Bluetooth, FM, T-coil, oh my!

Hi, I have not been here on a while but just a little background. I am a phonak certena user. I use a phonak zoomlink FM and my hearing aids have a manual M/T switch.

Here is my question. Please explain bluetooth and hearing aids to me. How does this work. For example. I see plenty of neckloops that are bluetooth but operate on t-coil and then there is the phonak icom that doesn’t operate on t-coil. How is this possible? How does it work?

I know that an FM system uses an FM program on my hearing aid. I know that neckloops and loop systems use my t-coil program on my hearing aid. If I used an icom, what program does that use. Is there actually blue tooth technology in the hearing aids or is there special bluetooth compatible receivers in there?

I understand that the icom allows you to hear in stereo in both hears but would a bluetooth neckloop that works on t coil do the same thing? Or are all t-coil loops pretty much not true stereo despite that you pick up the signal in both ears. I know my FM system is like that.

Icom works on special automatic program’s, they are EasyBluetooth and EasyAudio. All it means is that the program’s are automatic and only Phonak aids can link to the icom or ComPilot.

T-coils are usually embedded in your HA’s so that when they are activated you can hear the telephone better. Also, some public auditoriums are wired with a loop that can transmit to your t-coils.

Any other transmission method relies on its signal being picked up by a secondary device such as a neckloop, iCom etc. This device then sends the signal to your HA’s.

Bluetooth is a very local (just a few feet) wireless technology which is useful for telephones and MP3 music players etc which are usually in your pocket or in your hand. The bluetooth signal is picked up by the iCom (or whatever your HA provides to wear around your neck) and the iCom sends the signal on to your HA’s.

A stereo sound source will come all the way to your ears in true stereo. A mono sound source (such as a telephone) will transmit in mono into both ears at once.

I was under the impression that when you receive an FM signal from the Zoomlink you need receiver “boots” on your HA’s and this has nothing to do with the t-coil system.

I use the Easylink and this sends an FM signal from the microphone to a receiver which is plugged into my iCom. The iCom then relays it to my HA’s.

Hope this helps you


All hearing aid manufacturers have a Bluetooth device that transmits to their hearing aids. The bluetooth device has the microphone and communicates with the phone by Bluetooth and to the hearing aids through another method (proprietary to that manufacturer), so no, the hearing aids themselves do not have Bluetooth but do receive a signal from the bluetooth device (and not t-coil).

Hey, sorry for the delayed reply. I had a stomach thing.

Yes, I have FM receivers on both my aids that I had to purchase separately and yeah they are like boots that snap on to the aids although my audi had to screw them on since they are like the battery door. So when I change my battery the battery doors are really the receivers.

I like gadgets and gismos and am interested in getting whatever I can to enhance my listening experience.

But as a musician, I love stereo and it seems that the icom is the only device that can deliver sound in true stereo? Can you get stereo with a device like the Artone neckloop?

You don’t want to be getting the icom. Icom is old technology and has a really short battery life. Get the ComPilot which is new. I actually believe the icom has been discontinued.

What’s the difference between the icom and compilot?

ComPilot is new and has WAY better battery life. iCom can’t make it a day with its battery.

Oh ok, I guess that makes sense.

compilot also allows you to use it as a remote control for certain spice platform model phonak aids . It also has volume control unlike icom which is no longer available from phonak.

For me, personally, the FM quality and using the smart link plus, beats the sound quality by far compared to the compilot.

In away its worked out well for me as I like the my pilot remote way better then the remote of the compilot and work agreed to pay 100% of the cost for the FM system.

NaidaUP would you please clarify for me what you are currently using. Is your fm integrated into your hearing aid which then directly communicates with the Smart link plus without any additional equipment? Currently I am using a basic BTE Phonak for a mild to moderate cookie-bite loss. Fortunately it has been programmed to work well for me in most situations. I supplement it with a Motiva fm system when needed in my work situation. However in the past year or so I have had issues with eustachian tube dysfunction and my hearing aids do not have a volume control. I am beginning the research for a new hearing aid. I am trying to understand what is out there and how it all works. I am looking for a simple, but effective system. When I began wearing my hearing aid two years ago I had no idea what my needs would be and opted for basic with a good reserve. I am willing to save up to pay for it, but want it to be a good choice which will meet my needs for a long time.

The black things in the picture are the intragtred receivers. I chose integrated receivers instead of the universal receivers due to my job being 50% outside in all weather conditions.

This link might be of interest to you. It explains how you can use the Smartlink plus at work and in everyday situations.

Some people say FM systems are not needed unless you are in education but personally I don’t agree.

I don’t touch my volume control as my volume adjusts depending on the noise situation I’m in but I have the volume control active just incase :slight_smile:

Forgot to say, when you say any extra equipment, you would only need a audio shoe for the universal reciever to work.

Phonak aids will switch to a FM program when the transmitter is turned on and speech is spoken. It means that I don’t have to change to the FM program. It’s means it is easier to accept a video call from my parents using the Smartlink plus Bluetooth feature. I’m too deaf to ring anyone.

Here’s a picture of the audio shoe and FM reciever of my Phonak Naida. (My old FM receiver)

What I like about the FM system and what you will see in the links as well, is that is does EVERYTHING so instead of having separate equipment for like the TV and phone. The Smartlink does everything as well as being a FM system. Well worth the money I believe.

ditto here. also use BY laptopp and Kindle, iPhone and landline devices at work… My receiver plugs and stays on my Compilot.