Costco Bernafon Chronos 9 and Siemens HAs

Hi All! First time post. I’ve lurked here for a few weeks and have read and learned a hell of a lot - thank you all for such helpful and thorough posts.

I have the ski slope hearing loss and am looking forward to hearing sounds that I have not for many years.

On Friday I chose the Bernafon CH9s and hope I made a good choice. I tried both these and the Siemens/Kirkland aids in the store for about an hour. Honestly, they both sounded excellent to me and I really couldn’t choose one over the other - probably being new to HAs they were both very impressive improvements.

In about a week I’ll receive the Bernafons along with the bluetooth remote and TV adapter. I’ll provide further feedback on my experience as things progress, but so far, I can only report a quite positive experience with the Costco approach.

Robert

Bernafon and Siemens are excellent high quality aids. Properly fitted they should make you happy. Ed

I stumbled upon this great 15 minute tutuorial on the Bernafon website today…

(I can’t post the link yet, but it is on the Bernafon website under the Professional button and it is a tutuorial on how to use Oasis programming software. It walks through how to program the CH9 Nano Rite.)

Shows how there are a lot of buttons to press and knobs to turn when setting up these HAs. I think knowing what some of these options are will help me better communicate to my fitter what my needs are when I see her for adjustments.

Also, she called today to make a follow up appointment a week after I get my HAs next week, because the Bernafon Regional Rep will be in the Costco store then and she wanted me to be able to confer with that person on any questions I might have. I’m quite impressed that she thought to make that arrangement.

The Chronos 9 is an excellent hearing aid and very suitable for your hearing loss. Sounds like Costco has been treating you well which is nice to see. Make sure you have some type of verification testing done within the first few weeks with your aids. Ask your fitter to perform speech mapping verification testing to confirm the aids are “on target”.

Will do - thanks for the tip!

So, received the Bernafon CH9s yesterday afternoon from Costco, along with all the accessories. The fitter went through each program and each of the settings while I was there and explained each of the choices made for each program. Having studied the tutuorial on how to use the software in advance was very helpful in understanding what she was talking about. Had I not done that, it would all have been a blur to me. Since I had, I was able to follow along just fine, and, get a full printout of all the individual settings (she said it was all relatively new to her using the Oasis software and that her main experience was with the Kirklands, not the Bernafone). However, she was patient, helpful, and continues to be so.

My experience so far:- Definitely I can benefit from HAs - no doubt. It is like the “treble” is turned way up on the whole world - nice. The HAs seem quite natural sounding and not at all harsh - so to the extent I can make any judgement on the quality of the instrument, given I’ve never worn HAs before and these are the first pair I’m trying out - my experience from one day is a good one.

Putting them back on this morning was difficult. It just seems to me that the speaker wire (is that what they are called) are too short for my eartop-to-earcanal length. When the speaker is in the ear, the device sits right on top of my ear, not “behind” it. I called the fitter about this and she thought they fitted perfectly when she put them in, so it may be just me, but she also said she would order longer wires to try next week when I go back for my follow-up. That was nice.

Also, listening to the presidential debate on TV last night (just with the HAs on their own, not with the BT adapter) it seemed the right ear was louder than the left. This morning when I checked the audiology chart that I had done by my ENT 2 months ago against what the fitter had input into the software - there were slight differences. Specifically, the right ear input she has is 80 and 80 for the 6,000 and 8,000 hz levels, whereas my ENT’s measurement there is 90 and 85 respectively.

I also mentioned this to my fitter and she said the differences would make not any difference at that high frequency level. Is this right?

In summary, after one day, things are going fairly well. I can hear the clicker clacker of this keyboard as I type - that is new. Lot’s of new sounds - running water, shuffling keys and paper, outdoor sounds - all new stuff.

I’ll give a further update in due course.

The higher pitch sounds are generally irritating to the new user who hasn’t heard them for a long time. Give yourself time to get used to hearing better before you ask for a closer match to your audiogram.

Perhaps we need to sticky a note on this, as it is a frequent subject. I need to get my right HA boosted, myself.

