Hearing Aids

Widex Mind 440 Hearing Aid Review

I exchanged my pair of Oticon Epoq XW for a pair of Widex Mind 440s. The Widex Mind wasn’t even on my radar to begin with, because I was completely focused on Bluetooth.

Once I realized that Bluetooth integration wasn’t good enough yet for what I wanted to do, and I realized that the Widex family was a good fit for me because it offered superior noise reduction and a sound quality that I liked, I decided to stick with that brand and get their best model.

Problems, Problems

My initial fitting went badly. Widex sent the wrong hearing aids, and then gave my audiologist very specific instructions that caused him to break the earhook. I went home disappointed, but they promised to send the correct pair with a rush order.

CAMISHA Domes

I was told that I would do better if I was fitted with custom-made “CAMISHA” domes instead of regular domes. I spent $150 to have custom domes made that would sit deep inside my ear and connect to a thin, unobtrusive wire. The goal of the custom fitting was to reduce feedback.

These were a disaster. Blame it on my weirdly-shaped head, but the custom domes would not stay in my ears. The left earmold in particular popped out to such a degree that the hearing aid was useless. It was obvious from the second I put them on that they were not going to work, but I was a good sport and tried them out over the weekend.

Open Fit Domes

I then swapped out the custom domes for generic open fit domes. (Does anyone want to buy a pair of barely-used custom-made ear molds? I’ll give you a good deal.) I was pretty unhappy with these as well. I teach a class and when I wore these in class the first time, I couldn’t hear the students talking on the other side of the room.

I was told that the open-fit domes might not work as well for me, given my audiogram, and I’d get feedback. This was true! I had the sensation that the hearing aids were always just about to start feeding back, like an annoying whistle just below my range of hearing. Imagine what a teakettle sounds like when the water is just starting to boil. I was told that these fancy new hearing aids do a better job of recognizing and removing feedback, but that was not my experience here.

Back to the Drawing Board

During my trial with the Widex Mind 440s, I did not feel they were an improvement over my current Widex Senso Divas, which are 5 years old.

I did some research and learned that Widex makes an even newer hearing aid, the Passion 440. I’ve returned the Widex Mind 440s in exchange for the Passion 440s. I haven’t tried the Passion 440s yet, but I’ll tell you right now what my sense of the benefits and drawbacks are:

Benefits

  • Receiver in the canal: I was pretty annoyed that the Mind 440 didn’t offer RIC, but it looks like that’s what the Passion 440 does. In exchange for Bluetooth, it will at least permit me to wear earbuds on top of them, which should make it possible to listen to music or answer the phone. A low-tech solution, which means it will probably work.

Drawbacks

  • Size: Good god, these things are tiny. You might be asking “why is small size a drawback?” To me, this is just baby-boomer vanity. I’ve worn hearing aids for 25 years, I don’t care if anyone sees them, and I don’t need a hearing aid that’s the size of a dime. The smaller aids will have more moisture problems than the large ones, and they’re easier to drop. I’d be happier with a larger aid that I could hold onto more easily.
  • Size 10 Batteries: This goes hand-in-hand with the smaller size of the aid. I’m going to have to change these things twice a week, and the small size means it’s going to be a pain in the ass. I have tiny little fingers and even I don’t relish the challenge of popping these things in and out. I’m looking at my Senso Diva with its luxurious Size 13 battery and thinking I’ll miss it.
  • Remote Control: And yet another drawback because of the size! These aids are too tiny to include a button to switch between programs, so I have to buy a remote control to switch between programs. This is one more thing I have to schlep around in my purse, possibly lose, spill stuff on, etc.

I’m getting super cranky about this process. I think I’ve spent about 40 hours just going to the audiologist, I’ve plunked down over $7500, and right now I have nothing to show for it. I’m genuinely not happy with the options available to me. I hope the Passion 440s provide a great listening experience, and persuade me that the money and time are all worth it.

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94 thoughts on “Widex Mind 440 Hearing Aid Review

  1. Robby says:

    Purchased Widex hearing aids in 12/05 they have been at the factory more than I have worn them. Right has been returned 7 times and left has been returned 5 times. I need them to conduct my job as a professor.

    Regards,
    Dr. Robby Brown

    • hacksaw says:

      If you don’t care if someone sees them why are you going with such small aids??Get the BTE ,they work great and battrey lasts a while

  2. Howard Johnson says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with selecting and using hearing aids. My hearing has deteriorated to the point that I am actively investigating what is on the market and what might work for me.

    In addition to the basic hearing assistance functions, I need a device which will help me recognize cell phone calls and hear those conversations better. I would also like to have a high fidelity device for listening to music on my iPod.

    Again, I appreciate the sharing of your experience.

    Howard

    • Karen McGrane says:

      I spent a long time with my audiologist talking through different options for listening to music and talking on the phones with hearing aids. I’m disappointed in the options currently available, and I’m surprised the hearing aid industry doesn’t address this need more carefully. There are lots of people out there who need hearing aids, but still have enough hearing to be able to speak on the phone and listen to music through a headset.

      For me, both of those activities have always been very difficult, because the hearing aid speaker in a BTE sits on top of the ear. To use earbud style headphones means I have to take my hearing aids out to listen to music or answer a call. I have used older-style headsets that sit on top of the ear, but these are so big and bulky that it’s a pain to carry them around.

      My audiologist suggested using an earhook style headphone that hooks around the ear and sits next to the BTE, but I haven’t tried this yet. I would prefer to get hearing aids that have the receiver in the canal. It’s possible to stick earbuds in on top of the RIC, and that provides a pretty good sound quality.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Karen, I love all the written words on buying, wearing and problems of hearing aids. I still know nothing, but find a tremendous lack of technical support from the manufacturer. Ugh. Right now I just have one question. Does Widex boil the shell of hearing aids to help reduce allergic reaction to the material it is made from? For example people who have eczema? This is what my Audiologists told me and I have sent two emails to Widex for confirmation and I have not received a reply from them! I ‘Think’ I have on order a pair of Mind 220 CIC.. Got me? This is my second attempt at hearing aids … The first was 4 years ago and that only lasted for 3 months and two Audiologist later said there was nothing wrong with the aid (there was – the amplifier). Then I got a nasty case of eczema in my ear and didn’t like the cortisone so close to my brain, so I stopped wearing it.

        Any comment or direction on the matter of eczema and hearing aids would be wonderful. Thank you.

  3. Steve Davis says:

    I have been toying with the idea of replacing my Widex Senso Divas which are also five years old. I have a profound hearing loss (both ears) and don’t want to shell out $6000 (plus), for new aids unless I can notice a significant hearing improvement. Over the years I’ve learned that some HA manufactures come out with new aids that really aren’t that different from older models. I also think HA dealers are a little more focused on doing a deal and getting their commission, then telling a customer new aids really won’t make that much of a difference.

    With that said I’d be interested to read your comments on how your new Passion 440s work out. I tend to think a smaller aid/battery would offer less power then the Widex Diva’s, but that might not be the case. I also wonder about feeback, due to the smaller case size and receiver in the canal? I’d be interested to learn if you find the RIC a serious benefit. Since the Passion 440s are so small I wonder about dependability and long term use. Hearing aid manufactures should offer a three year warranty, but it seems all you can get is a one year which goes by in a flash. After one year if something breaks down, your back paying big bucks for something that was grossly over priced to begin with.

    Hopefully the new Passion 440s will offer you some significant improvement over your old aids. I do feel Widex offers a superior product, and they have reliable repair service. On the other hand I still think HA should cost $1000 (each) and HA manufactures are ripping off customers with their excessive prices. I also have a major complaint with HA manufacturers claiming their aids work well in a noisy envirnment. Most hearing impaired people I know all claim that HA’s are of little use in a noisy resturant or big crowd. I’d be interested to read how your new aids do in a noisy setting.

    Thanks for your detailed report on the Widex Mind and hopeful follow up on the Passion 440.

    Steve

    • Karen McGrane says:

      Well, I cancelled the order for the Passion 440s. More than 2 weeks after I ordered them, they were still on backorder. I had a number of reservations about the Passion 440, but I felt like I’d already spent so much time on the process, so I really wanted to get something new. But when they were so late in being shipped I just gave up.

      I’m going to hold off on making a purchase for a while. If I’m going to spend this kind of money (and for something that’s such a critical part of my life and how I interface with the world) I want to be happy with the purchase.

