Costco KS7 user experience

So I’ve had these for a few weeks now, and I think I can say a few things about my experience.

  1. The good: Generally speaking, I really do like them. They have simply improved my experience of hearing by a couple or orders of magnitude or so. I wear them when nobody is around; I’m reluctant to take them out at night. This is in contrast to my experience with all my previous aids, where I took them out all the time, throughout the day, whenever I could.

They have also made it easy for me to hear in situations that have been challenging or impossible. The problem, of course, is that I’ve just started taking all of this for granted. I really have to step back and realize that what seems easy and unremarkable was not so long ago challenging or impossible.

  1. The bad: That they are otherwise so excellent has seriously raised my expectations, and there are still some impossible situations. Even in the absence of competing signals, making sense of some female voices, especially if there’s a PA or if they’re across the room, is sometimes just not doable. These are situations that I would not characterize as highly reverberant, either. There’s plenty of level, and as I say nothing else getting in the way, but I just can’t understand. There’s a sort of tin-can-ish quality to what gets through, kind of a mini-echo around 800 Hz or so. This obviously needs more attention. I’m also not sure if I’m simply reaching the limits of my damaged sensorineural capacities. I have expermented with the separate program for reverberant rooms but so far no joy.

Some of the programs just don’t seem to work very well. The “Outdoor/Traffic” one is an example. What is this for? For me, these are really two very different objectives, one for being in the (great!) outdoors, and the other for getting around in my seriously noisy urban neighbourhood. So far, this one is not a winner, and even if it were, I’ve got no inclination to mess around with the aids/app every time I step out the front door. The programs for listening to music are so far not really great, either. I actually like the one for hearing live music better than the one for recorded music, but the microphone arrangement for the live program is pretty directional, so if I move around the room the sound changes dramatically. These programs I will try to fix/get fixed. (The music ones I had to seriously tweak, too. Out of the box they were terrible.)

I also gave up on the “i[something]360” program. They say it’s good for riding in a car with people, but that’s something I hardly ever do. Otherwise, I didn’t really find it useful.

[edit] I really do need to say that one factor in all of this is that the Automatic program is really quite excellent! The comfort-in-noise situation, for instance, isn’t really a problem, because the Auto program is totally good here. (And I do live half a block from one of my big city’s major intersections, have rapid-transit trains going by outside my window, etc.)

(This raises, I think, two related issues. One is that when people go, oh well I’m just totally happy with the single Automatic program, this might conceivably be because the other, more specialized programs, are simply not set up correctly. The other issue is one that comes up here pretty often. To get even a few of these programs working well would, as far as I can tell, involve many trips back and forth to the clinic, and the support of a very sympathetic, patient, and competent audi/dispenser with plenty of time on her hands.)

  1. The ugly: The automatic phone arrangement, with the magnet, is really stupid. I like the programs just fine – one- and two-eared acoustic phone (“Acoustic Phone” and “XPhone”). The problem is that the whole thing with the magnet is seriously flaky. I’d try to list the failure modes, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble. Suffice to say that it’s very unreliable, and the attendant hassles/weird beeps are extra-annoying when you’re trying to answer a phone call. (The good news is given how the Automatic program is set up for me, and my loud phone, just holding the phone up to my ear works pretty well.) I’d say this is a good idea, poorly executed, but who wants to glue a chunky magnet onto the front of their phone?

Another really minor thing to whine about: It would be nice if the phone app had a “dark” theme. I really like the app just fine(!) but I took the phone out the other evening in a darkened theatre and since the background of the app is entirely white, even with the brightness of my phone turned all the way down I definitely got people’s attention (and I’m sure they assumed I was texting or checking FB, too).

But generally, I’m very happy with these things. I’m also very happy with the service I’ve gotten from Costco. I do wonder if some other brand/model would work better, but I can’t really afford either the money or time that making a switch would involve.

I’d definitely be curious to see how other people are finding these aids. I’ve learned so much from these forums, and gotten so much support. It’s really helpful to exchange experiences and recommendations.

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Thanks for sharing this!

I am just on my first couple of weeks and find them good. I picked up the smart connect around the neck and it really works great for phone calls. I find it also very good for tv hooked to a generic bluetooth transmitter. I also stream music from my iPhone and it works good, but just not enough base. If I put some kind of earplugs in, then the base and sound vastly improves. I am still having problems with the smart connect actually connecting properly. I also like the auto program for the most part.

You’re welcome! I’m hoping more people will share their user experiences.

I’m glad the Smart Connect works well for the phone, at least. Except for the connection problems! One day they’ll get all this to work properly :wink: Fortunately my loss is such that I don’t really need the Smart Connect.

I’ve had the KS7 for about a week now. My previous aids were KS5. Here are my experiences with the KS7 vs KS5

  1. The first thing I noticed was everything was much quieter, but I could hear. Conversations are much improved with the KS7
  2. The directional microphones really work. The various modes do make a difference, sometimes small.
  3. The modes I have setup are 1. Automatic 2. Noisy 3. Playing an instrument 4. Live music 5. TV 6 i360
  4. The automatic mode works very well in most cases. I can hear much better in a car than with my KS5
  5. Music - I play guitar, the KS5 music mode did not work, I would get feedback squeals on the high E string. Also when listening to music the KS5s would pop. They tried all setting and even exchanged the aids. With the KS7 I’m able to play guitar (acoustic & electric) without feedback, so much improved.
  6. Restaurants - Limited experience, but in one noisy restaurant I was able to hear my wife when looking at her (program 2). When I turned my head I could not hear her nearly as well, but could hear other people. I can tell this mode is really working. I also notice the waiter could not hear and was asking us to repeat, but I could hear just fine.
  7. Control setting - I put the Volume/Program/Off (short, long, extra long) on the left ear, and the bass/treble on the right ear. Great control options
  8. The aids also have a bandwidth compression mode if you have hearing loss at high frequencies, it will help enhance the “s” etc. Has only been available on higher end aids.
  9. i360 mode - I do notice a difference from automatic mode. It’s almost the same as putting auto mode in 360 degree pickup. I was in an audience and put i360 mode on and was able to hear people behind me. In auto mode it was primarily people in front and beside me.
  10. Still having trouble hearing people from across the room in a large conference room. I kept switching modes and found the TV mode was the best. More exploration.
  11. When the audi sets up the aids and adds new programs it copies the setting from setting 1 (Automatic). Setting 1 is the only setting you can adjust the microphone direction from your i-device.

