Can someone help the new guy with the hearing aid world?

Sampling is a huge hobby on this forum, but the vast majority of hearing aid users don’t actually do this. The differences in sound are much smaller than most people will lead you to believe. Further, hearing aids take time to get used to, particularly for your first set, and your experience with a particular device on day one may be quite different from your experience on day 30. For a standard sort of hearing loss, any of the main manufacturers make a good product and they all have similar price points. Sometimes particular features will sway you one way or another, but if you’ve got the features that you want and the hearing aids are comfortable and are helping you hear . . . don’t be afraid to buy the first dress you try on. Picking a hearing aid can take all year, but it also doesn’t have to.

What do you WANT your hearings aids to do?

As for finding a good local practitioner–word of mouth is still pretty powerful for this. Do you know anyone with hearing aids who you can ask?

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Given the huge difference in cost between what Costco charges the cost of membership is a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ll save. They do a lot of the teting that many audiologists skip. As long as you don’t need all the bells and whistles of the top-of-the-line hearing aids Costco is a good choice.

Without a posted audiogram, it’s kinda like asking, what glasses should I research, without knowing your vision test results.

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The thing I wish I’d have known more about with regard to pricing
there seems to be two primary pricing models
some audiologists, like mine, will quote a price that includes the aids, insurance against loss or breakage, unlimited service visits for some period of time, etc…
it’s a very high price.
As I understand it others will quote the price for the aids. Seems to be roughly for the aids I got to be about half the price I paid.
Is the extra money worth it…I’m not so sure. Maybe, but probably not for me anyway.

The other observation that comes to mind… don’t be quick to dismiss the higher priced options because perhaps “I don’t need that”. My aids for example were at the time just about the highest end models the company offered at the time. They have all the connectivity…bluetooth streaming and phone calls, etc… I can imagine blowing that off to save some money…but I’m glad I have it. Beyond that they also have some great tech that lower priced aids wouldn’t have…and I certainly would not want to do without. Aids have different program settings for different environments… you might have one setting for noisy restaurants, another for quiet settings, another for listening to music, another for echo places like churches, etc…
One set of aids I trialed required me to manually switch between these programs… my aids do it automatically and I NEVER have to think about it. Just wonderful!

oh, the other things I chose and I’m very glad that I did
I chose standard replaceable batteries instead of the rechargeable that they try to sell now days.
I chose the aids with larger size 13 batteries instead of the smaller 312 batteries they were going to put me in. The aids are only negligibly bigger but the batteries hold a lot more energy so have significantly more life.
And I chose aids with optional T-Coil. That has come in handy being able to use a neck loop FM radio system at my church to help cut through the echo.

I am on a fixed income. I paid an audiologist for a hearing test and recommendation for aids that would suit my need. She recommended Resound One hearing aids. I asked for a copy of my hearing test. Her price was $6,600. Instead of buying the hearing aids from her, I bought a brand new pair of Resound One hearing aids on EBay at $2,900. I called her and asked if she would fit them for me. She sounded a bit miffed because I didn’t buy them from her. So I called another Audiologist who said he would program and fit my EBay bought hearing aids using the hearing test I got from the first audiologist for $250. He would also use REM testing to fit them. I have returned a few times to the audiologist during the last 2 years. He charges me $60 per visit. He cleans them for free. I find that more and more audiologists are charging a fee for service and fewer are bundling, since patients are going around the very high cost of hearing aids bought from them directly. I saved half the cost on my hearing aids this way. I hope this is helpful for you.

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clayman welcome to the forum. I’m new here too.

I’ve had new hearing aids 4 times. I have new hearing aids now. I want them set up properly so they work as well as they can for me.

I think the key is the person you buy them from. Speaking from bad experience–but that’s my story and it doesn’t matter here.

Do you have friends that have an audiologist or supplier that they like?
Do they like their hearing aids?

Dave

In my not-very-experienced opinion (I am also currently a first time HA shopper), if this is all she is offering, then there’s no reason you should pay for an audiologist vs. just a hearing instrument specialist, as that is what they do. My audiologist has taken the time to explain to me how exactly my actual hearing loss affects me, how sound is processed between my ear and brain in “normal” hearing vs. my specific loss and how hearing aids attempt to compensate/help with bridging that gap. He has taken the time to ask certain lifestyle questions, what environments I am routinely in, all to help identify and explain how hearing aids will help with that. Remember that the difference in audiologists vs. hearing aid specialists is that audiologists are actual experts with advanced degrees on actual hearing and the physiology of your ears with innate knowledge on how sound is processed naturally. If you’re not taking advantage of that knowledge, why pay the extra for their time? There are plenty of folks who don’t necessarily want or need that information for a multitude of reasons; they just need someone who can understand what their hearing loss result is, and help fit them with an instrument to aid them with their hearing, and there are plenty of people who are more than happy with their end result/cost of achieving that. There are plenty of hearing instrument specialists who do have fairly good knowledge of certain hearing losses and how to optimize aids to assist with helping cover those losses through experience.