      Some of the options I’m considering for the future:
      • Waiting until April 2010 when Widex will likely release new models
      • Ordering a larger size Widex Mind (the m-4-9 instead of the m-4-m)
      • Resigning myself to a traditional earmold and tube vs open fit

      • Steve Davis says:

        Karen,

        Just wanted to follow up and find out if you are still shopping for HA? What little information I gathered from the recent AudiologyNOW convention in San Diego is that Oticon came out with a new powerful aid called Agil. Since it is new I’m not sure how Oticon’s new aid will stack up against the Phonak Excela Art and Widex Mind. At this point I probably will try all three over the summer and see which one works best for me.

        To enlighten some of the other board members here, if you have a severe to profound hearing loss you do not want open domes. Generic open fit domes are only for users with a mild to mid level hearing loss. There is also a good chance that you will get feedback from an open fit dome, if you power requirements are high. Furthermore, you do not want the wire or thin cord attachment between the dome and your hearing aid since it will not give you the power transfer you need to handle a severe to profound hearing loss. There is a big push right now to try to get HA users into really small aids, which is great if new aids meet your hearing requirements. Unfortunately, the smaller aids with open dome fit and wire connection will not provide the power and amplification that many hard of hearing people need.

        I would also recommend people with a serious hearing loss stick with size 13 battery and stay away from size 10 and 312 batteries. Why knock your head agaist a wall going small and then find out after spending $5000 to $7000 on two HAs that you do not have the right aid for your specific hearing loss.

        Maybe other posters on the board might want to add to my comments, but for now (5/2010) I would suggest trying either the Widex Mind or the Phonak Excela Art if you have a severe hearing loss. I would also throw in the Oticon Agil as a third option/comparison if it gets good reviews.

        Just my two cents.

      • @Steve: You’re confusing two different things: The thin Lybarger tube can have either a silicone tip that is open, for moderate losses, or a closed eartip for more severe losses. Or, a custom earmold can be used if there is a retention problem from to much TMJ action.

        The RIC (receiver-in-canal) design also can use silicone tips as well as custom “power domes;” but has the advantage that, when fit properly, the receiver nozzle points straight at the TM (eardrum), giving it extended high frequency response. Your contention that the connecting wires from the BTE to the receiver are too thin to handle severe-profound losses is also false.

        [From a historical standpoint, using an external receiver on a BTE is not new: It was used in the 80’s & 90’s for extremely high power aids using button receivers normally seen with body aids.]

  4. Andrew McMaster says:

    Hello
    I have a severe to profound loss. Recently demoing new hearing aids. Although Phonak does not have a power open fit, discreet micro tube aid at this time, i preferred to experiment with Phonak’s proprietary new Soundrecover feature which is their answer to frequency transposition.
    Which led me to the Phonak Nios Micro. Gives me plenty of gain and connectivity. Is discreet and comfortable using the Slim-tip soft earpieces.
    Phonak is a leader in FM and Bluetooth connectivity. Uses the Core chips of the higher end HA’s like the Exelia and Audeo. Excellent whistleblock feedback free hearing.
    Still demoing. Wanted to try the Oticon epoq’s but my trusted Audie does not push them and Epoq’s are way more expensive.
    Check out Phonak.

    Andy

    • discpad says:

      @Andrew: If you have a severe to profound hearing loss, there’s no such thing as a “power open fit” so get over it. In fact, pushing he gain & power you need, you’d be lucky to get a slim tube to work, due to the extreme alternating air velocities from the high acoustic power north of 1 watt/m^2 at 120 dB. Can you say Reynolds Number?!

      Either receiver-in-canal (RIC, a/k/a RITE) or conventional #13 tubing with tiny (if any at all) earmold venting, depending on gain requirements so your audiologist doesn’t have to lean on the instability (“anti-feedback”) algorithm in the DSP.

      You’re severe-to-profound: Get.Over.It… Deal.With.It.

      • Andrew McMaster says:

        My mistake was to use the term “open fit”. Thanks for correcting my error. But to confirm using slim or mirco tubes on instruments like the Naida SP or Oticon XW, it has already been done and it works fine depending on the severity of the term severe to profound. For me it works.

        L R
        125 40 40
        250 40 45
        500 45 45
        750 50 45
        1000 65 55
        1500 75 70
        2000 85 90
        3000 105 95
        4000 110 100

    • @Andy: You should get a cochlear implant (CI) evaluation, as from the audiometric data you posted above, you’re on the borderline of qualifying, depending on the HINT (speech) scores. Here is a link to the guidelines, noting especially the orange area of figure 2:

      http://www.hearingreview.com/issues/articles/2009-05_02.asp

      If your audie is not involved in a CI program, then it is in her financial interest to keep hanging BTE’s on your head.

      For more info on CI’s, start with Advanced Bionics:

      http://www.bionicear.com

      Cheers!
      Dan

  5. Zita Drake says:

    I JUST PURCHASED Widex PASSION 440 WH. SO FAR I AM VERY PLEASED WITH THE SOUND AND LISTENTING QUALITY. I HAVE A 60 DAY TRIAL WITH MY DOCTOR. I DO THINK THAT THE AUDIOLOGIST IS A IMPORTANT INGREDIENT IN MAKING SURE YOU OF YOUR NEEDS AND SELECTION OF A HEARING, ESPECIALLY IF YOUR HEARING IS NOT THAT BAD, BUT NEED AND WANT TO HEAR IN SOFT TONES AND GENERAL CONVERSATION.

      • Afzaal says:

        @anderson
        If you surf on the site, you would get prices (of all models). However, in view of intricate technicalities, you are recommended to locate your local distributor (in Brazil) and discuss things with the Audiologist and decide accordingly. By the way, there are variants of Mind440, with Zen, Remote Control, Dex and so on.

        Your current hearing loss and needs will determine which will suit you the best.

  6. Lyna says:

    Thanks Karen, enjoyed very much reading your HA reviews.
    I have been wearing HA for over 12 years, always used Oticon, I tried Phonak but it seems that ears were programmed the first few years on Oticon and the switch was very hard on me, my current HA is Oticon Syncro P but it’s over 4 years old. I tried the Oticon Epoq XW (where do they get these names from, lol) several months back, I did like the sound quality but the feedback was horrible, I initially was fitted with a regular dome waiting for the customized one to arrive, I liked the fact that the tiny tube that connect the hearing aid and the receiver was very thin and tiny, plus the receiver was tiny and both were barely noticeable which is very important factors for me, I could test it much with this as the feedback was horrible, I had to wait a week before the molded receiver showed up, and it was huge, like ITC hearing aid, I was very disappointed and felt that I was wearing 2 hearing aids on each ear, the bigger one on top and a smaller one that was in the ear, it did not make any sense to me that we are in 2009 and the design of the receiver and the whole technology in general looked very poor, why the heck Am I suppose to pay $7000+ on something very poorly designed, the receiver kept popping out of my ear every few seconds, it did not make any sense at all, not only this but the feedback was so much that I decided to take them back, I agree about the background noise if I compared them to my current Oticon Syncro, and I also agree that the sound quality was superior, to bad everything else failed, I only tried the streamer for one day or so I like it on my cell phone, but did not try it on the lap top.
    When I discussed these issues with my audio, she did more research and found out that the receiver mold can be purchased from another company not from Oticon and can be of much better quality mold for the receiver that does not pop out, for this reason I have decided to give the Epoq one more chance and try it again in the next 3 weeks or so, I’m hoping that they will work as I’m using all the power from my Syncro at this point and need a more powerful HA, plus I need a blue tooth connection with my phone, I’m so tired of trying to find the perfect headphone for the blackberry or iphone, I’m using Hatis headset which is OK for now but not what I’m dreaming about, I have been waiting Nokia Wireless Loopset LP-5 for almost a year, they were supposedly to release them last Jan but nothing so far, I’m expecting this loopset (priced at around $240) to do a magical bluetooth connection with cell phones, ipods and any other Bluetooth enabled devices, this is based on my previous experience (more than 4-5 years back) with Nokia Loopset 3 and Nokia Loopset 4 (not bluetoothed) they were one of the best headphones I ever used, the sound quality is unmatched, the wireless loopset should be worn around the neck and can be used with a t-coil hearing aid not necessarily a blue tooth HA.

    • Karen McGrane says:

      Hey, thanks for the tip about the Nokia Wireless Loopset LP-5. I will keep an eye out for when those start shipping.

