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