well in humid environments, something I was never told when I bought them.

  5. John says:

    I did not like the Oticon’s b/c of sound quality and the streamer did not work for me. I found the Siemens Pure 700 with their bluetooth device to work the best. You don’t have to wear the bluetooth device (tek) around your neck which is a really nice feature. The cost overall was cheaper than the Oticon’s as well. Plus, Siemens the company is well known for medical devices.

    • I thought the stigma of having to wear a neck lanyard was a bit too much for me. I consider myself lucky, given that at an early age, I did not have to wear a module around my neck – something that those with severely impaired hearing have to do. Just can’t swallow that pill of needing a ‘bridge’ between device and aid. Perhaps I’ll revisit when technology can allow for Bluetooth support, as well as a microphone within the aid itself. Shouldn’t be that far of a reach to embed within the canal.

  6. Scott says:

    It would help us reading your reviews if other reviewers briefly describe their
    hearing loss. e.g. high freq, or other specifics. The issues described with noisy backgrounds could be better suited to other aids others with similar hearing “characteristics”. Thanks.

    • 53 yo female high freq loss(mod to severe)using Oticon for over 25 years (started with Siemens when no digitals were available). Fast forward, 2010 I wanted an upgrade from my cic Synchro and tried a Widex – great sound, light weight and smaller size for a CIC drawback and reason for return was I missed the great feedback reducer from my synchro. Switched a few months to Oticon’s Epoq CIC and am miserable. With CIC Epoq, sound is not much better than my Synchro and terrible (actually no!) feedback reducer with the phone. I do have a motorola bluetooth that is hearing aid compatible so it’s the only consolation. Unfortunately I’m on the phone 95% of the day and am so frustrated. Any Ideas? (Tried the foam piece, tried every direction of the ear piece and tried lots of phone types)Help! Tired of ringing in my ears!!

    • I am about to be fited with two aticon hearing aids, have two siemens centras that does not come close to solving my hearing problems. My problem is word reconition will the aticon help me with that problem.

  7. maurice says:

    I went from a single Freedom SIE to dual Oticon XW’s with streamer. I chose the XW’s because they can amplify sounds up to 10KHz (my loss is around 50db between 4KHz and 8KHz, 25 db above that). The only device i peer’d over Bluetooth is my blackberry – and the sound is AWESOME.

    Overall the XW’s have made a huge impact – whereas before it was hard for me to hear in situations with moderate amounts of background noise, now i can differentiate the sounds and even their relative spatial location. The streamer is great when you need to boost the amplification up, or to override the XW’s in dual mode. It also helps when it just want silence (nearby boss + speakerphone = distraction) and i can turn the volume down all the way.
    The streamer is not in my way (lanyard reaches into my shirt pocket) and its battery life is measure in days if you keep it in locked mode whenever you don’t need to adjust things.

    One of my main reasons for going with oticon was the level of support I can get locally – I’m beyond wanting to tinker with aids. My Freedom SIE came with all the software and connectivity for my laptop. Some folks i know change their settings 200 times a year and never find a setting they can live with.
    Me, I want to call my “crew” and have them figure out how and what to fix/adjust.

    Hope this helps,

    Maurice

    • Martin says:

      You got it right. If you have the right crew to make things work for you – you got it made. Trouble is that it is not so easy to find a good crew.

  8. Bill says:

    I can’t fathom that I’ve had the streamer replaced, updated, fixed, replaced ear pieces, returned TV broadcaster, returned phone broadcaster. The latest fix of the streamer crashed 5 minutes after I left with a replacement. I’v discovered that the fidelity of my $5 headphones for my ipod was much, much better than from the streamer. I can only wonder what fidelity the hearing aides are giving me (aside from the feedback and the noise). Go figure.

  9. Bill says:

    Streamer runs out of steam. The battery life is only about 4-6 hours. Which is undesirable. When I asked an Oticon representative about this, I was told that bluetooth technology took considerable power. Huh? Why is the streamer so large … and lasts 4-6 hours and the hearing aides’ batteries so small and last a week? There is more that one problem at Oticon (Oh-the-Con?)

