I was in Costco this weekend and stopped by the desk to say hello and didn’t see any Bernafon brochures or sample hearing aids in the display case. I asked and was told Costco and Bernafon couldn’t come to terms going forward, and so the Zerenas are no longer available, although they will continue to be serviced and supported.
This is a shame, I got a set of Bernafon Zerena 9 miniRITE hearing aids at Costco in December and have been really, really happy with them. When I got them, I also got a pair of Oticon Opn 2 for evaluation after a hearing test and setup by an audiologist at my clinic. I went with the Opn 2 because they would have ended up only about $1,000 more than what I paid for the Bernafons at Costco, while the Opn 3, which is what the Zerena 9 lines up against, would have been much more.
After about a month of evaluating the Bernafons, I spent a month with the Oticons. The only difference in the setup was the audiologist at my clinic fitted me with one open dome and one double vent, while the Costco technician had fitted me with double vent domes on both.
For all intents and purposes, I could not distinguish much of a quality difference between the Bernafons and Oticons. The programs worked the same way, the app on my phone worked the same way, the way they handled sounds in different environments seemed the same, and for all intents, the tonal qualities were the same. The only difference was the Bernafons were more sibilant, which I could adjust by lowering the volume. So, for the money I ended up sticking with the Bernafons and returned the Oticons.
I really liked the open dome sound, so I redid the real ear measurements for the Bernafons at Costco and set them up that way. I also got the profile adjusted to manage the sibilant sounds I was hearing. ‘Sally sells seashells by the seashore’ and crumpling up a receipt from the supermarket were my benchmark tests for getting it right.