I have new Costco KS5 aids (~$1900) nearing the end of the 90 day trial period. I’ve had a single $100 Siemens Lotus 12P for a year or so. I’m trying to decide if to return the KS5’s and just buy a another 12P.
In just normal usage around the house, TV, car, outside, etc. Their performance seems about the same to me. In noisier environments the KS5’s have the edge. The KS5’s certainly have more features and are about 1/3 smaller as a BTE and with a RIC fit … so they are much more convenient from a ‘wearing’ perspective. I have the fourth program in the KS5’s to roll off the high frequencies some which I like. However, the overall hearing improvement is not dramatic in my case. I don’t automatically reach for them when I wake up. They have not helped my tinnitus (which is not severe for me).
The Lotus 12P has two trimmer controls to allow controlling how much low frequencies are boosted (relative to high frequencies) and the level of the maximum output (to help reduce blasting from loud sounds). These are very small controls that can be tweaked to tailor the 12P’s performance some. My 12P can be turned up to be much louder than my KS5’s (as fitted by COSTCO for me). The 12P typically comes with a length or clear tubing and three sizes of domes. Its simple to trim the tube length and select the best fitting dome for your ear. The 12P and tubing are bigger than my KS5 RIC fitting but appearance-wise it is similar. But you do have more bulk hanging from your ear. The 12P uses a size 13 battery which is about twice the size of the KS5’s 312 battery. I expect the Lotus 12P battery life to be at least twice or more than the typical 4 days that I get from the KS5’s.
Just to run an unscientific comparison, I went to the web site: Online Tone Generator - Free, Quick, No Sign Up Required. … where you can do a rough hearing test by having a sine waveform signal output from your computer speakers. I found that with the two KS5’s I could hear just slightly better than with the single 12P aid. Out to about 5,000 hertz … then I could just detect occasional little tones until about 6,000 and nothing after that. But the KS5’s did not hear $1800 better! If I had two 12P’s their results would have been improved. This is just a simple relative test … with PC, speakers, room acoustics, etc. all not controlled but constant in my little test.
But I was surprised by this test. I assumed that the KS5’s boosted their gain to compensate for my loss at higher frequencies. I know from some Lotus 12P technical frequency response data that they definitely do not ramp up gain with increasing frequency, which surprised me. So the fact that they seemed so close in my little subjective comparison seems surprising. This seems to maybe question if the COSTCO fitting was proper.
I’ve not decided yet if to keep the KS5’s. However I do feel that the very inexpensive Siemens Lotus 12P can be helpful for people who have the probably typical type of hearing loss as I do … high frequency roll-off in the moderate to severe range. Certainly the usual caveat about consulting a hearing professional needs to be considered.
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