Beginner at this

#1

Seems like irony that someone in their middle 70s would be a beginner at anything but here I am. My hearing has become a frustration for me and I am sure worse for the people I talk with. So I start my search like a true rookie with little knowledge trying to gather information that challenges like this (who knew) usually require. I spent about 15 minutes reading a few items from Dr Google and decided my local ENT doctors will simply perform the service for which they are well paid. My local ENT group (The jolly green giant) probably controls 80% plus of the eye, ear, nose, and throat business here and I have used them happily for my eyes for 25+ years. Without going thur a long story I saw the MD - took the hearing test- saw the MD again - was sent to the audi (the person who sells the HA). She ask a few questions (like 4 or 5) and then handed me something that looked like a contract and said I needed a $3800 hearing aid. There was NO DISCUSSION about brand, model, or what this $3800 was suppose to do for me. To be VERY polite, this entire process was far too “casual”. The “examination- test -exam again -sales” gave me NO IDEA what had happened or what was to happen next other than my purchase of a HA. Everyone that saw my paperwork seemed to be happy that my insurance would pay the 1st $2500 and I suppose everyone was sure I was going to buy from them. Much of this may have been my fault since I had no idea what to expect or ask.

Step 2:
I go home and spend some serious time with Dr Google and discover there are a lot of professionals in the HA business that are not so professional and it would be my job to uncover which was which and choose whats best for me. After a few days of this I make a small mistake and visited a local hearing office and had two strokes of luck. She had an appointment cancel about the time I walked in and she was a professional that I took seriously. Although her prices seemed very high but I latter i discovered they were not that bad. She spent about 45 minutes with me as her student and I did manage to assemble enough information to direct my research to help me make a semi-informed decision. I plan to go to her office and pay her $40 for her time - it is and was greatly appreciated.

Step 3: choosing a hearing aid and where to purchase

My 1st question ended up being “what do I want a hearing aid to do” since there always seems to be a compromise: (seems like I am getting a little smarter)

1- talking on the phone
2- Watch TV
3- hearing in moderately noisy environment
4- ease of use (hopefully idiot proof)
5- quality of sound

There are other considerations but these are the things most important to me. Now, how do I decide who to buy from and slightly more important what to buy. Back to Dr Google – and careful review of the features “claimed” by the mfg and do they actually work as advertised. I have an extensive marketing background that includes doing business with the largest retailers in the US and much of this was as owner of my company for the last 40+ years. The marketing approach of making it difficult to compare products has been in practice for many years and by a lot more companies than you realize. I found it a simple task to narrow my selection to three models and now I need to find a reliable source that not only will perform the set up task and service when needed and at at a good price. I quickly eliminated the “internet” choices.
Over the years I have discovered that when someone is trying to sell me something they will almost always talk down one of their competitors or products. (there are a lot of techniques to help that along) When ALL of them bring up one company - it is time to take a good look at that “good for nothing low life crooks at XYZ company”. I made my decision- The Phonak Marvel m90 - time to buy

Step 4: Costco - too much savings not to look

I called and made an appointment for a hearing test and even stopped at the Costco hearing aid center and picked up some brochures to study before my hearing test. I studied a lot for this test- just kidding sort of but I was not expecting very much from Costco other than a chance to save a lot of money.

BOY- was I wrong. Everything and I mean everything was done at a professional level. The hearing test was FAR MORE IN DEPTH that the EMT doctors and explanations of everything that the test covered and questions about “what was important” to me. All the good thing about “what to look for” that I found on the internet were being covered here in a extensive session that left no questions unanswered. The audi programed a Phonax Brio 3 and gave it to me to wear around the store while my bride shopped. This was AFTER I told her I was not buying the Brio3 but I wanted to wait until Costco had the Marvel m90 version with the dual android phone feature. My projection would be about 45 days but she felt less. We dont know the model number and which feature (or 2) would not be on the Costco model but I think it will be VERY close to the Marvel m90 at a savings of around $5000. Yes I know I could buy something (Brio3) and take it back when the new model comes out but I dont think that is an ethical way to do business. Understand I was in business for more than 35 years so I see the view from both sides of the counter

Any suggestion about HA that work well with my desired features would be welcome

I

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#2

It is more accepted than you might think.

It sounds like you are off to a good start. I have the phonak brio 3 and very happy with it. That is Costco’s name for it. The regular name is is Phonak Audeo B90 312T. They also have the rechargeable and the Direct model, but if you are interested in that I would wait for the Marvel. I have the bluetooth device, the Compilot 2, and that completely satisfies my connectivity needs.