      I’ve never had much luck with t-coil but then again I’ve never tried very hard to make it work. Some people swear by it. If I’m going to wear a stupid clunky thing around my neck it had better work flawlessly, that’s all I have to say.

      I’ll say it again—there are lots and lots of people out there who wear hearing aids who also want to use headphones, for the phone, music or even amplified sound from movies or TV. I’ve been wearing hearing aids for 25 years, it’s 2009, and the lack of a solution for headphones are STILL my biggest complaint about wearing hearing aids. How hard can it be? I already have $5000+ of audio equipment inside my ears!

      • discpad says:

        @Karen: When it comes to the T-coil, you probably have a problem with power wiring-induced 60 Hz (& massive harmonics (120 +180 + 240 +…)) hum. And, it turns into a scream on an airliner with the 400 Hz generator & harmonics.

        Because you have a realtively flat loss, you need some low frequency punch, which exacerbates the hum. That is why DAI (Direct Audio Input) works so well; and why Bluetooth appears to be so promising — It’s wireless DAI!

        Check out the Bluehook, if you can’t use DAI: Both Katie-louise Bailey and Amanda Glasspell use — And love theirs. It’s a small pendent with a button on it, and one or two thin tube hooks that go over the ear. It’s sort of like the old HATIS; but with BT input & much more comfortable earpieces.

        Caveat: There are others like the Bluehook out there available from US distributors, including one that is A2HD hi-fi stereo. Google “Bluehook hearing aid” & look at the comparison charts (I’m way behind tonight, else I’d research & post here)~

  7. Andrew McMaster says:

    Someone mentioned a power discreet option for those tired of big molds and tubes. Well i will be trying out the very popular Phonak Naida instruments this week. The SP model. Phonak does not advertise the fact that thin/micro tubes can be used. They can be mounted into soft SlimTip custom molds.

    • discpad says:

      @Andrew: Please scroll up to my earlier reply to you. If you’re using the Nadia SP (their second most powerful model in their top-of-the-line Nadia series), then you’re probably just wasting time. Are you trying the Naida I, V, VII or IX? In the Naida family, the IX is at the top of the heap.

      Also, the Naida UP kicks the horsepower up a notch, so if you crave power (most severe & up longtime BTE users like Karen & I do), then go straight for the jugular with the 675-powered UP.

      • Pam says:

        Where does the Phonak Supero fit in with this line? This is what I have, they’re 7 years old and I DESPERATELY need new hearing aids. Unfortunately, I’ve moved out of state since I bought them and have to find a new audiologist. (An issue in itself. I’m very distrustful) I’ve been wearing hearing aids for more than 35 years now.
        Thanks for any tips!
        Pam

      • Pam says:

        I’m currently about 25 miles east of Seattle, WA. Moved here from northern CA (Rocklin/Roseville) area.

      • @Pam:

        I’m having a problem finding a competent dispensing audie in the Seattle area, as I have several people who have a rare reverse-slope loss waiting for a recommendation from me. Click on my name & send me a Facebook friend request, and I’ll keep you up to date.

        Ironically, if your hearing is really bad, UWash in Seattle has an excellent cochlear implant program~

  8. Lyna says:

    Karen
    you are so funny, I use my phone all the day in my business and work with top CEO (s) of other companies and it become so frustrating for me when they complain about the hummm or puzzz they hear in the background when I call them using my cell phone or office phone (did not have much luck here, let’s discuss this later), I use blackberry as I’m just like you young and work in professional world and into the latest in tech and such, anyway that puzz, hmmmm or whatever you call it is a nightmare for me, I have been researching for a solution for like forever, I have no idea how to fix it, I talked to my audio about it (I’m lucky to have a very good audio that don’t care much about $$) and she related it to the electromagnetic stuff that I’m not too much into it, she also said that there is nothing I can do about it unless I get a bluetooth enabled HA or bluetooth headset.
    Here are what I’m dreaming about:
    A: futuristic dreams
    1- invent a small receiver that could send be inserted in the ear canal without any stupid tubes, molds or external HA, this receiver would communicate with something bigger that is worn like a very nice bracelet or a watch and the later one is the thing that pick sounds and send wirelessly to the receiver, something like that, I do not think this is an impossible thing but the HA business is not profitable like cell phones, that’s why we do not get much invention (we hard of hearing people)
    2- the above receiver would wirelessly or by blutooth or whatever communicate with your phone, TV and everything else that can be paired with and is of excellent quality, no need for some additional bulky stupid neckloops, or some stupid hungers over the ears like the old aged Hatis or Music link crap

    B- more realistic (today acceptable) dream =
    Having a headset that is: Bluetooth enabled, worn as humanly as possible (not around the neck which looks like a dog tag or something, lol), may be worn as a ring or earring or a sleeve that fit part of the HA or whatever, this head set would communicate wirelessly (Bluetooth) with phones, MP3 and the like and achieve the following and I won’t give up any of them or accept less, lol:
    1- Excellent sound quality (I would accept the sound quality of Nokia loopset 3 and 4 (they will be discontinued as far as I know)
    2- No buzzing, no humming or any back or transference noise of any type is accepted
    3- People should hear you clearly and loudly and trust me this is MAJOR problem with many of the headset for hard of hearing people I have tried before like the junky CLA or whatever private label similar stuff out there, people could not hear me well and get very frustrated when I talk.
    4- Can hear my OWN voice, I have no idea why some headsets, bluetoothed, neck loops out there are not set in a way that you can hear your own voice, some people ask me why do you want to hear your own voice, well because I use my both HA on t-coil and when they are on that position I would normally can not hear my own voice but with an intelligent headset I would, of course I want to hear my own voice, I need to see how high or low it is so I can control it and not sound like I’m shouting or whispering , this function is extremely important and NO ONE out there could figure it out right but Nokia loopset that I tried several years back did excellent job, the problem with this loopset it could only fit some certain old crappy phones that are no longer sold in US, the connector is very weird looking (not 2.5 or 3.5 mm) and would only fit Nokia phones (older bulky ones).
    One more last thing for Karen: you should try the t-coil, you will have amazing experience, I think the quality of tcoils is different from brand to another, my old Oticon had excellent tcoil, the sound quality is a wow, the one I’m using now, Syncro is fine and very good but not as good as the older one, why????, It’s just so puzzling to me why would Oticon downgrade the Tcoil, we are almost in 2010 for the God sake, why would they go back in technology ? I wonder if we should form a group that can sit down together and design our own hearing aids and headsets ….. then take it to Oticon, Widex ….. and tell them to do it for us, why would we pay $$$$$ for some crap that is not even made with hard of hearing frustration and experience in mind!
    I have spent thousands of dollars on my ears, each hearing aid was between $3000-3500, each headsets, loopsets .. cost me between $150-300, what’s the heck, I no longer want to spend a penny on something that won’t work as an equipment of 2010, I will NOT accept some BS made out of a faded technology out of 1950 something.

  9. discpad says:

    @Karen:

    I just found this blog entry; and I have a LOT say about your experience so far — And a few comments about a couple of people who have posted replies.

    You had a Really Good blog post back in the spring on what you were looking for in your next pair of hearing aids — So good, in fact, that several professionals read it, looking for clues on how to improve their products.

    Before I continue in a follow-up, I want to say four things:

    1) There is no specific hearing aid manufacturer that has a corner on the market for all comers: For some, Oticon has the best model. Others, it may be a specific model from Phonak or Widex that will ultimately yield the highest speech scores (oh, and by the way, offer various conveniences to accomodate our hearing handicap;

    2) You’re probably a “Power Junkie” like many of us BTE users have become, as the plasticity of the brain has us craving more and more. This goes to the issue of instability (“feedback;” squealing) at the gain and power (“volume”) we need to function;

    3) We got an inkling of your desire for functionality over form when you talked about the paucity of the #10A battery vs the 4x-capacity #13:

    3A) First off, te larger the battery, the lower the internal impedence, hence the bigger the “punch” for when loud sounds come in and have to be reproduced (think distortion when it gets noisy);

    3B) The idea of thin tubing is a non-starter, unless you absolutely must have the acoustic modifications it will provide — And you can tolerate the frequent moisture clogs you will have. Been there, done that (in the early 1990’s as a dispensing engineer), and have the T-shirt;

    3C) You’re just about at the tipping point for flaunting your hardware, making a statement instead of hiding your ear gear. Check out the way my pal, star soccer player, 250cc MX racer and (upcoming) Wipeout! contestent Katie-louise Bailey makes her own statement flaunting her hardware on her excellent blog. [By the way, the picture of Katie-louise with the blue bottlecap is priceless!];

    4) Finally, we have previously exchanged private correspondence; and thankfully your deafness is not so crippling as to require the cochlear implant my girlfriend has had for the last 6 years, and I’ll be getting this winter. It could be much worse for you.

