Ian, hope you don’t mind. I’ll go ahead and post here. To be clear, this is Ian’s post. I’m just posting due to his technical difficulty.
Hi firstly let meapologise for this long winded post. Please bear with me; I think youwill all find this interesting.
I recently had theopportunity to trial some of the very top end (and some of the socalled budget versions) of aids from 2-3 manufacturers. All at thesame time, place and conditions, thought i would share my experience.
Main reason for doingthis was to see if stepping up from the Resound Verso’s to the newLinx2’s and or changing to other manufacturers, could i get anyworthwhile improvement with speech in sound. Was it really going tobe worth spending extra monies to get that improvement?
I have already spouted onin the forums how we in the UK have to pay up to 4 times the cost ofthe same aids in the US, so let’s not go there. I had to pay £3500for my current pair of Verso’s (around $7000). Now they sell theLinx2’s for £2800, ba-humbug.
This is a short term testand to make sure all were on as equal footing as possible, all aids(apart from my verso’s) were new out of the box. All set up to thesame audiogram “mine” (i even reset my hand tuned Resound Verso’sto manufactures first fit for a week, before these tests, to make itfair. All aids were installed with similar or the (same in somecases) receiver RIE size 3 standard or S receivers, with 10mm opendomes. All were set up by the same experience audiologist (afterperforming the vast array of tests on me (their new customer). We hadnever met. All i will say is Cost-Co in Farnborough rocks.
Testing carried out atthe tills and around the food hall, where most variations in noiseand peoples speech was present.
Remember this is aperceived performance test and not necessarily very scientific, it isrelevant to my particular hearing audiology and performance.
However it does relate toa real person, in a real environments, with a real hearing loss andreal life situations / noise. Aids and perceived performance, wasfound to be as follows
My original aids -Resound verso’s 961’s as a standard to compare other by. I havebeen complaining that these struggle with speech in sound (especiallyin noisy environments).
Resound Verso 961 - Withlow background noises, low, medium and high sounds mainly verynatural. Tills alarms, high pitches sounds people close by talking,generally very natural with speech reasonably clear. However asbackground level increased, or more than one person spoke at the sametime, i found it harder and harder to understand their speech. Loudlow level noises, seem to flood out the higher speech, with F’s andS’s disappearing completely and lower vowels becoming blurred, tothe point it was hard to comprehend anyone, other than someone veryclose and load.
Kirkland KS6 –Virtually the same as my Verso’s, apart from some a very smallamount of background noise. A little hissy sounding on my own voice.Other than that they performed as good as my Verso’s. Good news isthey are considerably cheaper than my Versos.
Trax42 – compared tothe Verso’s, generally the quality of sound was richer, with midtones being much fuller (more like i used to hear). I would comparethis to the difference in sound between vinyl records and CD’s.High pitched sounds were a little brighter, but certainly not harsh.Speech in sound was clear and it not flood out so much, as thebackground level increased. Only when a set of had driers in thetoilets came on (with doors open) did they finally give up and all Icould hear was the driers. Overall I would say they performed betterthan the Verso’s, especially with speech in sound. As a point tonote these cost less than half the price of my Verso’s.
Linx2’s – Virtuallyidentical to the Trax42’s, possibly a little better on speechclarity (in very quiet moments). Definitely better at speech in soundthan the Verso’s. Overall performance I found to be almostidentical to the Trax42’s, however these cost twice as much.
Phonak Biro’s – onputting these in i was immediacy taken back by the harsh high pitchedlevel of noise. All high noises were painful to the ears and lowpitch sounds were nonexistent. I returned to the audiologist whochanged the receivers, domes and did a refit to the originalaudiology. This was a little better and reduced the high pitchedsqueals. However on test there was little improvement in soundquality, trolleys crashing together were high pitched and painful.Tills beeping were high pitched stabbing points of sound. Speech wasclear but over processed and clipping, especially when someone talkedloudly or was very high pitched. In all I could only stand these infor 5 minutes on each occasion. I tried 5 or 6 times, each with thesame harsh results. Overall i would say these are pitched way toohigh for the standard audiogram. They sounded like someone had tunedthe base all the way down and the treble and volume all the way up,on a poor quality transistor radio. They might be ok for someoneless concerning or with a more severe loss, but certainly not for me.
Overall I would say theTrax out performed everything except the Linx2. However the Linx2’scosts more than double that of the Trax. If you do not need toprogramme yourself, it’s a no brainer. All out performed thePhonax, which in my opinion is only fit for the bin.
If you are on a tightbudget, then save up for the Trax42 or the KS6. Yes it’s all amatter of opinion, and what is good for one is not the same foranother. What i will say is find yourself a good audiologist who willspend the time to explain and work with you.
Long Term Linx2 Trial.
1[SUP]st[/SUP] week. Aids settled infound size 3 wires slightly too long, domes touch eardrums whenpushed in. Pinched nibs off domes to make more comfortable. Domessupplied size Large.
Discovered Major issue, quality ofsound when streaming from I phone to aids or when taking a call viathe phone to aids direct link is crap. Worse still Linx2 will notstream to Ipad 3 (says non supported device)?
Strange as ipad does connect and streamto phone clip on Bluetooth ok. Apparently the Link2 will also streamto an Ipad air2? I have not confirmed this.
Had to changed 1[SUP]st[/SUP] batterieson 4[SUP]th[/SUP] day of trial.
Changes primary programme to spacialsense. Low to medium sounds were very natural and rich in sound. However load background noises became harsh on the ear and theinitial gain would have to be turned down. Interestingly speech insound was a little muffled.
Reset to Bi-neural for main programme.
26/08/2015 – Increased wind settingto moderate to reduce wind effect when out walking
26/08/2015 – Increased directionalmix to high to try and improve speech in sound focus. Aidsparticularly bad when lots of different background noises drown outspeaker in front of you.
30/08/2015 – Batteries flat.
05/09/2015 – batteries flat.
Batteries lasting around 4-6 daysinstead of previous 3-4 days.
08/09/2015 – Switched sound shaper on– set to mild at 4k
08/09/2015 – Switch to Naturaldirectionality focus ear LEFT, to see if there is any improvement inspeech quality.
09/09/2015 – During the day hadproblems with audibility, aids not communicating with each other andnot clear, replace batteries as left aid went flat early in the day.Better but still not good audibility, speech in sound very difficult.
10/09/2015 – Replaced wax guards.
14/09/2015 Lost communications betweenaids again @ 20:00 hrs. Restart made no difference
15/09/2015 – Replaced batteries. Aidsnot communicating with each other. Restart and connect to Alerasoftware, reboot aids with sound shaper off and Focus ear on LEFT.
Apparently there has been a softwareimprovement that corrects the connectivity issue, I have not beenable to confirm this. What I can advise is that the performance wasmuch better (especially at speech in sound) than my versos, but theTrax42’s are equally as good and considerably cheaper.
In short, if you want to programmeyourself, then the Link2 is referable over the cosco variety’s, asall the aids at Costco are locked to their software. If not then theTrax 42 is 30 % cheaper. If you do not need to programme yourself anddon’t mind return trips to Costco to get it all settled in (not bad thing). They also have several other branded aids sold there thatare as good. Widex trax42, (is a tweaked Siemens pure binax 7’ish). One last thing if you don’t already have a TV sound bar thenthe Bose Solo TV bar is really good at improving speech from flatscreen TV’s. Worth a shop try out.