Costco, first time wearers, and only one circuit manufacturer


Like many of the people entering this forum, I’m rehearsing for my first trip to the hearing aid shop. My apologies up front, I have been reading the threads. But they’ve led me to more basic questions. I would be grateful for any pointers.

I have problems distinguishing “s” and “f” and “th” at the end of the work week. I can’t tell from which direction the elevator bell is ringing. I cannot isolate a conversation whispered to me, when another conversation is happening. Otherwise, I think I hear. (So does my wife, usually.)

Costco questions.

  1. From what I’m reading, Costco will custom-program a hearing aid for me on the spot, based on my audiogram? And then I walk around a bit and see if I like it? And if I don’t like it, they’ll try me with another, and I can walk about the store a bit more?

  2. I’d like to research before I’m faced with Costco’s display case and sales-person. But costco-online does not eagerly list the hearing aids available. Is there any way I can save myself the hour’s journey merely to write down model numbers?

And then, quite general questions.
3. How does a hearing aid handle my 100 dB (masked) at 4000Hz? Does it just crank up the volume in my ear to 100 dB? Couldn’t be; they always say loud noises are bad for one’s ears.

  1. The Siemens Intuis Life BTE claims, “For mild to moderate hearing loss, ski-slope hearing loss and first time wearers.” From the fitting ranges, it looks like I’m a better match for receiver-in-the-ear or receiver-in-canal aids. Should I heed the “first time” warning?

  2. This forum has many stories from people with much hearing aid experience who really did not like the hearing aids they bought. Even the Siemens and Oticon “value” brands seem to generate manufacturing quality problems or ear-to-device mismatches. Is there a simple rule (on a budget, of course) by which one could avoid the majority of these pitfalls?

  3. My preliminary naive research into fitting ranges has led me to two RICs, the America Hears RITE2-168 and the Rexton Gem 12 (with WDRC, that ed121 prefers for severe hearing loss). But what about the other stuff? Every supplier claims Feedback Cancellation, Sound Smoothing , Adaptive Noise Reduction, Windnoise Cancellation, Automatic Noise Reduction, Data Logging. Some claim Automatic Program Control. Is there really only one circuit manufacturer? Or are these features actually different for each device?

Thanks very much for your help.

0250Hz L-10 R-15
0500Hz L-10 R-15
1000Hz L-10 R-15
1500Hz L-15 R-35
2000Hz L-15 R-45
3000Hz L-55 R-70
4000Hz L-50 R-100 masked
6000Hz L-45 R-95 masked
8000Hz L-40 R-90 masked
SRT L=10, R=20
Word Recognition
L 88% +40 SL
R 96% +40 SL

There are several different semiconductor fabs (e.g., Seimens, Sound Design Tech, …) that make DSP (Digital Signal Processor) chips for today’s digital hearing aids. You are buying a tiny but complete, computer. It processes incoming sound, boosting frequencies that you have problems hearing, reducing sound that is too loud, eliminating feedback, rejecting noise, suppressing sounds from the rear, etc. A computer perspective leads you to look at its hardware (number of frequency bands, number of channels, speed, etc.) and the operating system software (ADRO, WDRC). As you can imagine, they all do similar things, more or less successfully. I prefer ADRO, from an adjustability standpoint, - but it’s complicated - a bit like comparing MACs to PCs.

Your hearing is not too bad except at 4KHz. However, HAs don’t actually amplify that frequency 100 dB (compression is a complicated subject). Look instead at the HA’s published “fitting range” to see if it is capable of “correcting” 100dB of “hearing loss” at 4KHz. Then try them out - especially with word recognition tests.

Open Fit ear pieces are more comfortable than RIC (receiver in canal) but may not be suitable for your hearing loss.

You have a long journey ahead of you. Don’t rush into a decision. The hearing aid market is still in a state of overpriced chaos, with little or no independent product comparisons. IMO, you are on the right track to start with Costco. Trial some of their units. Check out, which has excellent hearing aids for a lower price. Realize that your hearing is likely to get worse as you age, so units that include user-programming software and USB connectors will come in handy over the long haul.

Thanks very much for the info.

Is there a database of hearing aids, like the Consumer Reports listings, that show all the digital hearing aids, side by side, with consumer ratings for 20-25 standard features?

“Your hearing is not too bad except at 4KHz.” In your opinion, would this fall into the range of "mild to moderate and ski slope high frequency hearing losses" to which many BTE open-fit aids sell?

“I prefer ADRO, from an adjustability standpoint.” I realize I will want to control the volume, and to tinker with the fine-tuning. Can the software and cables be purchased separately from the purchase of a hearing aid?

Thanks again.

This kind of info was totally lacking until CU published a report last June / July. I welcomed it as the first but there have been no follow up reports in greater depth.

IMO your hearing loss in moderate except for your score at 4KHz, which is severe. See this study for info on age-related hearing loss.

Yes, some users have bought these things on Ebay but it is “unsupported software” - never a good thing: no bug fixes and the risk that an incorrect firmware download to your specific hearing aids could make them worse, rather than better. :eek: IMO, the best procedure is to get the adjusting software with the hearing aids (usually included with the purchase from those who provide it). Most companies will let you download a demo copy of the adjusting software but that is not the same as using it on your own hearing aids.

You’ve got quite a Ski-slope going on there: the answer to your question, is the right hearing aid is the one that sounds the best to you.

There’s three or four chip fab lines out there, producing a couple or more variants, but it’s the differences in the EEPROM that you are paying your cash for.

You have a couple of options, based around a RIC/Open style. At Costco you’ll be able to try the Rexton/Bernafon etc - see which one works best. We have some very satisfied Bernafon users on here and one audiologist who rates them as the most consistently performing product he’s worn for high frequecy losses.

You might also want to look at Phonak systems with soundrecover, though this would need to be applied carefully, not to ‘mask’ your better low tone responses. At some point it might also be worth abandoning sounds above 4Khz to preserve what’s left lower down the chart. Don’t forget that every 3 dB of hearing loss is equivalent to a doubling of the sound intensity, so a 60 dB difference is equivalent to a sound about a thousand times as powerful.

I was given a copy of a book “2010 Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids” that was very comprehensive. It did NOT include ratings, however. HAs were divided into price/feature classes - “entry level”, “basic”, “advanced”, and “premium”. Only digital aids were included.

I don’t know where you can purchase it. The price on the cover was $4.99 US.

MikeInPoulsbo, I found a hearing aid centre (in Albany and Renssalaer, NY) who offered to send me the Guide as a PDF. Must be other who will too.

“…It might also be worth abandoning sounds above 4Khz to preserve what’s left lower down the chart.” Is this a suggestion that I consider the status quo is actually pretty good (no hearing aid, and my wife thinks I hear pretty well) or for a hearing aid for the lower frequencies?

What’s above 4000Hz anyway? The high keys of the piano? The overtones in a person’s voice? The bay-breasted warbler’s song?

I am a customer for 8 years. I am on my second week using there Rite2 186 reciver in the ear aids. My previous aids were AH micro channel ITE … (till my dog ate one of them). my loss is similar to yours, not quite 100 db but close.
There aids come with hardware and software to program them yourself, it can also be done remotely by them over the internet.
Give the a try they have a 60 day money back trial … they are a good company .
Good luck in your quest.

Most hearing aids would be fine for your Left ear. I would look into Sound Recover technology for your right ear. This technology is available through Phonak’s new hearing aid models. You can check out some of these models at Good Luck