    • Martin says:

      Doesn’t sound right. Hard to comment without evaluating the whole situations but you should’t have so much trouble.

    • Martin says:

      Doesn’t sound right. Hard to comment without evaluating the whole situations but you should’t have so much trouble. It would be very interesting to see your hearing loss and the settings of the hearing aids.

  10. Rudolf says:

    Hi new to needing aids as of 2 months.
    I have iPhone 3gs can anyone tell me.
    What’s a good aid, with Bluetooth, that pairs with my iPhone directly so no extra boxes needed and preferably has and iPhone app to control settings like on phone in public movies parties ect. So I can hear ppl through my aid and also hear my music and phone calls but still have to talk into iPhone speaker.
    Oh and in the ear model. Thank u.

    • Karen McGrane says:

      This sounds great! Unfortunately the only way you can get Bluetooth is with an external component (like the Oticon Streamer.) None of the manufacturers have Bluetooth built into the HA yet. And as far as I know none of them offer an iPhone app.

      • maurice says:

        I bought a 3GS for my wife so I can have her BB Bold. Love the seamlessness a bold has brought – switch from through the streamer to speaker-phone easily and back again. The sound on the iphone through bluetooth is just not that good – my wife gave up on her $125 motorola bluetooth earpiece and she has no hearing loss.

        Hope this helps – the 3gs is great as a data device and has a great speaker function, just is half-baked when it comes to bluetooth.

        ymmv,

        Maurice

      • a lot of you people complain about the aid because of problems with attachments i don’t care about that part of hearing how about the aid is it better than the siemens ????????????

  11. Bob Gerard says:

    I just found your review of the Oticon aids and wanted to say thank you and note that it was very useful for someone like myself who will be going in for a hearing test and to be fitted for his first pair of hearing aids at age 71.
    My tinnitus, which I have had for some 25 years has increased of late and my doctor (G.P.) tells me that the somewhat less sophisticated hearing tests he performs in his office indicate that I am missing about 2/3′s of what I should be hearing if my hearing were perfect.
    Ah well, at least I made it to 71 before needing them.

    Bob

  12. Steve says:

    I am new to hearing aids, although I have needed them for a long time. I got the Oticon Epoq XW with the Streamer. I don’t care about how the Streamer looks on the lanyard. I tell people that it is a “I fell down and can’t get up” device. Seriously, you don’t have to wear it around your neck. You can put it in a shirt pocket or hold it in your hand. I have used the streamer all day as a bluetooth for my cell phone. Then I charge it each evening. So far it works well.

    How do you tell what firmware is on the Streamer?

    The HA themselves are in adaptive mode. I hear some background noise for a few minutes but then the background noise subsides. I have a moderate to severe medium to high frequency hearing loss. I am amazed to hear what I have been missing.

  13. Roger says:

    Thanks for taking the time to document your journey with finding a new hearing aid. It helps me to realize I’m not the only one frustrated with the whole process of fitting a hearing aid.

    Right now, I am road testing the Oticon Vigo BTE after using a Starkey ITE for years. I went to a restaurant over the weekend and learned the hard way that maybe I should be road testing an Epoq model instead.

    I’m still using a single hearing aid instead of two as my right ear is pretty much deaf. I did a BiCROS setup years ago when you connected the two aids via wire that shorted pretty much every time I played basketball. Now that it’s all wireless, I may reinvestigate that route.

    Hang in there everyone!

  14. Johnny says:

    I am very pleased with my two Epoqs. I have a 2 year old iMac with Streamer/Bluetooth capability. The Bluetooth works fine for me, but I have to make sure the iMac is adjusted properly. Volume can vary with computer setting – mute, pull-down menu volume, keyboard volume adjustment, and the program source volume. On a minority of sound from computer internet sites, the sound is terrible even for normal hearing people. One problem is to make sure the Streamer is positioned fairly near me to get the good sound.

    It is easier and better sound though, to connect with the included wire from the iMac headphone output to the streamer input that sends the signal to the aids.

