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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.