Here is a quick update before I see the fitter for the first follow up in two more days. I’ve worn the HAs now for 6 days.

Overall, there is improvement in hearing while wearing the HAs. I still can’t hear certain high pitched sounds that my wife can hear - such as a Northern Cardinal chirping, but I get most things. Speech seems to be better but when in noisy environments it seems the HAs amplify the background noise just as much as the speech in front of me - I don’t get a sense that speech is singled out for special treatment. There is a “speech in noise” program which I’ve used and it does not seem to do any better than the “general multi-purpose” program.

The “music and TV” program is not usable as it starts giving whistling/feedback almost right away - the general program works fine though.

Have not had a chance to try the “cinema” program which is supposed to take advantage of a theatre’s loop system.

The remote is handy but a pain to keep carrying around. It does work but I’m not sure I like using it compared to just listening normally with the help of the HAs. For example, watching TV, the sound is in my ears as well as in the room, which makes for a complicated sound. If I just listen to the TV normally the HAs seem to do a good job of improving my understanding of the speech sounds.

Using the bluetooth and a phone also works, but again, a pain to setup with the remote around one’s neck. If I put the phone on speaker and just use the HAs as normal, that seems to work just fine. The iPhone I have comes with earbuds which can be worn while wearing the HAs and have the same effect of the HA/Blutooth setup.

Using the Blutooth and the HAs to listen to music on the other hand is a non-starter. The music is just a tiny noise. If I put my thumbs in my ears it makes a world of difference - just like wearing headphones. Otherwise, too much external noise competes with the HAs. Might be OK if listening to an audiobook or podcast.

The volume cannot be controlled on the HAs themselves - only by the remote. (This might be a programming issue). The HAs cannot be “muted” by either the HAs themselves nor the remote (they are supposed to be able to be muted.) Both buttons on each HA only change programs.

The first issue I want the fitter to fix on Wednesday is to lengthen the wire going to the speaker in my ear. The HAs sit too far up on my ear and obstruct the wearing of glasses. When they are sitting down behind my ear, which they end up working themselves down to, the speaker pulls out of my ears and I have to push them back in. They only need to be 2 - 4 millimeters longer.

Have not experienced any difference in my tinitus perception yet. (Such as noticing it any less due to hearing more high pitched sounds.) Don’t really expect to.

Too early to tell yet if I will stay with these HAs or HAs in general, but if I do and whatever pair I end up with, I would definitely want to self program them in order to feel I was getting the best possible out of them. There are about a dozen program options in these Bernafon’s to choose from and the most that can be loaded into the HAs at one time is four. Being able to swithc back and forth between different programs and adjusting each one would be reason enough to get the Hi-Pro/cables/software setup. But this would be down the road from where I’m at right now.

More later.

Here are some photos of the HAs, the remote and the dryer that Costco supplied.

Also, a couple of photos of the packaging that they came in…

I also have had the bernafon for 8 days now and will go back in 2 days for an adjustment. We were unable to get the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” /><st1:City w:st=“on”><st1:place w:st=“on”>Kirkland</st1:place></st1:City> to work, but these have been great so far. I will have he general program up modified just a little and then we can start to add the other programs in. The Bluetooth works well for me as I spend an average of 2 hours on the phone a day. I was about to give up after trying 3 other pairs of HAs since May , but believe I have found something that does work well, which is a good thing since one of my Starkeys just quit working.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /><o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>

Well, what a difference after the followup appointment.

As mentioned in my earlier post, the Costco fitter had ordered longer speaker wires. She fitted them and now the fitting is perfect - the speakers no longer keep pulling out of my ear canal.

This means I’m getting much better sound in every respect since the speaker is deeper into my ear canal (where it is supposed to be). The Bernafon Representative was present during the entire appointment and helped a great deal in every respect and, I think, the Costco fitter learnt a lot from the rep also.

I had a few questions/issues which were all answered, the main one being feedback in the program for “music/TV”. Adjustments were made and now the whistling/feedback has gone. Also, I could not hear voices in noisy situations all that well so adjustments were made there as well (to lower the gain on 89db levels and increase them on 65db levels, I think).