    I have never run out of power with the Streamer in one day. I charge it every night, and turn it off after making any adjustment. And if I don’t turn it off, the buttons can be accidentally pushed, as I usually have it around my neck or in a pants pocket. If asked what it is, I often say that I am an alien and it is my communication with the space ship! Then I tell the truth. At 71, I have no embarrassment wearing the Streamer or the aids.

    This pair has been the best I have had for background noise. I have three programs – one full range, and the other two for background suppression. On a treadmill with 5 others in a small room with a TV, I hear the TV over the sounds of the treadmills. In noisy restaurants, I get rid of most of the background noise, so can hear people near me. Because I have about a 50% hearing loss, these aids improve the sound significantly better but not perfect.

    I have been back to the audiologist around 8 times. The audiologist’s computer program used was a surprise to me. The aids are supposed to cover up to 10,000 HZ, but the audiologist’s program only went to 8,000 HZ – there is no answer to my question about “why?”

    It took a few calls and visits to the audiologist to fix EMI – Electro-magnetic interference which would totally mess up the aids internal program and would only reset by shutting the aids off and on again (like a computer reboot). The EMI problem happened only on one aid, and around motors or large wiring – such as wires from outside my apartment hallway within a locked closet that service several other floors above mine. The audiologist eventually found the fix by contacting Oticon. Probably was not set right from the factory.

  15. Bruce says:

    I am looking to get a bicros. Deaf in one ear the other function ok with some loss at the upper end. I tried a Unitron that I liked when it worked. It was intermitent all along ang finally died just before the thirty days. What brands have you found most reliable.

  16. Mike Cook says:

    Just got 2 Oticon Epoqs yesterday. I can’t believe ho clear and natural things sound. I listened to the car radio and it was absolutely amazing. I can now hear some of the words to songs. My audiologist says the bluetooth will be ready in 2 weeks. I assume that means the lanyard that I read about here. This was not disclosed before I bought.

    The only negative is that I cannot use the aids with my cell phone. Even with the magnet. I have a motorola clamshell with bluetooth. I cannot predict what I will get when I finally get the bluetooth option.

    Wow, a four year guarantee. That’s amazing.

    I live in Panama and the humidity here really screws up hearing aids. Can anyone recommend a good electric dryer? I always put my aids in silica gel dryer but that isn’t good enough in this climate.

    Someone wrote about poor noise cancellation. My first thought about my new aids was how good the noise cancellation was. But have not tried the restaurants yet. But so far these aids are allowing me to hear better than I have in many years.

    • Bob Haggard says:

      I have a Dry and Store dryer that works pretty well. It has desiccant blocks which you can order from Dry and Store. The little cabinet holds the block and has a fan to circulate air as well as a UV light to sterilize. Once started, the fan runs for about 8 hours before automatically shutting off and the UV light shuts off after maybe 2 hours. Works much better than silica gel dryer.

    • Fahad says:

      Hey, I am glad that Oticon epoq worked out for you. I recently tried it and noticed that I was hearing so much better. I would hear conversations that I would normally miss.

      The only think that bothered me was my own voice. I felt as if I could not hear my own voice modulations clearly and it sounded thin and bland.

      Siemens do a good job at the sound quality of my own voice. I used to wear the Prisma 2 model. It worked very well for me for 7 years. Now I am struggling again to find something that will help me hear better.

      I am currently trying Siemens Motion 301.

  17. Shirley says:

    I have Resound2.30 for about a year now (Paid $6,400.00) and have been very disapointed. They were my second pair to wear. I am now shopping for some new
    ones and just can’t afford to make another mistake. I need some that I can hear
    on the phone and make out what people are saying more clearly. I was really
    thinking about the Oticon Epoqs. I have to take minutes in meetings and it’s
    very imbarrassing when you can’t hear. Some of the comments here have made
    me reluctant.

    • Mike Cook says:

      Shirley, I now have my bluetooth streamer and it works very well with the Motorola cellphone I have. The sound quality of the streamer is not as good as I had hoped. Several have commented on that on this board. However, Now when I use the phone I hear in both hearing aids. It is the best I have used since I had my own good ears.
      I tried the streamer connected to the computer and found the sound quality to be worse than just listening with the small computer speakers.
      Mostly I am happy with the Epoqs. Nothing is perfect but anything that enhances my ability to hear is a welcome change. They cost about $4000 but have a four year guarantee. The sound quality is excellent and I am doing better in noisy environments. Phone conversations are much better.