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#3

Go buy your self a set of IQbudBoost and have them adjusted as best possible - spend the money to have a REM to know how well you get a fit to your actual hearing loss and then learn how to use the iPhone link to tailor the hearing in different environments such as understanding someone on your right or your left or more so in front of you and TV, Movie or Church or a conference. When you have mastered how to improve sound then go get your real hearing aids. You did not say anything about what frequencies your ears do not hear and you did not say anything about how much your loss is or if your two ears have about the same loss or one is much worse than the other one. Go listen to Doctor Cliff AUD’s youTube videos to educate yourself.

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#4

I think you have things sized up pretty well. What would be really helpful is if you would update your audiogram here so we could see what kind of loss you are dealing with. That is probably the most important single factor in deciding what you need for a HA. It will determine if you have an easy correction, or a tough one. If you click on my avatar you will see my loss. The right ear has turned out to be what I would call an easy correction, and the left one difficult.

Due to the difficulty you spoke well about in that manufacturers do not want buyers to comparison shop, I have not done my typical in depth spreadsheet comparison of options for HA’s. I have an electrical engineer friend who got into hearing aids much earlier than me, and pointed me to Costco. What I have found is that the Costco KS8 which is nearly identical to the Signia 7Nx hearing aid is top of the line in the Signia and Rexton world. When you look at the features it has, it is difficult to find something better with a name brand on it at Costco. That link is one of the best ones I have seen identifying what a specific hearing aid really can do. I am not a fan of rechargeable batteries and want a model with the 312 battery, or perhaps if necessary the 13 size. In any case my search ended with the Kirkland Signature 8.0.

With respect to your priorities here is how the KS8 measures up:

1- talking on the phone - The KS8 has a xPhone feature which direct a landline phone speaker to both ears instead of just one. It does help with audibility. The downside is that it is awkward to turn on as it requires a program change. I have found that if I hold the phone with the speaker over my HA I can hear quite well, so the trouble of using xPhone seems not worth it. The KS8 is MFi or made for iPhone, and that is by far the best way to talk on the phone. The iPhone sends the incoming audio wirelessly to both ears. You can adjust the volume with the iPhone. The fitting software also has a feature where the microphone volume can be turned down, and the equalization for streaming adjusted.

2- Watch TV - Others seem to gravitate to a streaming connection for the TV. I have found with my HA correction I can enjoy TV sound just fine without anything extra. I occasionally use the microphone focus for the Automatic program to narrow the beam to reduce other sounds in the house. However, for most times, I just leave it on Auto.

3- hearing in moderately noisy environment - I believe this is the most difficult requirement. The KS8 has a Noise/Party mode which helps. It suppresses background noise while identifying and focusing on what it identifies as people you want to hear. It is not perfect, but it helps. The KS8 can also be trained to recognize your own voice, that adjust your HA for a conversation.

4- ease of use (hopefully idiot proof) - I find more and more, I am just leaving it on Automatic mode, but use the iPhone to adjust it if necessary. About the only time I use the buttons on the HA itself is to mute them with a long hold when I just want them off. A long hold turns them back on again.

5- quality of sound - Virtually all HA’s max out about 10 kHz, and if you have high frequency hearing loss you are not going to hear above that anyway, and may be lucky to get to 6 kHz. My experience in sound quality has been to reduce feedback. That is more of a fitting issue than a HA issue. My learning to date is that if feedback is going to be an issue then you may as well get custom molds done sooner rather than later. Some get away with off the shelf domes and sleeves, but others do not.

Hope that helps some. If I can leave you with one thing it is that bells and whistles do not make a good hearing aid. It is the fitting that makes them work or not work. Just my thoughts…

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#5

Don, this is not an answer to fermis, but I’ve been trying to find out this question. I have the Phonak Audeo B90 312 too for trial. Does yours have that switch below the program button? If so, do you use it and like it? I’ve found it doesn’t really do much and the audi can disconnect it. If he did disconnect it would it make the sound clarity better or not?

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#6

I think sometimes it’s easy to over think things.

I’m fortunate that I’m in the UK and get ‘free’ HAs on the NHS that are of good quality, although not the absolute latest models.

I’d perhaps generally look at cost vs benefit and also go with your gut in terms of ‘service’.

To be fair, Costco seems a ‘safe’ bet. Perhaps not the best, the latest or greatest but nonetheless, cracking ‘bang for the buck’.

We have Costco here. Most don’t have audiology centres, but I have purchased spectacles from them, that were faultless and fairly priced too.

The problem you have is that you won’t know what you like until you try a particular HA. You probably won’t be able to try much before you buy.

My suggestion would be to take a punt on Costco. Bear in mind the generous returns policy.

Give their own brand a whirl and see how you do with those.

As others have said, it’s more the correct setup and also fitting (ear domes/moulds) than the make and model which will make you experience a positive one.

Remember there’s always something new out. Makes sense to wait if something is imminent but don’t delay too long.

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#7

Costco will even let you try custom ear molds and return them for a refund if you do not like them. For the hearing aids themselves the refund period is 90 days in Canada, and I believe 6 months in the US.

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