    Yours truly,
    Dan Schwartz
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    Dan@Snip.Net

  10. discpad says:

    Just for some fun, here are 3 websites that offer bling for hearing aids:
    Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms are quite nice, and ten year old Hayleigh actually has a patent on them!

    http://www.hayleighscherishedcharms.com

    Tube-Riders are fun for kids — Even this 40-something kid!

    http://www.otocool.com/Product_Catalog_01.htm

    But the we get into the eclectic with

    http://www.no-shame.nl

    where some of the designs are, ahem, odd.
    Click on the arrow in the lower right to see more photos.

    Dan Schwartz
    Cherry Hill, NJ

    • Dear Mr.Schwartz,

      Thank you for your nice words. I’m glad that you like my charms! I’ve really been working hard to create new kinds of charms to keep people excited about my business.

      Thank you again so very much,
      Hayleigh

  11. discpad says:

    @Karen:

    I’m behind in my work, but part of it has been looking through your thoughtful Oticon & Widex posts — And I sure am glad I saw them, as they have given me insight I haven’t seen (or can experience, because my deafness is so radically different than yours. FML).

    Anyway, I’ll pile it all into here; and reply back what you think of my analysis. Also, if you want to reply privately or just alert me you replied here, my email address is Dan@Snip.Net.

    OK, here goes:

    1) The problem with the tinny, light sound you got through your Oticon Streamer was due to (mis)programming in the instruments themselves, with too little gain and low frequency response, as you were listening through a program to maximize speechdiscrim (intelligibility) in light to heavy noise. Most likely, you would have needed a separate program (slot) just for DAI; with enough low frequency gain & power for a noise-free (BT) DAI experience;

    2) Another problem with poor BT DAI may be in your Mac’s OS itself: The Bluetooth stack may only be BT v1.1 or so, which is low fidelity monaural. Since I halted support of new Apple products after March 1996, I don’t know off the top of my head which Bluetoth stack is used in Leopard or even Snow Leopard; but I do know there was a problem in NT6 (Windows Vista), where a new Broadcom driver with A2HD stack had to be loaded to make the Epoq/Streamer combo work at full hi-fidelity stereo bandwidth.

    The fact that you get different sound quality between OS X & the iPhone points to a Bluetooth stack problem, either solely or in tandem with mis-programming.

    3) I am absolutely baffled why you have spent 40 hours with your “audiologist” so far, with two different HA trials with two different brands, especially at NY LHH — And doubly so if your instruments were set up in their state-of-the-art Listening Studio. My reply:

    4) FIRE YOUR AUDIOLOGIST. You’re paying a premium price for your instruments; and you’re not getting either the service or programming skill you’re shelling out your hard-earned dollars for;

    5) Get a trial of the Phonak Naida IX, preferably the beefier UP (though the smaller SP will work). IIRC, the SP’s can be had with RIC (a/k/a RITE, Receiver In Canal) receivers for extended high frequency response at the eardrum. BUT!

    6) Your audie is also a massive #FAIL because s/he is clueless on how (or in your case, even when) to fit a dome; or, in the case of the Epoq’s, even shoot a proper impression when there’s extensive temporomandibular joint (TMJ) action. There are special ear impression techniques, impression materials, and even trimming (or marking for trimming by the earmold lab) the impression &/or finished molds to compensate. This, along with trying to compensate by leaning on the anti-feedback control, completely explains why they sounded like a teakettle about to boil: The two poles in the response at ~2(pi)*2700 Hz (or 2(pi)*1800 Hz) are just about undamped, closing in on zero on the real axis. Whenever you move your jaw to talk or (especially) chew, the 2 poles move left & the anti-feedback circuit (algorithm) detects the impending instability & tries to damp the coming peak by pushing the poles back to the right.

    Here is a simple test Pull of your hearing aids, stick your pinkies in your ear past the first bend (go ahead, you won’t hit the TM because you can’t get them past the 2nd principle bend), and open wide & close your mouth; andrepeat except clench your teeth. Feel that motion on the front surface of the canal on your pinky tips? That, my dear, is TMJ action, and it varies widely from person to person. If the person taking the impression doesn’t check for it when taking the first set of impressions; or at least compensate for it when fitting, FIRE THAT PERSON;

    7) As a quarter-century wearer of (probably mostly, IIRC) BTE’s, you crave the gain & power, the “punch” only a BTE can deliver. In other words, the aids selected should have your audiogram nearer the top than the botton of the estimated “fitting range” manufacturers publish for each instrument. In addition, the various fitting “prescriptive method” options in the NOAH programming software (shared by all major HA mfr’s) will yield different values. In my experience, NAL-V is a bit better for adults while DSL-5 is a bit better for kids — But the fitter should try both, backed up by probe mic measurements to verify the gain & SPL targets in the prescriptions are being hit.

    So there you have it: We’ve both started wearing hearing aids about the same time; and we both have a lot of experience. You said you’re at the 95th percentile (though I might say even higher); but for some odd reason your audie is missing both the basics (ear impressions), advanced items (like BT; with the caveat it’s compounded in OS X), and in between (trial & error to hit the right settings).

    By the way, I’ve spent the better part of two hours replying to these Oticon & Widex posts on Thanksgiving night: It’s my way of saying Thank You for the time you’ve spent since spring detailing your journey.

  12. discpad says:

    Karen: As the late Billy Mays would say,

    But Wait… There’s More!:

    There is one other solution to your hearing impairment that your audie hasn’t told you about… Probably because s/he isn’t aware of this quiet but rapidly advancing technology that is, for the most part, almost entirely here:

    No, .NOT. cochlear implants that I need; but Fully implanted hearing aids.

    That’s right: There are, at present, no fewer than four implanted hearing aids available in the US. One, the MedEl Vibrant Soundbridge, is fully FDA approved. But, despite there being a (very good) inertial transducer that directly vibrates the stapes in the middle ear (i.e. no speaker), it still has an external part about the size of 2-3 stacked quarters on the outside. Because of this, you still have connectivity “issues” with things like Bluetooth & such, just like a BTE.

    The other three are fully implanted; but because they are in FDA clinical trials, and the US-based companies have to even scrub their websites to meet FDA regulations, you won’t see much on them. I’ll tell you about one that I know some things about; write back if you want more info & I’ll send it to you privately.

    The big advantage of a fully implanted hearing aid (besides cosmetics) is that because it’s on 24/7, because of brain plasticity, after a week or three, even you don’t know it’s there: You can’t feel it, you can’t “hear” it… It’s just “there.” Because all but the Soundbridge are FDA approved (hence covered by your medical insurance), you’ll have to pay for both the device and surgery — About $12k per ear. (And, like with any implanted device, you (pretty much) won’t be able to have an MRI any longer (save for a 0.3T or 0.4T low power MRI on your knee, with preparation). But, since you’re constantly on the phone and (trying to) use headsets, this option at about 3.5-4x the $7500 price of the Oticon or Widex hearings aids may just be the ticket for you.

    I got clued into the existence of one of the three, Envoy, by the founder of the company, fellow engineer & Silicon Valley mogul Ted Adams. He & his brother have over 200 patents on implanted electronics; and in 1996 he founded the company — In small part to benefit himself, his daughter, and his family. But, Ted also sold the company in 2001 & got his Advanced Bionics cochlear implant shortly thereafter — And his daughter June, seeing how well it worked, got hers 3 months later. [By a twist of fate, Ted was asked by my Advanced Bionics patient coordinator to become a Volunteer CI Mentor in the spring, since we are both hearing impaired EE’s formerly in the hearing aid business.] Ted is still in touch with the owners at Envoy; and the last thing they told me is battery life is up from 7 to now 9 years; so if you want to pursue this avenue, let me know and I’ll tell you more via email…~

    • Norm Johnson says:

      In reading Dan Schwartz’s comments on the Soundbridge, my first response is DON’T! I had a soundbridge implant installed 5 years ago (maybe 6?)before the originating company when bankrupt and was acquired by MedEl. Here are my thoughts: 1) Sound was comprable to an old time radio. Tinny. 2) External receiver is attached through the skin by magnet. Can make your head a little sore sometimes. Easy to knock off. …and brushing your hair? 3)does not help with the phone or using earbuds, etc. The pickup is behind and below your ear. I stopped using it after about 6 months and have been, like you, spending money on BTEs and ITEs for different environments. Like you, I am actively explorting Bluetooth options now. …..I strongly recommend to stay away from a surgical option as long as possible. I for one am looking forward to the day genetic enginering will regrow my hearing hair cells. Could happen!