      Don’t know how to quantify my hearing loss except the audiologists all say it is pretty bad.

      To Bob Haggard: Where did you get your dryer and what did it cost? I have shopped on the web and the good ones are about $150. I could get the VA to buy me one but I need a VA audiologist to recommend one. Since I live in the Rep of Panama that is something I haven’t been able to do.
      I have been using containers with silica gel, (which I dry) but have had aids go bad due to the humidity. Humidity has been running 80% for months now, even on days when it doesn’t rain.
      Thanks, Mike Cook

  18. Paul Curtis says:

    Greetings. I have been reading through this thread and would like to offer a suggestion with regard to the bluetooth issues. I have a brand new pair of Oticon EPOQ XW Power BTE. I lost my hearng due to a deck gun being discharged on a ship while I was standing next to it. My hearing is such that I use an FM system in class for school. One of my professors, a man named Cecil Lynn told me about a system that he uses (he is about a deaf as I am) called a Nokia Wireless Loopset (LPS-5) which he uses. I bought one for about two hundred dollars and requested an American adapter for the charger (they are made and sold in Europe) which they sent at no additional charge. I wear it under my shirt and no one even knows I have it on unless they listen to me speak over the phone. The sound quality in my ears is great but not so good for the other party. However, it is sufficient to get the job done.

    These devices can be ordered online at http://www.expansys-usa.com/p.aspx?i=171353 I am not an employee of theirs nor do I receive anything other than the satisfaction of knowing I shared useful information with people in need of it.

  19. Lawrence says:

    I just saw my audiologist to explore which hearing aids might be the best fit for me; she recommended the Oticon Vigo Pro, I sure hope this isn’t going to be a disappointment …

  20. Walt Mather says:

    I’m a Vietnam vet with a hearing related disability rating amd the VA has provided me with Oticon hearing aids for both ears. Although the audio quality is very good and the Bluetooth interface with my cell phone acceptable, trying to listen to any audio source with the “Connectline” is terrible – as the lady says, not even close. I’ve tried two units and neither worked well enough to use.
    I don’t think it’s the Streamer because it works well with my cell phone and direct wire audio sources – even from the same sources as I tried with the Connectline. I can’t believe this unit was given adequate testing.

    • Walt Mather says:

      Update:
      Since my last post above, I have been contacted by Oticon USA the rep has steered me through some tests to isolate the problem. Long story short, the ConnectLine interface with the Streamer seems not to work well with WiFi in the vicinity and our home wireless network was causing the interference. When I moved it to another TV, at the opposite end of the house from our WiFi router, the signal cleared up considerably.

      Apparently Connectline (as well as most Bluetooth in general)uses the same 2.4ghz frequency range that many WiFi signals do. I’ve tried experimenting with different channels on the router as well as moving it but those options are limited and the improvement is marginal at best.

      • Karen McGrane says:

        So, Oticon’s audience for this product is people who have Bluetooth enabled devices, and who are able to set up the Bluetooth pairing, but who don’t have Wifi? I’m sure there are a few people still using AOL dialup who might qualify.

      • Thank you for this update @Walt as I have the Oticon ConnectLine Streamer which works great with my cell phone. I have just bought the ConnectLine TV add-on for the Streamer which works in that I can hear the TV through my aids but there is a lot of “white noise” accompanying the TV audio. I think it must be the close proximity of my WiFi router from what you are saying. I think I will have to learn to live with the results as I can’t move either the router or the TV.

        Does anyone have any ideas on on damping this cross-contamination?

        I’ve learned a lot from this post–keep up the good work!

  21. Walt Mather says:

    My thoughts too. I live in central Vermont and we’ve had WiFi for years. Even most of my more remote friends who are too far out for cable at least have DSL to the house and a WiFi network within.

  22. Ray Coles says:

    I have Oticon Epoq W-BTE, works good with the streamer on my telephones, but the TV adaptor sound is weak and only works on my TV with a Cable box, the two tV (both digital) does not work at all, using cable, adaptore, etc.