It seems that the audiologist you saw has just a primary relationship with a Starkey rep, and no one else. But if that’s the case, I find it odd she’s not offering the Starkey Evolv AI, as it’s their newest product line, and it’s supposed to be the upgrade from the Livio line. I think even if you did want Starkeys, you should shop for a different audiologist that is willing to take more time to discuss your actual hearing loss with you, and listen to input on what brands you might be interested in after self-research in your options.

As an example, my audiologist’s office seems to have relationships with reps for: Phonak, Oticon, Widex and Unitron. But I expressed a strong desire to try the new Signia AXs. I have, in the past 3 months, been given a Paradise demo, then trialed Oticon Mores, and now Phonak Paradise Lifes. My audiologist hasn’t dealt with Signias for years, but ended up reaching out to them to talk to a rep who will now send him a demo pair that I will get to try and take home next week. If I like them, I can do a full trial after that. His office does do bundled pricing, which means they are a bit on the expensive end, but it includes:

  • 3 yr manufacturer warranty (which seems relatively standard)
  • lifetime audiologist visits for as long as I’m wearing the aids (he’s expecting the first few months will have quite a number of followups just to adjust and optimize the fit for me)
  • one time replacement fee if I lose them for any reason ($350/aid; I don’t know if this is manufacturer standard or just a practice that my audiologist office uses, or some combination, but it’s a nice perk/fallback considering the cost of any of the big 6 HA brands)
  • loaner/demo aids if for any reason I do need to send my aids in for repairs / battery replacement before warranty is up, etc.

Ultimately, echoing many people here, it’s up to you to decide what you need from a hearing aid and what information or relationship you want out of either an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. But I would look for a better experience and someone who expresses the willingness to really take time with you and for an actual doctor-patient relationship if you go the route of a private audiologist.

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Thanks for the support Gang. Your advice is priceless.
Per the suggestion above; I have added my audiogram. Take a look at let me know your thoughts.

I was told of a company called Unitron, that apparently falls under the Phonak umbrella but don’t see many mentions here.

Any experiences with them?

I tried to save money by getting Costco hearing aids but wound up having to return them because they were literally making my hearing worse, not better, in some respects. This is probably pretty rare, but still. My advice is to go to an audiologist and get the best hearing aids you can afford. Make sure there are controls on the aids themselves—you will need them.

There are obviously a LOT of possibilities but I do think it would be worth your time to get the cheapest Costco membership - I think $45 or so - and sign up for the free hearing test. It is pretty exhaustive.

I do know that the pair of hearing aids I bought online with web hearing test were almost identical to the KS10’s but when the latter were programmed by the Costco hearing tech it was a much better experience. I think you will be happy with any of bunch of options. Per my private message I simply think Costco was the best fit for me for reasons explained.

Good luck!

^^ THIS!!
My first time HA experience was mixed. Firstly, take your time and do a lot of reading. It’s a steep learning curve for us first-timers. This
I started a bit after the release of the Jabra Enhance Pro, which is a very fully featured HA manufactured by Resound. In fact, it’s a rebrand of the highly regarded Resound One and one of a very few HAs with microphone & receiver in ear, usually called M&RIE or MARIE. Full Bluetooth, great app, online tuning etc. At around $1800 for a pair [exclusive to Costco]. 180 day return window. Sounded like a good place to start.
Regardless of which aid you wind up with, the fitter or audiologist is the most important factor in getting the best results. My first Costco fitter turned out to be less than ideal. In fact, I was ready to return them and start again. One of the members here pointed me to another local Costco fitter who has been fantastic. We’re still tweaking them, but now she is doing it online. So easy!
While Costco may require a bit more work vs a good Audiologist, the savings and the return window make it an attractive way to start, for me at least.

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I will be getting new aids in Dec, only my 2nd set. My first was with a great dr of audiology and set me up pretty good. I was not used to hearing again and could only use them about half the time. In my better ear, after a few months, I stopped using it. I couldn’t get used to this new way of hearing. Of course, on my first wear of aids, I flushed the toilet and almost jumped out of my skin. Read a paper or magazine was outrageously loud and crisp to the point of flinching. And that was with my aids at only 75% of the increase I needed. But over time, I got used to them and I went back to my audi for like 4 adjustments within a year. All was good after that and I adapted well to wearing them full time, up to 16 hours a day. Now I can’t live without them. My hearing has gotten worse and my audi sold his practice and moved to the mid west. I don’t like the new audi that replaced my old one. She is very nice and seems to listen, but her adjustments had me hearing worse than ever.

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I had the same experience. Twice.

If I had a profitable business and had invested lots of time, I would hope to be able to sell it. However, as a HA user it hurts.

My last audiologist retired. She was a partner in an audi business. Every time I saw her partner my hearing was worse. Enough. I found another audiologist. I should have done it sooner.

Hope this helps.