      • @Karen: I’ll address Norm’s comments in a moment, but there are four implanted hearing aids, the Vibrant SoundBridge being just one. However, the one you should explore is the Envoy Esteem, now that it’s approved and on the market for unilateral fittings, with bilateral (binaural) implants going through clinical trials right now.

        The biggest problem with the two other implanted hearing aids in development (including the one Cochlear Corp bought is head noise due to the microphone being placed under the skin. This was solved by Ted Adams’ design attaching the microphone strut to the malleus, turning the eardrum into the microphone element.

        In addition, battery life is now up to nine years, if you use the remote to shut it off at night. Like other digital hearing aids, the Esteem has several programs that are configured by the audie.

        Again, since you’re on Facebook, my suggestion is to join the Envoy Esteem group where you can meet and talk to actual users; and read their stories — warts and all — in the Discussion tab area:

        http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=338950385300

        @Norm:

        1) Your cautionary tale tells me that your implant processor wasn’t programmed properly: What type of hearing loss do you have (flat, sloping, ski-slope)? Is otosclerosis or any other middle ear pathology involved?

        2) MedEl has plenty of money to support the SoundBridge now;

        3) Did you have yours explanted & the ossicular chain reconnected; or is the inertial transducer still in place?

        I did get to meet someone at the HLAA convention in Nashville this past June who has a Soundbridge, and didn’t report any issues. [That being said, I was on a “CI shopping trip” meeting with many dozens of users as well as Advanced Bionics, MedEl & Cochlear technical people.]

    • JOHN AJONYE says:

      I AM AN ADULT MALE FROM FROM NIGERIA AND HAV SEVERE TO PROFOUND HEARING LOSS ON BOTH EARS.AM JUST ABOUT TO ORDER A DIGITAL BTE HEARING FROM AUSTAR CHINA (IT COMES VERY CHEAP $208 ONLY PLUS SHIPPING COSTS)AM EAGER TO KNOW IF THERE ARE ANY TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE TO ENABLE ME USE A PHONE.I AM AN ARCHITECT AND WOULD REQUIRE LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALLS DEALING WITH MY EMPLOYER AND CLIENTS.
      I WILL GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY INFORMATION ON IMPLANTED HEARING AIDS.
      THANK YOU.

    • Bob Irwin says:

      Hi,
      My name is Bob Irwin, have been a hearing aid wearer for about 12 plus years now and have gone through about 4 sets of aids. I am currently using an over the ear Oticon agil Pro, they also have an ear mold with a reciever in them, I also bought all the Bluetooth bells an whistles but find them hard to use. The streamer is great but difficult for me to adjust to.
      To get to the point about a year ago I heard about Envoy Medical and there Esteem inplant,contacted them via the net, and they said they would send me some info and alert me to any seminars in my area. Well last week we attended one in the suburbs of Chgo. Needless to say I was extremely inpressed and have sense interviewed 3 people that have already had the procedure. One surprise was that all three had serious hearing loss yet only needed one implant. They all raved about its life changing results and close to being back to normal hearing.
      So Iam very seriously considering one and am in the process of testing to see if Iam a canidate.
      You mentioned some of it may gualify for insurance? I asked the guestion at the seminar but they didn’t think so.
      It’s a big number price wise so I want to do my home work. I didn’t even know that there were other companies out there doing the same thing till I read your comments.
      Would appreciate any info that you might have, Iam 74 in March and very active and other then price I have not heard any down side to Esteem.
      Thanks
      Bob- riirwin@netzero.net
      PS–They are now fully FDA approved!!! for a year now.

  13. Karen,

    I just got a note a couple days ago from Ted Adams: The Envoy Esteem will be getting FDA approval Any Day Now

    When you look at the competing implanted hearing aid designs, Envoy’s is the only one that doesn’t look like it would be plagued with head noises, due to them using the eardrum as the microphone element: It’s a brilliant mechanical design; and the electronics are so good, they are now getting 9 years out of the battery.

    If my own hearing wasn’t so shot & me getting a CI soon (I hope!) then I would get these.

    Cheers!
    Dan

    PS: Check out the Envoy UK website:

    http://www.envoymedical.co.uk

    Here is Ted Adams’ biography:

    http://www.it.umn.edu/news/inventing/2002_Fall/hearthis.html

    I’m damn lucky to have him as my CI Mentor!

  14. Now that the Envoy Esteem hearing implant has FDA approval, there is a Facebook group of users who are now allowed to write about their experiences in the clinical trials.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=338950385300

    With this, you would simply use your iPhone with any bluetooth headset, your iPod with any earbuds, and any other device just like a normal hearing person.

    Here is the Press Release on the Advisory Panel approval:

    http://www.envoy.us.com/FDA-Advisory-Panel-Votes-in-Favor-of-Approving-Esteem-The-Hearing-Implant.htm

  15. Steve Davis says:

    In the ear implants (HA) are not going to be the answer for people with a severe to profound hearing loss. Even with a mid-level hearing loss implants are not the answer. The reasons are simple.

    1. Cost – implants get throw away after a couple month = $$$$

    2. You can’t adjust the volume on a implant – it is preset

    3. Battery life will not be as strong at the end point of the implant HA

    4. Say good bye to swimming

    5. Does anyone want to go see a doctor 4 or 5 times a year to have an implant put in and taken out?

    6. I don’t see your standard audio handling HA implants – this type of aid will be out of their area of expertise.

    7. Do you really think something you throw away after three months is going to replace the power of a BTE – I doubt it

    8. What happens if you go to a concert, noisy resturant, etc., with an implant HA and can’t turn down your hearing aid volume. You could get blown out of your seat.

    Implants might serve a purpose for someone with a mild to medium loss of hearing, but lets be real. Implants are more for hiding a hearing aid, then actually hearing better. I don’t see any real power gain, just by moving an aid into your ear canal and I assume implants aids use extremely small batteries and not a size 13. On the other hand the battery must have some serious life span life to last 3 months or what ever the manufacturer claims.

    For now my feelings are that implanted hearing aids will be some what unreliable, very costly and very impractable for someone with a severe or profound haring loss. Stick with BTE.

    Just my two cents.

    • @ Steve: You are thinking of the Lyric peritympanic CIC (completely-in-canal) hearing aid, which is .NOT. “implanted” as you call it.

      http://www.LyricHearing.com

      These instruments are not for everybody, either from an audiologic or cost standpoint. That being said, Karen may indeed want to give one a try, though I’m not sure if the NY League for the Hard-of-Hearing where she goes dispenses them.

      Incidentally, I was the first hearing aid dispenser in Philadelphia to fit the Philips XP peritympanic hearing aid all the way back in 1992, including taking an 8 hour class on the special ear impression techniques required at the time. As I said above, peritympanic fittings are not for everyone: Many people simply can’t tolerate the fitting due to the location of the X facial nerve close to the surface; while others either have canals too small or other issues, namely dexterity.

      The reason peritympanic instruments work so well (when they work) is because the canal volume is so small, less gain and power is needed for a given hearing loss: The gain and power climb by 3dB each, every time the volume between the earpiece tip and eardrum is halved (this is why good dispensers & audies order extra-long canals on their earmolds for profoundly deaf and power junkies. Also, CIC instruments work well because the receiver nozzle is pointed straight at the eardrum, for extended high frequency response past 6kHz, all the way out past 10kHz.

      Lyric CIC hearing aids are disposible, replaced every 3 to 4 months, and sold on an annual subscription basis. And yes, they are water resistant, with a sealed micorphone, so they are OK in the shower and for swimming; though I would recommend molded swim plugs for watersports.

      @Karen: Not sure how well these would work for you; but it’s worth at least a try: Send a tweet to @LyricHearing to reach them quickly; and they’ll mail you an information package.