  23. S Singh says:

    One of the key purchase features of the Oticon Epoq aids is its ability to connect via the Streamer to Bluetooth-enabled devices such as home stereo, TV, iPods and iPhones, etc. When I bought a pair of Epoq aids in August 2009, I thought this device would be a “no-brainer” for any user – regardless of their age – to plug in, turn on, and use. Such was not the case.

    The most frustrating thing about the Streamer is the inability to reliably and quickly get it to do what you want. This supposedly “state-of-the-art” device is closer to a total cludge! Yes, when/IF the user can figure out the correct combinations of buttons to press on multiple devices, audio will go directly into the Oticon Epoq aids. But getting to that point is needlessly tedious, frustrating, and totally unintuitive, to the point that Oticon should either ditch the Streamer, or completely re-design the device in-house. Here is a summary of fatal flaws with this device as it currently stands:

    Basic Sequence of Operations
    Nowhere in the manual is the basic sequence of operations spelled out, and this is critical! It turns out, that after much trial and error, I discovered that the sequence is thus:
    1. Bluetooth device (iPhone, iPod, TV, etc.,) must be turned on FIRST
    2. User must press the Streamer’s connect switch, using either short or long press. (However, it’s never clear if one is connecting or disconnecting after pressing, because there is a long delay factor before the device begins streaming.)
    3. If a Bluetooth connection is established, music will automatically start playing. (But more confusing, sometimes music starts playing even without pressing the Audio button.)

    If there is no connection, then the user must perform the following sequence of steps:

    1. Disconnect the Oticon Streamer by pressing the Connect button for 2 seconds
    2. Wait for the Bluetooth connection to end with your Bluetooth player
    3. Make sure some music is already playing on your Bluetooth player
    4. Now connect the Oticon Streamer by pressing the Connect button for 2 seconds
    5. Wait for at least 10 seconds and pray — if you are lucky, the Audio button should become a solid orange light (indicating it is streaming music). If not, repeat steps 1 through 4 all over again!

    Power Switch – there isn’t one! In fact, the user is told to keep the device’s lock “on” to conserve power, but also to keep the Streamer plugged into a charger as well. Why can’t the Streamer have a simple ON/OFF button like every other appliance?

    Connect Button – This button actually has 3 press definitions: short (less than 1 second), long (about 2 seconds) and very long (more than 6 seconds). Not only is the length of time subjective to a user, but about half the time, when the user presses the button for the stated duration, the program does not correspond! The Connect button is supposed to connect if you hold it for 2 seconds, and disconnect if you hold it for 2 seconds. But it’s never clear what state it’s in. If the connection was turned off, and then you press the button for less than 1 second (a short press), it should not turn on, but it does, as indicated by the blue light flashing. Sometimes when the blue light is flashing slowly, it connects to a Bluetooth device, but half the time it does not. Not knowing what the controls are doing and what the lights are telling you is extremely frustrating. This alone can take several minutes of pressing, holding, with one’s aids beeping ON! OFF! BACK ON! until one is utterly frustrated.

    Audio Button – A short press of the Audio button is supposed to connect to the Bluetooth-enabled audio device. Sometimes this procedure works, but most of the time the music starts automatically without pressing the Audio button.
    Note: The Audio Button has to be pressed for 1 second to connect an external device to the aids, BUT, there will be about a 10-second delay until the audio streams into the aids. By that time, the user has assumed the wrong button or wrong sequence was pressed, and starts the whole frustrating process over again!

    Also unacceptable, if the user has to pause when playing music (e.g., from an iPod) by pressing the volume UP, the Streamer automatically pauses the external device. There is no way to go back and continue playing from the point where it left off. Instead, the user has to physically go back to the external device, turn it back on, re-connect to it with the Streamer, and hit the Audio button again. Very, very cumbersome and cludgey, especially if you envision this scenario happening in a public place like a gym, where the external device may be in a duffel bag across the room!