The ability to change volume and to mute the HAs locally was added, which now works.

Also, after one week, data from the data logger was analyzed and the suggested changes accepted within the program.

I asked about the “AutoTelephone” feature which will send 50% of sound coming out of a telephone earpiece into the microphone and the other 50% via. the telecoil. It also can be programmed to “mute” the non-listening ear. Turns out this feature had not been activated by the Costco fitter and so this was activated today. However, I cannot tell that it is working so I have left a message about this at Costco.

The only other thing that is not working is the Remote Music streamer when on Bluetooth. When it is connected by wire to the iPhone I get full stereo sound into my HAs, but when on Bluetooth, nothing. Phone calls do work through the streamer via. Bluetooth just fine. Also, the TV adapter works via. Bluetooth just fine.

I asked about the possiblity of buying the Hi-Pro box and cables and self programming (in front of the company rep) and this was a non-starter. The fitter did say however that “many” customers ask for that.

I can tell, just from one visit, that I will definitely want to be able to self program if I am going to keep these HAs. Just very small adjustments make a huge difference - I guess our cars, even when we are half deaf, are pretty sensitive instruments.

In summary, I would say if the Bernafon rep had not been present, I would not have gotten the same level of adjustment expertise that I did - so I got real lucky there. The Costco fitter is very nice and professional but simply is just starting to learn about the Oasis software and all its features.

I’d sure like to get my hands on a Hi-Pro box and a pair of C44 cables. If anyone has them and would like to rent them or sell them to me, please PM me.

they keep the same packaging for all bernafon aids. Bernafon Aids are incredible for speech recognition, but they are my first and the last aids by Bernafon. From the very beginning I have problems with them. Constant repairs. More than 4 times receivers, broken. The directional microphone broken. The reason,they give me is the oily and humid environment in ear. What the heck, they suppose to be in ear. Now, I can not change the wax stop because after a year it is completely wore up. Wax stop does not fit in it anymore. I have custom made ear mold. The technician just informed me, that to fix it is going to be $ 200. I wonder if it is a bad quality hearing aid or there is something wrong with my ears, or me. So disappointing guality, but I am happy with the sound.

So far things are pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good.

It seems that at the last appointment the fitter must have “lowered the volume” to some extent as the “effect” of wearing the HAs now is much more subtle. At this stage, I could probably do with a a bit more power from them.

The AutoTelephone feature is turned on but pretty much useless. When it does connect (by holding the magnet stuck on the front of the iPhone to the HA) it is very static and it constantly disconnects and reconnects during a call - don’t like it and will have to have it turned off, unless it can be adjusted further.

The Cinema setting (T-Coil Only) may or may not work but there are no Cinemas in my area with an inductive loop system installed. I’m going to get that Program assignment changed to “Auditorium” and “microphone” only.

Otherwise, pretty good. I’m on the lookout for a Hi-Pro and cables.

So, at this stage, I would say the Costco fitter has gotten the HAs tuned as well as she can tune them. She swapped out the Cinema program for “Auditorium” and the “Listening to TV/Music” program to “Live Music”. Program 1 works well in most situations, including listening to TV and music. I have “Speech in Noise” on Program 2.

At the last session I asked that she shift my experience level from “novice” to “experienced” which changes some of the amplification levels throughout the assigned programs.

My only other dissatisfaction at that point was the “fit”. The Open Domes she gave me were 8MM. These were “rattling” in my ear canal - meaning they were just sitting in there, not really filling up the ear canal. As a result, they kept coming out. I was having to push them further in about once every half hour throughout the day. I asked if there were larger domes available and she said that there wasn’t. She double checked by looking through her inventory of Bernafon parts and accessories. This was a dissappointment as I was preety sure I had seen larger domes in advertisements and when I had tried on other brands.