  16. Steve Davis says:

    I’m all for new technology and state of the art HA, if they work as promised. A lot of new HA do not meet customers needs. Personally I like Widex but plan to try others in the future. With that said my previous comments were directed towards implanted HA, (not CIC), since new HA implants will not be the answer for people with a serious hearing loss. Maybe down the road in 3 to 5 years we might see HA implants that can provide the power necessary for someone with a severe hearing loss, but not today. The key word you should be pushing is “hidden”, which does not necessarily equate to better hearing. And the idea of a throw away HA that just last two/three months, doesn’t cut it when it comes to my pocket book.

  17. Martha says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’ve enjoyed your blog, thank you. I’ve had hearing aids for only one year, so am by no means highly informed on this topic, but I can tell you what I have and how I like it! After some trial/error with other products, I settled on the Phonak Exelia BTE with custom ear molds. They’ve been absolutely wonderful — I love the multiple programs for differing listening environments (they are each working great!), the mute feature, and the sound quality. I experience no sound distortion, and the only feedback I experience is occasionally when someone (including me) whistles.

    As for accessories, I started with an iComm which Bluetoothed to my cell phone. It worked well and the sound quality was very good, but I hated wearing the iComm around my neck. I bought a Bluetooth adaptor for my iPod to send music through the iComm & then to the HAs, but the adaptor removed the ability to control sound volume on the iPod — that sucked. I find putting the ear buds over top of my ear molds (and tucking them under the tubes a bit) works sufficiently for now, but like you I wish for a better option.

    Even tho it worked well, I sent the iComm back because I just didn’t use it enough to justify the cost (and hated it around my neck). Today I got some new toys: (a) new “doors” put on my HAs with FM Receivers in them, (b) a Phonak ZoomLink+ as the transmitter; and (c) a Phonak KeyPilot2 remote control. I haven’t played with this new setup yet, but will soon!

    I work in litigation, so my main objective was to get something that had FM ability (for courtroom sound systems) and a portable transmitters for attending conferences, depositions, etc. Not sure if this all will do the trick, but am hopeful.

    I AGREE with you and other posters that manufacturers need to reel it in on pricing — good God! The markup must be obscene. Boomers will have high expectations for HA equipment, and they will expect affordability too.

    Bottom line is that I’ve been EXTREMELY satisfied with the Phonak Elexia HAs — it was such a relief to find something that feels like a natural extension of me … and not like some annoying gadget performing insufficiently.

    Best regards,
    Martha

  18. maurice schmir says:

    Superb, informative blog. Interesting – folks needing assistance with basic audio (read, hearing) are far saner than folks needing assistance with advanced audio (read, high-end audio systems). My problem spans both. Do you have any leads for a tinnitus sufferer in the 6-8K region with the associated loss? I imagine that somewhere out there is an open fit HA that can be tailored to a specific frequency bandwidth to allow augmentation of the frequency-deficient/tinnitus range. Am I dreaming?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Maurice

  19. Pam says:

    I currently wear Phonak Supero hearing aids (BTE). I was born with my hearing loss (nerve ending are dead). When I needed to replace my hearing aids 7-8 years ago, I had the BEST audiologist who worked with me for the better part of 6-9 months to find the right ones. What a process it was!!! The problem was the hearing aids… not her. I need to do this again, but have moved to another state and need to find somewhere new to go. I am dreading this. I would love to have bluetooth capabilities, etc. I now use closed-captioning, finding it more and more difficult in group settings, etc.

    Thank you for your comments on this post. I’m finding it filled with helpful information.

  20. trudi says:

    I have no idea how old your remarks are but I was wondering do you still have the Streamer from your Oticon hearing aids? I lost mine and was hoping to find one for less than a new one.

    • Karen McGrane says:

      I returned my Streamer when I returned the Epoqs. Looks like you can find used Streamers on Ebay.

  21. Karen, there’s been some new research data coming out from Jace Wolfe, at Hearts for Hearing, about Phonak Sound Recover nonlinear frequency compression being used for flat to sloping hearing losses like yours. In addition, they have Bluetooth with the iCom to set up a HABAN (Hearing Aid Body Area Network) for programming and BT use.

    Take a look at the Excelia Art, and the Naida V & IX models

    https://www.phonakpro.com/us/b2b/en/products.html

    There’s a (slightly misnamed) Facebook group where this is discussed:

    http://www.facebook.com/PhonakPediatric

    Hope this helps!
    Dan

  22. Pam says:

    Hi Dan,
    I was in Northern CA (Rocklin/Roseville, CA) and moved up to WA, about 25 miles east of Seattle.

  23. Steve Davis says:

    Anyone here try a close dome versus the standard custom ear plug that takes a week to make? I’ve been ruled out for an open dome, but told I could possibly use a closed dome which is thicker. I’m still thinking that will my severe hearing loss, hearing aid domes are not going to cut it.

    Also anyone experience an echo, when you first tried closed domes? Supposedly this last for a couple weeks (echo) and then goes away. Not sure I buy that line of thinking since why would an echo sound suddenly disappear a month after use?

  24. I cant refuse that Widex has the best hearing aid, even from Malaysia…

    Both my granpa and uncle are using 440 for almost 2 years now with no problem at all.

    Simon

  25. Klaus Baslau says:

    I am trying out the new Widex Clear since a couple of weeks. New technology
    (according to brochure) includes radio link between both aids (and optional remote control), parallel processing of frequency bands, transposing of freuqency band beyond 8 kHz to a lower (audible) range and speaker in the canal. Speaker (piezo-electric? transducer, no information given) in ear is a real bonus as you can use phones and headphones without Larsen.
    Sound quality is superior to my GNs, but directivity still not fully satisfying and probably needing further tweaking. May have to go to custom-molded domes for best result.

    Found your blog most helpful, especially helped me understand to seek out the best available audiologist. Thanks to all participants and hopefully someone will find my contribution useful.

    • Steve Davis says:

      Let us know how the Widex Clear works out. My understanding was that Widex would offer this new aid in late October. I also understand that for now there is no BTE aid from Widex that has Widex Clear features. I hoping in early 2011 Widex come out with a BTE HA that has Bluetooth integration that can be used with phones, tv, etc.

  26. Just got the demo model Widex Mind 440. Sounds seem too coarse. The Oticon Agil Pro that I just turned in squealed like a pig at almost any time they felt like it.
    I have also had the Starkey S series iQ, could not get the power up on these.
    The Starkey S 50 has been the best but the long mike end hurt my ears.
    Has anyone had any luck with the Phonak Excelia Art or the GNR Resound?
    I lost my hearing in a shooting accident at age 69. Kind of sucks when one had decent hearing most of their life. Do all HA sound like you are talking in a 5 gal. bucket? Is that the nature of the beast?

  27. Karen, ask to try the Clear 440 when it arrives, it wil be available in every flavour and should meet your needs for clarity. It is also the first Widex instrument to have wireless connectivity, the connection to bluetooth devices is actually a by product of the underlying strategy that the wireless link was designed for, but perhaps a happy by product. I am sorry to hear the issues that you had with the Mind, I hope that the Clear will be a better solution meeting your needs.

  28. John, TN, USA says:

    I recently got the Mind 440 CIC’s. Had them about 10 days now, This is my third set. 1. Widex Senso; 2. Siemens (junk); and now these. The Mind 440’s are awesome!

    I got the remote control, With the different modes it is necessary imho. Mine has Standard, TV, Music, and Comfort. Std is voice focused, TV seems to up the hi and lows, music is flat response, and comfort seems to kill the hi and lows.

    I was in Logan’s restaurant with their LOUD music. I tried the comfort setting. It muted the music to a low thump, and I was able to hear conversations at my table (I was impressed!)

    I believe this is the best I’ve ever heard since starting with HA’s.

    The batteries on my Siemens lasted for about 4 days (10’s), so far these have been lasting 7 days. I was told that should increase when they turn logging off.

    I am a praise singer in my church and I was very impressed with how they worked there today. It was like normal hearing, what more can I say :)

    An extremely positive for me so far :)

    John

    • Karen McGrane says:

      Other people’s experience may differ, but my observation has been that Widex is far superior to other brands in terms of noise suppression. I am amazed at how well I am able to get by in noisy settings like restaurants or conferences. In very noisy environments people often comment that I can hear better than they can!

