I’ve had my Resound Azures for almost two months and I thought I would post a note with some thoughts about the performance of these hearing aids. I haven’t seen too many detailed posts about this model and I thought a few people on this board might find my comments helpful.
I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about 5 years and I’ve tried a number of different brands to correct what is mostly a high frequency hearing loss. I’ve tried a bunch of hearing aids over the years but I seem to keep coming back to GN Resound products because the sound clarity has always been top notch. Last year I was due to replace my GN Resound Airs (Insurance pays every 3 years) and my audiologist recommended the Resound Pixel CICs. I tried these aids out for a number of months and I was extremely pleased with the sound clarity. The big issue I had was that I couldn’t really get used to the occlusion (as I was spoiled by the open fitting Resound Airs) and while the noise reduction was adequate, I was still having issues during lunch meetings in noisy restaurants. My audiologist recommended trading up to the new Azures and all I can say is WOW!!!
The mini BTE Azures are a tiny bit bigger than my old Resound Airs but the quality of sound, directionality and noise reduction capabilities are phenomenal. I ended up getting the aids in a cool flat black color and with my dark brown hair, they are hard to notice.
This is the first hearing aid that I have every owned that has the ability to deal with the noisiest of restaurants. When I flip over to the restaurant setting on the aids, the ambient noise drops way down and I honestly think that I can now hear people at the table much better than people with normal hearing. I’m not sure what they have done with the noise reduction capabilities of this hearing aid but it is remarkably better than any of my previous hearing aids. I’m no longer worried when people invite me out lunch meetings because I can participate like a normal person in the conversation. This is a big relief given that restaurants are the ultimate torture test for hearing aid users.
One of the coolest features of this aid is the new Bluetooth headset that I ordered as an extra option. The Bluetooth headset clips onto the bottom of either hearing aid and turns your hearing aid into a cell phone headset through a direct digital connection. The way it works is that it stays turned off while connected and your hearing aid just acts like a normal hearing aid. When your cell phone rings, you hear a ringing sound in the hearing aid and you can answer the call by either pushing a button on the headset or by answering the call from the phone. Once you answer the call, the hearing aid automatically turns off the external mikes and turns on the cell phone mike. When you hang up the call, the headset automatically turns off and the hearing aid turns back on. Very cool. This is way better than a telecoil solution and the whole thing looks like you are wearing a bluetooth headset when its connected. The cell phone feature takes up one of the four program slots but this allows you to create custom hearing aid settings for cell phone use. This accessory was double the price of a regular bluetooth headset but it was way cheaper than purchasing a solution like the Streamer. Its a very good solution for those people who have to talk a lot on cell phones. I still use my telecoil setting when I’m not wearing the headset but the nicest thing about the headset is that you don’t get the interference that is typical of telecoils.
Other things that I really like about these hearing aids is GN’s “Natural Directionality” feature. This is a cool idea where the mikes on both hearing aids are set differently to give you more directional capabilities. i don’t know how it works but after two months I can honest say that I can tell which elevator is arriving when I hear the elevator arrival bell in a big building. Perhaps someone on the board can explain this a bit better. The hearing aids take a bigger battery and I seem to be getting about 2 weeks or more on a set. This is great because I don’t have to bother taking batteries everywhere. My old hearing aids took a number 10 battery and they ran out every 3-4 days. 2 weeks is a huge improvement.
So my overall conclusion is that the Azures are worth the money. Yes…they were very expensive but the improved noise reduction, bluetooth headset and directional capabilities makes them worth it. I will say that I watched the audiologist set them up and the number of settings and adjustment process seemed complex. These hearing aids need to be fitted by someone who really knows the ins and outs of the multitude of software settings for these aids and trying to fit them through a mail order supplier would be quite the waste of time. My audiologist took me through all the various settings and explained the nuisances between these settings in detail. After the initial setup, we fine tuned the settings through a number of visits and in some cases, I tried out some of the optional settings for a few days at a time to see if I liked the changes. I don’t see how I could have gone through this process without having access to a local expert. It wouldn’t surprise me if some customers end up going with less complex/cheaper aids than the Azures because their audiologist doesn’t know how to properly adjust the aids or doesn’t want to take the time to take customers through a lengthy trial and error process.
I’m quite happy and I would strongly recommend the Azures to anyone who fits the profile of the product and wants a bluetooth solution for their cell phone. At the end of the day, all I really care about is the quality/clarity of sound in many listening situations and this product delivers the best performance I’ve seen in very challenging listening environments. The only bad thing I can say about them is that I still haven’t figured out a good solution for listening to my iPod and I still find BTE aids a nuisance with glasses. I hate the feeling of having multiple things hanging off my ears…
Let me know if you have any questions. I was thinking of posting some pictures of the bluetooth headset so that you could all see what it looks like. Let me know if you are interested in seeing some pictures.