So far I’m happy with the KS7, much improved over the KS5. They have a lot of different setting and features of very high end aids. I’m also able to program them myself, which is a huge plus. It take 3-4 weeks for an appointment from Costco.
A note on battery life, I’ve gone 5 days so far and the meter still shows completely full (Smart Connect). My KS5 would go through batteries in 3-4 days.

Yes this is the main thing that is still bothering me!

My first set of batteries went over a week, the second about 5 days (but I’m wondering if one of these might not have been defective, since the other one was still fine). It’s very useful to be able to monitor the battery level from the smartphone app (or I think it is; don’t really know yet). Also, I’ve read elsewhere on these forums that with aids like these, when one battery goes, they both stop working. That doesn’t seem to be the case with these.

Definitely! And I find Connexx a real pleasure to use.

Me, too! Although item 10 in your list is still a concern.

Thanks for the information!

Download an app that measures sound. There are a number of them. It will give a background noise level. The higher the background will limit the distance it can recognize speech. A distance voice will start to blend into the background levels. When you had good hearing, you might remember that it was still hard to understand some soft-spoken people. With a loss, everyone is soft-spoken and the amplification has the same problem in a large area.

Try not to sit with your back close to a hard surfaced wall. I think the KS6 will let you give a broad forward bias which might improve things. All aids have the problem but the KS6 claim to fame is that they can capture speech better in these situation.

Um Bongo can make what I am trying to get across much better. Hopefully, he’ll notice this thread.

That single auto program actually contains 7 programs that can be individually changed and still be part of the auto program.

If you are talking for the KS7 how?

My problems, anyway, are not with speech-in-noise. It’s simply a question of understanding some female voices in situations where the speaker is far away (in a relatively low-noise environment). I don’t see these settings as being highly reverberant, but I am going to work on that specific program first. As for the Android audio-spectrum-analyzer apps, I haven’t had much satsifaction. I don’t know if it’s the placement of the phone microphone, or what, but they just don’t seem to deliver much frequency specificity. It’s not the particular app, either. I had originally started fooling around with these to try to identify the frequencies that were giving me the most problems. (I seem to recall that my old iPhone 4 was a lot better at this.) In fairness, I’d imagine this is not an engineering criterion for a smartphone microphone!

Here are the available programs in the KS7:

-reverb reducer
-iFocus 360
–listening with speakers
–listening at a live venue
–playing an instrument
–telephone (acoustic)
–XPhone [acoustic phone in both ears]
–telecoil (T)
–telecoil (mT)
–telecoil (MT)
–bluetooth phone
-streaming audio [if applicable]
-Smart Connect FM [if applicable]

*You can only have a maximum of 6 manually selectable – Automatic, plus 5 of your choosing.
*If you want the phone program activated by the stick-on magnet, you must devote one of these to a phone program.

As far as I can figure out, the Automatic program doesn’t switch from one of these to another. That is, I don’t think it matters how you’ve got, for instance Noise/Party set up as an individual program, when it comes to the Auto program. Rather, the Auto program automatically changes various features, like mic. directionality and noise reduction, depending on how the aids characterize the acoustic environment.

I could be wrong about this. In contrast, for example, my old Phonak Savia’s had something like three programs, that the aids actually switched between depending on the acoustic setting. So it did matter how each program was set up individually. But like I say, I don’t think this is the case with the KS7s (although I’d be very appreciative if someone were to correct me on that).

I use to be amazed but now completely amused. Carry on with your figuring and guessing or you could read about connexx over at audiology online site.

It’s been pointed out to me that there is a function for this. Doc Jake, consider yourself ignored.

and pay $99/yr!

The maximum efficacy of any monaural directional system is about 45 degrees (some are narrower) and nine-feet, a fully beamforming array of both aids prospectively doubles this distance, HOWEVER…

The caveats are:

1 Your aid actually recognises this speech source and applies the right kind of directional pattern.
2 There is sufficient signal to noise (SNR) for the directional mechanism to initiate or you force the pattern through program selection.
3 The noise/speech babble isn’t too conflated in that 45degrees to worsen the signal to noise ratio.
4 The Lombard Effect stuffs the whole mechanism because ‘everybody’ is talking more loudly, raising the noise/speech babble floor by the same ratio as the ‘target’ voice - therefore your SNR is the same or worse due to reverb, but your level of ‘disability’ remains the same, even with the best ‘Amplification’ available, because your brain is calculating on a worse data set than the person next to you with ‘normal’ dynamic range.

Thanks… your post about how the KS7 works was wrong… is free, unless you want CEUs. All you need to sign up is an email address. It’s an amazing resource!

You only pay $99 a year if you cant read their instruction… but research and reading comprehension seem in short supply around here.

Thanks - I will attempt to find the info you so kindly refer to.

Just sign up! You can then search for “courses” on Rexton, Signia, etc. There are also lots of courses on more general audiology topics.

There’s a bunch of short, 10-minute sessions on features of specific aids and models. You’ll find these with the searches.