    • Steven79,TN,USA says:

      Hey,John,TN,I’m in TN. also.I have had the widex Senso’s for eight years.And now trying out the Phonak Naida ix.And not happy with them.Like they say,sounds like you are talking into a five gallon can.Or I’m just too spoiled of the widex clarity?Could you let me know who is your Audi.is?I’m near Nashville.TN.
      Hope your new Mind 440’s con’t working well for you John.Thanks for the Information.

      Steven.

      • John, TN, USA says:

        Stephen,

        I drove to Knoxsville for mine. An extremely positive experience for me.

        I couldn’t ask for better service, Family Hearing Center.

        Still love the Mind 440’s, even better than the Senso :)

        John

  29. Terry says:

    I just took Mom last Thursday in for a checkup on her hearing because I and others had the feeling she wasn’t hearing so well. We went to Avada Audiology & Hearing.They said she was hearing at about 40% so we proceed with the fitting for hearing aids.What we are signed up for goes in the ears and is 100% digital, they replace batteries for life, & a 2 yr factory warranty- 1 yr L S & D $200/deduct, life Avada Advatage -12 step customer care plan-standard plan-all this for $3990 financed for $95/month for 60 months. Mothers income is only $740 a month and she has medicare and medicaid. They told me neither of these help with the cost.
    I guess this is a good deal- but don’t know-but still am checking about NC medicaid.

  30. Bill says:

    This entire page is scary to me!
    HAs are expensive, there seems to be no standard price, e.g. for widex or siemens, services vary, dispensers vary, and results vary widely… far too many disasters. Upkeep costs and loss of service vary widely. It seems that if we were talking cars here, most vehicles would have no repeat sales. This whole thing about buying an HA, finding it does not work, then being stuck with it really seems unethical. the entire industry needs to be regulated to protect consumers. That’s what I get from this page.

    • J. Morrison says:

      Here, here, (Hear, hear) Bill. I agree with you fully.
      A few years ago I was told me I was at a point that I should consider HA’s. Three years later….I know it is necessary.
      I am trying to educate myself prior to an appointment and I am getting more confused and disappointed reading the forums on what is offered to hearing impaired persons.
      And silly me, all I thought was I would research the language. Now I find out I have to further my research to include Bluetooth’s etc. technology that is prevalent in today’s world and enroll in a few specialized courses.
      Scary…do they still sell bull horns. ;-)

  31. Will Cronyn says:

    I agree 117% with Bill. I am having to get my 2nd pair of HA. Ever since microprocessors were imbedded in HA, the vendors have been able to make the most outrageous, untestable claims about the performance of their HA because of their own “vastly superior” audio processing algorithms. Why don’t the audiologists equip their listening booths with speakers which broadcast standardized noise and background conversation, then converse with customers (or, better, have standardized levels of sounds and conversation which could be scored) so that customers can evaluate the “noise-reducing” and directional performance of the HA? BTW, has anybody ever seen a Consumers Report article testing the veracity of the claims of HA vendors? I am an engineer, and like many others in my profession I am angry about the untestable performance claims made by HA vendors. Again, they would not be untestable if audiologists had booths in which a customer could have performance in a noisy environment measured quantitatively, just as audiograms quantitatively measure hearing loss in a benign environment. And of course heaven forbid that a customer be able to compare, side-by-side, in a standardized environment, two or more different HA.

    • Geoff Cooling says:

      Will, any claims that Widex make are backed by laboratory research undertaken by Orca. Several papers are published yearly pertaining to features and strategies used by Widex by people such as Francis Kuk and Robert Sweetow. It was accepted up until recently that noise reduction strategies did not help the signal to noise ratio, that only directionality assisted in noisy situations, however, two years ago Widex released a new noise strategy that has been proven to alter signal to noise ratio by itself. This is a first for the hearing aid industry although I believe Unitron are about to release a paper detailing the same for their new noise reduction strategy.

      All of theses studies however, are undertaken in laboratory conditions, whilst care is taken to ensure the testing conditions are as true life as possible, they are laboratory conditions. It is harder for us to assess how the strategies work in the real world, whilst Patient feedback is a good thing, it is not really empirical data. I would advise you to ask around, word of mouth is a fantastic thing, but again hearing is a subjective sense, something that works for one Patient may not work for another. The best suggestion I would have is that you make the demands of your retailer that would make you comfortable to make a purchasing decision. In finishing, I can honestly say, that Widex does not make any claims that can not be thoroughly backed up by research papers and studies. If you have any queries or indeed requests for study papers, please do not hesitate to contact me, I hope you find this helpful in some way.

  32. Austin says:

    I 34 and am looking for my first ever hearing aid in one ear only and am having trouble deciding on Widex Passion 440 or Inteo, Phonak Audeo 5 or 9 or Oticon Dual Mini. Any advice? Thank you.

    • Popcorn says:

      Just had the most awful experience with Unitron Latitude monaural CIC – nothing by echoes; the vent hole has been made so large that one could squeeze 3 match heads inside, yet still no end to the echo. Previous aid still much better Widex senso diva CIC and the new one is meant to have much better technology. I’ve been told my loss is such that should I opt to return to Widex, I have no room for further loss. Can anyone help? Thank you! My hearing loss is
      125 –
      250 65
      500 60
      750 —
      1000 55
      1500 —
      2000 55
      3000 55
      4000 50
      6000 40
      8000 45

      • Kathy says:

        Popcorn, Try plugging the vents! Ear molds are such a pain to get right. But once they are right, I hear! Your hearing aid specialist should know this and experiment with you. The molds are made by humans and often error.

    • Kathy says:

      Austin, please check around and find a hearing aid specialist that is willing to work with you. One who loves their job, has time for multiple appointments to adjust and fine tune your aid to your comfort and also one you feel comfortable working with. It is a whole new ballgame losing one’s hearing. You are lucky that technology has come a long way in the last 10 years.
      That said, it has been 2 1/2 months since you posted here. I just read it. Did you decide?
      Best of luck.

  33. steve davis says:

    Anyone have any thoughts regarding Widex’s new hearing aid (Clear Fusion) model? First HA I have seen that offers someone with a profound hearing loss a aid with small housing, thin wire tubing and RIC or CIC. Size 312 battery is a big plus over size 10 battery. Not sure I buy the claim the aid will work for mild to severe to profound hearing loss, but time will tell.

    From what I’m reading on Internet the (Clear 440) Fusion will replace Mind and Passion hearing aids, whis is some what of a shock since both the Mind and Fusion are fairly new on the market. Also my assumption is the FDA is holding up the sale of Widex Fusion in the U.S. for further (safety) testing, but I could be wrong.

    Looks like Widex is tryig to offer stronger more versatile HA’s, in a smaller package. I would be interested to read on this link of anyone who has been fitted with a new Widex Fusion aid and what results they received. See link below for info on Fusion.

    http://www.digitalhearingcare.org.uk/blog/index.php/tag/widex/

    • Steve the Fusion is not a replacement for the Passion. It is a RIC device that can be used with three different receivers covering moderate to profound losses.

      It was designed by Widex for versatility, it has a program button and also an onboard telecoil. Something that Widex RICs lacked up to now. It is a quite small device that gives choice to Patients.

      Market feedback is excellent so far, particularly with existing users that have switched over. I have fitted many at this stage in my fitting support function and have had few issues with almost a 99% stick rate. That is quite high even for Widex instruments.

      I work for Widex in a sales & support function. So don’t trust me! :) If you search the web forums you will get a good idea of the efficacy of the instruments.

      • steve davis says:

        Yes I have searched the web and there is very limited info regarding the Fusion, since its so new. So when is the Fusion going to be offered in the U.S.? Certainly someone who works for Widex in sales and support can answer that simple question?

    • steve davis says:

      I have nothing against our friends on the other side of the pond, especially since you all have access to Widex’s new Fusion. But I’m not flying to Ireland to buy my next Widex HA. So in the future try reading a post before you reply since the question was, “when does Widex offer the Fusion in the U.S.”? Right now the Fusion is not offered in the states and the clock is ticking.

  34. Kathy says:

    Spent $200 this week for special earmolds just to try out the Seimens Tek. Anyone heard of these? Bluetooth, RIC and HA specialist says they go up to 70 not 60 like the Widex newest that still doesn’t offer Bluetooth. Not sure what 70 and 60 mean, but I know I am in the profound/severe range.

