Confusing choices for new Hearing Aids



I am trying to choose new hearing aids but the more I read, the more confused I get. I have been wearing Bernafon Juna 9 RIC aids from Costco for the past 3 years for moderate to sever hearing loss, mostly in the speech ranges. I still have difficulty hearing conversations within a noisy environment and often find understanding speech in restaurants difficult. Conversations emanating from the tv or shows are often muddled as well. When reviewing the literature, it seems like every manufacturer claims it provides the clearest speech and the best noise reduction leading to the best conversation understanding in just about every environment.
I AM CONFUSED. What I am trying to determine is whether technologies have actually improved enough to justify upgrading to new hearing aids and which ones do the job best.


My take is that no hearing aids in and of themselves are going to completely solve those two problems (speech in restaurants and TV) for you. However I think numerous hearing aids with a remote microphone and TV streaming could solve those issues. I’m sure you’ll get different opinions from others.


Thank you. I look forward to other comments.


If your speakers for the TV are in Dolby or surround sound, try changing it to stereo which gives more emphasis to the middle where speech is prevalent. You might also consider a sound bar that has a speech enhancing option.

If you Word Recognition Scores are lower, noise will always be a problem.


Well marketing is marketing. Getting back to reality, what they don’t tell you is that the ‘one size fits’ all may not work for you. Choosing a hearing on paper specs is a bad idea, better to trial the aid and be prepared to walk away if it doesn’t suit you. I also think @MDB suggested solutions are sound ideas.


Thank you, my home theater system is currently set to “cinema digital”, whatever that means. I will try changing the settings to Dolby and see if it helps.


You want to change it to Stereo and not Dolby. You’ll get lower volume on special effect with stereo – emphasizing speech more.


Have you ever tried a bluetooth TV Adapter? I have used both the Phonak TV Link and the Oticon Connectline TV streamer. The difference is night and day in terms of understanding and speech clarity.


Thanks KenP, meant to say stereo. Just changed it and it makes newscasters easier to understand and the sound is fuller overall. I will test on regular shows and movies whenever my wife switches over to her movies, etc.

I want to add that I have done a walk around the Costco store trial of the Bernafon Zerena and the Phonak brio. Plus a trial over last weekend of the Costco KS8. I intend to try the Resound Forte sometime in the next couple of weeks. I am beginning to think I am overdoing it and creating my own confusion by not spreading these trial over a much longer period of time.


I have a Bernafon tv streamer connected to my cable box with an optical cable. I rarely use it because music sounds very tinny and voices are raspy and often shrill or too loud. If I reduce the volume on the remote neck receiver, I often start missing much of the conversation. Are there adjustments I can make or have audiologist make that can improve n the sound from the streaming device?


The audiologist should be able to make adjustments to the program that does streaming.


I am puzzled by that. It is either a deficiency in the streamer - i.e. it is not very good, or you do not have enough amplification in the low frequencies. I had a problem with low frequency amplification that took a couple of years to sort out, it wasn’t until I had a REM test (Real Ear Measurement), which makes sure that the hearing aids were driving the correct amplification to match my prescriptive loss. The difference was unbelievable, especially with music.

I have used a streamer with insufficient amplification for me - a Streamer Pro 1.2 for my Oticon aids, when compared the power I get with the Phonak Compilot II, so it could be a streamer issue. I assume that music sounds ok normally with you, in which case it could well be a streamer issue.


Thanks to both of you. I will ask my audiologist if she can make some adjustments to improve the sound as well as ask for a REM test. Lower frequency adjustments have consistently been an issue for me over the 15 plus years I have worn hearing aids.


I also have hearing aids from Costco. Question: can an audiologist objectively measure the effectiveness of various hearing aids? Like word recognition scores in various simulated environments? Seems like it should be possible with earphones or a booth. I also walked around Costco but had a difficult time trying to figure out the differences between models.


I don’t know if it’s “possible,” but it isn’t done on any kind of regular basis. About the closest we have to anything objective is REM (Real Ear Measurement which just establishes that your getting the gain that was prescribed) WRS are not precise enough to measure these kinds of subtle differences.
I personally think trying to compare models is a fool’s errand. I think 1)one should figure out what problems one is trying to solve. 2) Consult with specialist and make a choice. 3) Work with specialist to make it work. Hopefully the result is satisfactory. If not, consider return and be clear with specialist what things were unsatisfactory. Note: I am not the final word on this. Many like the idea of trying out varioius hearing aids, but I think that since it’s a huge adjustment to get used to any hearing aid, any kind of a quick comparison is very challenging.


Fortunately, I have a very competent and cooperative audiologist who is always open to making any adjustments we collectively determine will help. Based on the suggestions on this forum along with the confidence I have in the competency of my audiologist, I think I am ready to order the Costco version of the Resound Linx 3D and give it time to be adjusted to my needs.
I wish to thank each of you, KenP, MDB and glucas, for your learned responses.


Costco has six-month money-back trial period. I’ve used it to trade up at Costco. I know others who have said no thanks and walked away.


I have done some research on hearing aids. I visited five dealers for testing and tried a few HAs. I would suggest that the only answer for you is to use the trial period and try several brands. Consumer Reports lists Phonak at the top. HAs are indeed a personal thing. Also the ability of the dealer to properly adjust them is critical. So the same aid from two different dealers could sound very different. I liked the Costco Real Sound instrument that is used for the final adjustment of my HAs. I got them today Phonak Brio 3. I have noticed the following just driving the 100 miles back home.

  1. Road and wind noise greatly reduced.
  2. This noise elimination may be the reason I could not hear a train beside me no more than 50 yards away. My wife heard it clearly
  3. My high freq loss it 80db at both 6000 and 8000. But I had the HiFreq protect turned off as I wanted a natural sound. So far I am very satisfied. I hear many hi freqs that I could not hear or only barely heard,


bertbaw: “Consumer Reports lists Phonak at the top.”

Actually, although this appears to be the case at first glance, the rating is not that clear cut. The fine print says “Differences of fewer than 4 points are not meaningful.” Given that caution… Phonak and Widex are rated 68; Oticon and ReSound are 67; Siemens, Rexton, and Unitron are 66; Starkey, Zounds, Bernafon, and Sonic Innovations are 65. In fact, only four brands are rated 4 points or more less than 68.

Note, too, that these are reader scores, accumulated from subscriber responses, and not based on professional Consumer Reports testing.


I agree about the Oticon. Couldn’t watch TV without it. Not familiar with the Phonak.