    Volume Control – is actually NOT just for controlling the volume! Totally non-intuitive. This switch also brings in people talking in the same room, so that the user can either: 1.) listen to the external device, 2.) listen to people in the room, or 3.) hear both at the same time. It is completely unintuitive for a user to hit a volume control to change programs in the aids. Adding to the confusion, the Volume Control is also used to switch between different Bluetooth sources.

    What Would Make a Better Streamer?
    Ideally, the Streamer would be simple and reliable. It should have a clearly marked power ON/OFF button, a volume control, and a separate phone button. Nothing else is needed. To use the system, a user would simply:

    1. Pair the device once with a Bluetooth source (how about something simple like press the power button for 5 seconds?)
    2. Adjust the volume according to one’s preference
    3. Use the phone button to answer an incoming call (short press) or reject the call (long press)
    4. Also, the indicator light should clearly give a user feedback as to what’s going on. A solid blue light could indicate streaming music, while a flashing blue light would indicate pairing.
    5. The Streamer should handle high quality stereo Bluetooth (A2DP); instead it is restricted to mono output for music or TV.

    This Streamer is NOT Ready for Prime Time
    My husband (a graduate of CalTech, MIT and Stanford!) could not even figure this Streamer device out after spending a few hours using it. How would your typical, senior-aged customer ever be able to get the Streamer up and running for all its Bluetooth-enabled devices? I’m returning my Streamer device for now, until a much-improved, more user-friendly device is available on the market.

    I think Oticon is doing its customers a disservice even touting the Streamer at this point in time. I would bet that a user group of seniors would stumble and bumble hopelessly if given all the hardware, cables, handheld devices and manual and told to make it work.

    • Karen McGrane says:

      This is awesome. I wish I’d had this guide when I was hating my Streamer before I returned it.

      • Walt Mather says:

        Man I feel bad for you people that had to pay for the ConnectLine / Streamer out of your own pocket. At least the VA picked up the tab for mine but I intend to pass on this information to them in hopes that other vets can avoid this frustration.

        The Oticon rep (after he read my post here: http://www.hearingaidforums.com/showthread.php?t=7086 ) did try to help for a while but once it became apparent these were design deficiencies, I stopped hearing from him.

    • Agree with the usability concerns. I’ve had my streamer for almost three years and found out still had not learned all the settings. Actually, one additional problem I’ve had is that perspiration causes the fabric cover on the neckloops to shrink. Since the wire inside does not shrink, the loops become warped and become uncomfortable, and the link to the hearing aids becomes spotty. I have to replace my neckloop several times a year.

      All that said, I’m still happy with my streamer and the bluetooth capabilities overall. Not as good as it could be, but better than not having it.

      Regarding point #5, I wish it could do high quality audio, but I wonder whether the limitation there is the wireless protocol between the streamer and the hearing aids (is it basically telecoil?) rather than in the streamer’s bluetooth capabilities.

      My streamer is also set up to switch my Epoqs between different programs. The default “smart noise reduction” program doesn’t always work well for me, depending on the environment. I also have a “directional” program and a “music” program, which I use at concerts and which I sometimes find more comfortable than the other programs.

  24. tracy says:

    I just got a pair of octicon integra, and am also dissappointed at the quality. Specifically the bluetooth capabilities. I got it to connect o my phone, ipod and tv without any problems, but the sound quality is so poor, that i’m better off just turning up the volume to max. (i have loss bilateral in the low tones/reverse slope). I need the HA mostly for my classroom (to hear the voices farther than 6 feet away). My loss is moderate. But, for $7,500 I had much higher expectations. Also, callers say my voice sounds muffled and can’t always hear me, that’s even holding the neck/speaker in my hand. I’ve only had them a few days, but I don’t think these are going to work for me. Has anyone tried the Siemens Aquaris or PureLife 700? That’s my next attempt. Thanks for any help

  25. Arlene says:

    I am on the second day of “trying” Opticon Agil. I got the demos on Friday. I lasted through the day trying to adapt on Friday. It was a relief to take them out in the evening. Some things are just too loud. I called the Oticon office today (Saturday) but there are no office hours on Saturday. So I wonder about the availability of service should I buy these.