Dave

I still think you need to focus on the provider more than the brand, and it sounds like maybe you didn’t have a good experience there. I know the first audiologist I saw was very cold and rigid. Being a first-timer at that time I was kind of freaked out. Thanks to advice I received on this forum, I tried a second provider and that worked out much better. However, while that relationship started out well, in the third year it soured. I was having a lot of trouble with my aids, and I started to feel like he wasn’t believing me. So I moved on when it was time for new aids. Love the guy I’m with now. He’s a Starkey guy, but a good provider will fit you with whatever brand you want. The Starkeys didn’t work out for me in the Bluetooth connectivity, so I requested Phonak Marvels and he was happy to oblige. Getting ready to move on to Phonak Paradise soon, and sticking with the same guy.
Go to another provider. I, personally, wouldn’t tell them you’ve been elsewhere. Get another hearing test. See how they interact with you. See how attentive they are to your needs. See how knowledgeable they are. Pay for a Costco membership and get a test done there. Costco providers can vary wildly from one store to another as well, I’ve experienced that myself. Keep trying until you find the provider you know you want to work with, then we can talk brand.
No matter what brand you get, you’ll hate it if you’re working with a lousy fitter.

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“I still think you need to focus on the provider more than the brand”

I agree with the above statement (I would have quoted it, but it has escaped me for the moment how to do that.)

After being SSD for 25 years, I finally decided to do something about it a few years ago. I responded to one of those mass mailings for a “free” hearing exam at a local hearing center. No, it was not Bel-tone or Miracle Ear, it was a local audiologist. I should have walked out as soon as I walked in and saw that they were selling not only audiology services, but all manner of other things such as greeting cards, keychains, etc. but I went through with the exam.

I received a professional exam and my audiogram looked like what I expected. And they recommended a Starkey CROS with no gain on the right side, which was a bit puzzling, considering I have some high frequency loss on the right. Basically I was buying a transmitter for the left and a receiver for the right with no gain.

I tried them for a week and returned for what I thought was an adjustment. When I told the Audi that the gain wasn’t enough and I couldn’t hear what was on the left side, she said she couldn’t help me and collected the aids and the trial was over.

30 days later, I received an invoice for the “free” exam. I returned the invoice with a protest letter and never hear another word from them.

Fast forward to August 2021. My wife said she was tired of my hearing problem and the TV blasting her out of the room and told me to do something about it. I did some online searches and found a place called ziphearing.com online. I’m not real big on buying medical devices online, but I thought what the heck, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Within seconds of putting in my phone number, my phone rang and Jeff Hall was on the other end. We spoke for about 30 minutes after which he recommended a Phonak Audeo Paradise P70R CROS for about 60% of what the Starkey was three years before. He said I would have to wait a few weeks because they weren’t shipping yet, but they expected them to ship soon.

He set me up with a local audiologist here in Tulsa and all the audiologist costs were included in the cost of the hearing aids just as if I had bought them right from the audiologist. This audiologist set up a repeat appointment two weeks later, at which point he listened to my complaints/suggestions and made the adjustments that the Target software would allow and made another follow-up appointment for two weeks later. At that appointment I had him turn on some features we had initially decided to leave off, but left the gain settings alone. Then two weeks later I returned again to confirm that everything was working well and no further adjustments were needed. At that appointment I told them I had decided to keep the hearing aids.

My point in this long winded post was that one audiologist did very little to help me and another bent over backwards, including extending the 30 day trial period an additional week. There was all the pressure in the world brought to bear by the first audiologist to purchase the hearing aids and none by the second one.

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Boy, is this conversation helpful. Thank you.

I get the point of focusing on the fitter vs. the brand: It appears to me that most of them all are pretty equal; different bells and whistles hear and there (did you see what I did there?), but, pretty much similar.

I DID connect with Zip hearing and they have set me up for an appt. in early December with a local fitter. The rep spent nearly 20 minutes with me explaining and answering questions without any pressure to buy. He disspelled some of the info I initally got from the first fitter I met with and mentioned, “yeah, like anything else, there are good and not so good. It appears you found one not so good.” I agreed and chalk it up to the learning process during my journey here.

I’ll check back in a few weeks with my results and keep the saga going.

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Read this:

11 Big Lies of the Industry

Not here to dispute what anyone is saying. But my last purchase I trialed three aids. I could have trialed more but how that works is up to each audiologist. And of the three each sounded significantly different. Each individual hears hearing aids differently . What I didn’t like others have loved. It’s incorrect to say most people don’t notice a difference. One thing about hearing loss. No two losses are the same. Even if they look the same on an audiogram. Try as many as your audiologist will allow that are available for your loss. What do you have to lose. I get suspicious when an audi tells me what aid is best for me. My audi always sits there patiently and listen to what I have to say about the aid I just tried. But then again I’ve been with him for 30 years and been wearing aids for 40

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I’m looking at Phonak Audeo Paradise myself. But all in the ear this time around. I’ve had that style before and they seem easier to clean–also more comfortable when wearing a mask,

I’ve been through several Audiologists and now working with an HIS at the same facility for the last 23 years. I’ve been very fortunate to have providers who are both knowledgeable and patient.