On arriving home I found 10mm Bernafon Open Domes on the internet for about $12 for 10 and ordered them. (I could have pushed the fitter at Costco and asked her to obtain a couple for me, but the cost of fuel to go get them would exceed $12). They arrived and WOW - what a difference. The whole HA experience is a WHOLE lot better. Clearly I should have been fitted with these larger 10mm domes in the first place. Everything is much more “natural” sounding, clearer, and the HAs don’t move at all the whole day once I’ve put them in. I don’t now even notice I’m wearing them (versus having to fiddle with them all day long before).

I can’t believe what a difference this small change made. And the costco fitter, as well intentioned as she had been, just simply did not see that option as available. I’m writing about all this, not in any way to complain about the Costco experence, but to point out that you really have to push and research and experiement a bit to get the most out of the experience.

I will still continue to try to improve my experience by obtaining the equipment to enable me to self program the HAs. I don’t know how much better I can make them, but I’m curious enough to try.

At this point though, I would say the HAs, now that they are properly fitted and at least programmed within the standard parameters provided by the software, are pretty good. On balance, I would definitely recommend buying the Bernafon Chronos 9s from Costco. However, YMMV depending on how good the fitter is and how much you are prepared to experiment and research what the HAs are capable of.

If anyone has further questions about these HAs in particular, please post here or PM me.

I’ll post a further update if and when I get the HAs self programmed.

Attached are pics of the 8mm and 10mm Open Domes.

After searching high and low, and even calling Bernafon directly, I cannot find the Oasis software that I need to be able to program the Bernafon Chronos 9 RITEs.

This is something I definitely want to be able to do. Without that ability, for me, and I know most people could care less about programming their own HAs, it is like owning an expensive sports car and only ever driving it around in first and second gear. You know it is capable of doing a lot more but you are prevented by the manufacturer of realizing its’ full potential.

So, I’ll be returning the Bernafons to Costco and looking at other alternatives. I think the Bernafons are fine HAs and that the offering package at Costco is WAY better than going to your local Hearing Aid Center that wants to charge twice the amount of money. But, I realize there are others that are willing to pay twice to get the service.

Alternatives that I am aware of so far, based on very helpful reviews on this forum (thank you) are America Hears, Embrace Hearing, “bidbybid” on eBay and another eBay vendor that sells used HAs “Help2Hear”.

My approach going forward will be to START with the programming feature that the vendor can provide, then look at the quality/price of the HAs they offer.

Came across this interesting company today (www us dot sonici dot com) and was pleased to find that they make their programming software freely available.

Interestingly, it is clearly the same chassis as used by Bernafon for their HAs, although modified to work with their own aids. (I see that William Demant Holding A/S owns Bernafon, Oticon, and Sonic.)

So, here at least, is one HAs maker/provider/designer who provides via. their website, the software necessary to program their product.

Go to their web site, click on Professional, click on Fitting System, Click on ExpressFit 2012.1 to download. Worked for me as of this date.

@Playtypus: Just wonder, have you return your Bernafon CN9 to Costco. If so what was the main reason you were not satisfied (other than your ability for self programming)? Kind of excited and nervous at the same time 'coz I will be picking up my BCN9 today and I will be bring my 1" thick research info including my past two years from my ENT to make sure I have the right one. I will be getting P speaker on my R ear and power dome to start with with 6mm and on my L ear M speaker open dome 6mm with spira flex 1.3 mainly for my high frequency loss.
Previously, I have Resound Forza and since my 90days trial period was approaching I decided to try this Bernafon. I believe in Bernafon technology and I just downloaded everything they have on their website and kind of study about it.

The main reason was the self-programming. If I had been able to obtain the software needed to program them I would not have returned them.

They have a very nice natural sound - if self-programming is not something you want to get into, you should be very happy with the Chronos 9s I think.

I not sure how you expect to program aids better the your Costco person and the Bernafon rep. With those numbers I would have tried custom molds. Folks need to remember these are hearing aids expecting them to give you the hearing you had at 21 isn’t going to happen. That’s a pretty heavy loss for a first time wearer so I suspect you haven’t been hearing very well for some time. The Kirkland accessories may have more to liking. Good luck and let us know how you do self programming.