  35. Dan Siegle says:

    A Winner for me. I’ve had the Widex 440 Clear Fusion for about 2 months now. I’ve needed hearing aids for about 10 years and been thru 3 different sets before the Widex. Quick review: Excellent BUT Expensive! Small behind ear with wire to speaker in the ear. Not noticable in almost all situations. 312 Battery lasts about a week…maybe a few days more and gives you a short verbal warning if low. Separate program device I personally like – but the hearing aids have a button to switch programs but not volume like the separate device. Fit will not be an issue but programing is critical with an audiologist. I have very poor high end as well as low end hearing difficulty. Bottom line is that I can understand conversations now even in fairly noisy envirnments that I couldn’t understand with previous aids. Okay, but not in VERY noisy envirnments where everyone is screaming. There is a program included to reduce backgound noise. I’m happy with them. Sound also seems to me to be very natural. Give them a try if you are looking for a new hearing aid. Email me if you have any questions: DanceEagle@AOL.com

  36. Robert says:

    Has anyone experienced problems with the Widex clear fusion? One of them now seems to have problem with blaring or buzzing on some sounds, including my own voice if I speak loudly enough. I guess distortion would be better to describe than buzzing, like a fuzziness when I speak or someone else or the TV sounds are on etc. It sounds like cheap headphones which are broken, not a $2500 hearing instrument.

    Of course the companies have no useful troubleshooting options. I appreciate any advice. Have been trialing only for three weeks so these are virtually new.

    • Steve Davis says:

      I tried the Widex Fusion back in September of 2011. I returned the aids after trial period.. Here are the good and bad points of the HA.

      Good

      Great back ground program for noisey areas. For once I could finally hear in a noisey restaurant, party, congested area with lots of back ground noise.

      The Dex or control hand unit was small and a pleasure to use. You can pop the small control unit in your pocket and use it without anyone noticing.

      Bad

      Feedback that I couldn’t hear but other people with normal hearing could hear. This happend when I was moving my jaw, eating, yawning.

      Rite might not work well, especailly if you require the larger receiver in the ear mold. From what I have read Widex (and possibly) other HA manufacturers have serioius fedback issues with Rite. I was using a custom ear mold which was supposed to take care of the feedback problem. It did not.

      Ear mold color. You would think Widex would make all kinds of ear molds and colors in a custom setting. They do not for the Fusion and only offer a beige or ugly off white color (was told this was clear).. Both very noticeable. No clear molds, which I assume is due to the receiver in the mould. Odd how HA manufacturers always pump the color of the HA unit that no one sees due to hair covering it up. But the HA mould wich is quite noticeable (and is not offered in clear mold) or reset further back into outer ear has limits options. Moulds are are quite obvious..

      Widex just came out with a Supper440 that is for those with severe to profund hearing loss, but I wonder if this new HA is just a Fusion in sheep’s clothing with also feedback problems. Look forward to reading comments on Super440 aid (pro and con).

  37. Laura says:

    I will be getting a Widex Super 440 SP soon, after I take back the Phonak Naida V SP which was a total flop for me (I hate that hearing aid with every fiber of my being)… So hopefully the Widex Super 440 SP will meet my needs better. :)

    • Leslie says:

      @laura,
      How did the super 440 do for u?? I,too,have a profound loss and my audio thinks these will help me??
      Would love to know ur thoughts &experience?? U can email me,lhuntr49@aol.com.
      Regards,
      Leslie

      • Laura B. says:

        The Super 440 SP was a flop for me. :( What I loved about the Super 440 was the clarity in the high frequency range. It was absolutely fantastic however it was not powerful enough. Even maxxed out on volume control and programming, I was straining to hear people’s voices. I wish there was a hearing aid that combined the clarity of the Widex Super 440 and the power of Phonak Naida V SP. I ended up going with Siemens Nitro 710 SP. :)

    • Thomas Armour says:

      Hi Laura
      Wonder have you got completed with the Widex yet?

      I live in UK and have for many years used h aids supplied free by our Health service,mainly Siemens.
      At present I have on loan a widex m4-9.not from health service! I am most impressed with it but wonder if it is the same as you are now trying,how have you found the 440sp is really better than the equipment you have? My hearing-without h aids – I know people are talking but I am unable to understand a single word.
      I would appreciate your comments and will be quite happy for you to have my mail address my Skype is ARM987

  38. Mohamed says:

    To your reader who had eczema. I had the same problem. I used a medicated shampoo from the chemist, and it has cleared up. I bought the one that can be used daily. The chemist said that you need the doctor to prescribe a stronger shampoo if this did not work.
    Hope this helps

  39. Artie says:

    I HAVE BEEN WEARING HA FOR 40 YEARS OR SO AND HAVE HAD SEVERAL BRANDS ZEINTH IN GLASSES, PHONAK WITH REMOTE CONTROL ETC, I AM NOW USING THE WIDEX BTE FUSION WITH THE M DEX REMOTE AND HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE SATISFIED!!!! THANKS TO THE SUPERIOR GUIDANCE AND FIT FROM MY AUDIOLOGIST. REALIZING THE FIT OF THE MOLD IS PROBABLY 3/4 OF FEEDBACK PROBLEM MY MOLDS ARE FITTED CORRECTLY AND IF NEED BE CHANGED AS THE EAR ITSELF WOULD CHANGE AS AGE CREAPS UP. THE ADJUSTMENTS MADE IN THE HA ITSELF ARE CERTAINLY CRITICAL AND IF DONE BY THE RIGHT AUDIOLOGIST ARE CERTAIN TO HELP WITH FEEDBACK. THE COMFORT OF THE WIRE TO THE RECIEVER IS A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE COMFORT OF THE HA AS OPPOSED TO THE PLASTIC TUBING OF MY PRIOR AIDS!!!!

  40. Brian says:

    I’ve fit many hearing aids. Sounds like you have a significant loss if they recommend molds for feedback. Is your lows below 35db and your highs below 50db? I would have tried the Agil Pro by Oticon with power domes just to see how it worked out on clarity and if it sounded too scratchy or tinny move into a power speaker which tones it down by itself. I only add the streamer for people who cant get around on their own. Good luck to you

  41. Rob says:

    Karen,

    Recently I developed Tinitus. I have constant wind rushing through my brain. At the same time I lost a substantial part of my hearing. Sounds became very dull and muted, and words started to become jumbled.

    I saw a specialist who sent me for an MRI of the brain. It confirmed no damage or tumors and It was suggested I buy Hearing Aids, preferably with a “Zen” program for the tinitus. My sound test indicated moderate to moderately sever hearing loss on the right side of the graph.

    The volume level for the master program (Widex Fusion 440) is set at three (out of four) and I have a zen program that provides a sort of crackling sound as opposed to the zen music. They set up a music channel and a comfort channel. The comfort level is used in close quarters, like a car so that the voice I hear is not too loud. The Music Channel kind of takes away the shrill sound I hear in songs (almost like a torn speaker).

    I have some problems though. The first is that when I am in a place like a supermarket the background noise is overwhelming. The other is that music just doesn’t sound like music.Sometimes my own voice sounds too loud and I still have trouble understanding television shows where there is quick talking. Documentaries and narratives and the news come in perfectly.

    Do you have any suggestions regarding the high level of background noise and the shrill sound of music, both voices and instruments?

    • Karen McGrane says:

      I’m not an expert in fitting your aids, but it sounds like you should go back to your audiologist with these problems. I have worn Widex aids for about 10 years now, and I find that their noise reduction programs are better than other brands. The shrill sound of music and voices may be because you are hearing sounds at the high end that you were previously unable to hear. I also have a lot of trouble hearing TV shows and I watch everything with captions.

  42. Val Jackson says:

    I have an Oticon Epoq about 3. 5 years old. Worked perfectly with well fitting custom ear molds. I have had no problem with feedback. Christmas day it turned itself off. Audiologist put in a new speaker. no charge. Died again a few weeks later. Actually it didn’t die completely but turns itself off and on multiple times a day (with the little songs) then another day it works all day. It also has crackling sounds which seem to have nothing to do with feedback (when it is both off and on). It has been back to the manufacturer three times for repair and each time they say it is fixed but within a day, it happens again. I have not been able to find anything on the internet about such a problem. Has anyone had this happen to theirs? I hope I am not going to have to buy a new HA.

    • Karen McGrane says:

      When that happens to me, the problem is usually moisture. I have to send them back to the manufacturer for cleaning, but that resolves the problem.

      Typically I buy new aids every 3 to 5 years.

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