    My second visit was scheduled for Tuesday, and they cannot see me before then for any adjustment. I feel that the aids are adjusted for TV viewing, cause now I am telling my husband that the TV is too loud. He says it’s not.

    It is difficult to evaluate if the Oticon Agil is something I would buy, cause it seems that certain things are too loud, but my husband says I still can’t hear what he is saying to me at times. I ask for repetition. On the other hand, opening a bag of potato chips is really loud. Pages turning in a magazine are annoying. The water running is also loud. I can hear kleenex being folded, but miss speech. When I step flat with gym shoes onto my tile floor it sounds like cleats on tap shoes. Crumbling a piece of paper to throw it out makes a noise like a rain storm pelting against my windows. We stopped at the bank, and a patron put coins into the counting machine about 10 feet away. They noise was really something. I cannot shield my ears, or I get whistling. Obviously they need some sort of adjustment. And I need to adjust as this is my first fitting.

    It’s price is high end $5,000 with a discount that is offered. In the back of my mind I have the feeling that I might invest in these aids and then have them around without using them the way people purchase excercise machines and use it for the first month or so, and then wind up selling them at a garage sale.

    I might just try some other brands, but don’t know what brand I would try.

  26. Walt Mather says:

    Just to update to the Connect-Line issues described above. I never heard anymore from the Oticon rep, so I’m guessing they don’t have any solutions. After trying 3 different units, I finally returned the last unit to the VA saying it’s obviously a design problem and until they fix it, they’re just not usable. Even if I shut our WiFi down, which does eliminate most of the interference, the quality of the audio through the Connect-Line to the Streamer is really sub-par for a device as expensive as it is.

    The VA audiologist was sympathetic but had no alternate suggestions, so I continue to purchase (and wear out) wireless headphones.

    On a separate note, I’ve also started having issues with the Streamer and my cell phone. Sometimes it doesn’t pass the call to my HAs but it must be doing something, because I can’t answer it with just the phone without shutting the Bluetooth off and by then the call has already gone to voice mail. In all fairness, I haven’t yet determined if this is a problem with the Streamer-HAs or my Droid X cell phone.

  27. Betty Zavala says:

    I am about buying a pair of hearing aids for the first time. I have an appontment for next week to be fitted for a pair. I do not even know the brands they will offer me. Any advice? I live in Panama and the humidity is very high. I appreciate your comments.

    • Mike Cook says:

      Betty, I too live in Panama, Chiriqui Highlands. Humidity is a big problem. I bought an electric dryer and store my aids every night. However both my oticon aids are now back at the factory in Europe getting repaired for what I believe is humidity damage. It has happened with all my aids in the past. Been wearing them for nearly 40 years and I know of no way to keep them pristine. Fortunately I have a 4 year guarantee on the Oticons so the repair is free,
      I have a profound hearing loss and use Oticon epoq aids.
      Quite happy with the quality of the sound. Had used Siemens for many years They were good. But the Oticons have better sound reproduction.
      I have the streamer too. Many of the streamer complaints are valid but I still hear better with the streamer using the phone than with any other aid I have ever used. With a hearing loss like I have I am less critical than others. If I can hear better I am happy.
      Good luck.

  28. Bob says:

    I simply feel that Oticon is a very poor product and the streamer makes it a little worse. Oticon will not respond to any request and could cae less. I believe the reason for this attitude is that they fully realize their product does not do what they claim.
    I am starting to think that those people who claim and really believe their hearing aids are super, probably do not even really need these aids in the first place and that they simply enhance one’s hearing. Those with serious hearing problems are probably going to continue to be less than satisfied. I have read about all the advances in hearing aid technology, but, I sincerely feel it is nothing buy hype. While balky and a little ugly, the hearing amplification in the hearing aid my grandmother wore sixty years ago is probably not significantly different from their hi-tech replacements.

  29. tom b says:

    I have had the second set of oticon hearing aids 2 years now and they have been replaced under warrenty once the streamer died a month out of warrenty and everytime I have a problem with it the cell phone people say its the streamer the streamer people say its the cell phone and I a 65 yr old crumedgen are left to screw with it my self. the latest after using the streamer on my cell phone for over a year it stopped conecting to the phone and the verizen idiot tells me that this phone is not compatable to the streamer and won’t work I said it worked up to now he shrugged his head and rolled his eyes not taking into consideration I am a viet-nam vet and have a concelled weapons permit. when it works it works well when it dosen’t it stinks the hearing aid people try hard but they have trouble getting hold of anybody from Oticon as well

  30. ALYCE DENNEHY says:

    I would never recommend any Oticon Hearing Aid. Yes, I did get stuck, too. Don’t waste your money.
    My hearing aid never worked for me from day one. It never improved my hearing. I got tired of it screeching all the time even though I had numerous adjustments made, plus the fact that my batteries only lasted four days. I also give bad marks for the upkeep. It is unbelievable.
    No, they would never give me my money back, so it was a bad investment for me.
    Thank you for listening.

  31. Steve dempsey says:

    I got my octicon from NHS in UK and it my first octicon after years of phonak and Siemens, I had it fine tuned to my needs and turned ” noise management ” off so I would like to hear background noise as I work on construction sites. I must say octicon disappointed me. They dipped a lots in sound, also if I go into noisy club or playing music, it gone blunt and quiter .Another thing the microphone seem pick up louder as you face away from the sound source! I find it odd!

  32. jessica duncan says:

    My daughter now 12 in seventh grade was put in hearing aids at 3yrs she got oticon/safari this past yr had phonax. After your review I’m worried about her value of hearing especially at school and computer class. In the car she wants the radio on and getting the volume right is hard. How can I be sure she is getting the quality she needs???? She doesn’t even connect to devices yet now I’m worried about that experiecnce!!!!!!!

  33. John says:

    I’m 67 years old and have seen and experienced numerous ways to waste money and time, but I have yet to find anything to compare to the total WASTE of the money and TIME I have wasted on Oticon hearing aids. The best comparison I can come up with for the “sound quality” of these “hearing aids” is that of a bumblebee in a salmon can with CONSTANT feedback. I have had them re-adjusted numerous times, and each time they were worse than before. For $6,000, which is what I and my insurance company paid for these instruments, they should produce soung compared to a high-tech theater. I have tried $79 hearing aids that sounded MUCH better than your OTICON. TOTALLY USELESS as for any quality of sound re-production. How can I get a refund?

  34. Ed says:

    This is exagurated! it’ll be an advertisment what im doing to write, but after learinign that it cost 1500$ to have the same affect we supply for one tenth of the price… I had to put this comment. I work in Artone communications solutions, we product a bluetoth loopset that cost 120-130$ with some addons this system can do much more…
    Although I am biased … whoever I am in the industry for quite long, and I can suggest and recommend listening aissitve product for for particual situations. if you need any advice conact me, I’ll try to help.

  35. Mark Tibbles says:

    Folks Ive been fitting people in the TOP-TIER Oticons hearing instruments since 2008. If you want a device that will give you the solution to these issues, you need to choose the BEST technology today and have it FIT CORRECTLY. If anyone following these posts wants to know what that is like, I will fit YOU in the AGIL Pro from Oticon, and let you try them for 60 days. IF FOR ANY REASON you are not 100% satisfied (no exceptions!) I will give a 100% REFUND of your Original Purchase Price. Period. No Questions Aked. The AGIL Pro WILL DELIVER the sound quality and the Signal to Noise Ratio that is needed to hear SPEECH IN NOISE. With Clarity. Period. Wish to hear the Auctioneer? (Farmer in North Dakota) Go to the Moose Lodge / Elks Lodge and wanna hear your friends? (Several of my Local Patients). Your devices will only PERFORM TO THE LEVEL that your Hearing Specialist/Audiologist sets them to. They DO NOT come from the factory set the way they need to be, and if your Specialist doesnt reset them to Optimize the Technology available, you wont get what YOU need.

    If you are tired of not hearing, and want to actually HEAR THE DIFFERENCE, give me a call at New Era Hearing, Inc. My name is Mark Tibbles, and I approved this message!

    928.581.3036 or you can email me at: newerahearing@gmail.com

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